Protecting Your Interests: The Role of Reps and Warranties in M&A

Jeffery Baxter

Sellers Seller Articles Seller FAQ

When it comes to the details of selling your business, you've likely considered aspects such as price, non-compete agreements, the training period, and the closing date.

These elements are undoubtedly crucial to the success of your transaction. But there is one aspect that often goes overlooked and it holds tremendous significance: representations and warranties.

Representations and warranties, often referred to as “reps and warranties,” are the statements of fact you make about your business during an M&A transaction. They serve as assurances to the buyer, providing crucial information about the state of your business and its various aspects.

While they may seem like technical jargon, understanding and carefully crafting reps and warranties are paramount to protecting your interests and ensuring a smooth sale.

At MidStreet, we've witnessed the pivotal role reps and warranties play in shaping successful deals. That's why we’re dedicated to providing you with the knowledge and resources to navigate this critical aspect of the transaction.

In the sections that follow, I will guide you through the nuts and bolts of reps and warranties, explore their purpose and implications, and shed light on some common questions.

By the end of this article, you will possess the insights and confidence needed to navigate this critical aspect of your business sale and protect your interests throughout the M&A journey.

Let’s jump in!

Table of Contents

Section 1: The Nuts and Bolts: Representations and Warranties

Section 2: Statements of Facts and Assurances

Section 3: Scopes and Modifiers in Risk Allocation

Section 4: Capping Damages to Mitigate Risk

Section 5: There has been a Breach – Now What?

Section 6: The Emergence of Reps and Warranties Insurance

Section 7: How Buyers Use Reps and Warranties to Force Seller Disclosure and Allocate Risk

Section 8: Summary

Section 1: The Nuts and Bolts: Representations and Warranties

When selling your business, you will make statements of fact about the business in order to induce a buyer to enter the transaction.

These statements, known as representations and warranties, appear in your definitive documents (asset purchase agreement or stock purchase agreement), and are heavily negotiated between the parties as a means of allocating risk.

Reps and warranties form the bedrock of trust and transparency in the sale of your business.

They cover various aspects, including the financial health of your business, its legal compliance, operational status, and more.

These assertions are crucial as they provide the buyer with a certain level of confidence regarding the condition of the business they are acquiring.

During the negotiation process, both you and the buyer will carefully scrutinize these reps and warranties to ensure they accurately reflect the true state of your business. This meticulous examination helps identify and allocate potential risks associated with the transaction.

For example, your representations may include statements such as your business being in good repair, the absence of hazardous substances, compliance with all applicable laws, or your legal capacity to sign the purchase agreement.

On the other hand, warranties assure the buyer that certain assurances will be upheld, such as your commitment to operate the business in a regular and normal manner or to fulfill specific obligations until the closing.

These reps and warranties play a vital role in protecting both parties. The buyer relies on them to make informed decisions about the acquisition, while you seek to mitigate potential future liabilities and ensure the buyer's confidence in the transaction.

In a traditional M&A transaction, you (and/or shareholders) agree to indemnify the buyer for any breaches of the representations and warranties, subject to negotiated caps, baskets, exclusions, and time limits. This indemnification serves as a mechanism for addressing any financial losses that may arise if the reps and warranties are inaccurate or breached.

Negotiating and finalizing the reps and warranties is a critical step in your M&A transaction. It requires careful attention to detail, thorough due diligence, and the expertise of experienced professionals, such as M&A advisors and attorneys, to ensure your interests are protected.

As we delve deeper into the world of reps and warranties, we will explore how they function, their importance in the buying and selling process, and the impact they have on mitigating risk in your M&A transaction.

Section 2: Statements of Facts and Assurances

Representations and warranties cover a wide range of topics that are critical to the buying and selling process. By addressing these issues, both parties can gain a comprehensive understanding of the business and mitigate potential risks.

Let's explore some of the common issues typically addressed by reps and warranties:

  1. Corporate Authority: This includes statements regarding the seller's authority to enter into the transaction and sell the business.
  2. Brokers' Fees: The representations and warranties may cover the payment of any fees or commissions owed to brokers or intermediaries involved in the transaction.
  3. Insurance: The representations and warranties may address the status and adequacy of insurance coverage for the business, including liability, property, and other relevant types of insurance.
  4. Compliance with Laws: This encompasses statements regarding the business's compliance with applicable laws, regulations, permits, licenses, and any ongoing legal obligations.
  5. Employee Benefits: The representations and warranties may cover matters related to employee benefit plans, including retirement plans, health insurance, and other benefits provided to employees.
  6. Product Liability and Warranties: These address the accuracy of product warranties and any potential liabilities associated with product defects or other product-related claims.
  7. Material Contracts: The representations and warranties may focus on the existence, validity, and key terms of important contracts, such as customer agreements, supplier contracts, leases, and other significant agreements.
  8. Capitalization: This includes statements about the capital structure of the business, including the number of outstanding shares, stock options, warrants, and any restrictions on the transfer of shares.
  9. Intellectual Property: The representations and warranties may cover intellectual property rights, such as patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets, and ensure that the business has the necessary rights to use and protect such intellectual property.
  10. Title to Assets: This addresses the ownership and clear title to the business's assets, including real estate, equipment, inventory, and intellectual property.
  11. Taxes: The representations and warranties may cover tax-related matters, including the accuracy of tax returns, payment of taxes, and any ongoing tax disputes or audits.
  12. Real Property: This involves statements regarding the ownership, condition, and legal compliance of any real estate owned or leased by the business.
  13. Personal Property: The representations and warranties may cover the ownership, condition, and legal compliance of personal property assets, such as vehicles, equipment, and machinery.
  14. Financial Statements: This includes representations regarding the accuracy and completeness of financial statements, ensuring that they have been prepared in accordance with applicable accounting standards.
  15. Inventory: The representations and warranties may address the accuracy of inventory counts, valuation methods, and any potential issues related to obsolete or slow-moving inventory.
  16. Customer Agreements: This involves statements regarding the existence, terms, and status of key customer agreements and relationships.
  17. Environmental Issues: The representations and warranties may cover environmental compliance, including any known environmental contamination, permits, and ongoing environmental obligations.

Section 3: Scopes and Modifiers in Risk Allocation

Scopes and modifiers are important elements in the risk allocation process of representations and warranties. They provide further clarity and define the boundaries of indemnification obligations.

"Scopes" refer to the extent or breadth of the reps and warranties being made. They define the range of coverage and specify the subject matter to which the reps and warranties apply.

Scopes can be broad or narrow, depending on the negotiation and the level of detail desired.

Clarifying the scope of reps and warranties helps ensure that both parties have a clear understanding of the risks associated with the transaction.

"Modifiers" modify the reps and warranties by adding qualifiers or conditions to their statements.

Some common modifiers include:

  • "to the best of the seller's knowledge"
  • "materially"
  • "to the extent required by law"
  • "except as otherwise disclosed"

These modifiers help qualify the assertions made, limiting the seller's liability and clarifying the circumstances under which indemnification may be sought.

Modifiers are negotiated to provide balance and mitigate potential disputes over the interpretation of reps and warranties.

Scopes and modifiers are key components of risk allocation, ensuring a fair and balanced agreement. Careful consideration of these elements is essential during negotiations to protect your interests while still providing the buyer with reasonable recourse for breaches or inaccuracies.

Section 4: Capping Damages to Mitigate Risk

In addition to scopes and modifiers, it's important to consider capping damages as a means to mitigate risk and protect your interests. By implementing certain measures, you can limit your potential exposure and provide a level of certainty in the transaction.

Indemnification rights in transaction agreements are contractual in nature, which means that the parties involved can typically define the scope of their indemnification obligations.

As the seller, you have the opportunity to limit the buyer's potential recovery by imposing caps on the damages they can seek in case of a breach of representations and warranties.


Caps define the maximum dollar limit of the seller's indemnification obligations. They establish the upper limit of financial liability for the seller, providing a degree of certainty and protection. Caps help sellers manage their potential exposure to significant indemnification claims. 

By incorporating a cap on damages, you are setting a maximum dollar limit on your indemnification obligations. This serves to protect you from excessive financial liability and provides a level of predictability in terms of potential losses.

The negotiation of caps requires careful consideration and should be approached strategically. You need to evaluate the potential risks associated with your representations and warranties, and then determine an appropriate cap that balances your willingness to assume liability with your desire to limit exposure.

It's worth noting that while capping damages can provide a safeguard, it's important to ensure the cap is reasonable and does not unreasonably restrict the buyer's ability to seek compensation for legitimate breaches. Striking the right balance is key to maintaining a fair and equitable agreement.

It's also important to note that while caps impose a limit on ordinary breaches, they may not apply to claims arising from fraud, which are typically not subject to caps.

Alongside capping damages, another important aspect to consider is the use of baskets.


Baskets act as a threshold that must be met before a dispute can be initiated or indemnification can be sought. They represent the minimum amount of losses that the buyer must incur before being eligible for indemnification. Baskets are similar to insurance deductibles and serve to limit the buyer's ability to seek indemnity for minor losses or trivial breaches. 

Baskets represent a minimum threshold that must be met before a dispute can be initiated. Similar to an insurance deductible, the basket acts as a buffer by requiring the buyer to absorb the initial losses up to a certain predetermined amount before they can seek indemnification from you.

For example, if the basket amount is $100,000, the buyer must first incur losses exceeding $100,000 before they can pursue indemnification for those losses.

By implementing baskets and caps, you can effectively manage your potential exposure and allocate risk in a more controlled manner. These provisions provide a level of protection and certainty for both parties involved in the transaction.

It's essential to work closely with experienced M&A advisors and attorneys throughout the negotiation process to ensure that the caps and baskets are appropriately structured and align with your goals. They can provide valuable insights and help you navigate the complexities of capping damages, ensuring a fair and balanced agreement.

Section 5: There Has Been a Breach – Now What?

When selling your business, it's important to be prepared for the possibility of breaches in the representations and warranties you provided to the buyer. Understanding the procedures and remedies for resolving these breaches is crucial.

The purchase agreement typically outlines the specific procedures for addressing breaches or inaccuracies in the representations and warranties, except in cases of fraud.

This section, often referred to as "Disputes," establishes the mechanism for resolving conflicts and may involve arbitration, litigation, or alternative dispute resolution methods.

If a breach or inaccuracy is identified, the buyer can seek remedies as specified in the purchase agreement. The available remedies are usually negotiated between the parties.

To navigate these situations effectively, it's essential to work closely with an experienced M&A attorney and advisor who can help negotiate and draft the agreement language. They can also guide you in understanding the dispute resolution provisions and available options to address any disputes that may arise.

Common remedies for breaches in representations and warranties include: 

  1. Holdbacks: Holdbacks involve setting aside a portion of the purchase price in escrow for a defined period after closing. We typically see buyers request a percentage of the purchase price be held for a specific period, usually between six and 24 months. This amount serves as a source of funds to compensate the buyer for losses resulting from breaches. It ensures that funds are available to cover indemnification purposes if any inaccuracies are discovered. Holdbacks are usually released to the seller after the holdback period, subject to valid indemnification claims.
  2. Setoff: Setoff allows the buyer to offset any future payments owed to the seller, such as earnouts or promissory notes, against losses incurred due to breaches. This provides the buyer with a means to recover their losses without direct financial outlays
  3. Litigation: In some cases, parties may resort to litigation to resolve disputes arising from breaches. This is usually a last resort. It involves bringing the matter before a court, where a judge or jury determines the appropriate remedies and damages

It's important to note that claims of indemnification for breach of representations and warranties can also be accompanied by claims for fraud. If the buyer discovers fraudulent actions or misrepresentations, they may have additional options for seeking remedies beyond the negotiated indemnification provisions.

In summary, addressing breaches in representations and warranties requires following the procedures outlined in the purchase agreement and seeking remedies through indemnification provisions.

Understanding the dispute resolution process, available remedies, and the impact of baskets and caps is crucial in effectively managing breaches and their financial implications. 

Section 6: The Emergence of Representations and Warranties Insurance

As the landscape of M&A transactions continues to evolve, the emergence of representations and warranties insurance (R&W insurance) has become a game-changer.

R&W insurance provides an additional layer of protection and coverage for breaches of representations and warranties in the transaction agreement.

Traditionally, sellers have been responsible for indemnifying buyers for any losses resulting from breaches of reps and warranties. However, R&W insurance shifts a significant portion of this risk from the seller to an insurance company.

R&W insurance is most commonly purchased by the buyer, but it provides benefits to sellers as well. By having R&W insurance in place, sellers can exit the deal with greater certainty, as it limits or eliminates the need for them to provide indemnity directly.

This can make your business more attractive to potential buyers, as it eliminates the need for significant holdbacks and provides the buyer with more time to discover any issues with the transaction.

One of the key advantages of R&W insurance is that it allows the parties involved to more efficiently negotiate the transaction agreement. With the insurance in place, the need for extensive negotiation and scrutiny of the representations and warranties is reduced. This can streamline the process and expedite the transaction, saving time and effort for both you and the buyer.

In the event of a breach of the representations and warranties, the buyer can turn to the R&W insurance policy for recovery instead of seeking direct indemnification from you. This not only protects you from potential financial losses but also provides the buyer with an added layer of confidence and security in the transaction.

It's important to note that while R&W insurance can be a valuable tool in the M&A process, it is not a substitute for thorough due diligence or carefully crafted reps and warranties. Instead, it complements these crucial elements of a transaction to create a more secure, more confident, and ultimately more successful sale.

When considering the option of R&W insurance, it's essential to work with experienced insurance brokers and advisors who specialize in M&A transactions. They can guide you through the process, help you understand the coverage, and ensure that the policy aligns with your specific needs and the requirements of the transaction.

The emergence of reps and warranties insurance has revolutionized the M&A landscape, providing an innovative solution that benefits both buyers and sellers. It offers a win-win scenario by reducing risk, enhancing transaction efficiency, and instilling greater confidence in the deal.

Section 7: How Buyers Use Reps and Warranties to Force Seller Disclosure and Allocate Risk

Buyers utilize reps and warranties strategically to ensure they receive accurate and complete information about the business they are acquiring. This enables them to make informed decisions and allocate risk appropriately.

Let's explore how buyers leverage representations and warranties to force seller disclosure and allocate risk:

  1. Disclosing Material Facts: Reps and warranties serve as a mechanism for sellers to disclose material facts about the business. Buyers include a comprehensive set of reps and warranties in the purchase agreement, covering various aspects of the business. These assertions prompt sellers to provide truthful and detailed information, enabling buyers to assess potential risks and opportunities.
  2. Due Diligence: By scrutinizing the reps and warranties made by the seller, buyers can identify areas that require further investigation during the due diligence process. If a buyer suspects potential issues or discrepancies, they can request additional information, documents, or clarifications to ensure a thorough evaluation of the business. This process helps buyers gain a deeper understanding of the business's current state and make informed decisions.
  3. Risk Allocation: Reps and warranties play a critical role in allocating risk between the buyer and the seller. Through negotiations, the parties determine which risks are assumed by each party. Buyers carefully review and evaluate the representations and warranties to assess the potential risks associated with the business. They may seek specific warranties to mitigate those risks or negotiate additional protection through indemnification provisions.
  4. Escrow Holdbacks: Buyers often negotiate for a portion of the purchase price to be held in escrow for a specified period after closing. This holdback serves as a form of security and provides the buyer with a source of funds in case of breaches or inaccuracies in the representations and warranties. It incentivizes sellers to provide accurate and reliable information during the transaction.
  5. Indemnification: In the event of a breach or inaccuracy in a representation or warranty, buyers may seek indemnification from the seller. This involves requesting financial compensation to cover the losses incurred as a result of the breach. Indemnification provisions are negotiated to ensure that the buyer has recourse and can recover damages in case of any misrepresentations or breaches.

By leveraging representations and warranties, buyers compel sellers to disclose material facts, conduct thorough due diligence, and allocate risk effectively. This process promotes transparency, reduces uncertainties, and allows buyers to make informed decisions regarding the transaction.

Section 8: Summary

In this article, we’ve explored the role of representations and warranties in the context of M&A transactions. I know, it’s a lot to take in! But as a seller of a mid-sized business, understanding representations and warranties is crucial to protect yourself and navigate the transaction successfully.

By disclosing material facts and allocating risk, reps and warranties contribute to a smoother and more transparent transaction.

Let's recap the main points we've covered:

  1. Reps and warranties are not merely formalities but integral components of the transaction agreement. They are heavily negotiated and serve to allocate risk between the parties.
  2. Reps and warranties are statements of fact made by the seller about the business to induce the buyer to enter the transaction. They enable you to provide valuable information about the business, set expectations, and establish trust with the buyer.
  3. Breaches of representations and warranties can have financial implications. Indemnification provisions outline remedies for breaches, and holdbacks or setoffs may be utilized. Dispute resolution, baskets, and caps also play a role in addressing breaches.
  4. Reps and warranties insurance (R&W insurance) has emerged as a valuable tool in M&A transactions. It shifts a significant portion of risk from the seller to an insurance company and provides added security and confidence for both parties.
  5. Reps and warranties cover various aspects of the business, including corporate authority, compliance with laws, employee benefits, financial statements, intellectual property, and more.
  6. The purposes of reps and warranties include flushing out material facts during due diligence, functioning as termination rights or closing conditions, and allocating risk between the buyer and seller.
  7. If a representation or warranty is breached or inaccurate, dispute resolution procedures are followed, and remedies such as holdbacks, setoffs, or litigation may be pursued. Baskets and caps set thresholds and limits for indemnification.
  8. Buyers utilize reps and warranties to force seller disclosure of material facts, conduct thorough due diligence, and allocate risk effectively. Escrow holdbacks and indemnification provisions provide buyers with recourse in case of breaches or inaccuracies.
  9. Baskets, caps, scopes, and modifiers further define the boundaries and specifics of indemnification obligations, promoting fair and balanced risk allocation.

Understanding the intricacies of reps and warranties empowers you as a seller. By being conservative in the representations you make, hiring experienced M&A advisors and attorneys, and conducting thorough due diligence, you can protect your interests and increase the likelihood of a successful transaction.

You're one step closer to mastering the nuances of the M&A process, and that's a significant achievement! Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to something as important as selling your business.


Congratulations! You’ve gained some valuable insights.

Selling your business is a significant endeavor, and understanding the importance of reps and warranties will help you navigate the process with confidence and protect your interests.  

At MidStreet, we have a deep understanding of the complexities involved in the M&A process. With over 20 years of experience and more than 400 successful transactions under our belt, we’re committed to providing you the resources and expertise needed to navigate the sale of your business with confidence.

We invite you to continue your educational journey by exploring our resource center. Dive into our collection of videos, articles, and e-books, all developed to to address common questions, share valuable insights, and equip you with the knowledge to make informed decisions.

Or just give us a call. Our analysts are here to provide personalized consultations, understand your unique situation, and guide you through every step of the journey... even if you're not quite ready to sell.

We wish you the best of luck as you embark on the path to selling your business, and look forward to the possibility of working together to achieve your goals.

Know Your Company's Worth

Prepare to sell by determining the value of your business.


Subscribe To