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Stödbrevet - en avtalsrättslig skvader

Winberg, Felicia LU (2011) JURM01 20111
Department of Law
Abstract
The standard letter of comfort is issued by a parent company for the benefit of its subsidiary or affiliated company, to an external contracting party that has entered, or is about to enter, into agreement with the subsidiary or affiliate. The letter of comfort expresses a certain level of support from the issuer, should the subsidiary or affiliate be unable to perform in accordance with its agreement with the external contracting party.

However, the letter of comfort is a compromise between parties that are unable to agree upon which securities or guarantees must be in place for the agreement’s existence. The issuer normally does not wish to guarantee that the subsidiary will fulfill its commitment and does not wish to lend any... (More)
The standard letter of comfort is issued by a parent company for the benefit of its subsidiary or affiliated company, to an external contracting party that has entered, or is about to enter, into agreement with the subsidiary or affiliate. The letter of comfort expresses a certain level of support from the issuer, should the subsidiary or affiliate be unable to perform in accordance with its agreement with the external contracting party.

However, the letter of comfort is a compromise between parties that are unable to agree upon which securities or guarantees must be in place for the agreement’s existence. The issuer normally does not wish to guarantee that the subsidiary will fulfill its commitment and does not wish to lend any financial support. The external contracting party however, in general a credit institution, insists on the contrary. The letter of comfort in hence written with a conscious double meaning where the issuer can or cannot be considered legally bound to perform in accordance with the letter, depending on how the letter is interpreted. From a legal perspective, it is the double meaning of the letter of comfort that is interesting.

As a rule, according to Swedish law, letters of comfort are considered legally binding guarantees, equal to other, more ordinary, types of securities. However, the Swedish Supreme Court has not been consequent in its rulings regarding letters of comfort. Due to this lack of consequence, the legal implications of the letters of comfort are still discussed and cannot be considered set in stone.

The essay discusses several questions surrounding letters of comfort. It attempts to clarify under which circumstances letters of comfort should be considered legally binding guarantees. It also attempts to answer the questions of how the interpretation of letters of comfort should be conducted, if letters of comfort should be placed in the same category as ordinary securities and guarantees, as well as which issues such a categorization evokes.

To conclude, the essay analyzes the reasons behind the issuing of letters of comfort as well as the future of letters of comfort. The final analysis also addresses some considerations from a perspective of business- and legal economics. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Ett stödbrev utfärdas vanligen av ett moderbolag till en koncernextern part. Stödbrevet uttrycker ett visst stöd för ett dotterbolag i koncernen som den koncernexterna parten har ingått eller skall ingå avtal med. Stödbrevet är en kompromisslösning mellan parter som inte kan enas om vilken typ av säkerhet som måste ställas för att det bakomliggande avtalsförhållandet skall inledas eller fortskrida och det utformas därför med en medveten otydlighet. Utställaren önskar vanligen att undgå bundenhet med en otydlig formulering medan mottagaren önskar det motsatta. Ur ett juridiskt perspektiv är stödbrevet intressant då det under vissa omständigheter har betraktats som en oåterkallelig rättshandling att jämställa med ett borgensåtagande, och... (More)
Ett stödbrev utfärdas vanligen av ett moderbolag till en koncernextern part. Stödbrevet uttrycker ett visst stöd för ett dotterbolag i koncernen som den koncernexterna parten har ingått eller skall ingå avtal med. Stödbrevet är en kompromisslösning mellan parter som inte kan enas om vilken typ av säkerhet som måste ställas för att det bakomliggande avtalsförhållandet skall inledas eller fortskrida och det utformas därför med en medveten otydlighet. Utställaren önskar vanligen att undgå bundenhet med en otydlig formulering medan mottagaren önskar det motsatta. Ur ett juridiskt perspektiv är stödbrevet intressant då det under vissa omständigheter har betraktats som en oåterkallelig rättshandling att jämställa med ett borgensåtagande, och under andra omständigheter har ansetts vara en utfästelse rebus sic stantibus, avhängig av omständigheterna vid handlingens utfärdande.

Efter HD:s senaste dom, NJA 1995 s. 586, där stödbrevet befanns vara en rättshandling att jämställa med borgensåtagande, antyddes i doktrinen att stödbrevets ställning i svensk rätt fastställts, så att saken därmed var klar. Detta ställningstagande har dock på senaste år ställts något på ända, både då stödbrevet de facto har fortsatt att figurera trots prognoser om dess försvinnande och då Hovrätten över Skåne och Blekinge i det s.k. Scandoramafallet från 2001 till synes ignorerade HD senaste prejudikat och istället fann stödbrevet vara en utfästelse rebus sic stantibus i enlighet med praxis från början av 1990–talet. HD:s beslut att inte medge prövningstillstånd underblåste känslan av ett oklart rättsläge. Till detta kan läggas en internationell syn på stödbrevet som går stick i stäv med den svenska.

Uppsatsen behandlar hur tolkning skall bedrivas på stödbrev och besvarar frågan om vilka förutsättningar som skall vara för handen för att stödbrev skall anses vara rättsligt bindande. Vidare behandlar uppsatsen hur stödbrev förhåller sig i jämförelse med reguljära borgensåtaganden och vilka frågor som aktualiseras vid ett jämställande med borgen. Bland annat behandlas frågan om en eventuell redovisningsplikt. Uppsatsen berör även frågan om på vilka alternativa grunder ett ersättningskrav kan riktas mot utställare av sådana stödbrev som inte anses utgöra bindande utfästelser.

Avslutningsvis görs en analys av stödbrevets orsaker och dess framtid. I analysen knyts samtliga aspekter samman till en prognos av stödbrevets rättsliga och praktiska relevans för kommersiella parter. I analysen framförs även ett antal rätts¬– och företagsekonomiska aspekter på stödbrevet. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Winberg, Felicia LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Letters of Comfort - Comforting or not?
course
JURM01 20111
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Letter of comfort, letter of awareness, letter of support, letter of understanding, stödbrev
language
Swedish
id
1917380
date added to LUP
2011-05-09 16:32:26
date last changed
2011-05-09 16:32:26
@misc{1917380,
  abstract     = {The standard letter of comfort is issued by a parent company for the benefit of its subsidiary or affiliated company, to an external contracting party that has entered, or is about to enter, into agreement with the subsidiary or affiliate. The letter of comfort expresses a certain level of support from the issuer, should the subsidiary or affiliate be unable to perform in accordance with its agreement with the external contracting party.  

However, the letter of comfort is a compromise between parties that are unable to agree upon which securities or guarantees must be in place for the agreement’s existence. The issuer normally does not wish to guarantee that the subsidiary will fulfill its commitment and does not wish to lend any financial support. The external contracting party however, in general a credit institution, insists on the contrary. The letter of comfort in hence written with a conscious double meaning where the issuer can or cannot be considered legally bound to perform in accordance with the letter, depending on how the letter is interpreted.  From a legal perspective, it is the double meaning of the letter of comfort that is interesting. 

As a rule, according to Swedish law, letters of comfort are considered legally binding guarantees, equal to other, more ordinary, types of securities. However, the Swedish Supreme Court has not been consequent in its rulings regarding letters of comfort. Due to this lack of consequence, the legal implications of the letters of comfort are still discussed and cannot be considered set in stone. 

The essay discusses several questions surrounding letters of comfort. It attempts to clarify under which circumstances letters of comfort should be considered legally binding guarantees. It also attempts to answer the questions of how the interpretation of letters of comfort should be conducted, if letters of comfort should be placed in the same category as ordinary securities and guarantees, as well as which issues such a categorization evokes.

To conclude, the essay analyzes the reasons behind the issuing of letters of comfort as well as the future of letters of comfort. The final analysis also addresses some considerations from a perspective of business- and legal economics.},
  author       = {Winberg, Felicia},
  keyword      = {Letter of comfort,letter of awareness,letter of support,letter of understanding,stödbrev},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Stödbrevet - en avtalsrättslig skvader},
  year         = {2011},
}