Seaport Village Ltd. v. Seaport Village Operating Company, LLC, et al., C.A. No. 8841-VCL (Del. Ch. Sept. 24, 2014). This decision by the Delaware Court of Chancery highlights a counterintuitive statutory rule. The Delaware LLC Act provides that each LLC member, and the LLC itself, are considered parties to an LLC operating agreement, even if they did not sign the agreement.
As the court explained, Section 18-101(7) of the Delaware LLC Act:
added the following language to the LLC Act: “A limited liability company is not required to execute its limited liability company agreement. A limited liability company is bound by its limited liability company agreement whether or not the limited liability company executes the limited liability company agreement.” Del. SB 363, 141st General Assembly, 2002 Delaware Laws Ch. 295 (June 20, 2002). The amendment became effective on August 1, 2002. In 2005, the General Assembly added nearly identical language to the LLC Act to clarify that members also are bound by the LLC’s operating agreement, regardless of whether they execute the agreement. Del. SB 86, 143rd General Assembly, 2005 Delaware Laws Ch. 51 (June 14, 2005) (adding the words “[a] member … is bound by the limited liability company agreement whether or not the member … executes the limited liability company agreement”). These amendments make clear that the LLC and its members are parties to and bound by the LLC agreement, regardless of whether they sign it.
Another noteworthy aspect of this short ruling is one that the parties did not argue. The dispute related to a contractual provision that awarded attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party. There was no issue raised by the parties or the court that such a contractual provision was generally enforceable in Delaware, and enforceable in this case.
Supplement: It deserve mention whenever the venerable Professor Bainbridge quotes or links to this blog, and so we are thrilled to note that he links to this post on his blog.