Civil Practice and Procedure

Civil Practice and Procedure

Andrew P. Sherrod *
Jaime B. Wisegarver **

This article surveys recent significant developments in Virginia civil practice and procedure. The article discusses opinions of the Supreme Court of Virginia from June 2012 through June 2013 addressing civil procedure topics, significant amendments to the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia concerning procedural issues during the same period, and legislation enacted by the Virginia General Assembly during its 2013 session that relates to civil practice.

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Civil Practice and Procedure

Corporate and Business Law

Laurence V. Parker, Jr. *

In the 2011 session, the Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 2358, Benefit Corporations, to be codified as article 22 (the “Benefit Corporations Article”) of the Virginia Stock Corporation Act (“VSCA”). The Benefit Corporations Article is largely based on legislation prepared in other states and allows a Virginia corporation to elect in its articles of incorporation to be treated as a “benefit corporation.” These for-profit corporations are required to pursue not only profitability but also a general public benefit and, if one so elects, one or more specific public benefits. In Section II of this article, the author discusses the Benefit Corporations Article in detail. Section III examines some aspects of the Benefit Corporations Article for social entrepreneurs and practitioners to consider before making the benefit corporation election. In Section IV, the author asks whether practitioners and social entrepreneurs can achieve some of the same corporate governance objectives by private ordering without electing to be treated as benefit corporations. Finally, Section V concludes with some observations about the Benefit Corporations Article itself.

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*   Partner, Williams Mullen, Richmond, Virginia; J.D., 2003, University of Richmond School of Law; M.B.A., 2003, The Robins School of Business, University of Richmond; B.A., 1995, University of Virginia.

Civil Practice and Procedure

Family Law

Sharon K. Lieblich *

That the Court of Appeals of Virginia has reached its maturity is evident from the court’s recent decisions, which rarely break significant new ground. The last two years have seen the court mainly applying established principles in new contexts, and the most interesting cases tend to be the ones whose unusual facts make them stand out. Consider, for example, L.F. v. Breit, in which a mother who had acknowledged the paternity of the biological father of her child argued—unsuccessfully—that because they had used in vitro fertilization the father had no parental rights. At the other end of the spectrum are the many cases that do not even reach the merits because of some procedural failing on the part of the appealing party, such as not preserving the issue for appeal or failing to include the issue in the opening brief.

The General Assembly and court of appeals have attempted to dig out of the hole created by the decision in Hoy v. Hoy by amending Virginia Code section 20-113 to give Virginia courts the authority to enter a qualified domestic relations order (“QDRO”) or other order enforcing a support order and attaching any pension, profit-sharing, or deferred compensation plan as permitted by the Internal Revenue Code or other federal law. But there seems to be no escape from the rule that the designation of a beneficiary of federal life insurance prevails over all legislative efforts to require the beneficiary to convey the proceeds to the widow of the deceased.

The court of appeals continues to issue mostly unpublished decisions, many of which seem appropriate for publication. Sometimes an unpublished decision will address a legal issue of first impression, and even if the facts are quite unusual, it seems unduly reticent of the court not to publish the case.

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