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U.S. Chamber Proposes Legislative Solutions To M&A-Related Litigation

The growing problem of M&A-related litigation has been well-documented on this site (refer for example here). The prevalence of M&A litigation has grown to the point that virtually every M&A transaction involves litigation, and often involving multiple lawsuits in multiple jurisdictions. These growing problems have been well-documented (refer for example here and here), but coming up with solutions has proven challenging.

An October 2012 paper by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform entitled "The Trial Lawyers' New Merger Tax" (here) takes a comprehensive look at M&A litigation and proposes a number of possible legislative solutions to the problems associated with multi-jurisdiction litigation. The paper [was] released in conjunction with the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform's annual Legal Reform Summit, being held on October 24, 2012 at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington. D.C.

The paper opens with a description of the current state of M&A-related litigation. The paper certainly does not hold back in characterizing the state of M&A litigation. Among other things, the paper describes M&A litigation as "extortion through litigation" that permits trial lawyers to "hold transactions hostage until they collect a 'litigation tax' draining a share of the merger's economic benefit away from shareholders and into the lawyers' own pockets."

The paper includes a detailed review of recent statistical studies documenting the M&A related litigation trends, noting in particular (and citing the Cornerstone Research's analysis of M&A litigation, about which refer here) that on average each transaction is subject to five lawsuits, and that many deals attract more than 15 suits. In some cases, merger deals have attracted as many as 25 lawsuits.

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Read other items of interest from the world of directors & officers liability, with occasional commentary, at the D&O Diary, a blog by Kevin LaCroix.

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