Corporate Attorney-Client Privilege

In Hyde Park Venture Partners Fund III, L.P. v. FairXchange, LLC,[1] the Delaware Court of Chancery provided a valuable reminder to corporations and their directors and officers that a corporation cannot assert a privilege, such as the attorney-client privilege, against its directors or the investors that appointed those directors in litigation unless one of three exceptions are met: (1) the parties agree by way of contract, such as a confidentiality agreement, that the corporation may assert privilege against certain directors and the investors that appointed that director; (2) the board of directors forms a special committee that excludes the director after which the committee can consult with counsel confidentially and retain the privilege against the director and the investor that appointed the director; or (3) sufficient adversity of interests has arisen and becomes known to the director, thus impacting the director’s ability to rely on corporate counsel for matters where the director or the investor that appointed the director and corporation’s interests are adverse.