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Syftet med vinst - En rättsdogmatisk och rättsekonomisk studie av vinstsyftet i 3 kap 3 § aktiebolagslagen

Grabowski, Niklas LU (2017) JURM02 20172
Department of Law
Faculty of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Vinstsyftet är aktiebolagets mest grundläggande handlingsnorm och sätter begränsningar för vilka beslut som får tas av en bolagsledning och vilka intressenter man får beakta. I en värld med ökat institutionaliserat och internationellt ägande av företag kommer detta ofta i konflikt med lokala intressenter. Trots denna underliggande problematik och vinstsyftets roll som en av grunderna för aktiebolaget som associationsform så existerar det betydande oklarheter ifråga om hur vinstsyftet ska förstås och när ett avsteg från vinstsyftet kan utgöra en grund för sanktioner. Avsikten med denna uppsats är att undersöka vinstsyftet i 3 kap 3 § aktiebolagslagen och att utreda tre områden, vinstsyftet som handlingsnorm, vinstsyftet som grund för... (More)
Vinstsyftet är aktiebolagets mest grundläggande handlingsnorm och sätter begränsningar för vilka beslut som får tas av en bolagsledning och vilka intressenter man får beakta. I en värld med ökat institutionaliserat och internationellt ägande av företag kommer detta ofta i konflikt med lokala intressenter. Trots denna underliggande problematik och vinstsyftets roll som en av grunderna för aktiebolaget som associationsform så existerar det betydande oklarheter ifråga om hur vinstsyftet ska förstås och när ett avsteg från vinstsyftet kan utgöra en grund för sanktioner. Avsikten med denna uppsats är att undersöka vinstsyftet i 3 kap 3 § aktiebolagslagen och att utreda tre områden, vinstsyftet som handlingsnorm, vinstsyftet som grund för sanktioner, och den rättsekonomiska lämpligheten av självreglering av vinstsyftet, särskilt CSR.
Uppsatsen består av sex stycken snävare frågeställningar som kollektivt ämnar besvara och belysa olika aspekter av dessa områden. För att åstadkomma detta använder jag mig av olika metoder som anpassas efter behov. Ifråga om aktiebolagets historik och bakgrund använder jag mig av en rättshistorisk metod, medan jag använder mig av en mera rättsdogmatisk metod för att förstå vinstsyftet som handlingsnorm och när vinstsyftet kan utgöra grund för sanktioner. För att analysera när och hur reglering av vinstsyftet ska ske, används en rättsekonomisk metod.
I den rättshistoriska delen visar jag hur lagstiftningen bakom aktiebolaget ofta har varit problemdriven, men också att den bakomliggande motivationen för lagstiftning har ändrats med tiden, och att det moderna lagstiftningsarbetet fokuserar på konkurrenskraftighet och effektivitet. I den rättsdogmatiska delen undersöks vinstsyftet som handlingsnorm enligt fem dimensioner, hur begreppet vinst ska förstås, om vinstsyftet innebär en vinstmaximering, vilken tidshorisont som gäller för vinstsyftet, hur risk relaterar till vinstsyftet, och huruvida vinstsyftet är mätbart.
Vid undersökningen av vinstsyftets roll som grund för sanktioner görs detta inom ramen för aktiebolagslagen, och behandlar vinstsyftets relation till klandertalan, ogiltighetstalan, skadeståndstalan, och lojalitets- och vårdnadsplikten. Även uppenbarhetsrekvisitet undersöks.
Den rättsekonomiska genomgången består av att undersöka hur vinstsyftet kan leda till kortsiktighet, och negativ påverkan av intressenter, samt hur den rörliga ersättningen för bolagsledningen förvärrar dessa problem. Detta följs av en argumentation kring lämpligheten av självreglering för att lösa ovan problematik, samt vilka möjligheter och hinder som föreligger för att CSR ska fungera som självregleringsmekanism.
I analysen kommer jag fram till att aktiebolagets roll i samhället har förändrats, och medan det fortfarande präglas av olika intressekonflikter så har dessa intressekonflikter ändrat skepnad och fokuserar nu mera på passiva ägare gentemot bolagsledningen, och bolaget gentemot utomstående intressenter. Ifråga om vinstsyftets roll som handlingsnorm fastslås att för att vinstsyftet ska kunna operationaliseras och fungera som adekvat måttstock behöver en förändring i lagstiftning ske. Min rekommendation är att ålägga bolagsstämman att besluta om en tidshorisont och en riskpreferens som speglar riskaptiten.
När det gäller möjligheten till att använda vinstsyftet som sanktionsgrund fastställs att så bör vara möjligt åtminstone för en klandertalan och en skadeståndstalan, men även möjligtvis för en ogiltighetstalan. Även förståelsen för vad som ska ses som ett uppenbart avsteg av vinstsyftet utvidgas, särskilt i relation till risk och beaktandet av intressenter eller internaliseringen av externaliteter. Dock är jag även av åsikten att uppenbarhetsrekvisitet utgör ett hinder för att vinstsyftet ska användas oftare som grund för sanktioner vilket måste vägas mot viljan att tillåta bolagsledningen att ta risker, något som jag dock anser att en uttrycklig tidshorisont och riskaptit skulle tillåta.
När det gäller den rättsekonomiska utvärderingen kommer jag fram till att självreglering av vinstsyftet endast under väldigt begränsade omständigheter är lämpligt, primärt baserat på de begränsningar som vinstsyftet sätter som norm vilket innebär att självreglering endast är ett alternativ när så är vinstmaximerande för bolaget. När det gäller vinstsyftet och kortsiktighet anser jag att det institutionella ägandet driver på detta, men att även denna problematik kan lösas genom en tydlig tidshorisont för bolagsledningen att förhålla sig till. (Less)
Abstract
The purpose of a corporation is to maximize profit for its shareholders, and constitutes the most fundamental governing norm for a corporation. As such the corporate purpose sets limits on what decisions a corporation can make, and who to consider when making those decisions. In a world with growing international and institutional ownership of corporations, this often leads to conflict with the interests of stakeholders. Despite this, and the important role of profit maximization as a corner stone of corporations, there is significant ambiguity in the understanding and the role of the corporate purpose, as well as when a deviation of purpose can be used as a ground for sanctions.
The intent with this thesis is to investigate Section 3... (More)
The purpose of a corporation is to maximize profit for its shareholders, and constitutes the most fundamental governing norm for a corporation. As such the corporate purpose sets limits on what decisions a corporation can make, and who to consider when making those decisions. In a world with growing international and institutional ownership of corporations, this often leads to conflict with the interests of stakeholders. Despite this, and the important role of profit maximization as a corner stone of corporations, there is significant ambiguity in the understanding and the role of the corporate purpose, as well as when a deviation of purpose can be used as a ground for sanctions.
The intent with this thesis is to investigate Section 3 Article 3 in the Swedish companies act and its relation to three different topics. Profit maximization as the sole purpose for a corporation, how and when profit maximization can be used as a ground for sanctions, and when it is appropriate to handle issues arising from profit maximization with self-regulation. To answer the three questions stated, I use different methods that are adapted to purpose when necessary. To answer what the historical background of the corporation is, and how the role of the corporation and its purpose has differed since the first corporation act, a legal historical method is used. A more dogmatic approach is used in regards to the role of the corporate purpose in decision making and when it can be used as a ground for sanctions. To answer what implications shareholder primacy has for stakeholders, and when regulation and what form of regulation is appropriate, a law and economics approach is used.
In the historical background I conclude that legislation governing limited liability companies often has been problem-driven and that the underlying motivation for legislation has changed from being grounded in protecting various stakeholders to focusing more on reducing transaction costs and ensuring competitiveness. In regards to the role of the corporate purpose, profit maximization is evaluated according to five aspects. The understanding of the term profit, whether it entails profit maximization, the timeframe that is applicable, how the corporate purpose relates to risk, and whether profit maximization can be evaluated and measured.
To evaluate the role that the corporate purpose plays in regards to sanctions, this is done within the framework of the Swedish companies act. Specifically, to what extent a deviation from profit maximization can be used as grounds for overturning shareholder directives, invalidate agreements with third parties, be used as grounds for damages, and how it relates to the fiduciary duty and duty of care. Further I investigate the requirement that a deviation from purpose in most circumstances has to be obvious to be applicable as a ground for sanctions.
The law and economics portion consists of evaluating when profit maximization can lead to short-sightedness and negative externalities for stakeholders and how performance based incentives worsen the underlying issues. This is followed by a discussion on self-regulation and when self-regulation is an adequate tool for handling issues that arise from profit maximization as the purpose of corporations.
In the analysis it is concluded that the role of the corporation in society has shifted, but that the corporation is still being defined by various conflicts between stakeholders and that the participants in these conflicts have changed and are now driven by passive minority owners contra the board of a corporation as well as its CEO, and the corporation contra various external stakeholders. In regards to the role of the corporate purpose as a guide for decision making I conclude that it is recommended that a duty for the shareholders to vote upon an agreed timeframe and risk preference should be legislated. This would reduce various problems arising from shareholder primacy.
I conclude that a deviation from profit maximization should be able to be used as grounds for most of the earlier mentioned cases, but that there is significant uncertainty in regard to whether it is possible to invalidate contracts with a third party based on a deviation from profit maximization. The understanding of what should be considered as an obvious deviation from profit maximization was also furthered, especially in regards to risk, and the internalization of externalities. However, I am also of the opinion that the requirement for a deviation to be obvious significantly limits the use of the corporate purpose as a ground for sanctions, while this must be weighed against the interest of allowing corporations to take risks, this would be mediated by instituting a defined risk preference and timeframe.
In regard to when self-regulation is appropriate, I conclude that self-regulation is only appropriate under very limited circumstances, in effect limited to when it is profit maximizing for the corporation. I conclude that short-sightedness, which is worsened by increasing institutional ownership, could be reduced by instituting the aforementioned timeframe. (Less)
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author
Grabowski, Niklas LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
The Purpose of Profit
course
JURM02 20172
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Vinstsyftet, Rättsekonomi, allmän rättslära, Law and Economics, Corporate purpose
language
Swedish
id
8930843
date added to LUP
2018-01-25 14:20:45
date last changed
2018-01-25 14:20:45
@misc{8930843,
  abstract     = {The purpose of a corporation is to maximize profit for its shareholders, and constitutes the most fundamental governing norm for a corporation. As such the corporate purpose sets limits on what decisions a corporation can make, and who to consider when making those decisions. In a world with growing international and institutional ownership of corporations, this often leads to conflict with the interests of stakeholders. Despite this, and the important role of profit maximization as a corner stone of corporations, there is significant ambiguity in the understanding and the role of the corporate purpose, as well as when a deviation of purpose can be used as a ground for sanctions. 
The intent with this thesis is to investigate Section 3 Article 3 in the Swedish companies act and its relation to three different topics. Profit maximization as the sole purpose for a corporation, how and when profit maximization can be used as a ground for sanctions, and when it is appropriate to handle issues arising from profit maximization with self-regulation. To answer the three questions stated, I use different methods that are adapted to purpose when necessary. To answer what the historical background of the corporation is, and how the role of the corporation and its purpose has differed since the first corporation act, a legal historical method is used. A more dogmatic approach is used in regards to the role of the corporate purpose in decision making and when it can be used as a ground for sanctions. To answer what implications shareholder primacy has for stakeholders, and when regulation and what form of regulation is appropriate, a law and economics approach is used.
In the historical background I conclude that legislation governing limited liability companies often has been problem-driven and that the underlying motivation for legislation has changed from being grounded in protecting various stakeholders to focusing more on reducing transaction costs and ensuring competitiveness. In regards to the role of the corporate purpose, profit maximization is evaluated according to five aspects. The understanding of the term profit, whether it entails profit maximization, the timeframe that is applicable, how the corporate purpose relates to risk, and whether profit maximization can be evaluated and measured. 
To evaluate the role that the corporate purpose plays in regards to sanctions, this is done within the framework of the Swedish companies act. Specifically, to what extent a deviation from profit maximization can be used as grounds for overturning shareholder directives, invalidate agreements with third parties, be used as grounds for damages, and how it relates to the fiduciary duty and duty of care. Further I investigate the requirement that a deviation from purpose in most circumstances has to be obvious to be applicable as a ground for sanctions.
The law and economics portion consists of evaluating when profit maximization can lead to short-sightedness and negative externalities for stakeholders and how performance based incentives worsen the underlying issues. This is followed by a discussion on self-regulation and when self-regulation is an adequate tool for handling issues that arise from profit maximization as the purpose of corporations.
In the analysis it is concluded that the role of the corporation in society has shifted, but that the corporation is still being defined by various conflicts between stakeholders and that the participants in these conflicts have changed and are now driven by passive minority owners contra the board of a corporation as well as its CEO, and the corporation contra various external stakeholders. In regards to the role of the corporate purpose as a guide for decision making I conclude that it is recommended that a duty for the shareholders to vote upon an agreed timeframe and risk preference should be legislated. This would reduce various problems arising from shareholder primacy. 
I conclude that a deviation from profit maximization should be able to be used as grounds for most of the earlier mentioned cases, but that there is significant uncertainty in regard to whether it is possible to invalidate contracts with a third party based on a deviation from profit maximization. The understanding of what should be considered as an obvious deviation from profit maximization was also furthered, especially in regards to risk, and the internalization of externalities. However, I am also of the opinion that the requirement for a deviation to be obvious significantly limits the use of the corporate purpose as a ground for sanctions, while this must be weighed against the interest of allowing corporations to take risks, this would be mediated by instituting a defined risk preference and timeframe. 
In regard to when self-regulation is appropriate, I conclude that self-regulation is only appropriate under very limited circumstances, in effect limited to when it is profit maximizing for the corporation. I conclude that short-sightedness, which is worsened by increasing institutional ownership, could be reduced by instituting the aforementioned timeframe.},
  author       = {Grabowski, Niklas},
  keyword      = {Vinstsyftet,Rättsekonomi,allmän rättslära,Law and Economics,Corporate purpose},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Syftet med vinst - En rättsdogmatisk och rättsekonomisk studie av vinstsyftet i 3 kap 3 § aktiebolagslagen},
  year         = {2017},
}