California Shareholder Rights
“Economic” Shareholder Rights
Shareholders invest in corporations primarily for economic gain or profit. The two main ways shareholders can profit from a corporation are by receiving distributions of the company’s profits and by selling all or part of their interest in the corporation. These correspond with the two main “economic” shareholder rights: the right to receive dividends and the right to sell shares. Notably, shareholders only have the right to receive dividends as they are declared by the corporation’s board of directors, and directors are not obligated to declare dividends. In addition, some investments and receipt of shares may come with limitations on transferability of the shares.
Shareholder Voting Rights
A company’s board of directors has the right to manage the company’s business. However, shareholders have the right to vote on important matters relating to the business, which gives them some control over the corporation as well. Most importantly, shareholders have the right to elect directors.
Shareholder Inspection Rights
Under California Corporations Code Section 1601, shareholders also have right to inspect the corporate documents, such as the incorporation record, accounting books, and meeting minutes.
Derivative Actions and Shareholder Rights
Derivative actions are brought by a shareholder on behalf of a corporation. Officers, directors, and majority shareholders owe a corporation a fiduciary duty. Someone who owes a fiduciary duty and who breaches that duty can be held liable to the corporation for damages. Thus, in a derivative action a shareholder seeks judicial enforcement of, and redress for breach of, management’s fiduciary duties to the corporation and its shareholders by means of derivative litigation.
Involuntary Dissolution of the Corporation
Under California law, one-half of the directors or one-third of company shareholders can sue for involuntary dissolution of a corporation. A corporate dissolution may consist of a court approved liquidation or sale of corporate assets. However, the involuntary dissolution of a corporation may be avoided if at least 50% of its shareholders elect to purchase, for cash, the shares owned by the shareholders initiating the dissolution proceeding.
Ezer Williamson Law provides a wide range of both transactional and litigation services to individuals and businesses. We have successfully prosecuted and defended various types of business and property claims. Contact us at (310) 277-7747 to see how we can help you with your business needs, or visit our Shareholder Rights page for more information.