Course Outline
Join PRO

What is a contingent liability?

Author:
Harold Averkamp, CPA, MBA

Definition of Contingent Liability
A contingent liability is a potential liability that may or may not become an actual liability. Whether the contingent liability becomes an actual liability depends on a future event occurring or not occurring.

In accounting, some contingent liabilities and their related contingent losses are:

  • Recorded with a journal entry
  • Are limited to a disclosure in the notes to the financial statements
  • Not recorded or disclosed

We have another Q&A that discusses the recording of contingent liabilities.

Examples of Contingent Liability
A company’s supplier is unable to obtain a bank loan. The company agrees to guarantee that the supplier’s bank loan will be repaid. As a result of the company’s guarantee, the bank makes the loan to the supplier. The company has a contingent liability. If the supplier makes the loan payments needed to pay off the loan, the company will have no liability. If the supplier fails to repay the bank, the company will have an actual liability.

If a company is sued by a former employee for $500,000 for age discrimination, the company has a contingent liability. If the company is found guilty, it will have an actual liability. However, if the company is not found guilty, the company will not have any liability.

A product warranty is also a contingent liability.

Join PRO to Track Progress
Must-Watch Video

Advance Your Accounting and Bookkeeping Career

  • Perform better at your job
  • Get hired for a new position
  • Understand your small business
  • Pass your accounting class
Watch the Video

Join PRO or PRO Plus and Get Lifetime Access to Our Premium Materials

Read all 2,645 reviews

Features

PRO

PRO Plus

Features
Lifetime Access (One-Time Fee)
Explanations
Quizzes
Q&A
Word Scrambles
Crosswords
Bookkeeping Video Training
Financial Statements Video Training
Flashcards
Visual Tutorials
Quick Tests
Quick Tests with Coaching
Cheat Sheets
Business Forms
All PDF Files
Progress Tracking
Earn Badges and Points
Certificate - Debits and Credits
Certificate - Adjusting Entries
Certificate - Financial Statements
Certificate - Balance Sheet
Certificate - Income Statement
Certificate - Cash Flow Statement
Certificate - Working Capital
Certificate - Financial Ratios
Certificate - Bank Reconciliation
Certificate - Payroll Accounting

About the Author

Harold Averkamp

For the past 52 years, Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has
worked as an accounting supervisor, manager, consultant, university instructor, and innovator in teaching accounting online. He is the sole author of all the materials on AccountingCoach.com.

Learn More About Harold

Certificates of
Achievement

Certificates of Achievement

We now offer 10 Certificates of Achievement for Introductory Accounting and Bookkeeping:

  • Debits and Credits
  • Adjusting Entries
  • Financial Statements
  • Balance Sheet
  • Income Statement
  • Cash Flow Statement
  • Working Capital and Liquidity
  • Financial Ratios
  • Bank Reconciliation
  • Payroll Accounting
Badges and Points
  • Work towards and earn 30 badges
  • Earn points as you work towards completing our course
View PRO Plus Features
Course Outline
Take the Tour Join Pro Upgrade to Pro Plus