Thursday, April 25, 2013


There is some confusion about whether this subsection begins, “A corporation shall have power to indemnify ...” or “A corporation may indemnify ...”. As originally enacted, § 145(a) contained the phrase “shall have power”. 56 Del. Laws 50, § 1 at 170 (1967). According to the annotations in the Delaware Code Annotated (and confirmed by a review of the legislative records since 1967), § 145(a) has never been amended. See 8 Del.Code Ann. tit. 8, § 145(a) (1991 & 1995 Supp.).

Nevertheless, the Delaware Code Annotated, a private compilation by the Michie Company of all Delaware legislative acts, at some point began using the phrase “may” in place of “shall have power”. See 8 Del.Code Ann. tit. 8, § 145(a) (1974). We have not been able to explain this non-legislative change in statutory language. The Delaware Corporation Law Annotated, published by the Corporation Trust Company, continues to use the phrase “shall have power”. Del. Corp. L. Ann. § 145(a) (20th ed. Corp.Trust.Co.1991).

One treatise uses the phrase “shall have power”, see Ernest L. Folk, III, et al., Folk on the Delaware General Corporation Law at 145:1 (3d ed.1994), while another uses “may”. See 5 R. Franklin Balotti & Jesse A. Finkelstein, The Delaware Law of Corporations and Business Organizations at 100 (1990 & 1993 Supp.) (“Balotti & Finkelstein”). The parties to this appeal perpetuate the confusion: their joint appendix contains a version of § 145(a) that says “shall have power”, but one of the briefs quotes a version that says “may”.

When there is a conflict between an original enactment of the Delaware Legislature and the codification of the law, the original enactment controls. Elliott v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield, 407 A.2d 524, 528 (Del.1979); Kimmey v. Farmers Bank, 373 A.2d 569, 570 (Del.1977). We therefore employ the Legislature's version of § 145(a), which says “shall have power”.
Waltuch v. Conticommodity Servs., Inc., 88 F.3d 87, 90 n.6 (2d Cir. 1996) (discussing what 8 Del.Code § 145(a) actually says).

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