On July 22, 2011 the D.C. Circuit struck down an SEC regulation (Rule 14(a)-11) that would have required publicly traded companies to allow qualified shareholders to propose nominations in Board of Directors (BOD) elections. The court held that the SEC failed to perform a required cost/benefit analysis of the new provision, as mandated under Section 3(f) of the Exchange Act and Section 2(c) of the Investment Company Act of 1940. Consequently, Rule 14(a)-11 was declared invalid and unenforceable.
Before the SEC proposed the final version of 14(a)-11, Delaware preemptively proposed and implemented its own law regarding shareholder nominations for BOD elections: DGCL 112. A critical difference between the Delaware law and the SEC proposal is that DGCL 112 does not require that Delaware corporations allow qualified shareholders to nominate candidates in BOD elections, but rather provides that qualified shareholders can be given the authority to nominate candidates if such a provision is adopted in the company’s bylaws. Additionally, Section 112 does not make shareholder nominations of BOD members the default rule, as the procedure must be proactively adopted in the bylaws. Rule 14(a)-11 would have made it mandatory for all publicly traded companies to allow qualified shareholders to nominate candidates in BOD elections (and would have superseded DGCL 112, but for being struck down).
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