Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 5

For the purpose of this Statement, a contingency is defined as an existing condition, situation, or set of
circumstances involving uncertainty as to possible gain (hereinafter a «gain contingency») or loss 1 (hereinafter a
«loss contingency») to an enterprise that will ultimately be resolved when one or more future events occur or fail
to occur. Resolution of the uncertainty may confirm the acquisition of an asset or the reduction of a liability or
the loss or impairment of an asset or the incurrence of a liability.
Not all uncertainties inherent in the accounting process give rise to contingencies as that term is used in
this Statement. Estimates are required in financial statements for many on-going and recurring activities of an
enterprise. The mere fact that an estimate is involved does not of itself constitute the type of uncertainty
referred to in the definition in paragraph 1. For example, the fact that estimates are used to allocate the known
cost of a depreciable asset over the period of use by an enterprise does not make depreciation a contingency; the
eventual expiration of the utility of the asset is not uncertain. Thus, depreciation of assets is not a contingency
as defined in paragraph 1, nor are such matters as recurring repairs, maintenance, and overhauls, which
interrelate with depreciation. Also, amounts owed for services received, such as advertising and utilities, are not
contingencies even though the accrued amounts may have been estimated; there is nothing uncertain about the
fact that those obligations have been incurred.
When a loss contingency exists, the likelihood that the future event or events will confirm the loss or
impairment of an asset or the incurrence of a liability can range from probable to remote. This Statement uses
the terms probable, reasonably possible, and remote to identify three areas within that range, as follows:
Probable. The future event or events are likely to occur.
Reasonably possible. The chance of the future event or events occurring is more than remote but less than
Remote. The chance of the future event or events occurring is slight.
Examples of loss contingencies include:
Collectibility of receivables.
Obligations related to product warranties and product defects.
Risk of loss or damage of enterprise property by fire, explosion, or other hazards.
Threat of expropriation of assets.
Pending or threatened litigation.
Actual or possible claims and assessments.
Risk of loss from catastrophes assumed by property and casualty insurance companies including
reinsurance companies.
Guarantees of indebtedness of others.
Obligations of commercial banks under «standby letters of credit.»2
Agreements to repurchase receivables (or to repurchase the related property) that have been sold.
Some enterprises now accrue estimated losses from some types of contingencies by a charge to income prior
to the occurrence of the event or events that are expected to resolve the uncertainties while, under similar
circumstances, other enterprises account for those losses only when the confirming event or events have
This Statement establishes standards of financial accounting and reporting for loss contingencies (see
paragraphs 8-16) and carries forward without reconsideration the conclusions of Accounting Research Bulletin
(ARB) No. 50, «Contingencies,» with respect to gain contingencies (see paragraph 17) and other disclosures (see
paragraphs 18-19). The basis for the Board’s conclusions, as well as alternatives considered and reasons for
their rejection, are discussed in Appendix C. Examples of application of this Statement are presented in
Appendix A, and background information is presented in Appendix B.
This Statement supersedes both ARB No. 50 and Chapter 6, «Contingency Reserves,» of ARB No. 43. The
conditions for accrual of loss contingencies in paragraph 8 of this Statement do not amend any other present
requirement in an Accounting Research Bulletin or Opinion of the Accounting Principles Board to accrue a
particular type of loss or expense. Thus, for example, accounting for pension cost, deferred compensation
contracts, and stock issued to employees are excluded from the scope of this Statement. Those matters are
covered, respectively, in APB Opinion No. 8, «Accounting for the Cost of Pension Plans,» APB Opinion No. 12,
«Omnibus Opinion—1967,» paragraphs 6-8, and APB Opinion No. 25, «Accounting for Stock Issued to
Employees.» Accounting for other employment-related costs, such as group insurance, vacation pay, workmen’s
compensation, and disability benefits, is also excluded from the scope of this Statement. Accounting practices
for those types of costs and pension accounting practices tend to involve similar considerations.


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