Skip to content

Jared A. Ellias & Robert J. Stark, Delaware Corporate Law and the “End of History” in Creditor Protection, in Fiduciary Obligations in Business 207 (Arthur B. Laby & Jacob Hale Russell eds., 2021).

Abstract: In this Chapter, we survey the common law’s adventures with creditor protection over the course of American history with a special focus on Delaware. We examine the evolution of the equitable doctrines that judges have used to answer a question that arises time and again: What help, if any, should the common law be to creditors that suffer losses due to the purported carelessness or disloyalty of corporate directors and officers? Judges have struggled to answer that question, first deploying Judge Story’s “trust fund doctrine” and then molding fiduciary duty law to fashion a remedy for creditors. This reached a high point in the early 2000s as judges flirted with recognizing a “deepening insolvency.” Delaware’s judges effectively abandoned this project in a series of important decisions around the time of the financial crisis. In this “third generation,” judges told creditors to look to other areas of law to protect themselves from opportunistic misconduct, such as bankruptcy law, fraudulent transfer law, and their loan contracts. The question has arisen time and again and today’s “settled” law is unlikely to represent the end of history in creditor protection.