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Court of Chancery Limits Inspection of Partnership Records

Holman v Northwest Broadcasting LP, C.A. No. 1572-VCN (Del. Ch. March 29, 2007).

When a stockholder or, as here, a partner demands inspection of an entity's records, the usual test of what records are to be produced is what is "essential and necessary" to the proper purpose for that inspection. Here the partner seeking inspection rights had been given audited financial information already. Thus, the Court had to decide if he needed more than those audited reports to accomplish his proper purpose, a valuation of his partnership interests.

As to those items in the audited report that were in enough detail to be used for valuation purposes, the Court denied further inspection. However, the result was different in the case of the audited reports' treatment of executive compensation. In that case, the Court concluded, the information was too general to be useful. How the compensation was allocated was important to any determination of whether that cost could be cut and the entity's value thereby increased. Therefore, the Court ordered that further information breaking down that cost be provided.

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