Contingent Liability Journal Entry

Updated on January 3, 2024
Article byTanmay Agarwal
Edited byAshish Kumar Srivastav
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

Contingent Liability is the potential loss dependent on some adverse event. When such liability is likely and can be reasonably estimated, it is recorded as a loss or expense in the income statement.

Overview of Contingent Liability Journal Entry

The potential liabilities whose occurrence depends on the outcome of an uncertain future event are accounted for as contingent liabilities in the financial statementsFinancial StatementsFinancial statements are written reports prepared by a company's management to present the company's financial affairs over a given period (quarter, six monthly or yearly). These statements, which include the Balance Sheet, Income Statement, Cash Flows, and Shareholders Equity Statement, must be prepared in accordance with prescribed and standardized accounting standards to ensure uniformity in reporting at all levels.read more. i.e., these liabilities may or may not rise to the company and thus be considered potential or uncertain obligations. Some common example of contingent liabilityCommon Example Of Contingent LiabilityContingent liability example can help you understand the obligations which may result from uncertain forthcoming events that are not in the organization's control, like a lawsuit or change in government policy.read more journal entry includes legal disputes, insurance claimsInsurance ClaimsAn insurance claim refers to the demand by the policyholder to the insurance provider for compensating losses incurred due to an event covered by the policy. The company either validates or denies the claim based on their assessment and nature of the incurred losses.read more, environmental contamination, and even product warranties resulting in contingent claims.

As per IFRS contingent liabilityContingent LiabilityContingent Liabilities are the potential liabilities of the company that may arise at some future date as a result of a contingent event that is beyond the company's control. read more is defined as:

  • A possible obligation depends on whether some uncertain future event occurs;
  • A present obligation but payment is not probable, or the amount cannot be measured reliably.
Contingent Liability Journal Entry

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Source: Contingent Liability Journal Entry (wallstreetmojo.com)

Rules to Record Contingent Liabilities as per IFRS

To record a potential or contingent liability in the financial statements, it needs to clear two basic criteria based on the probability of occurrence and its corresponding value as discussed below:

  1. The likelihood of occurrence of contingent liability is high (i.e., more than 50%) and
  2. Estimation of the value of the contingent liability is possible.

Upon clearing these two fundamental criteria, the contingent liabilities will be journalized and recorded as:

  1. A loss or expense in the statement of profit and loss;
  2. Liability in the balance sheet.

But if chances of a contingent liability are possible but are not likely to arise soon, estimating its value is not possible. Such loss contingencies never get recorded in the financial statements.

However, full disclosure should be made in the footnotes of the financial statements.

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How to Recording a Contingent Liability Journal Entry?

Let’s see some simple examples of the contingent liability journal entry to understand it better.

Take the example of a famous lawsuit of Apple vs. Samsung, where Apple sued Samsung for technology theft and violating patent rights. Apple claimed $2.5 billion when the lawsuit began in 2011 but won over $500 million in the final verdict in 2018.

The lawsuit was considered a contingent liability in the books of Samsung ltd, with an estimated value of $700 million.

  1. Prepare journal entries for the year ending 2011, assuming it is probable that Samsung will be liable to pay an amount of $700 million.
  2. Prepare journal entries for the year ending 2011, assuming it is not probable that Samsung will be liable to pay any amount.
  3. Considering no other pending lawsuits, prepare journal entries for the year ending 2018, when Samsung lost the lawsuit and had to pay $500 million.

#1 – The Amount is Estimated, and the likelihood of Occurrence is High

Contingent Liabilities Example 1

#2 – The Probability of Occurrence is Very Less or Nil

  • Journal entries will not be passed. The loss is not accrued because it is unlikely that liability will arise soon.
  • Full disclosure should be made in the footnotes of the financial statements because liability might not arise shortly, but there is a possibility of its occurrence in later years.

#3 – Payment of Lost Lawsuit

Contingent Liabilities Example 2

The ledgerThe LedgerLedger in accounting records and processes a firm’s financial data, taken from journal entries. This becomes an important financial record for future reference. It is used for creating financial statements. It is also known as the second book of entry.read more of lawsuit liability for the year ending 2011 and 2018

Example 3

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