First, “at will” means that the shareholders meeting can oust incumbent directors at any time. In other words, they are not obliged to wait until the annual general meeting and can proceed to the removal in an extraordinary general meeting. Second, if shareholders can truly remove directors at will, they do not need to show a good cause for removal. In fact, they do not need to mention any cause at all, and often it is considered prudent not to do so. This condition bears on the third component of at will removal, namely that removal cannot in itself trigger any duty to pay an indemnification or termination fee….a fourth condition must be added to this list, namely that the shareholders meeting is allowed to remove any number of directors at the same time…At will removability of directors, one can conclude, limits directors’ relative independence within the corporation, thereby mitigating their failure to align with shareholder interests while exacerbating the potential for conflicts of interest among controlling and minority shareholders
Still, at will revocability of corporate directors was foreign to American law as well as to English law. American jurisprudence and scholarship refers to common law as stipulating that “shareholders could remove a director only ‘for cause’”. The same holds for legislative efforts: according to the Official Comment on MBCA §8.08, the common law position was “that directors have a statutory entitlement to their office and can be removed only for cause – fraud, criminal conduct, gross abuse of office amounting to a breach of trust, or similar conduct.” This position was derived from “the conception that the power of directors was drawn from the statute and not solely from the shareholders”.