Tall concrete building
The Supreme Court of Korea (대법원) in Seocho-gu, Seoul. (Via Wikimedia Commons)

In contrast to the previous week’s jam-packed action, last week the Supreme Court of Korea issued just two “major” decisions.

The first case dealt with whether shareholders who have involuntarily lost their shares can continue their suit against a corporation for allegedly violating its voting procedures. (No, they can’t.)

This case, which got some coverage in the English-language Korean press, represents the end (probably) of the long and unhappy Lone Star saga.

The second case addressed whether Korean dentists can lawfully administer botox injections. (Yes, they can!)

Details follow.

  1. Rights of involuntarily divested shareholders

    • Korean caption of case: 주식의 포괄적 교환으로 주주 지위를 상실한 원고들이 주주총회결의 부존재확인 및 취소를 구하는 사건
    • Translation: Case in which plaintiffs, who lost their shareholder status due to all-inclusive share swap, sought revocation and declaratory judgment of of voidness of resolutions adopted at shareholder general meeting
    • Case number: 2015da66397
    • Topic: Business associations – suits by shareholders
    • Appeal from: Seoul High Court
    • Applicable statute: Commercial Act (상법) Article 376
    • Result: Affirmed

    Summary: Plaintiffs owned stock in a corporation (the late lamented Korea Exchange Bank).  They brought suit under Article 376 of the Commercial Act to revoke various resolutions that had been adopted at the general meeting of shareholders. Under Korean law, anyone who stands to derive a legal benefit from such a revocation can sue for it. But previous Korean Supreme Court case law established that plaintiffs lose their standing to bring suit under Article 376 if they cease to be shareholders — for example, if they sell their stock.

    In this case, after the plaintiffs brought their suit, KEB was bought out by Hana Financial Group in a stock swap. The question here was whether the plaintiffs were thereby disqualified from continuing their suit, even though they had been divested of their shares involuntarily. The court held that the rule denying standing to non-shareholders applies regardless of whether the plaintiffs voluntarily ceased to be shareholders or not.

  2. Dentists and botox
    • Korean caption of case: 치과의사의 안면 보톡스 시술에 관한 사건
    • Translation: Case involving facial botox treatment by a dentist
    • Case number: 2013do850
    • Topic: Professional licensing – medical services
    • Appeal from: Seoul Central District Court
    • Applicable statute: Medical Service Act (의료법)
    • Result: Vacated & remanded

    Summary: Under the Medical Service Act, licensed healthcare professionals are criminally liable if they provide medical care outside the scope of their license. But the statute does not define exactly what is “outside the scope.” Previous case law established that the Medical Services Act prohibition should be applied upon due consideration of a variety of factors, including the legislative purpose and whether the relevant licensing requirements would assure a satisfactory level of care, in light of generally accepted notions (사회통념).

    The defendant was a dentist who was convicted of violating the Medical Service Act by providing facial botox injections.  Applying the test it had developed, because licensed dentists in Korea receive substantial training in medical care of not only the teeth but also the entire facial region, the Supreme Court concluded that botox treatments were not outside the scope of a dentist license. Accordingly, the dentist’s conviction was overturned.