'Caveat emptor' or 'buyer beware' is a familiar concept. The effects and consequences of caveat emptor have been criticised over time and, as a result, commercial law has slowly developed more stringent protection for consumers and buyers. As such, the ramifications of a recent apex court's decision are far reaching. In short, liability can now be imposed on sellers even if the buyer has previously accepted the same product without qualification.
A recent case suggests that there are limits to the way in which directors can act when taking steps to protect a company. The case is a useful reminder that while directors may avail themselves of the shield provided by the judicial management regime in order to allow a company time to regain its footing, the courts will not hesitate to put checks and balances in place to prevent the misuse of such legislation, albeit for the purpose of safeguarding a company's survival.
It is common for large conglomerates to require customers to execute agreements with standard boilerplate terms and conditions. The fine print of these boilerplate terms and conditions typically contains an exclusion clause which seeks to restrict or limit the liability of the corporations. However, what happens when these corporations default under the agreement and then seek refuge behind the exclusion clause to disclaim liability?
It has long been recognised that where wrongdoers control a company and thus prevent it from bringing an action, the courts will allow shareholders to do so on the company's behalf in order to obtain redress by way of a derivative action. While the courts have recognised a range of scenarios where wrongdoers can be said to control the company, can this concept of wrongdoer control apply where there is a deadlock at both the board and shareholder level obfuscating any clear majority or minority in the company?