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Corporate Social Responsibility: förhållandet till bolagsstyrning och aktiebolagsrätten

Kristoffersson, Johan LU (2017) JURM02 20172
Department of Law
Faculty of Law
Abstract
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is something that has been discussed heavily in recent years. The development of CSR has been evolving since the 1950s and continues to evolve today. The majority of this development has taken place in economic science and within the framework of the companies work with CSR. It is only in the last 20 years that lawyers have seriously interested themselves in the concept and its legal consequences.

The primary regulatory framework for the management of limited liability companies in Sweden is the Swedish Company Act (SCA). This means that the management in its work with CSR must take into account the prerequisites of the legal framework regarding limited liability companies. The rules of SCA which... (More)
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is something that has been discussed heavily in recent years. The development of CSR has been evolving since the 1950s and continues to evolve today. The majority of this development has taken place in economic science and within the framework of the companies work with CSR. It is only in the last 20 years that lawyers have seriously interested themselves in the concept and its legal consequences.

The primary regulatory framework for the management of limited liability companies in Sweden is the Swedish Company Act (SCA). This means that the management in its work with CSR must take into account the prerequisites of the legal framework regarding limited liability companies. The rules of SCA which are intended to govern the managements actions are largely designed based on the conflicts of interests arising from the separation of ownership and management. Therefore, in order to restrict the members of the managements opportunity to prioritize their own interests before the shareholders’, the management of the company has been delimited in SCA. These delimitations in SCA are accomplished inter alia by rules stating that the object of the company's activities must be specified in the articles of association and that the decision making in the company must have the purpose of generating profit for the distribution between shareholders. Working with CSR means that the company management must take interests into account that are external in relation to the company, such as how the business operations affect the environment. As a result, the shareholders’ interest in profits can be overridden, as for example, by measures to protect the environment which can be costly. However, there are favourable prerequisites for companies to work with CSR within the framework of SCA and it does not hinder extensive CSR work.

CSR has become more important for corporate governance, among other things through a number of different international regulations. These rules aim to help companies design their work with CSR. The regulations fall into the category of soft law, which means that there aren’t any penalties for failure to comply with them. This has to do with the fact that CSR is generally considered to be a responsibility that goes beyond what is legally required of the companies. This view fits well with the Swedish view of business self-regulation in corporate governance, and the design of the rules in the Swedish Code of Corporate Governance. The EU has issued a directive requiring companies over a certain size to report certain non-financial information that can be attributed to corporate CSR work. The directive indirectly implies that companies must engage in CSR since they have to report on how they work with social issues among other things. In addition, companies are encouraged to use CSR-related corporate governance rules. However, the way in which the company engages in CSR is left to the companies themselves to decide, and the directive thus constitutes a form of forced self-regulation. Thus, it is not entirely voluntary for companies affected by the implementation of the directive to work with CSR, and as a consequence, CSR will continue to influence corporate governance in the future. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), ofta översatt till svenska som företagens samhällsansvar, är något som diskuterats flitigt under de senaste åren. Utvecklingen av CSR har dock pågått sedan 1950-talet och fortsätter att utvecklas än idag. Majoriteten av denna utveckling har skett inom den ekonomiska vetenskapen och inom ramen för företagens arbete med CSR. Det är först under de senaste 20 åren som jurister intresserat sig på allvar för begreppet och dess rättsliga konsekvenser.

Det primära regelverket för att styrningen av aktiebolag är ABL. Detta innebär att bolagsledningen i sitt arbete med CSR måste ta hänsyn till förutsättningarna i det aktiebolagsrättsliga regelverket. Reglerna i ABL som har till syfte att styra... (More)
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), ofta översatt till svenska som företagens samhällsansvar, är något som diskuterats flitigt under de senaste åren. Utvecklingen av CSR har dock pågått sedan 1950-talet och fortsätter att utvecklas än idag. Majoriteten av denna utveckling har skett inom den ekonomiska vetenskapen och inom ramen för företagens arbete med CSR. Det är först under de senaste 20 åren som jurister intresserat sig på allvar för begreppet och dess rättsliga konsekvenser.

Det primära regelverket för att styrningen av aktiebolag är ABL. Detta innebär att bolagsledningen i sitt arbete med CSR måste ta hänsyn till förutsättningarna i det aktiebolagsrättsliga regelverket. Reglerna i ABL som har till syfte att styra bolagsledningens handlande är till stor del utformade med utgångspunkt i den intressekonflikt som är sprungen ur separationen av ägande och förvaltning. För att medlemmarna av bolagsledningen därför inte ska prioritera sina egna intressen framför aktieägarna har bolagsledningens handlande avgränsats i ABL, bland annat genom regler om att föremålet för bolagets verksamhet måste anges i bolagsordningen och att beslutsfattandet i bolaget måste ha till syfte att generera vinst till fördelningen mellan aktieägarna. Ett arbete med CSR innebär att bolagsledningen måste ta hänsyn till intressen som är externa i förhållande till bolaget, exempelvis hur verksamheten påverkar miljön. Detta kan få till följd att aktieägarnas intresse av vinst blir åsidosatt eftersom exempelvis åtgärder som är till för att skydda miljön kan vara kostsamma. Förutsättningar för företag att arbeta med CSR inom ramen för ABL är dock goda och utgör inte något hinder mot ett omfattande CSR-arbete.

CSR har kommit att få ökad betydelse för bolagsstyrning bland annat genom ett antal olika internationella regelverk. Dessa regelverk har till syfte att hjälpa företagen att utforma sitt arbete med CSR. Regelverken är vad som vanligtvis brukar kallas för soft law, vilket innebär att några sanktioner inte är förenade med ett misslyckande att efterleva dem. Detta har att göra med att CSR som regel anses utgöra ett ansvarstagande utöver vad som rent rättsligt krävs av företagen. Denna syn stämmer väl överens med den svenska synen på näringslivets självreglering inom bolagsstyrning och utformningen av de svenska regelverket för bolagsstyrning Svensk kod för bolagsstyrning. EU har utfärdat ett direktiv som innebär att företag över en viss storlek måste rapportera viss icke-finansiell information som kan sägas falla in under företagens CSR-arbete. Direktivet medför att företagen indirekt blir tvungna att arbeta med CSR eftersom de måste rapportera hur de bland annat arbetar med sociala frågor, och uppmanas använda CSR-relaterade regelverk inom bolagsstyrning. Hur företagen ska utforma sitt arbete överlåter dock direktivet till företagen själva att bestämma och direktivet utgör därmed en form av tvingande självreglering. Det är således inte helt frivilligt för de företag som omfattas av implementeringen av direktivet att arbeta med CSR, och rimligtvis kommer bolagsstyrningen följaktligen att stå under ett ökande inflytande av CSR framöver. (Less)
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author
Kristoffersson, Johan LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Corporate Social Responsibility: the relation to corporate governance and company law
course
JURM02 20172
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
associationsrätt, företagsekonomi, förmögenhetsrätt
language
Swedish
id
8930860
date added to LUP
2018-01-31 16:22:03
date last changed
2018-01-31 16:22:03
@misc{8930860,
  abstract     = {Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is something that has been discussed heavily in recent years. The development of CSR has been evolving since the 1950s and continues to evolve today. The majority of this development has taken place in economic science and within the framework of the companies work with CSR. It is only in the last 20 years that lawyers have seriously interested themselves in the concept and its legal consequences.

The primary regulatory framework for the management of limited liability companies in Sweden is the Swedish Company Act (SCA). This means that the management in its work with CSR must take into account the prerequisites of the legal framework regarding limited liability companies. The rules of SCA which are intended to govern the managements actions are largely designed based on the conflicts of interests arising from the separation of ownership and management. Therefore, in order to restrict the members of the managements opportunity to prioritize their own interests before the shareholders’, the management of the company has been delimited in SCA. These delimitations in SCA are accomplished inter alia by rules stating that the object of the company's activities must be specified in the articles of association and that the decision making in the company must have the purpose of generating profit for the distribution between shareholders. Working with CSR means that the company management must take interests into account that are external in relation to the company, such as how the business operations affect the environment. As a result, the shareholders’ interest in profits can be overridden, as for example, by measures to protect the environment which can be costly. However, there are favourable prerequisites for companies to work with CSR within the framework of SCA and it does not hinder extensive CSR work.

CSR has become more important for corporate governance, among other things through a number of different international regulations. These rules aim to help companies design their work with CSR. The regulations fall into the category of soft law, which means that there aren’t any penalties for failure to comply with them. This has to do with the fact that CSR is generally considered to be a responsibility that goes beyond what is legally required of the companies. This view fits well with the Swedish view of business self-regulation in corporate governance, and the design of the rules in the Swedish Code of Corporate Governance. The EU has issued a directive requiring companies over a certain size to report certain non-financial information that can be attributed to corporate CSR work. The directive indirectly implies that companies must engage in CSR since they have to report on how they work with social issues among other things. In addition, companies are encouraged to use CSR-related corporate governance rules. However, the way in which the company engages in CSR is left to the companies themselves to decide, and the directive thus constitutes a form of forced self-regulation. Thus, it is not entirely voluntary for companies affected by the implementation of the directive to work with CSR, and as a consequence, CSR will continue to influence corporate governance in the future.},
  author       = {Kristoffersson, Johan},
  keyword      = {associationsrätt,företagsekonomi,förmögenhetsrätt},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Corporate Social Responsibility: förhållandet till bolagsstyrning och aktiebolagsrätten},
  year         = {2017},
}