As part of my business litigation practice, I regularly represent corporations and shareholders in corporations. On the shareholder side, parties often seek to learn more about what is going on with the corporation they partially own.
Wisconsin law gives shareholders in corporations certain inspection rights depending on the extent or length of their ownership interest in the corporation. Unless you satisfy certain criteria as a shareholder, your inspection rights are generally limited to viewing the corporation’s bylaws and a list of shareholders entitled to notice of a shareholders’ meeting.
If, however, you have owned stock for at least six months or own at least five percent of outstanding shares, your inspection rights as a shareholder are broader. In that case, you may be entitled to access the following:
- Excerpts from any minutes or records that the corporation is required to keep as permanent records. These include: (a) Minutes of meetings of its shareholders and board of directors. (b) Records of actions taken by the shareholders or board of directors without a meeting. (c) Records of actions taken by a committee of the board of directors in place of the board of directors and on behalf of the corporation.
- Accounting records of the corporation.
- The record of shareholders.
While this information could give you a wealth of insight into the workings of a corporation you hold ownership in, you must have a reason to request the information. Specifically, to access the more detailed information described above, you are required to make a written request to the corporation stating a good faith purpose for your inquiry and the records requested must be connected to that purpose.
For more information on these rights please consult the Wisconsin State Legislature.
If you have questions about shareholder rights, please reach out to one of our experienced Business Attorneys.