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Il Duomatic principle e la «derogabilità» del procedimento deliberativo formale

Elena De Pieri

Una decisione extrassembleare dei soci può essere ritenuta valida ed efficace purché la stessa sia stata condivisa all’unanimità da tutti i soci titolari del diritto di voto. Questo è il contenuto del c.d. Duomatic Principle o «regola del consenso unanime», un principio coniato dalla giurisprudenza anglosassone nei primi anni del 1900 che ha portato al riconoscimento del consenso manifestato dai soci in via informale quale modalità decisoria alternativa al procedimento assembleare. I contorni dell’ambito di applicazione del principio appaiono piuttosto sfumati e dipendono dalle interpretazioni di volta in volta operate dalle corti circa la derogabilità o meno del procedimento assembleare per l’adozione di una data decisione. Di là dal grado di estensione, l’operatività stessa del principio appare comunque strettamente ancorata alla dimostrazione dell’esistenza di un accordo tra tutti i soci. L’imprescindibile sussistenza di detta condizione si traduce nella non applicabilità del Duomatic principle a decisioni assunte di fatto a maggioranza le quali, dunque, debbono essere ritenute senz’altro inefficaci in ragione del mancato rispetto delle regole dettate dalla legge e dallo statuto. Tale delimitazione del principio è stata recentemente confermata dalla Court of Appeal nella sentenza in nota: nel caso di specie, la presenza di un socio non persona fisica ha spinto la Corte a rafforzare ulteriormente il requisito dell’unanimità del consenso sino a richiedere che questo sia prestato da tutti coloro che siano titolari del rapporto sociale anche solo in via mediata.

L’analisi del Duomatic principle a partire dalle sue origini conduce, in un’ottica comparatistica, al confronto con il diritto societario italiano. Invero, il riconoscimento dell’efficacia di decisioni unanimi e “informali” trova una parziale consonanza in materia di s.r.l.: con riferimento a questo tipo societario, è stata argomentata in dottrina la possibilità di ritenere valide ed efficaci le c.d. “deroghe occasionali” dell’atto costitutivo, cioè variazioni puntuali di clausole dello stesso, decise sulla base del consenso unanime dei soci anziché mediante una modifica formale dell’atto costitutivo deliberata dai soci in sede assembleare.

PAROLE CHIAVE: consenso - duomatic - atto costitutivo - srl - società a responsabilità limitata

Duomatic principle and decision-making without a meeting

 If all members of a company who hold the right to vote agree to a particular decision, the decision is binding and effective without formal meeting.  This notion is expressed in the Duomatic Principle, also known as the “unanimous consent rule”. The principle was formulated by British courts at the beginning of the XX century, and it enshrined the recognition of the informal consent expressed by shareholders as an alternative form of corporate decision-making. The exact framework within which the principle can be applied is rather broad, depending on single interpretations of court rulings, as to whether the formal general meeting could be avoided or not.  Beyond the question of applicability, the principle appears to be closely tied to substantial evidence of the existence of an agreement between shareholders. The presence of such condition makes the Duomatic Principle unenforceable with regard to decisions taken by the majority of members. These decisions have, in fact, to be considered non-effective, inasmuch as they break the statutory and statute procedure.

Such specific aspect of Duomatic Principle has been recently confirmed by the Court of Appeal’s judgement under scrutiny. In this case, the presence of trusts as company members prompted the Court to strengthen the unanimous assent as an essential condition for the effectiveness of decision-making, and to eventually require the consent of the trusts’ beneficiaries or trustees as well.

A thorough analysis of the Duomatic principle, starting from its inception, encourages to adopt a comparative perspective, namely with the Italian corporate law. By observing the Italian law in the field of limited liability companies, a certain resemblance can be detected regarding the effectiveness of unanimous and “informal” decisions. There has been significant debate within the doctrine on limited liability companies, according to which all shareholders can amend articles of association without formal meeting, insofar as such alteration has a limited effect, which is solely circumscribed to a single case or operation which by no means affects creditors’ interests. In other words, specific variations to the statute can be agreed unanimously by shareholders, and therefore enable informal practices of decision-making.

Sommario:

1. Introduzione. - 2. Il caso - 3. Il Duomatic principle: le origini e il fondamento della regola del consenso unanime - 4. I limiti del Duomatic principle - 5. Uno sguardo all’ordinamento italiano: le «deroghe» all’atto costitutivo in materia di s.r.l. - 6. Osservazioni conclusive - NOTE

Henry George Dickinson Judith Yap Dickinson (Appellants) v NAL Realisations (Staffordshire) Limited (First Respondent) Kevin John Hellard & Gerald Krasner (Joint Liquidators of the First respondent) [2019] EWCA Civ 2146

In the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) on appeal from the High Court of Justice [2017] EWHC 28 (Ch) – JUSTICES: Lord Newey, Lord Barker and Lord Dingemans

 

Lord Justice Newey:

1. This appeal concerns the validity of (a) the transfer of a property from the first respondent, NAL Realisations (Staffordshire) Limited (“NAL”), to the first appellant, Mr Henry Dickinson, in 2005 and (b) a share buy-back which NAL undertook in 2010. His Honour Judge David Cooke, sitting as a Judge of the High Court, held both to be invalid. That conclusion is challenged by Mr Dickinson and his wife Mrs Judith Dickinson, the second appellant.

Basic facts

2. NAL, which was formerly called “Norton Aluminium Limited”, operated an aluminium smelting foundry in Norton Canes in Staffordshire. Mr Dickinson bought the company in 2000, and by the time of the events relevant to this appeal NAL’s shares were held as to 50.6% by Mr Dickinson personally, as to 39.2% by the trustees of the H Dickinson Discretionary Settlement 2003 (“the Settlement”), and as to the remaining 10.2% by the trustees of the STB Engineering Ltd Directors SSAS (“the Pension Scheme”). In the course of the trial before Judge Cooke, it was assumed that the trustees of the Settlement were Mr and Mrs Dickinson, but counsel then appearing for the Dickinsons submitted in closing that it had not been established that Mrs Dickinson was a trustee and Mr James Barker, who was appearing for the respondents (as he did before us, too), said that he would accept that Mr Dickinson was able to act on behalf of the Settlement as if he had the authority of any other trustee (see paragraph 6 of the judgment). As regards the Pension Scheme, this was established in 2000 as a “small self-administered scheme” and, as such, was until April 2006 required to have amongst its trustees a “pensioneer trustee” with no connection to any scheme member (see regulation 9 of the Retirement Benefits Schemes (Restriction on Discretion to Approve) (Small Self- administered Schemes) Regulations 1991). Barnett Waddingham Trustees Limited (“BWTL”) had that role until 6 April 2006, continuing thereafter as “professional trustee”. Mr and Mrs Dickinson were the other trustees of the Pension Scheme.

3. During the relevant period, NAL’s board comprised Mr and Mrs Dickinson and also, from 2008, Mr Williamson. In practice, however, there were no formal board meetings. In the course of his oral evidence, Mr Dickinson explained that “Minuted board meetings were usually paper meetings at the instigation of either a financial institution or one of our professional advisers”.

4. In September 2005, the freehold factory premises from which NAL traded were transferred by it to Mr Dickinson. A minute was produced recording a board meeting attended by Mr and Mrs Dickinson as directors and Mr Tranter as company secretary at which the directors resolved that NAL should sell the property to Mr Dickinson for £224,000 and take a lease back for a period of four years at a rent of £40,000 per annum, contracted out of the security of tenure provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. The minute states that Mr Tranter expressed concern that the purchase price might be below market value, but Mr Dickinson disagreed. At trial, Mr and Mrs Dickinson both accepted that no meeting had in fact taken place. As the Judge explained in paragraph 68 of his judgment, “Mr Dickinson had simply instructed solicitors to produce the sale documents, including the minute, and signed it himself, which he regarded as sufficient”. At some point in 2010, Mr Dickinson transferred the property into the joint names of himself and his wife. In 2011, Mr Dickinson increased the rent payable by NAL to £120,000 per annum with effect from October 2010.

5. After consulting an insolvency practitioner, NAL went into administration on 18 September 2012, and the administrators sold most of its assets to a company controlled by Mr Dickinson for £425,000. NAL went into liquidation on 29 January 2013. Its liquidators, Mr Kevin Hellard and Mr Gerald Krasner, are respondents.

6. [Omissis]

9. The present proceedings were issued on 24 June 2013 by Mr Dickinson, seeking to recover sums which he said were secured by the debenture. NAL and its liquidators counterclaimed in respect of, among other things, the transfer of the company premises in 2005 and the share buy-back in 2010. Judge Cooke upheld each of these counterclaims. So far as the property transfer is concerned, he concluded that it had been made without authority and declined to grant Mr Dickinson relief under section 1157 of the Companies Act 2006 (“the 2006 Act”).

10. By his order, the Judge declared both the purported property sale and the share buy- back to be void and of no effect. He further declared that the Dickinsons held the property on trust for NAL, in which the entirety of the beneficial interest was vested, and that Mr Dickinson and NAL were liable to account to each other for respectively rent and the £224,000 price of the property. The Dickinsons were also ordered to transfer legal title to the property to NAL.

11.

12. I turn, then, to consider, first, the property transfer and, secondly, the share buy-back.

The property transfer

13. Mr Davies QC, who appeared for Mr and Mrs Dickinson, challenged Judge Cooke’s conclusions in respect of the property transfer on the basis that theDuomaticprinciple applied or, were that wrong, that relief ought to have been granted under section 1157 of the 2006 Act.

The Duomatic principle

14. TheDuomatic principle takes its name from the decision of Buckley J in Re Duomatic Ltd [1969] 2 Ch 365. In that case, Buckley J said at 373:

“where it can be shown that all shareholders who have a right to attend and vote at a general meeting of the company assent to some matter which a general meeting of the company could carry into effect, that assent is as binding as a resolution in general meeting would be”.

More recently, Neuberger J summarised the principle in these terms in EIC Services Ltd v Phipps [2003] EWHC 1507 (Ch), [2004] 2 BCLC 589 at paragraph 122:

“The essence of the Duomatic principle, as I see it, is that, where the articles of a company require a course to be approved by a group of shareholders at a general meeting, that requirement can be avoided if all members of the group, being aware of the relevant facts, either give their approval to that course, or so conduct themselves as to make it inequitable for them to deny that they have given their approval. Whether the approval is given in advance or after the event, whether it is characterised as agreement, ratification, waiver, or estoppel, and whether members of the group give their consent in different ways at different times, does not matter.”

15. Before Judge Cooke, it was accepted by the Dickinsons’ counsel that, the property transfer not in fact having been approved at a board meeting, “the purported agreement for sale was prima facie void and Mr Dickinson held the property on trust for the company” (paragraph 70 of the judgment). Further, the Judge “reject[ed] the case that the purchase was authorised or ratified by the unanimous approval or acquiescence of the shareholders”. The difficulty, as the Judge saw it, lay with the Pension Scheme. In that connection, the Judge said:

“71. … [Mr Dickinson] was not however the sole trustee of the pension scheme and cannot be regarded as being the alter ego of the trustees collectively. There is no plea that he had authority to act on behalf of the other trustees of the pension scheme, nor is there any evidence from which I can conclude that he had such authority.

72. Mr Dickinson said in evidence that he regarded himself as able to act on behalf of the pension scheme in all matters since he had established it and he and his wife are the beneficiaries of it. The best evidence he could produce in support of that however was a letter written by the professional trustee to a firm of stockbrokers confirming that the brokers could act on Mr Dickinson’s instructions in relation to individual purchases and sales of investments. That was very far from a general authority even in relation to handling trust investments; the same letter makes clear that all investment proceeds are to be paid into anaccount over which the professional trustee has control. There is no evidence that the professional trustee was even told about the property sale, let alone that it actually consented to it or authorised Mr Dickinson to enter into it. Nor is there any pleaded case, or evidence, that the professional trustee came to learn of the property sale and, being aware of its potential invalidity, subsequently consented to it or acquiesced in it.”

16. Before us, Mr Davies advanced essentially two arguments for theDuomatic principle applying to the property transfer. The first was based on Mr and Mrs Dickinson’s membership of the Pension Scheme. Mr Davies argued that they were the only members, that they had assented to the property transfer and that that sufficed for Duomatic purposes. The result would be the same, Mr Davies suggested, even if the Pension Scheme had other potential beneficiaries, in the light of the decision of the Court of Appeal in Butt v Kelson [1952] Ch 197. As for Mrs Dickinson’s position, Mr Davies said that it was enough for his purposes that she could be seen to have left matters to her husband.

17. In the alternative, Mr Davies argued that Mr Dickinson could on his own have represented the Pension Scheme at a meeting of NAL’s shareholders, and voted its shares, and that it followed that Mr Dickinson’s support for the property transfer satisfied the requirements of theDuomatic In this context, the register having been checked since the trial, it is to be noted that the Pension Scheme was entered in NAL’s register of members as “The Trustees of the STB Engineering Limited Directors SSAS”.

18.

19. urning to the contention based on the Dickinsons’ membership of the Pension Scheme, I noted inRe Tulsesense Ltd [201] EWHC 244 (Ch), [2010] 2 BCLC 525 that the question whether the approval of a share’s beneficial owners can satisfy Duomatic requirements had been touched on in several authorities, including Domoney v Godinho [2004] 2 BCLC 15 and Shahar v Tsitsekkos [2004] EWHC 2659 (Ch), in each of which the point was considered unsuitable for summary determination.

20. InTulsesense, I assumed, without deciding, that the assent of the beneficial owners of a share can meet Duomatic requirements. I am prepared to make the same assumption in the present case. Even so, Mr Davies’ argument seems to me to face insuperable obstacles.

21. First, it has not been established that Mrs Dickinson approved the property transfer. The point was not important to the submissions being advanced at trial and so was not explored fully. Such evidence as there is, however, does not show Mrs Dickinson to have given the transfer any thought, let alone to have assented to it. When, for example, she was asked whether she remembered anything about the transaction, she said that she did not, that her husband “might or might not have mentioned it” and that she could not recall whether she had given any consideration to it. Mr Davies countered that it is enough for his purposes that Mrs Dickinson had left matters to her husband, but I do not agree. InSchofield v Schofield [2011] EWCA Civ 154, [2011] 2 BCLC 319, the Court of Appeal, endorsing a passage from Tulsesense, said at paragraph 32 that “nothing short of unqualified agreement, objectively established, will suffice” for the Duomatic principle. In the present case, it is abundantly clear that Mrs Dickinson did not give such agreement to the transfer itself, and neither has it been satisfactorily demonstrated that she delegated matters as regards the Pension Scheme to her husband.

22. Secondly, while Mr and Mrs Dickinson were the Pension Scheme’s only members, they were not its only potential beneficiaries. The version of the Pension Scheme’s rules which was current at the time of the property transfer has not been produced, but we do have rules dated 19 January 2007 which had effect from 6 April 2006. As might be expected, these provided for sums to be paid in certain circumstances to or for the benefit of one or more dependants or “Eligible Recipients”, that expression being defined to refer to a person’s “Spouse, his grandparents, such grandparents’ descendants, such descendants’ Spouses, his Dependants, persons interested in his estate and persons or unincorporated associations whom or that he has nominated to the Trustees in writing”. The position is akin to that inThorpe v Revenue and Customs Commissioners[2010] EWCA Civ 339, [2010] STC 964, where the rule in Saunders v Vautier (1841) Cr & Ph 240, to the effect that “In a case where the persons who between them hold the entirety of the beneficial interests in any particular trust fund are all sui juris and acting together … , they are entitled to direct the trustees how the trust fund may be dealt with” (to quote Walton J in Stephenson v Barclays Bank Trust Co Ltd [1975] 1 WLR 882, at 889), was held not to apply. Thorpe, like the present case, concerned a small self-administered pension scheme. Lloyd LJ said at paragraph 25 that the Saunders v Vautier principle “can in theory apply to a pension trust”, but said that it was clear to him that it was not applicable on the facts.

Likewise, Mr and Mrs Dickinson were never entitled to the whole beneficial interest in the Pension Scheme, with the result that the Saunders v Vautier principle cannot have entitled them to require a transfer to themselves of the Pension Scheme’s shares in NAL.

23. Thirdly, the Dickinsons cannot rely on an agency argument such as Mann J found plausible inShahar v Tsitsekkos. Judge Cooke noted in paragraph 71 of his judgment that there was “no plea that [Mr Dickinson] had authority to act on behalf of the other trustees of the pension scheme, nor is there any evidence from which I can conclude that he had such authority”.

24. Fourthly, in circumstances where (as in the present case) neither the trustees as a body nor all those beneficially interested delegated decision-making to one or more individuals, there can be no question of theDuomaticprinciple applying unless all those with beneficial interests in the shares approved the relevant matter.

Still less can any individual beneficiary or beneficiaries (such as, say, Mr and Mrs Dickinson) compel trustees to take a particular course.

27. In all the circumstances, I do not accept that the Dickinsons’ membership of the Pension Scheme enables them to satisfy the requirements of theDuomatic principle.

28. Mr Davies’ alternative argument was based on the proposition that Mr Dickinson could have represented the Pension Scheme at a meeting of NAL’s shareholders, and voted its shares, on his own..

30. At all events, I do not accept that the trustees of the Pension Scheme are to be taken to have assented to the property transfer forDuomatic purposes. Had the transaction been considered at a general meeting of NAL, Mr Dickinson could not, as it seems to me, have voted the Pension Scheme’s shares without authority from the trustees as a body, and he did not have that. In any case, as Mr Barker pointed out in his able submissions, Mr Davies’ argument would imply that any of the three trustees of the Pension Scheme could have voted its shares, and there is no good reason to take Mr Dickinson’s views as determinative. The Duomatic principle applies where “all shareholders who have a right to attend and vote at a general meeting” assent to a matter (to quote Buckley J in the Duomatic case) or “all members” of a group of shareholders approve (to quote Neuberger J in EIC Services Ltd v Phipps). Here, “The Trustees of the STB Engineering Limited Directors SSAS” were registered as shareholders and entitled to vote, but they did not approve the property transfer.

31. In short, I have not been persuaded that theDuomatic principle applied in relation to the property transfer.

[Omissis]


1. Introduzione.

La pronuncia in epigrafe ha ad oggetto la possibile applicazione del Duomatic principle, conosciuto anche come the unanimous consent rule, ovverosia la «regola del consenso unanime». Secondo questo principio, elaborato dalla giurisprudenza anglosassone nei primi anni del XX secolo, la decisione dei soci adottata senza l’attuazione del procedimento deliberativo formale può essere ritenuta valida ed efficace purché ricorra il consenso di tutti i soci. Il significato di tale regola si risolve nella possibilità per i soci di non osservare la procedura assembleare (meeting of the members) disciplinata alle ss 301- 340 del Company Act 2006 [1]. I soci potranno dunque concordare tra loro una determinata decisione al di fuori dell’organo assembleare, manifestando semplicemente il proprio assenso separatamente e in tempi diversi. In virtù di tale principio, dunque, la decisione unanime dei soci, per quanto informale, sarà efficace e vincolante nei confronti dei soci medesimi e della società. Questa possibilità di «derogare» al procedimento deliberativo trova espresso riconoscimento nella legge [2]. In particolare, il Company Act 2006 alla section 281 n. 4 lett. a) [3] sancisce l’applicabilità di rules of law che riconoscano la possibilità per i soci di assumere decisioni anche senza il rispetto del procedimento [continua ..]

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2. Il caso

Nel caso di specie, la questione sottoposta all’esame della Court of Appeal concerne l’effettiva sussistenza del consenso unanime dei soci con riferimento all’acquisto da parte dell’amministratore della proprietà degli immobili sociali. La vicenda riguarda la limited company inglese Northon Alluminium Limited (NAL), attiva nel settore della fusione e lavorazione dell’alluminio. La compagine sociale contava al suo interno un socio di maggioranza, Mr Dickinson, e due enti soci di minoranza, il cui amministratore (trustee) era lo stesso Mr Dickinson. Il primo ente socio era costituito da un discretonary settlement, ossia una particolare tipologia di trust, caratterizzata dall’ampio potere discrezionale del trustee nella gestione dei beni; il secondo era un pension scheme, cioè un fondo pensionistico privato alla cui gestione partecipavano anche la moglie di Mr Dickinson ed un terzo soggetto nel ruolo di professional trustee. I coniugi Dickinson erano peraltro i membri dell’organo amministrativo di NAL, nonché i beneficiari del fondo pensionistico. Secondo la ricostruzione dei fatti di causa, Mr Dickinson aveva acquistato il complesso degli immobili di NAL e li aveva poi concessi in locazione alla società stessa [6]. In base allo statuto, il compimento di tale operazione era subordinato alla previa approvazione del board [continua ..]

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3. Il Duomatic principle: le origini e il fondamento della regola del consenso unanime

Per comprendere più a fondo il significato del Duomatic principle appare opportuno ripercorrere le origini di questo particolare principio attraverso un breve exursus della giurisprudenza che appare più rilevante sul tema. Il Duomatic Principle deve il proprio nome al caso In Re Duomatic Ltd (1969), in cui il giudice Buckley ha fornito l’espressione più compiuta della regola del consenso unanime [12]. Nel caso di specie, dopo il fallimento della società, il curatore aveva richiesto la restituzione del compenso incassato da uno degli amministratori adducendo come l’attribuzione di tale compenso fosse stata operata in mancanza della necessaria autorizzazione dell’assemblea. Sul punto, il giudice Buckley ha tuttavia rilevato che il riconoscimento del compenso dell’amministratore era di fatto stato oggetto di una decisione – per quanto informale – condivisa all’unanimità di tutti i soci. Su questo presupposto il giudice ha quindi sancito l’equivalenza di tale accordo alla decisione assembleare [13]. Da qui, la nota formulazione del principio [paragrafo 373]: “where it can be shown that all shareholders who have the right to attend and vote at a general meeting of the company assent to some matter which a general meeting of the company could carry into effect, that assent is as binding as a resolution in general meeting would [continua ..]

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4. I limiti del Duomatic principle

Il riconoscimento della possibilità per i soci di decidere con consenso unanime anziché con deliberazione formale pone la questione di verificare se sussistano dei limiti a tale possibilità. La giurisprudenza anglosassone più recente, sulla base di diverse argomentazioni, si è occupata di definire la reale estensione del Duomatic principle e di individuare i limiti oltre ai quali il procedimento deliberativo non può essere derogato. Parte della giurisprudenza anglosassone ha delimitato l’estensione del principio considerando gli interessi che vengono in rilievo rispetto ad una determinata decisione [24]. Secondo tale orientamento [25], laddove l’oggetto della decisione riguardi esclusivamente gli interessi dei soci, il procedimento deliberativo è suscettibile di essere derogato dai soci stessi che potranno, dunque, esprimere il proprio assenso in via informale. Per converso, la decisione informale non potrà essere ritenuta altrettanto valida ed efficace qualora l’oggetto di tale decisione sia idoneo ad incidere sugli interessi dei creditori [26]. La tutela dei creditori configura dunque un limite del Duomatic principle in base al quale il consenso unanime dei soci non può operare come meccanismo di “whitewash” per la violazione di regole congegnate anche a garanzia dei creditori [27]. In altre occasioni, la giurisprudenza ha ritenuto che [continua ..]

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5. Uno sguardo all’ordinamento italiano: le «deroghe» all’atto costitutivo in materia di s.r.l.

L’analisi del significato e dei limiti della regola del consenso unanime induce a chiedersi se nell’ordinamento italiano possano ritenersi altrettanto valide ed efficaci le decisioni dei soci che non seguano il procedimento deliberativo prescritto dal codice civile e dagli statuti societari. Una risposta affermativa, seppur relativa ad una specifica fattispecie, sembra possa essere ritrovata nell’ambito delle s.r.l. Secondo una particolare tesi dottrinale, è possibile riconoscere la validità e l’efficacia di «deroghe» dell’atto costitutivo decise sulla base del consenso unanime dei soci anziché secondo il formale procedimento di modifica previsto dall’art. 2480 del codice civile [31]. È interessante sottolineare come l’argomentazione su cui poggia la tesi citata si avvicina all’interpretazione restrittiva del Duomatic principle operata dalla giurisprudenza anglosassone. Come visto, le corti inglesi ammettono l’applicazione del Duomatic principle quando l’oggetto della decisione incida sulla sola posizione dei soci. Similmente, anche in materia di s.r.l., l’efficacia della deroga informale dell’atto costitutivo viene riconosciuta quando la decisione abbia effetto puntuale [32], vale a dire quando l’efficacia di tale decisione si esaurisca in una singola circostanza od operazione, senza incidere sulla posizione dei terzi (le c.d. [continua ..]

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6. Osservazioni conclusive

Come più sopra esposto, il Duomatic principle è contemplato ma non disciplinato puntualmente dal company law. Prima dell’e­manazione del CA 2006, era stata avanzata la proposta di definire l’ambito di applicazione del principio [36] ma il legislatore inglese ha infine optato per la soluzione opposta [37] con l’inevitabile conseguenza che la determinazione dell’estensione del principio è rimasta ancorata all’interpretazione di volta in volta operata dalla giurisprudenza. Le corti inglesi sono giunte a circoscrivere l’ambito di applicazione del principio mediante argomentazioni basate sulla tutela dei creditori o sulla sussidiarietà del principio rispetto al company law. Tuttavia, è possibile osservare come tali impostazioni non consentano una chiara individuazione di regole procedurali la cui violazione sia sanabile in virtù del consenso unanime. Invero, da un lato non appare agevole stabilire quando il procedimento deliberativo sia preordinato alla tutela esclusiva dei soci e, in quanto tale, derogabile dai soci stessi [38]; dall’altro, non è possibile individuare alcun parametro giurisprudenziale o legislativo sulla base del quale distinguere requisiti o procedure non “fondamentali” [39]. Alla luce di ciò, la questione relativa ai limiti applicativi del Duomatic principle permane e si ripropone [continua ..]

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NOTE

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