The press release by Arca Capital, which previously announced it is pursuing appraisal with respect to AmTrust Financial, highlights a basic question in appraisal: How public are the proceedings?

As an initial matter, you do not need to be as public as Arca.  The appraisal process starts with a series of letters to ‘perfect’ your appraisal rights – and that occurs between you, your lawyers, and the relevant brokers and nominees.  Then, you need to demand appraisal – a step that involves contacting the company.  From there, paths can diverge.  One may file an appraisal petition; but if you do not, the Company must file one by statute (keep in mind, appraisal is not technically adversarial – its why many of the case names are “In re: the appraisal of” and not X v Y).  And at times, you can ‘tag along’ on appraisal because someone else filed a petition, but you properly sought appraisal.

At some point your name will become public – appraisal proceedings, like the vast majority of American court proceedings, occur in the public domain.

But even then, not every part of an appraisal proceeding will be public.  Companies, and investors, have an interest in preserving the confidentiality of their documents and analyses, and Courts often allow confidentiality stipulations and orders, as well as a variety of mechanisms to keep private information private.