|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2009)|
|European Union / EEA|
|UK / Ireland / Commonwealth|
An ansvarlig selskap (literally, "liable company") is a Norwegian company model, mainly used in small-to-medium businesses, in which the company's individual owners are held personally liable for any outstanding debts acquired by the company. It is similar to a partnership.
If one participant is unable to pay his or her share of the debt it can be collected in full from the other participants. It is usually abbreviated ANS when used in company names, however the abbreviation DA is also used. However, a DA, or ANS med Delt Ansvar, translates into "RC with shared liability". In this form, each of the participants can only be held liable for as high a percentage of debts as outlined in a predetermined founding contract. A third form of the ANS is the enkeltmannsforetak, which, despite its name "single-person business", can still employ a given number of workers. The name comes from that there can only be one actual owner responsible for the company, and despite the option to employ a workforce, most businesses of this model only employ its owner. Conversely, the ANS model can have one or several liable owners, while the DA can have two and more. The Enkeltmannsforetak model is particularly practical for freelancers, independents and other self-employed workgroups.
Unlike an aksjeselskap, anyone is eligible to start an ANS, as the model does not require any starting investment capital. Hence it is a widespread form of company in smaller, low-risk business areas. For more economically risky ventures, an A/S would be preferable, as the personal financial losses in the event of a bankruptcy would be limited to the capital invested - i.e. with a bankrupted A/S with a 2 million NOK debt, the investors would only stand to lose the invested capital, minimum 100.000 NOK. In an ANS or enkeltmannsforetak, however, the owner would be personally liable for the entire 2 million. In the case of several owners, where one is unable to pay, the entire sum would be collected from the others. Using the DA form with 2 investors and a 50% liability share, each would be liable for 50% of the debt, and if one should be unable to pay (in the case of personal bankruptcy), the other would still have to carry no more than his 1 million NOK debt.
A company does not need to include the abbreviation for its type in its day-to-day business, although it is required to register this in its formal name. As an example, a self-employed plumber in an ANS could name his shop "John Smith Plumbing", while the mail address, legal documents and so forth would have to carry the name "John Smith Plumbing ANS".