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Litigation

Last verified on Friday 23rd June 2017

Sweden

Daniel Prawitz

    Overview

  1. 1.Court system
    Describe the general organisation of the court system for civil litigation.
    1. The Swedish court system is primarily constituted by the general courts and the administrative courts. The general courts handle all criminal and civil cases and are, in descending hierarchical order: (i) the Swedish Supreme Court; (ii) the courts of appeal; and (iii) the district courts.

      Judges are formally appointed by the government and may not, in principle, be dismissed or otherwise removed from office save for exceptional circumstances. All civil cases are decided by judges who have extensive legal training. Juries are never used in civil cases apart from cases involving issues pertaining to the freedom of the press.

      Each court is an independent governmental body, which is completely free-standing from other courts and public authorities. The Swedish Constitution contains provisions forbidding any representative of the government or a government body from interfering with the courts’ judicial functions. A court is never bound by what another court of the same instance has found in a similar case; however, lower instance courts are generally guided by precedents rendered by courts of appeal and by the Supreme Court.

  2. 2.The legal profession
    Describe the general organisation of the legal profession.
    1. Any person who enjoys full legal capacity, who is resident in Sweden and who speaks Swedish may act as an attorney before courts in civil cases. There is no formal requirement that an attorney has any legal education, however should the court deem an attorney unsuitable he may be dismissed by the court.

      Although there is no formal requirement, in most cases the attorneys are members of the Swedish Bar Association or is an associate lawyer at a law firm. A member of the Swedish Bar Association has the right to use the title advokat and it is a punishable offence for any non-member to use this title.

      The Swedish Bar Association makes no distinction between solicitors and barristers.

  3. 3.General
    Give a brief overview of the political and social background as it relates to civil litigation.
    1. Swedes in general are said to be prone to strive towards consensus. This has traditionally been reflected in the commercial relationships between Swedish commercial entities, and it is probably still safe to say that many commercial agreements between Swedish parties are concluded orally and that any commercial grievances that arise are settled amicably.

      Swedish entities have traditionally been reluctant to have their differences settled by the courts. However, it is clear that globalisation and more extensive cross-border trading have also affected Swedish entities’ attitude towards disputes and how to settle them. Today, most large and mid-size companies consider dispute resolution through litigation or arbitration as something that is necessarily associated with their commercial activities.

      Generally, commercial contracts of any significance will include an arbitration clause.

    Jurisdiction

  4. 4.Jurisdiction and venue
    What are the criteria for determining the jurisdiction and venue of the competent court for a civil matter?
    1. Rules governing the courts’ competence are contained in Chapter 10 of the Swedish Code of Judicial Procedure. The general principle is that a claim shall be brought before a court seized with jurisdiction over the geographical area in which the defendant is domiciled. For certain types of claims, a specific court may have exclusive competence (which for example is the case with claims relating to real property or certain claims relating to intellectual property rights), and in some cases the claimant may choose to initiate proceedings before another court.

      As a member of the European Union, Sweden is bound by Council Regulation (EC) No. 1215/2012 of 12 December 2012 on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (the Brussels I Regulation). Sweden has also ratified the Convention of 13 October 2007 on Jurisdiction and the Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (the Lugano Convention). The Brussels I Regulation stipulates which member state’s courts has jurisdiction in cases where one or more parties are domiciled in different member state. The Lugano Convention provides in principle the same provisions, which are applicable where one or more of the parties is domiciled in any of the EFTA member states.

      Both the Brussels I Regulation and the Lugano Convention dictate that the parties may in a prorogation or forum selection clause designate the jurisdiction in which a dispute between the parties is to be heard. Chapter 10 of the Code of Judicial Procedure contains a corresponding provision.

  5. 5.Forum shopping
    Does your jurisdiction commonly attract disputes that have a nexus with other jurisdictions?
    1. Parties with no connections to Sweden have to a large extent chosen to refer disputes between them to be determined through arbitration with Sweden as the seat of arbitration. This is not the case with respect to litigation. 

  6. 6.Pendency in another forum
    How will a court treat a request to hear a dispute that is already pending before another forum?
    1. In cases of litis pendens, the court where the case was initiated last shall dismiss the case. 

  7. 7.

    Deference to arbitration
    How will the courts treat a dispute that is, or could be, subject to an arbitration clause or an agreement to arbitrate, including in interim proceedings?

    1. Sweden is a party to the New York Convention of 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, and the Code of Judicial Procedure contains a clear provision stating that, a court may not rule on an issue that pursuant to an arbitration agreement is to be decided by arbitrators. A decision to dismiss a claim or a part thereof with reference hereto may, however, not be made sua sponte, as it requires a formal objection from the other party.  

  8. 8.Judicial review of arbitral awards on jurisdiction
    May courts in your country review arbitral awards on jurisdiction?
    1. An arbitral award in which the arbitrators consider themselves to lack jurisdiction to determine the dispute can be assailed pursuant to the Swedish Arbitration Act (Sw. Lag (1999:116) om skiljeförfarande. A decision by the arbitrators that they have jurisdiction over a dispute cannot however be challenged or appealed regardless of whether the arbitrators have designated their decision as an award. Instead, a party will have to challenge the jurisdiction of the arbitrators by challenging the award where the issues referred to arbitration have been decided.

  9. 9.Anti-suit injunctions
    Are anti-suit injunctions available?
    1. Chapter 15 of the Code of Judicial Procedure includes provisions concerning provisional attachment and other security measures that are available to a party in connection with a claim in a civil case (see further below). Chapter 15 paragraph 3 provides that the court may decide on any "appropriate measure" in order to secure the claimant’s claim. However, it is doubtful whether Swedish court may issue an anti-suit injunction. As regards EU law, the ECJ has concluded in Case C-159/02 (Turner v Grovit) that the Brussels I Regulation (former version thereof) precludes a court in any member state to issue an anti-suit injunction against a defendant from commencing or continuing legal proceedings before a court of another member state.

  10. 10.

    Sovereign immunity
    Which entities are immune from being sued in your jurisdiction? In what circumstances? In what circumstances can creditors enforce a court judgment or arbitral award against a sovereign or a state entity?

    1. The United Nations Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and Their Property was adopted in 2004 and Sweden ratified the Convention on 23 December 2009. In Supreme Court case No. NJA 2011 p.75, a foreign state, the Russian Federation, appealed the lower court’s judgment that real property owned by Russia could be subject to execution following an enforcement order of an arbitral award. It was contended that the property in question was used for official purposes and therefore protected from the enforcement order by sovereign immunity. The Supreme Court examined the use of the property and concluded that the property in question was not substantially used for official purposes by the appellant. Hence, the Court dismissed the appeal and concluded that the property could be subject to enforcement measures. 

    Procedure

  11. 11.Commencement and conduct of proceedings in general
    How are proceedings commenced? To what extent will a court actively lead the proceedings and to what extent will the court rely on the parties to further the proceedings?
    1. Proceedings are commenced when a claimant files a summons application at court. If the summons application fails to comply with the provisions in the Code of Judicial Procedure, the court shall direct the claimant to cure the defect. If the claimant fails to do so, the application will be dismissed. If the application is not dismissed the court will issue a summons calling upon the defendant to respond to the claim(s) either by way of defence, admission or defence and counterclaim.

      During the preparation of the case for a final hearing, the court shall ensure, depending upon the nature of the case, that the issues in dispute are elucidated and that the parties state everything that they wish to invoke in the case. The court will endeavour to remedy unclear and incomplete statements made by the parties by posing questions and making observations. The court shall proceed with the preparation of the case in order to achieve an expeditious adjudication of the case.

  12. 12.Statement of claim
    What are the requirements for filing a claim? What is the pleading standard?
    1. The statement of claim should include:

      1. a distinct claim;
      2. a detailed account of the circumstances invoked as the basis of the claim;
      3. a specification of the means of evidence offered and what shall be proved by each means; and
      4. the circumstances rendering the court competent unless this is apparent from what is otherwise stated.

      In practice, it is common that a statement of claim contains only what is stated in bullet points 1, 2 and 4 above, as a list of evidence may be submitted later in the proceedings.

      The application shall be signed by the claimant or his or her attorney in his or her own hand.

  13. 13.Statement of defence
    What are the requirements for answering claims? What is the pleading standard?
    1. The statement of defence should include:

      • any objections regarding procedural impediments that the defendant desires to make;
      • whether or not the claimant’s claims are admitted or contested;
      • to the extent the claim is contested, the basis therefor including the defendant’s position as to the circumstances which constitute the basis of the claimant’s claim and also the defendant’s statement of the circumstances advanced in defence; and
      • a specification of the means of evidence invoked by defendant and what he will prove by each means.

      As is the case with the statement of claim, it is customary that the statement of defence does not contain any specification of evidence but that such is submitted at a later stage.

  14. 14.Further briefs and submissions
    What are the rules regarding further briefs and submissions?
    1. Once instituted, the action may not be amended. The claimant may, however:

      • by reason of a circumstance that occurred during the proceedings or only became known to him subsequently, request a performance other than that in respect of which the action was instituted;
      • request a declaratory judgment if the determination of the matter depends upon the existence or non-existence of a certain disputed legal relationship; and
      • claim interest or other ancillary obligations dependent upon the principal obligation, and also present a new claim based essentially on the same ground.

      A claim pursuant to points 2 or 3 above that is raised after the main hearing has commenced, or after the case is otherwise ready for disposal, may be dismissed if such amendment cannot be considered without inconvenience.

      Claims pursuant to items 2 or 3 above may not be presented for the first time in a superior court.

      New facts and circumstances may not be adduced during the main hearing if it can be assumed that the party is thereby trying to delay the main hearing or surprise the opposing party or is otherwise acting for some other improper purpose or by gross negligence.

      The parties are not under any obligation to present any legal basis for their claims (although this is generally made) as Swedish courts will apply the principle of jura novit curia. The parties are at liberty to refer to new legal arguments during the course of the proceedings and also to submit legal opinions regarding the legal issues at stake in the dispute.

      The parties may be directed by the court to finally determine their claims or defence and to state the evidence invoked in support thereof within a certain time limit. Following the expiration of such time limit, the parties may not assert any new circumstances or adduce any new evidence unless they had a valid excuse for not invoking it previously or where the proposed amendment will not delay the conclusion of the case.

  15. 15.Publicity
    To what degree are civil proceedings made public?
    1. All court hearings are open to the public. The court may however decide that parts of the hearing shall be held in camera, for example, for purposes of protecting alleged business secrets. The same applies to civil court filings that are publicly available to all unless otherwise determined by the court.

      The Code of Judicial Procedure prohibits photographing and video recording from inside a courtroom, but allows for tape recording.

    Pretrial settlement and ADR

  16. 16.Advice and settlement proposals
    Will a court render (interim) assessments about any factual or legal issues in dispute? What role and approach do courts typically take regarding settlement? Are there mandatory settlement conferences between the parties at the outset of or during the litigation?
    1. The courts are required, to the extent appropriate considering the nature of the case and other circumstances, to endeavour to assist the parties to reach a settlement. There are no mandatory settlement conferences during the course of the proceedings. Generally, the courts will engage the parties in settlement discussions in connection with the case management conference, which is normally held relatively early in the proceedings. If the parties consent, the judge may discuss matters separately with each party.

      The court may not in connection hereto or at any other stage of the proceedings render any interim assessments regarding any factual or legal issues in dispute. If this were nevertheless to happen, the judge in question may be considered biased and may have to recuse him or herself from the case.

      If it is considered to be more appropriate that special mediation occurs, the court can direct the parties to appear at a mediation session before a mediator appointed by the court, see further below.

  17. 17.Mediation
    Is referral to mediation or another form of ADR an option, or even mandatory, before or during the litigation?
    1. Referral of a dispute to mediation or another form of ADR is not mandatory. Mediation as a dispute resolution method is becoming increasingly popular and it is at times suggested by the court. One of the primary advantages of mediation is that a mediator may make an interim assessment of the case, which may be helpful for the parties in assessing their legal position and thus deciding whether to proceed with the litigation or reach a settlement.

    Interim relief

  18. 18.Forms of interim relief
    What are the forms of emergency or interim relief?
    1. The most frequently used interim relief is the attachment of assets or specific property. In addition thereto, the court may order the interim restitution of specific property that the dispute concerns. Finally, the court may issue an order for "appropriate measures" intended to secure the claimant’s claim. Such measure may include a prohibitory injunction to carry on a certain activity or perform a certain action, or an order, to have regard to the applicant's claim, the appointment of a receiver or any other measure required to protect the claimant’s rights. All such injunction and orders may be made subject to a default fine.

  19. 19.Obtaining relief
    What must a petitioner show to obtain interim relief?
    1. To obtain interim relief the claimant must show probable cause that he or she has a lawful claim against the defendant. This implies a lower evidentiary standard than is required in order to ultimately be successful with the claim. In addition to showing probable cause, it is also required that it is reasonable to suspect that the opposing party, by removing property or other action, will evade payment of the debt or, to the detriment of the applicant, or that the opposing part will hinder or render more difficult the exercise or realisation of the applicant's right or substantially reduce the value of the right.

      Further, the claimant is generally obliged to deposit security in order to obtain a measure pursuant to Chapter 15. Such security must be sufficient to cover all potential loss that may be suffered by the defendant as a result of the interim measure in the event the claimant is ultimately unsuccessful in the main proceedings.

      As regards the procedure, the court will request the defendant to respond to the claimant’s application for interim relief, after which the court will render its decision. However, if the matter is urgent (which is often the case when interim relief is sought) the court may, upon the claimant's request, render an interim decision on an ex parte basis. As soon as possible thereafter, the defendant shall be informed of the decision and be requested to respond to the claimant’s application, after which the interim decision will be tried again.

    Decisions

  20. 20.Types of decisions
    What types of decisions (other than interim relief) may a court render in civil matters?
    1. All formal actions and orders rendered by a court, save for the judgment, are in the form of a "decision". Hence, there are a number of various procedural decisions that may be rendered during the course of the proceedings, for example, to dismiss evidence or to cancel a hearing

  21. 21.Timing of decisions
    At what stage of the proceedings may a court render a decision? Are motions to dismiss and summary judgment available?
    1. The court may render procedural decisions at any point of the proceedings. Motions to dismiss a claim may be brought by the defendant, but must be brought in connection with defendant’s first plea in the matter (or in its first plea following when the matter subject to the motion for dismissal has been presented by the claimant). Summary judgments in the form of an acceptance of a claim where the defence is obviously frivolous and without merit are not available, but the court may render a default judgment in certain cases, see further below.

  22. 22.Default judgment
    Under which circumstances will a default judgment be rendered?
    1. A default judgment may be rendered where the defendant has been served with a summons but failed to respond thereto, or if a party fails to attend an oral hearing at the court. In such event, the claimant may request that the court renders a default judgment (which is thus not rendered sua sponte). A default judgment may also be rendered against the claimant in a situation where the claimant fails to participate in the proceedings. 

  23. 23.Duration of proceedings
    How long does it typically take a court of first instance to render a decision?
    1. This will depend on the magnitude and complexity of the case. Normally, at least one year will transpire from when the summons application was filed until the court delivers its judgment.

    Parties

  24. 24.Third parties – joinder, third-party notice, intervenors
    How can third parties become involved in proceedings?
    1. If a person not party to the proceedings requests joint adjudication upon instituting an action, which concerns the same matter at issue, against one or both parties, the cases may be joined in one proceeding.

      If a party, in the event that a judgment is rendered against him or her, wishes to present a claim for rescission or for damages, or a similar claim against a third party, he may institute proceedings against the third party for joint adjudication with the main claim. Moreover, if a third person, by reason of the potential outcome of a pending case, wishes to institute proceedings of the kind stated in the first paragraph against one or both of the parties, he or she may institute this action for joint adjudication with the main claim.

      Claims between the same or different parties may also be joined in one proceeding in situations other than those described above if the joinder will aid the inquiry. If there is a reason to do so, the claims may be separated again at a later stage.

      The Code of Judicial Procedure also contains provision regarding third-party intervention in specific cases; however, these are rarely utilised. 

    Evidence

  25. 25.Taking and adducing evidence
    Will a court take or initiate the taking of evidence or will it rely on the parties to request the taking of evidence and to present it?
    1. In general, the court will not take any initiative to procure evidence. It is the parties’ responsibility to adduce the evidence that they wish the court to consider. The free assessment of evidence, which prevails in Swedish legal tradition, includes the principles of free submission of evidence and free evaluation of evidence. This means that, in principle, all means of evidence are permitted and that the court is free to make an independent and overall assessment of the evidentiary value of the adduced evidence.

  26. 26.Disclosure
    Is an opponent obliged to produce evidence that is harmful to it in the proceedings? Is there a document disclosure procedure in place? What are the consequences if evidence is not produced by a party?
    1. Swedish procedural law does not include any specific disclosure procedure as is the case in, for example, the US or the UK. However, according to Chapter 38 section 2 of the Code of Judicial Procedure, anyone (a party to the proceedings or any third party) who is in possession of documents which may be used as written evidence in the proceedings may be ordered to produce such documents as requested by either of the parties. Whether such documents may be harmful to the case of the party ordered to produce them is irrelevant. An order to produce documents may ultimately be enforced with the assistance of the Swedish Enforcement Authority if the person ordered to produce the documents refuses to do so.

      Further, a party may request that the court orders the other party to present a full list of any evidence it is in possession of. Although this possibility is rarely utilised, it resembles a document disclosure procedure. 

  27. 27.

    Witnesses of fact
    Please describe the key characteristics of witness evidence in your jurisdiction. Is witness preparation allowed?

    1. Swedish procedural law prescribes a general duty to testify. However, any person who is a close relative of either of the parties is exempted from this duty, should they choose to decline to testify. The general principle is that all witnesses shall be heard in connection with the final hearing and witness statements are only allowed in certain specific situations, but are rarely used. Witnesses are one of the most important evidentiary means and Swedish courts are inclined to ascribe high evidentiary value to the testimony of witnesses.

  28. 28.Expert witnesses
    Who appoints expert witnesses? What is the role of experts?
    1. An expert witness may be appointed either by the court or by one of the parties. However, it is very rare for the court to appoint an expert in a civil case. The principle difference between a witness of fact and an expert witness is that prior to the main hearing, an expert witness shall produce a written expert opinion regarding the matters of which he or she is to give testimony. When the expert witness is appointed by one of the parties, essentially the same rules apply as regards a witness of fact.

      Swedish procedural law does not allow a witness to attend the hearing prior to giving testimony, which means that as a general rule experts will not be allowed to be heard at a witness conference. However, if the parties are in agreement with respect to how the experts shall be heard, this is usually accepted by the court.

  29. 29.Party witnesses
    Can parties to proceedings (or a party’s directors and officers in the case of a legal person) act as witnesses? Can the court draw negative inferences from a party’s failure to testify or act as a witness?
    1. According to the Code of Judicial Procedure, a party to the proceedings cannot act as witnesses. Instead, a party may testify under truth affirmation. If the party is a legal person, its legal representative is considered a party in this context and will therefore be heard not as a witness but, rather, under truth affirmation. There is no substantial difference between the conduct of the hearing of a party representative and a witness, although the party representatives (of both parties) are heard prior to any witnesses.

      If a party fails to respond to a court order to appear before it or otherwise to perform any act in the proceedings or refuses to answer a question relevant to the inquiry, the court shall determine, in view of all the attending circumstances, the evidentiary value of the party's behaviour.

  30. 30.Foreign law and documentation
    How is foreign law or foreign-language documentation introduced into the proceedings and considered by the courts?
    1. The Code of Judicial Procedure provides that the court may order a party who refers to foreign law to provide evidence of the contents thereof. However, it has been debated whether the court may leave the task of investigating the contents of the foreign law completely in the hands of the parties or if the court has in fact an obligation to ensure that the contents of the foreign law have been adequately investigated. As the issue is somewhat debated and the courts may not share this view, it would be prudent for the parties to assume that it is their task to present sufficient evidence regarding the foreign law that they wish to invoke.

  31. 31.Standard of proof
    What standard of proof applies in civil litigation? Are there different standards for different issues?
    1. With respect to the burden of proof, a general rule is that any party who is required to invoke certain dispositive facts in order to win the legal proceedings is also required to prove his assertions. There are however exceptions to this general rule. For example, if one of the parties is facing particular difficulties in presenting evidence in support of its assertions, but the other party may have had a better opportunity to secure evidence in rebuttal of such assertion, the burden of proof may instead be placed on that party. The difficulties involved for a party to produce evidence concerning a certain fact can also be decisive. For instance, it may be mentioned that a person who requires payment for goods supplied or for a loan must prove that he or she has a claim against the opposite party. If the opposite party contends that the amount has already been paid then it is he or she who has the burden of proof that the payment has been made. In cases of liability in damages it is normally the injured party that has the burden of proof. The requirements that are laid down for the weight of evidence depend on the type of case in question. In civil cases, the normal requirement is that the fact in question is to be confirmed. As regards the standard of proof, it could be said that the judge has to be convinced.

    Appeals

  32. 32.Options for appeal
    What are the possibilities to appeal a judicial decision? How many levels of appeal are there?
    1. A judgment and most other decisions rendered by a district court in a civil case may be appealed. With a few exceptions, an appeal is made to the court of appeal and further, and finally, to the Supreme Court. In all civil cases, a leave to appeal is required in both the court of appeal and the Supreme Court. It shall be noted that where leave to appeal to the court of appeal may be granted (eg, if the court of appeal assesses that the district court’s judgment was wrong, or if leave to appeal is needed in order for the court of appeal to be able to determine if this is the case), the Supreme Court will grant leave to appeal only if the matter at hand may serve as a precedent for future cases.

  33. 33.

    Standard of review
    What aspects of a lower court's decisions will an appeals court review and by what standards?

    1. An appeal of a judgment or a court’s decision will in practically all cases require leave to appeal. Unless such leave to appeal is granted, the court of appeal will not conduct any review of the merits of the appeal or the case in general.

      However, if leave to appeal is granted, the court of appeal will conduct a full review of the merits of such parts of the lower court’s judgment subject to the appeal. Often, the judgment is appealed in its entirety, but there are situations where only a part of the judgment is appealed. What may happen, however, is that the court of appeal grants leave to appeal only with respect to certain issues. This is very rarely the case in the courts of appeal but is more common when appealing to the Supreme Court.

  34. 34.Duration of appellate proceedings
    How long does it usually take to obtain an appellate decision?
    1. Unless the outcome with respect to the leave to appeal is obvious, a decision to grant or deny leave to appeal is usually rendered within a few months but may in some cases take up to one year. The proceedings in the appellate court will commence when leave to appeal has been granted and may take approximately one to two years or more depending on the nature of the case.

    Special proceedings

  35. 35.Class actions
    Are class actions available?
    1. Class actions are available and may be used for any type of claim. However, since its promulgation the Swedish Class Actions Act (Sw. Lag (2002:599) om grupprättegång) has only been utilised on a few occasions as far as the author is aware. One of the reasons for this is (eg, that the Class Actions Act prevents an effective use of legal aid as most insurance companies have excluded class actions from the scope of the insurance cover).

      However, in recent years several high-profile cases between groups of consumers and construction companies as well as financial advisers have been tried by the courts. In these cases, each consumer has pursued its own claim, formally as a separate case. In accordance with the rules for joinder contained in the Code of Judicial Procedure, all such claims brought simultaneously can be been joined into one single trial.  

  36. 36.Derivative actions
    Are derivative actions available?
    1. Derivative actions are available and are utilised primarily in two cases. First, according to the Swedish Companies Act (Sw. Aktiebolagslag (2005:551)), shareholder(s) holding at least 10 per cent of the shares may pursue a claim against a director of the company in the name of the company. Second, a creditor in a bankruptcy may pursue a claim towards a third party to recover assets which vest in the bankruptcy estate in the event the administrator has informed the creditors that the estate will not pursue the claim on behalf of the estate.

      The main difference is that in the first situation, the claim is brought in the name of the company, whereas in the second situation the creditor brings the claim in its own name. In both cases, however, any damages awarded or property secured as a result of the proceedings will be for the benefit of the company or the estate respectively. Further, in both cases, the shareholder or the creditor respectively will be liable for any litigation costs. Hence, neither the company nor the estate will be financially burdened by such derivative action.

  37. 37.Fast-track proceedings
    Are fast-track proceedings available?
    1. A claimant may file an application for a summary payment order with the Swedish Enforcement Authority that is to be served on the defendant. If the claim is not contested within a relatively short period of time, the Enforcement Authority will issue a payment order against the defendant. The Enforcement Authority will make no evaluation as to the merits of the claim and if the defendant contests the claim then the claimant is entitled to request that the application be transferred to a district court.

  38. 38.Foreign-language proceedings
    Is it possible to conduct proceedings in a foreign language?
    1. The Code of Judicial Procedure stipulates that all proceedings shall be conducted in Swedish. Foreign language proceedings are thus not permitted. This may, however, change, at least to some extent, in the coming years. With respect to the vast number of international arbitrations being conducted every year in Sweden, there is currently a proposal from a governmental inquiry that challenge proceedings may be conducted in English.

    Effects of judgement and enforcement

  39. 39.Effects of a judgment
    What legal effects does a judgment have?
    1. A judgment is given legal effect immediately following the rendering thereof. The judgment will become legally binding upon the expiration of the appeal time limit, although it is enforceable once rendered.

      As a general rule, a judgment will be given legal effect only as between the parties to the case and may not be enforced or invoked against any third party. There are, however, certain specific situations where a judgment may also have legal effect with respect to a third party. This could be the case where such third party is legally associated with one of the parties to the case in a way whereby the judgment or the enforcement thereof may affect such party’s legal status. Although the judgment will not have legal effect in relation to a third party, it may have evidentiary value in subsequent proceedings in which such third party may be or become involved.

  40. 40.Enforcement procedure
    What are the procedures and options for enforcing a domestic judgment?
    1. All enforcement of judgments and other court decisions is administered by the Swedish Enforcement Authority, a government body completely independent of the courts. An enforcement procedure is initiated when a successful party files an application for enforcement. The enforcement procedure may vary depending on the urgency of enforcing the judgment, but normally the Enforcement Authority will serve a request for payment on the debtor within in a relatively short period of time. If the debtor fails to pay the debt, the Enforcement Authority will ultimately enforce the judgment by literally breaking locks and confiscating property, which will thereafter be sold to satisfy the claim. 

  41. 41.Enforcement of foreign judgments
    Under what circumstances will a foreign judgment be enforced in your jurisdiction?
    1. Under the Brussels I Regulation, a judgment rendered in any other EU member state, which is enforceable in such state, shall be recognised and enforced in all other member states. According to the original version of the Brussels I Regulation (Council Regulation (EC 44/2001)), enforcement was subject to an exequatur procedure, meaning that a designated national court would first declare the judgment enforceable in the member state where enforcement was sought. For Sweden’s part, the designated court to handle all exequatur procedures was Svea Court of Appeal in Stockholm. However, on 10 January 2015, a recast version of the Brussels I Regulation – Council Regulation (EC) 1215/2012 – entered into force, replacing Council Regulation (EC) 44/2001. One of the most significant changes in the recast version is that the exequatur procedure has been abolished. According to the recast version, judgments from another member state shall now be recognised and enforced without the need for any additional actions from the party seeking enforcement. A party seeking enforcement according to Council Regulation (EC) 1215/2012 must merely submit the judgment to the national authority handling enforcement in the form set out in the Brussels I Regulation. If enforcement is sought in Sweden, the application for enforcement shall be submitted to the Enforcement Authority.

      However, Council Regulation (EC) 1215/2012 applies only to judgments and other court decisions if the proceedings preceding said judgment or decision were initiated after 10 January 2015. If the proceedings were initiated prior to 10 January 2015, Council Regulation (EC) 44/2001 shall apply when enforcement of such judgment or decision is sought. Hence, the rules on exequatur procedure will be of importance for a few years to come. Therefore, the provisions in connections therewith deserve mentioning.

      According to article 41 of Council Regulation (EC) 44/2001, a foreign judgment is to be declared enforceable by Svea Court of Appeal immediately upon the fulfilment of the formalities stipulated in article 53. The court’s decision shall be served on the defendant.

      Svea Court of Appeal may refuse recognition of a judgment rendered in another member state only in such cases provided for in articles 34–35 of the Council Regulation (EC) 44/2001, most importantly:

      • if recognition is manifestly contrary to public policy in the member state in which recognition is sought; or
      • where it was given in default of appearance, if the defendant was not served with the document which instituted the proceedings or with an equivalent document in sufficient time and in such a way as to enable him to arrange for his defence, unless the defendant failed to commence proceedings to challenge the judgment when it was possible for him to do so; or
      • if it is irreconcilable with a judgment given in a dispute between the same parties in the member state in which recognition is sought; or
      • if it is irreconcilable with an earlier judgment given in another member state or in a third state involving the same cause of action and between the same parties, provided that the earlier judgment fulfils the conditions necessary for its recognition in the member state addressed.

      With respect to foreign judgments and court decisions from non-EU member states, the Brussels I Regulation is not applicable. As for countries within the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the Lugano Convention is applicable and contains, in principle, the same provisions as the Brussels I Regulation. The EFTA member states are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, but Liechtenstein has not ratified the Lugano Convention, and the Convention is thus not applicable to judgments rendered in Liechtenstein. One important difference to the Brussels I Regulation, however, is that the Lugano Convention has not been amended in order to reflect the new rules under the Brussels I Regulation abolishing the exequatur procedure. Hence, an exequatur procedure is still required under the Lugano Convention. This means that judgments rendered in Iceland, Norway and Switzerland would be subject to an exequatur procedure if enforcement is sought in an EU member state. The exequatur procedure is, in principle, the same as described above in connection with Council Regulation 44/2001.

      However, with respect to the close historical relationship and co-operation between the Nordic countries (ie, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland), the Nordic countries have for a long time allowed recognition and enforcement of judgments rendered in the other Nordic countries. In Sweden, the provisions in this respect are mainly contained in the Act (1977:595) on the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil Cases Rendered in the Nordic States (Sw. Lag (1977:595) om erkännande och verkställighet av nordiska domar på privaträttens område). According to this Act, judgments and court decisions rendered in Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland shall be recognised and enforced as if were they judgments or decisions rendered by a Swedish court.

      As for judgments rendered in non-EU or EFTA member states, there is no "all in one body" regulation under Swedish international procedural law to be referred to in relation to issues of recognition and enforcement. There are a number of different statutes containing provisions dealing with enforcement issues of foreign rulings on different areas of the law. These statutes are based on international conventions and are thus only effective in relation to judgments rendered in countries that have ratified such convention.

      Non-enforceable judgments may, in line with the Swedish principle of free sifting of evidence, be given evidential value with regards to factual circumstances, but a claimant would always have to initiate new court proceedings in Sweden, or in another EU member state or Lugano Convention member state, in order to obtain a judgment that can be enforced in respect of assets located in Sweden.

    Costs

  42. 42.Costs
    Will the successful party’s costs be borne by the opponent?
    1. According to the main rule, costs follow the event. Hence, an unsuccessful party will normally be ordered to compensate the successful party for its litigation costs in full. In cases where neither of the parties is fully successful, the court will apportion the costs, taking into consideration the respective success of each party. For example, if the claimant is considered to have been successful in relation to 50 per cent of its claim, the court will normally determine that the parties shall have no obligations for each other’s costs, but only bear their own costs.

  43. 43.Legal aid
    May a party apply for legal aid to finance court proceedings? What other options are available for parties who may not be able to afford litigation?
    1. More or less all home or corporate insurance policies available on the Swedish market include legal aid up to a certain amount. For home insurance policies, the limit is normally around 200,000 krona. For corporate insurance policies, the limit may differ greatly depending on the type of insurance and insurance policy.

      For natural persons there is also a possibility to receive state funded legal aid. Such state funded legal aid may be granted only if the person does not have a home insurance policy which includes legal aid and his or her lack of financial means entails that he or she is unable to pay legal costs without such aid. State-funded legal aid may not be granted when the case at hand relates to commercial issues.  

  44. 44.Contingency fees
    Are contingency fee arrangements permissible? Are they commonly used?
    1. A member of the Swedish BAR Association may not, except for special cause, enter into a fee agreement with a client that confers a right to a share of the result of the mandate. This rule generally prohibits an advocate from entering into a professional fee agreement that entitles the lawyer in question to a quota (share) of the result of a mandate unless for specific reasons. Specific reasons for allowing such an agreement include, for example, when an advocate is representing the interests of a collective action or engaged in a cross-border mandate the handling of which is required outside of Sweden. However, in the latter case, the question is whether parts of a mandate concerning a dispute could be handled in Sweden. Another exception is when a client without a quota share agreement finds it difficult to get access to justice. The rule conforms with the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe’s Directives on Good Advocate Conduct within the EU (see item 3.3 therein) on the prohibition of profit quota agreements or pactum de quota litis or contingency fees, but it also takes into account such specific circumstances that may motivate the authorisation of a particular profit quota agreement.

  45. 45.Third-party funding
    Is third-party funding allowed in your jurisdiction?
    1. Third-party funding is allowed. A third party funding a trial is not a party and has no formal role in the proceedings. Normally, any third-party funding is kept secret from the court or the other party. As a third party funder is not a party, it may under no circumstances assume control of the litigation or otherwise participate therein unless the provisions regarding intervention as mentioned above apply. However, a third-party funder is likely to require extensive contractual obligations from the funded party to act in accordance with the funder’s wishes.

  46. 46.Fee scales
    Are there fee scales lawyers must follow? Are there upper or lower limits for fees charged by lawyers in your jurisdiction?
    1. There are no formal fee scales or maximum fees with respect to counsel fees. As regards members of the Swedish Bar Association, the Bar Association’s Code of Conduct stipulates, however, that the fees must be "reasonable". Whether or not the fee is reasonable is to be determined having taken all aspects of the matter at hand into consideration. A fee charged on account of a legal procedure may not, unless for special cause, exceed the fee for which the advocate, on behalf of the client, claims that the opposing party be ordered to pay.

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GAR know-how provides reliable cross-jurisdictional insight to help cement the building blocks of international practice. In this section, select experienced practitioners answer commonly asked questions for key jurisdictions so allowing readers to be better-placed to solve the challenges of their working days.

Questions

    Overview

  1. 1.Court system
    Describe the general organisation of the court system for civil litigation.
  2. 2.The legal profession
    Describe the general organisation of the legal profession.
  3. 3.General
    Give a brief overview of the political and social background as it relates to civil litigation.
  4. Jurisdiction

  5. 4.Jurisdiction and venue
    What are the criteria for determining the jurisdiction and venue of the competent court for a civil matter?
  6. 5.Forum shopping
    Does your jurisdiction commonly attract disputes that have a nexus with other jurisdictions?
  7. 6.Pendency in another forum
    How will a court treat a request to hear a dispute that is already pending before another forum?
  8. 7.

    Deference to arbitration
    How will the courts treat a dispute that is, or could be, subject to an arbitration clause or an agreement to arbitrate, including in interim proceedings?


  9. 8.Judicial review of arbitral awards on jurisdiction
    May courts in your country review arbitral awards on jurisdiction?
  10. 9.Anti-suit injunctions
    Are anti-suit injunctions available?
  11. 10.

    Sovereign immunity
    Which entities are immune from being sued in your jurisdiction? In what circumstances? In what circumstances can creditors enforce a court judgment or arbitral award against a sovereign or a state entity?


  12. Procedure

  13. 11.Commencement and conduct of proceedings in general
    How are proceedings commenced? To what extent will a court actively lead the proceedings and to what extent will the court rely on the parties to further the proceedings?
  14. 12.Statement of claim
    What are the requirements for filing a claim? What is the pleading standard?
  15. 13.Statement of defence
    What are the requirements for answering claims? What is the pleading standard?
  16. 14.Further briefs and submissions
    What are the rules regarding further briefs and submissions?
  17. 15.Publicity
    To what degree are civil proceedings made public?
  18. Pretrial settlement and ADR

  19. 16.Advice and settlement proposals
    Will a court render (interim) assessments about any factual or legal issues in dispute? What role and approach do courts typically take regarding settlement? Are there mandatory settlement conferences between the parties at the outset of or during the litigation?
  20. 17.Mediation
    Is referral to mediation or another form of ADR an option, or even mandatory, before or during the litigation?
  21. Interim relief

  22. 18.Forms of interim relief
    What are the forms of emergency or interim relief?
  23. 19.Obtaining relief
    What must a petitioner show to obtain interim relief?
  24. Decisions

  25. 20.Types of decisions
    What types of decisions (other than interim relief) may a court render in civil matters?
  26. 21.Timing of decisions
    At what stage of the proceedings may a court render a decision? Are motions to dismiss and summary judgment available?
  27. 22.Default judgment
    Under which circumstances will a default judgment be rendered?
  28. 23.Duration of proceedings
    How long does it typically take a court of first instance to render a decision?
  29. Parties

  30. 24.Third parties – joinder, third-party notice, intervenors
    How can third parties become involved in proceedings?
  31. Evidence

  32. 25.Taking and adducing evidence
    Will a court take or initiate the taking of evidence or will it rely on the parties to request the taking of evidence and to present it?
  33. 26.Disclosure
    Is an opponent obliged to produce evidence that is harmful to it in the proceedings? Is there a document disclosure procedure in place? What are the consequences if evidence is not produced by a party?
  34. 27.

    Witnesses of fact
    Please describe the key characteristics of witness evidence in your jurisdiction. Is witness preparation allowed?


  35. 28.Expert witnesses
    Who appoints expert witnesses? What is the role of experts?
  36. 29.Party witnesses
    Can parties to proceedings (or a party’s directors and officers in the case of a legal person) act as witnesses? Can the court draw negative inferences from a party’s failure to testify or act as a witness?
  37. 30.Foreign law and documentation
    How is foreign law or foreign-language documentation introduced into the proceedings and considered by the courts?
  38. 31.Standard of proof
    What standard of proof applies in civil litigation? Are there different standards for different issues?
  39. Appeals

  40. 32.Options for appeal
    What are the possibilities to appeal a judicial decision? How many levels of appeal are there?
  41. 33.

    Standard of review
    What aspects of a lower court's decisions will an appeals court review and by what standards?


  42. 34.Duration of appellate proceedings
    How long does it usually take to obtain an appellate decision?
  43. Special proceedings

  44. 35.Class actions
    Are class actions available?
  45. 36.Derivative actions
    Are derivative actions available?
  46. 37.Fast-track proceedings
    Are fast-track proceedings available?
  47. 38.Foreign-language proceedings
    Is it possible to conduct proceedings in a foreign language?
  48. Effects of judgement and enforcement

  49. 39.Effects of a judgment
    What legal effects does a judgment have?
  50. 40.Enforcement procedure
    What are the procedures and options for enforcing a domestic judgment?
  51. 41.Enforcement of foreign judgments
    Under what circumstances will a foreign judgment be enforced in your jurisdiction?
  52. Costs

  53. 42.Costs
    Will the successful party’s costs be borne by the opponent?
  54. 43.Legal aid
    May a party apply for legal aid to finance court proceedings? What other options are available for parties who may not be able to afford litigation?
  55. 44.Contingency fees
    Are contingency fee arrangements permissible? Are they commonly used?
  56. 45.Third-party funding
    Is third-party funding allowed in your jurisdiction?
  57. 46.Fee scales
    Are there fee scales lawyers must follow? Are there upper or lower limits for fees charged by lawyers in your jurisdiction?