Advanced

I gränslandet mellan aktiebolags- och obligationsrätt - En principiell analys av aktieägaravtalets rättsverkningar i ljuset av den aktiebolagsrättsliga separationsprincipen

Nordlander, Anna LU (2014) JURM02 20141
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Aktieägaravtal är mycket vanligt förekommande i svenska privata aktiebolag. Avtalsformen är sprungen ur det praktiska rättslivet och saknar legaldefinition. Avtalen ger aktieägare möjlighet att värna om ägarintressen som avviker från ABLs värdemonistiska syn på aktiebolag som kapitalassociationer med rent vinstmaximeringssyfte. Det utbredda användandet av aktieägaravtal blottlägger den diskrepans som råder mellan ABLs syn på aktiebolagets funktion, och den roll som aktiebolag i realiteten ofta spelar.

Traditionellt uppfattas obligations- och aktiebolagsrätten som två inbördes autonoma rättsområden. Autonomiföreställningen har resulterat i att man brukar skilja mellan aktieägaravtals obligations- och aktiebolagsrättsliga... (More)
Aktieägaravtal är mycket vanligt förekommande i svenska privata aktiebolag. Avtalsformen är sprungen ur det praktiska rättslivet och saknar legaldefinition. Avtalen ger aktieägare möjlighet att värna om ägarintressen som avviker från ABLs värdemonistiska syn på aktiebolag som kapitalassociationer med rent vinstmaximeringssyfte. Det utbredda användandet av aktieägaravtal blottlägger den diskrepans som råder mellan ABLs syn på aktiebolagets funktion, och den roll som aktiebolag i realiteten ofta spelar.

Traditionellt uppfattas obligations- och aktiebolagsrätten som två inbördes autonoma rättsområden. Autonomiföreställningen har resulterat i att man brukar skilja mellan aktieägaravtals obligations- och aktiebolagsrättsliga rättsverkningar. Aktieägaravtals aktiebolagsrättsliga effekt kan sammanfattas med hjälp av den aktiebolagsrättsliga separationsprincipen, som trots att den inte är lagstadgad anses utgöra gällande rätt. Principen stadgar att avtal aldrig i frånvaro av lagstöd medför aktiebolagsrättsliga verkningar. Principens innebörd och tillämpningsomfång har länge debatteras. Dess grundläggande premiss är en tydlig avgränsning av aktiebolagsrätten som självständigt rättsområde, men ifråga om hur denna avgränsning ska ske råder oenighet. Två huvudsakliga alternativ debatteras i rättsvetenskapen: det första låter ABL verka avgränsande för aktiebolagsrätten; det andra alternativet avgränsar aktiebolagsrätten till att uteslutande omfatta aktiebolagets inre rättsförhållanden. Uppsatsen finner att den restriktiva avgränsningen genererar mer ändamålsenliga rättsverkningar och därför bör tillämpas.

På vissa håll har det diskuterats om avtal under de rätta förutsättningarna bör ges aktiebolagsrättslig verkan. De lege lata erkänns inga sådana undantag från den aktiebolagsrättsliga separationsprincipen. De lege ferenda går det däremot att finna skäl som talar för en liberalisering av rätten i denna aspekt. Jag anser dock att fördelarna med en eventuell liberalisering inte överväger nackdelarna och att den aktiebolagsrättsliga separationsprincipen därför bör vara undantagslös även i framtiden.

Osäkerheten som omgärdar den aktiebolagsrättsliga separationsprincipen renderar aktieägaravtals rättsverkningar oklara. För att råda bot på detta bör principen kodifieras i enlighet med dess rådande lydelse. Kodifieringen kompletteras lämpligen med en legaldefinition av begreppet aktiebolagsrättsliga verkningar. Principens tillämpningsområde kommer då slutgiltigt att knytas till de normer som förfogar över bolagets inre rättsförhållande. Den föreslagna kodifieringen kommer att bringa klarhet i aktieägaravtals bolagsrättsliga verkningar. Klargörandet kommer i sin tur att öka möjligheten till långsiktighet och förutsebarhet i aktieägares samverkan. (Less)
Abstract
Shareholder agreements are commonly used in Swedish limited companies. This is a type of contract that has evolved without any involvement from the legislator, and therefore lacks a legal definition. The contracts allow for the protection of shareholders' interests when they deviate from the monistic notion of the Swedish Companies Act, which states that limited companies are pure capitalist firms with the sole interest of profit maximization. The existence of shareholders agreements exposes the discrepancy between the stereotypical image of limited companies inherent in Swedish company law and the fact that, in reality, companies frequently do not adhere to this image.

Traditionally Swedish law contains a fundamental idea of... (More)
Shareholder agreements are commonly used in Swedish limited companies. This is a type of contract that has evolved without any involvement from the legislator, and therefore lacks a legal definition. The contracts allow for the protection of shareholders' interests when they deviate from the monistic notion of the Swedish Companies Act, which states that limited companies are pure capitalist firms with the sole interest of profit maximization. The existence of shareholders agreements exposes the discrepancy between the stereotypical image of limited companies inherent in Swedish company law and the fact that, in reality, companies frequently do not adhere to this image.

Traditionally Swedish law contains a fundamental idea of separation between company law and contract law. The two areas of law are considered mutually autonomous; hence the effects of shareholders agreements in contract law and corporate law are generally separated. Shareholder agreements are only given company law effects when statutory law provides explicit legal support; a concept referred to as the separation principle. Although lacking explicit statutory legal support, the principle constitutes law. The scope of the principle has been disputed. Some claim that the principle should be interpreted as including everything that is dealt with by the Swedish Companies Act, while others claim that its scope only covers a company’s internal legal relations. This paper hypothesizes that, when considered an independent legal field, company law exclusively includes the company’s internal legal relations. Such a distinction generates more appropriate legal consequences, and thus the restrictive interpretation of the principle applies.

Some scholars have argued that under certain circumstances shareholders agreements should have company law effects outside of those explicitly prescribed in statutory law. However there is no support for this view and de lege lata Swedish law does not permit any exceptions to the separation principle. De lege ferenda on the other hand – an argument could be made that such a liberalization of company law might be desirable. The author of this essay however believes that the benefits of liberalization would not outweigh the disadvantages, and that the separation principle therefore should remain absolute.

The uncertainty surrounding the company law separation principle makes the legal effect of shareholder agreements unclear. In order to remedy this, the separation principle should be codified in accordance with its current wording. The codification should be accompanied by a legal definition, defining company law in relation to the principle as exclusively including the company´s internal legal relation. Through a codification the separation principle’s scope will be exclusively linked to the company’s internal legal relations. The proposed codification would bring clarity to the corporate impact of various shareholder agreements; and expand the possibility of shareholders to implement predictability in their collaboration. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Nordlander, Anna LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
In the twilight zone between company law and contract law – an analysis of the shareholder agreement’s legal effects in relation to the separation principle
course
JURM02 20141
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
associationsrätt, aktiebolagsrättslig separationsprincip, aktieägaravtal
language
Swedish
id
4451410
date added to LUP
2014-06-12 08:57:44
date last changed
2014-06-12 08:57:44
@misc{4451410,
  abstract     = {Shareholder agreements are commonly used in Swedish limited companies. This is a type of contract that has evolved without any involvement from the legislator, and therefore lacks a legal definition. The contracts allow for the protection of shareholders' interests when they deviate from the monistic notion of the Swedish Companies Act, which states that limited companies are pure capitalist firms with the sole interest of profit maximization. The existence of shareholders agreements exposes the discrepancy between the stereotypical image of limited companies inherent in Swedish company law and the fact that, in reality, companies frequently do not adhere to this image. 

Traditionally Swedish law contains a fundamental idea of separation between company law and contract law. The two areas of law are considered mutually autonomous; hence the effects of shareholders agreements in contract law and corporate law are generally separated. Shareholder agreements are only given company law effects when statutory law provides explicit legal support; a concept referred to as the separation principle. Although lacking explicit statutory legal support, the principle constitutes law. The scope of the principle has been disputed. Some claim that the principle should be interpreted as including everything that is dealt with by the Swedish Companies Act, while others claim that its scope only covers a company’s internal legal relations. This paper hypothesizes that, when considered an independent legal field, company law exclusively includes the company’s internal legal relations. Such a distinction generates more appropriate legal consequences, and thus the restrictive interpretation of the principle applies. 

Some scholars have argued that under certain circumstances shareholders agreements should have company law effects outside of those explicitly prescribed in statutory law. However there is no support for this view and de lege lata Swedish law does not permit any exceptions to the separation principle. De lege ferenda on the other hand – an argument could be made that such a liberalization of company law might be desirable. The author of this essay however believes that the benefits of liberalization would not outweigh the disadvantages, and that the separation principle therefore should remain absolute. 

The uncertainty surrounding the company law separation principle makes the legal effect of shareholder agreements unclear. In order to remedy this, the separation principle should be codified in accordance with its current wording. The codification should be accompanied by a legal definition, defining company law in relation to the principle as exclusively including the company´s internal legal relation. Through a codification the separation principle’s scope will be exclusively linked to the company’s internal legal relations. The proposed codification would bring clarity to the corporate impact of various shareholder agreements; and expand the possibility of shareholders to implement predictability in their collaboration.},
  author       = {Nordlander, Anna},
  keyword      = {associationsrätt,aktiebolagsrättslig separationsprincip,aktieägaravtal},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {I gränslandet mellan aktiebolags- och obligationsrätt - En principiell analys av aktieägaravtalets rättsverkningar i ljuset av den aktiebolagsrättsliga separationsprincipen},
  year         = {2014},
}