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Companies Act 2006

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Chapter 6U.K.Auditors' liability

Voidness of provisions protecting auditors from liabilityU.K.

532Voidness of provisions protecting auditors from liabilityU.K.

(1)This section applies to any provision—

(a)for exempting an auditor of a company (to any extent) from any liability that would otherwise attach to him in connection with any negligence, default, breach of duty or breach of trust in relation to the company occurring in the course of the audit of accounts, or

(b)by which a company directly or indirectly provides an indemnity (to any extent) for an auditor of the company, or of an associated company, against any liability attaching to him in connection with any negligence, default, breach of duty or breach of trust in relation to the company of which he is auditor occurring in the course of the audit of accounts.

(2)Any such provision is void, except as permitted by—

(a)section 533 (indemnity for costs of successfully defending proceedings), or

(b)sections 534 to 536 (liability limitation agreements).

(3)This section applies to any provision, whether contained in a company's articles or in any contract with the company or otherwise.

(4)For the purposes of this section companies are associated if one is a subsidiary of the other or both are subsidiaries of the same body corporate.

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C1Ss. 484-539 applied (with modifications) (1.10.2009) by The Unregistered Companies Regulations 2009 (S.I. 2009/2436), regs. 3-5, Sch. 1 para. 11 (with transitional provisions and savings in regs. 7, 9, Sch. 2)

Indemnity for costs of defending proceedingsU.K.

533Indemnity for costs of successfully defending proceedingsU.K.

Section 532 (general voidness of provisions protecting auditors from liability) does not prevent a company from indemnifying an auditor against any liability incurred by him—

(a)in defending proceedings (whether civil or criminal) in which judgment is given in his favour or he is acquitted, or

(b)in connection with an application under section 1157 (power of court to grant relief in case of honest and reasonable conduct) in which relief is granted to him by the court.

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C2Ss. 484-539 applied (with modifications) (1.10.2009) by The Unregistered Companies Regulations 2009 (S.I. 2009/2436), regs. 3-5, Sch. 1 para. 11 (with transitional provisions and savings in regs. 7, 9, Sch. 2)

Commencement Information

I1S. 533 wholly in force at 6.4.2008; s. 533 not in force at Royal Assent see s. 1300; s. 533 in force at 6.4.2008 by S.I. 2007/3495, art. 3(1)(e) (with savings in arts. 7, 12 and subject to transitional adaptations in Sch. 1 para. 11 and with savings in Sch. 4 paras. 9-19)

Liability limitation agreementsU.K.

534Liability limitation agreementsU.K.

(1)A “liability limitation agreement” is an agreement that purports to limit the amount of a liability owed to a company by its auditor in respect of any negligence, default, breach of duty or breach of trust, occurring in the course of the audit of accounts, of which the auditor may be guilty in relation to the company.

(2)Section 532 (general voidness of provisions protecting auditors from liability) does not affect the validity of a liability limitation agreement that—

(a)complies with section 535 (terms of liability limitation agreement) and of any regulations under that section, and

(b)is authorised by the members of the company (see section 536).

(3)Such an agreement—

(a)is effective to the extent provided by section 537, and

(b)is not subject—

(i)in England and Wales or Northern Ireland, to section 2(2) or 3(2)(a) of the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 (c. 50);

(ii)in Scotland, to section 16(1)(b) or 17(1)(a) of that Act.

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C3Ss. 484-539 applied (with modifications) (1.10.2009) by The Unregistered Companies Regulations 2009 (S.I. 2009/2436), regs. 3-5, Sch. 1 para. 11 (with transitional provisions and savings in regs. 7, 9, Sch. 2)

535Terms of liability limitation agreementU.K.

(1)A liability limitation agreement—

(a)must not apply in respect of acts or omissions occurring in the course of the audit of accounts for more than one financial year, and

(b)must specify the financial year in relation to which it applies.

(2)The Secretary of State may by regulations—

(a)require liability limitation agreements to contain specified provisions or provisions of a specified description;

(b)prohibit liability limitation agreements from containing specified provisions or provisions of a specified description.

“Specified” here means specified in the regulations.

(3)Without prejudice to the generality of the power conferred by subsection (2), that power may be exercised with a view to preventing adverse effects on competition.

(4)Subject to the preceding provisions of this section, it is immaterial how a liability limitation agreement is framed.

In particular, the limit on the amount of the auditor's liability need not be a sum of money, or a formula, specified in the agreement.

(5)Regulations under this section are subject to negative resolution procedure.

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C4Ss. 484-539 applied (with modifications) (1.10.2009) by The Unregistered Companies Regulations 2009 (S.I. 2009/2436), regs. 3-5, Sch. 1 para. 11 (with transitional provisions and savings in regs. 7, 9, Sch. 2)

Commencement Information

I2S. 535 wholly in force at 6.4.2008; s. 535 not in force at Royal Assent, see s. 1300; s. 535 in force for specified purposes at 20.1.2007 by S.I. 2006/3428, art. 3(3) (subject to art. 5, Sch. 1 and with arts. 6, 8, Sch. 5); s. 535 in force at 6.4.2008 by S.I. 2007/3495, art. 3(1)(d) (with arts. 7, 12, Sch. 4 paras. 9-19)

536Authorisation of agreement by members of the companyU.K.

(1)A liability limitation agreement is authorised by the members of the company if it has been authorised under this section and that authorisation has not been withdrawn.

(2)A liability limitation agreement between a private company and its auditor may be authorised—

(a)by the company passing a resolution, before it enters into the agreement, waiving the need for approval,

(b)by the company passing a resolution, before it enters into the agreement, approving the agreement's principal terms, or

(c)by the company passing a resolution, after it enters into the agreement, approving the agreement.

(3)A liability limitation agreement between a public company and its auditor may be authorised—

(a)by the company passing a resolution in general meeting, before it enters into the agreement, approving the agreement's principal terms, or

(b)by the company passing a resolution in general meeting, after it enters into the agreement, approving the agreement.

(4)The “principal terms” of an agreement are terms specifying, or relevant to the determination of—

(a)the kind (or kinds) of acts or omissions covered,

(b)the financial year to which the agreement relates, or

(c)the limit to which the auditor's liability is subject.

(5)Authorisation under this section may be withdrawn by the company passing an ordinary resolution to that effect—

(a)at any time before the company enters into the agreement, or

(b)if the company has already entered into the agreement, before the beginning of the financial year to which the agreement relates.

Paragraph (b) has effect notwithstanding anything in the agreement.

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C5Ss. 484-539 applied (with modifications) (1.10.2009) by The Unregistered Companies Regulations 2009 (S.I. 2009/2436), regs. 3-5, Sch. 1 para. 11 (with transitional provisions and savings in regs. 7, 9, Sch. 2)

537Effect of liability limitation agreementU.K.

(1)A liability limitation agreement is not effective to limit the auditor's liability to less than such amount as is fair and reasonable in all the circumstances of the case having regard (in particular) to—

(a)the auditor's responsibilities under this Part,

(b)the nature and purpose of the auditor's contractual obligations to the company, and

(c)the professional standards expected of him.

(2)A liability limitation agreement that purports to limit the auditor's liability to less than the amount mentioned in subsection (1) shall have effect as if it limited his liability to that amount.

(3)In determining what is fair and reasonable in all the circumstances of the case no account is to be taken of—

(a)matters arising after the loss or damage in question has been incurred, or

(b)matters (whenever arising) affecting the possibility of recovering compensation from other persons liable in respect of the same loss or damage.

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C6Ss. 484-539 applied (with modifications) (1.10.2009) by The Unregistered Companies Regulations 2009 (S.I. 2009/2436), regs. 3-5, Sch. 1 para. 11 (with transitional provisions and savings in regs. 7, 9, Sch. 2)

538Disclosure of agreement by companyU.K.

(1)A company which has entered into a liability limitation agreement must make such disclosure in connection with the agreement as the Secretary of State may require by regulations.

(2)The regulations may provide, in particular, that any disclosure required by the regulations shall be made—

(a)in a note to the company's annual accounts (in the case of its individual accounts) or in such manner as is specified in the regulations (in the case of group accounts), or

(b)in the directors' report.

(3)Regulations under this section are subject to negative resolution procedure.

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C7Ss. 484-539 applied (with modifications) (1.10.2009) by The Unregistered Companies Regulations 2009 (S.I. 2009/2436), regs. 3-5, Sch. 1 para. 11 (with transitional provisions and savings in regs. 7, 9, Sch. 2)

Commencement Information

I3S. 538 wholly in force at 6.4.2008; s. 538 not in force at Royal Assent, see s. 1300; s. 538 in force for specified purposes at 20.1.2007 by S.I. 2006/3428, art. 3(3) (subject to art. 5, Sch. 1 and with arts. 6, 8, Sch. 5); s. 538 in force at 6.4.2008 by S.I. 2007/3495, art. 3(1)(d) (with arts. 7, 12, Sch. 4 paras. 9-19)

Valid from 27/06/2009

[F1538AMeaning of “corporate governance statement” etcU.K.

(1)In this Part “corporate governance statement” means the statement required by rules 7.2.1 to 7.2.11 in the Disclosure Rules and Transparency Rules sourcebook issued by the Financial Services Authority.

(2)Those rules were inserted by Annex C of the Disclosure Rules and Transparency Rules Sourcebook (Corporate Governance Rules) Instrument 2008 made by the Authority on 26th June 2008 (FSA 2008/32).

(3)A “separate” corporate governance statement means one that is not included in the directors' report.]

Textual Amendments

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C8Ss. 484-539 applied (with modifications) (1.10.2009) by The Unregistered Companies Regulations 2009 (S.I. 2009/2436), regs. 3-5, Sch. 1 para. 11 (with transitional provisions and savings in regs. 7, 9, Sch. 2)

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