Last week, the Swedish Supreme Court granted leave to appeal in a professional liability case. The case in question involves the parent company of a Swedish cooperative apartment association group. The group engaged an accounting firm to review tax consequences of an intragroup real estate transaction. On the basis of the accounting firm’s advice, the group carried through with the transaction. The group was then charged with stamp duties of approximately SEK 1,5 million, as cooperative apartment associations cannot benefit from intragroup rules for stamp duties deferral. Subsequently, the group filed a claim for damages from the accounting firm for financial losses of SEK 1,5 million due to mistakes in performed services.
The District Court found, with reference to a 2019 precedent, that the assessment of negligence of an advisor must depend on the difficulty of the matter and the complexity and severity will direct the assessment towards the method applied. Although the District Court did find that the method applied by the tax advisor had been inadequate, he was not considered negligent as a diligent review most likely would have led to the same advice being given. The Court of Appeal instead dismissed the action on the basis that the group had not suffered any financial loss because of the advice as, although a group company had been made subject to stamp duties, it had also been contributed an asset through the transaction. In a dissenting opinion, one appellate judge instead referred to 1991 and 1998 case law according to which the company’s loss should correspond to any fees or charges the negligent advice caused the client. The Supreme Court has now granted a leave of appeal (Case T 3131-21).
The decision suggests that the Supreme Court may intend to modify professional liability case law concerning the assessment of loss, when a subject has been imposed fees or charges caused by professional negligence. In turn affecting legal risk assessments and potential defences in professional liability cases.
If you want to know more about the case, what consequences the Supreme Court's decision to review the case might have on professional liability matters, or how this could affect future disputes, we at Cederquist are happy to help. Don't hestitate to reach out!