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Om revisorns externa skadeståndsansvar

Björklund, Sabina LU (2016) JURM02 20161
Department of Law
Abstract
It has been compulsory to Swedish limited companies to appoint an auditor to examine the company’s annual report and accounts as well as the management by the board of directors and the managing director up until the year of 2010. The duty to appoint an auditor partly disappeared and is now optionable for smaller private limited companies. Even though it is an option almost 50 % out of all of the limited companies in Sweden have appointed an auditor to examine the company.

The liability in damages of auditors has recently been a highly debated issue, primarily regarding the inaccuracy of the annual reports with general accounting standards. The liability of auditors to external parties in the 29 chapter 1-2§§ Swedish Companies Act... (More)
It has been compulsory to Swedish limited companies to appoint an auditor to examine the company’s annual report and accounts as well as the management by the board of directors and the managing director up until the year of 2010. The duty to appoint an auditor partly disappeared and is now optionable for smaller private limited companies. Even though it is an option almost 50 % out of all of the limited companies in Sweden have appointed an auditor to examine the company.

The liability in damages of auditors has recently been a highly debated issue, primarily regarding the inaccuracy of the annual reports with general accounting standards. The liability of auditors to external parties in the 29 chapter 1-2§§ Swedish Companies Act recognises both shareholders and “other” as such external injured parties. The purpose of this thesis is to examine what kind of entities that can be subject to the requirement “other” and therefore be damage entitled and how the liability in damages of auditors is expressed within Swedish law.

The auditor is obliged to examine the company’s annual report and accountants. If an auditor would perform the examination with negligence he or she is liable for the economical damages that occur as a result of the negligence. Furthermore, in order for external injured parties to hold an auditor liable for economical damages, he or she must also be in breach of the Swedish Companies Act, the applicable annual reports legislation or the articles of association.

The liability in damages of auditors in the Swedish Companies Act is depending on several different components. In order for liability to occur a proximate cause consequence and damage is required. If an auditor out of negligence does not criticize the used accountant principles in the audit report it is always referred to as a case of non-compliance. This resulting in several hypothetical chains of events that are relevant when evaluating the proximate cause consequence of damage.

Several cases of the auditor’s liability have been brought up in court the last couple of years. The case regarding the company Prosolvia left the Swedish companies with less legal certainty on how to apply the law in practise than before the judgement. The court of appeal gave the plaintiff a relief regarding the burden of proof by referring to an earlier judgement by the Supreme court. The judgement did not concern company law, and therefore it was an unusual interpretation for the court to do. This resulted in the highest damages ever in Swedish law. A year later, 2014, the Supreme court criticized the relief that the court of appeal used and made clear that it was not applicable within the Swedish company law. Furthermore the Supreme court stated that when identifying the external injured parties subject to the requirement “other” this shall be done by examining what interest the legislation has to protect. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Revisorn med sin granskande funktion har sedan länge varit ett av de obligatoriska bolagsorganen i aktiebolaget, skadeståndsansvaret som sanktionerar eventuell vårdslöshet i revisorns uppdrag likaså. Den tidigare absoluta revisionsplikten som fanns i svensk rätt försvann 2010.

Skadeståndet revisorer åläggs har de senaste åren varit högaktuellt, främst har felaktigheter i bl.a. årsredovisningen angripits genom 29 kap. 1-2§§ av både interna och externa aktörer. Det externa skadeståndsansvaret i 29 kap. ABL anger att den ersättningsberättigade kretsen är aktieägare och ”annan”. Vem som faller under kretsen ”annan” framgår dock inte klart. Mot bakgrund av de senaste årens angripande av revisorns skadeståndsansvar syftar framställningen... (More)
Revisorn med sin granskande funktion har sedan länge varit ett av de obligatoriska bolagsorganen i aktiebolaget, skadeståndsansvaret som sanktionerar eventuell vårdslöshet i revisorns uppdrag likaså. Den tidigare absoluta revisionsplikten som fanns i svensk rätt försvann 2010.

Skadeståndet revisorer åläggs har de senaste åren varit högaktuellt, främst har felaktigheter i bl.a. årsredovisningen angripits genom 29 kap. 1-2§§ av både interna och externa aktörer. Det externa skadeståndsansvaret i 29 kap. ABL anger att den ersättningsberättigade kretsen är aktieägare och ”annan”. Vem som faller under kretsen ”annan” framgår dock inte klart. Mot bakgrund av de senaste årens angripande av revisorns skadeståndsansvar syftar framställningen till att utreda hur revisorns ansvar gentemot externa aktörer kommer till uttryck i svensk rätt och hur den ersättningsberättigade kretsen ”annan” som omnämns i 29 kap. 1-2§§ ABL ska bestämmas.

Revisorn har till uppgift att via revisionen granska bolagets årsredovisning och förvaltningen som bolagsledningen gör av bolaget. Om revisorn brister i denna granskning genom vårdslöshet eller uppsåt i uppdraget ska denna ersätta de ekonomiska skador som uppkommer till följd av bristen. För att externa aktörer ska berättigas ersättning krävs även att en regel, som har till syfte att skydda den externa aktörens intresse, i ABL, ÅRL eller bolagsordningen i bolaget åsidosatt.

Skadeståndsansvaret som återfinns för revisorn i ABL är alltså beroende av en rad olika rekvisit. För att ersättningsskyldighet ska uppstå för revisor krävs det att det finns ett adekvat orsakssamband mellan handling eller underlåtenhet från revisor och skadan. Då revisors vårdslösa revision kan härledas till underlåtenhet blir flertalet hypotetiska händelseförlopp avgörande för bestämmandet av huruvida adekvat kausalitet funnits och om revisorns skadeståndsansvar kan aktualiseras.

I praxis har ett antal mål som även uppmärksammats i media prövats de senaste åren. När hovrätten avkunnade dom i Prosolviamålet 2013 förändrades rättsläget för revisorns skadeståndsansvar avsevärt. I domen tolkade hovrätten att en bevislättnad som HD konstruerat gällande skadestånd till följd av underlåtenhet i Landskronadomen på grund av sin allmänna formulering vara tillämplig även inom associationsrätten. Till följd av detta utdömdes det högsta skadeståndet någonsin i svensk rätt om två miljarder kronor. Hovrättens dom debatterades och kommenterades sedan av HD endast ett år senare i BDO-domen , där en extern intressent krävde ersättning för skada till följd av revisors underlåtenhet. HD kritiserade hovrättens resonemang och konstaterade att bevislättnaden som de använt i Prosolviamålet inte var tillämplig inom associationsrätten utan att underlåtenhetsansvar inom svensk rätt skulle bestämmas i enlighet med allmänna skadeståndsrättsliga principer. Vidare konstaterade HD att normskyddsläran är avgörande för fastställande av vilka externa intressenter som omfattas av begreppet ”annan” i 29 kap. 1-2§§ ABL. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Björklund, Sabina LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
About the auditors external liability in damages
course
JURM02 20161
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Associationsrätt
language
Swedish
id
8873704
date added to LUP
2016-06-14 09:32:24
date last changed
2016-06-14 09:32:24
@misc{8873704,
  abstract     = {It has been compulsory to Swedish limited companies to appoint an auditor to examine the company’s annual report and accounts as well as the management by the board of directors and the managing director up until the year of 2010. The duty to appoint an auditor partly disappeared and is now optionable for smaller private limited companies. Even though it is an option almost 50 % out of all of the limited companies in Sweden have appointed an auditor to examine the company. 

The liability in damages of auditors has recently been a highly debated issue, primarily regarding the inaccuracy of the annual reports with general accounting standards. The liability of auditors to external parties in the 29 chapter 1-2§§ Swedish Companies Act recognises both shareholders and “other” as such external injured parties. The purpose of this thesis is to examine what kind of entities that can be subject to the requirement “other” and therefore be damage entitled and how the liability in damages of auditors is expressed within Swedish law. 

The auditor is obliged to examine the company’s annual report and accountants. If an auditor would perform the examination with negligence he or she is liable for the economical damages that occur as a result of the negligence. Furthermore, in order for external injured parties to hold an auditor liable for economical damages, he or she must also be in breach of the Swedish Companies Act, the applicable annual reports legislation or the articles of association. 

The liability in damages of auditors in the Swedish Companies Act is depending on several different components. In order for liability to occur a proximate cause consequence and damage is required. If an auditor out of negligence does not criticize the used accountant principles in the audit report it is always referred to as a case of non-compliance. This resulting in several hypothetical chains of events that are relevant when evaluating the proximate cause consequence of damage. 

Several cases of the auditor’s liability have been brought up in court the last couple of years. The case regarding the company Prosolvia left the Swedish companies with less legal certainty on how to apply the law in practise than before the judgement. The court of appeal gave the plaintiff a relief regarding the burden of proof by referring to an earlier judgement by the Supreme court. The judgement did not concern company law, and therefore it was an unusual interpretation for the court to do. This resulted in the highest damages ever in Swedish law. A year later, 2014, the Supreme court criticized the relief that the court of appeal used and made clear that it was not applicable within the Swedish company law. Furthermore the Supreme court stated that when identifying the external injured parties subject to the requirement “other” this shall be done by examining what interest the legislation has to protect.},
  author       = {Björklund, Sabina},
  keyword      = {Associationsrätt},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Om revisorns externa skadeståndsansvar},
  year         = {2016},
}