System of the Swedish jurisdiction


published on 4 May 2021 | reading time approx. 4 minutes

Author: Sven Fjellander

International jurisdiction

The international jurisdiction determines whether the courts of a state are appointed to make a judicial decision. With respect to cases involving foreign EU member states, in most cases the law unified for all Europe according to the EU regulations regarding the jurisdiction in civil matters applies in Sweden.

As for the scope of application, the Brussels I a Regulation includes comprehensive provisions concerning the international jurisdiction of the courts of the member states. Principally, the courts of the member state in which the defendant has his place of residence are authorized on an international basis in case of complaints. Beyond that, the enactment provides for specific responsibilities, among others.


There are five branches of courts in Sweden. They are divided into:

  • the ordinary jurisdiction, responsible for all types of legal proceedings with respect to civil and criminal cases,
  • the real estate and environmental jurisdiction,
  • the administrative jurisdiction,
  • the employment jurisdiction and
  • the patent- and market jurisdiction.

As a general rule, a judgment pronounced by a court can be submitted to the next higher court for review (stages of appeal). For this purpose, an appeal must be lodged. If a verdict of the 1st instance is appealed against, the next higher court must review the entire case once more in the 2nd instance. Access to the supreme courts level is normally restricted to cases with value as precedential cases.

The stages of appeal of the five branches of courts are structured as follows:

  • 1. Ordinary jurisdiction: District Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court;
  • 2. Ordinary jurisdiction: District Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court;
  • 3. Administrative jurisdiction: Administrative Court, Higher Administrative Court, Supreme Administrative Court;
  • 4. Employment jurisdiction: District Court, Labour Court;
  • 5. Patent and market jurisdiction: Stockholm District Court and Svea Court of Appeal (Stockholm).

Legal costs

Legal costs are the direct expenditures of the parties accruing from the prosecution of a legal dispute.

The court fees concerning the ordinary jurisdiction are limited to a fixed amount (2019 SEK 2.800). No court fees are charged in jurisdictions 2 and 3.

The extrajudicial fees primarily consist of the fees for the attorney-at-law, expenses for witnesses, legal experts etc and own expenses of the respective party.

Obligation to bear costs/reimbursement of costs

Having clarified the question of what scope of legal costs arise within the framework of the individual branches of court, it is worth considering which party bears the costs at the end of the judicial procedure in the next step.

General regulations applying to Ordinary jurisdiction, Employment jurisdiction and Patent and market jurisdiction

In its judgment concluding the procedure, the court determines which party bears the legal costs. The legal costs arising during the judicial procedure are the extrajudicial fees of the parties involved (see above). Provided that the plaintiff is successful in his legal proceedings, the respondent bears all the reimbursable expenses of the plaintiff accruing in the process. However, if the plaintiff is not successful, he does not only bear his own expenses, but also the reimbursable fees of the respondent. If the plaintiff is only partially successful in the judicial procedure, the legal costs are allocated proportionally or each party bears its own costs.

Real estate and environmental jurisdiction and Administrative jurisdiction

In these jurisdictions the counter party is normally a public body (Municipality, County Administration, Tax Authority and the like). The successful party cannot claim his legal costs from the unsuccessful party.

Average duration of legal proceedings

There is no generally binding answer as to how much time legal proceedings may consume.

The average duration of legal proceedings regarding civil matters at the individual District Courts amounts to 6,2 months (2018) and has been fluctuating between 6,2 and 6,7 months the last three years.

In the Courts of Appeal , the average duration of legal proceedings was 11,7 months (2018) and has been fluctuating between 10.7 and 11,7 months the last three years. Taking this into consideration, the average duration of legal proceedings in the 1st instance (6,2 months) was shorter than those in the 2nd instance (11,7 months).

In concrete view, the duration of proceedings of a possible 3rd instance (appeal to a Supreme Court) is not taken into consideration, which may lead to another extension of the proceedings.

Provisional legal protection

Provisional legal protection is granted within all branches of courts. All types of provisional legal protection have in common that they do not finalize a decision and generally do not permit the creation of a fait accompli (prohibition of the anticipation of the principal matter). Such being the case, they ensure the efficacy and viability of a subsequent decision in the principal proceedings. Provisional legal protection can only be claimed for the time during which a right within the framework of the principal matter is being claimed or is (still) valid to be claimed. The standard of review is reduced during provisional legal protection. Merely so-called summary (approximate) review takes place. The type of presentation deviates from the principal proceedings, too. The court is able to make a judicial decision by order without an oral or any other type of hearing and cut deadlines. The necessity to accelerate the formal hearing usually does not permit a formal hearing (hearing of witness, local inspection, expert testimony). The judicial decision is made on basis of the state of affair submitted or known as well as the facts substantiated by the complainant.

Recognition and enforcement of European titles and foreign arbitral awards

In accordance with Brussels I a Regulation, the judicial decisions issued in a member state are acknowledged by the other member states without the necessity of any specific proceedings. A review of the judicial decision in the corresponding member state does not take place in the matter. With Brussels I a Regulation having entered into force, the validation process (exequatur) has been abolished.

Enforcement measures usually aim for the collection of sums of money, however, they may also involve the fulfillment of other obligations (obligation to act or cease and desist). Regarding trans-border civil matters, a judicial decision must be enforced in accordance with the domestic regulations and procedures of the state in which the enforcement is executed (usually the state in which the obligor and his assets are located). In practice, a title of execution (e.g. a verdict or a settlement deal) as well as a certificate in compliance with Art. 53 Brussels I a Regulation must be presented in order to achieve the enforcement. The legal proceedings of the enforcement and the executing authorities (courts and enforcement authorities) are appointed by the domestic law of the state, in which the enforcement is aimed to be achieved.

In Sweden, the recognition and declaration of the enforceability of a foreign arbitral award essentially conforms to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. Provided that the foreign arbitral award is acknowledged and declared as enforceable, the compulsory execution proceedings themselves comply with the corresponding national law.


Mediation is an informal alternative to litigation in the ordinary court system. Mediators are suitably experienced and educated persons who work together with the parties and try to negotiate a settlement or an agreement that the parties are free to accept or reject. A party is free to exit a mediation at any time after its commencement.

Through Directive 2008/52/EC the European Union intends to encourage amicable dispute resolution, particularly through the use of mediation. The Directive requires the member states to authorize the courts to suggest this method to the litigants, without, however, compelling them to use it.

In Sweden, this directive was implemented through Lag (2011:860) om medling i vissa privaträttsliga tvister (the “Mediation Law”). However, I have found no evidence that the Mediation Law is put to any practical use.

The Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (“SCC”) introduced new SCC Mediation Rules (the “Mediation Rules”) in 2014. The Mediation Rules are managed by the SCC Board. The SCC Board shall determine the fee of the mediator, which shall include EUR 4.000 for preparation of the case and EUR 4.000 for each day of mediation hearings. The default rule is that the mediation shall be concluded in one day. The administrative fee of the SCC is based on the amount in dispute. Unless the parties have agreed otherwise the mediation costs shall be borne by the parties in equal shares (



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