In a recent decision, the Supreme Court confirmed that Section 34(7) of the Arbitration Act – under which an arbitral award must be set aside if an irregularity occurred in the course of the proceedings and probably influenced the case's outcome – should be applied restrictively. This decision is a rare example of a Swedish court setting aside an award based on procedural irregularities under Section 34(7).
The Svea Court of Appeal has largely upheld two arbitral awards which Poland had challenged on the ground that the arbitration provision in the investment treaty between Poland, Luxembourg and Belgium was incompatible with EU law according to Achmea. However, the court granted leave to appeal to the Swedish Supreme Court, as it deemed the case to include issues of importance for the guidance of the application of law.
Although parties have the right to appeal arbitrators' compensation that has been decided by an arbitral institution and included in an arbitral award, a recent Svea Court of Appeal judgment suggests that strong reasons are required to adjust such a decision when it has been made in accordance with an arbitration agreement between said parties. Further, the existence of circumstances which could diminish confidence in an arbitrator's impartiality is insufficient to justify a reduction in compensation.
Often, the counsel representing a challenging party will also have acted as counsel in the arbitral proceedings and thus have personal and direct knowledge of the facts of the dispute (ie, what occurred during the arbitral proceedings). Therefore, a court may be less forgiving when a counsel makes an inaccurate statement of facts in challenge proceedings. Counsel representing parties challenging arbitral awards should be aware of this risk and are well advised to avoid potential grounds for personal liability.
A new government bill for revising the Arbitration Act was recently presented to Parliament. The proposed amendments concerning challenges of awards and jurisdictional decisions align with the ambition of restricting challenges and upholding the finality of awards. The proposed provision on multi-party arbitrations aligns with many institutional rules and could, along with the provision on the use of English in challenge proceedings, strengthen Sweden's attractiveness as a place for international arbitration.
The past two years have seen corporate bonds emerge as a natural alternative to bank loans on the Swedish financial market. While traditional bank loans remain the first-choice financial solution for most corporations, demand for bonds has grown significantly over the past decade. Recently introduced national and European regulations have set out new information requirements for existing and new bond prospectuses.
The Financial Supervisory Authority recently agreed on more stringent amortisation requirements for home mortgages. The debt burden on Swedish households has long been a concern for regulators, and the authority is now taking an activist approach in an effort to mitigate the risk of a widespread crisis in case of a downturn in the housing market.
A case regarding the enforceability of an electronic promissory note was recently decided by the Supreme Court. The court investigated whether the relevant electronic loan document was to be viewed as a non-negotiable or negotiable instrument, and settled that it was indeed a non-negotiable promissory note. This meant that the requirement to present an original document to the Enforcement Authority did not apply.
The Patent and Market Court of Appeal recently overturned a Patent and Market Court judgment relating to Swedish Match's marketing conduct for snus products. While the Tobacco Act restricts the way snus may be marketed (eg, marketing may not invite the use of tobacco or be intrusive), the court found that Swedish Match had objective reasons that were also proportionate when introducing its labelling system.
Under the Competition Act, claims that a document is covered by legal privilege may be assessed by the courts. However, no equivalent possibility of judicial review exists for documents that allegedly fall outside the scope of dawn raid warrants. The question remains as to whether the lack of judicial review of such decisions is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights and EU law.
In December 2017 the Svea Court of Appeal dismissed an abuse of dominance damages claim against Telia Company AB. In 2013 Telia was fined for abusing its dominant position in the asymmetric digital subscriber line market by applying a margin squeeze on its competitors. Earlier in 2017 a follow-on claim by telecoms operator Yarps, based on the same infringement, was rejected by the Svea Court of Appeal.
After years of intense debate, a new government bill will give the Competition Authority greater decision-making powers in relation to notified mergers in Sweden. An official government report states that the authority's decision-making powers should lead to an increased incentive for fast, high-quality decision making and eliminate time losses that might arise as a result of the authority preparing a lawsuit instead of a decision.
The Labour Court recently issued two decisions which further outline the principles for determining the 'real' employer when an employer-employee relationship is unclear. The decisions confirm that the court still places a strong emphasis on protecting employees' rights. Thus, in the interests of full transparency, employers must fulfil their obligations by ensuring that employees have full knowledge of any agreement between their employer and another company that performs employment-related functions.
Sweden is one of the most secular countries in the world with full freedom of religion. Further, freedom of conscience is a right protected by the European Convention on Human Rights. However, domestic law recognises no right to conscientious objection. A recent Labour Court decision has clarified from an employment law perspective whether freedom of conscience gives healthcare professionals a right to conscientious objection.
Businesses considering purchasing all or part of a business in Sweden often make several economic and organisational considerations regarding the assets and liabilities of the business being acquired. Employment-related issues and how any redundancies can be handled may also be contemplated. Despite such considerations, buyers commonly disregard entirely, or at least underestimate, the importance of employment regulations in connection with a transfer of undertakings.
The Labour Court recently reviewed whether actions conducted by the employees of a private waste collection and transportation company were illicit collective strike actions. According to the court, the employees had refrained from performing their work tasks in order to pressure the company into ending the demands to conduct an inventory of keys. This was a stoppage of work and an illicit collective strike action, since it had not been duly decided by the trade union.
Companies and individuals acting on the Swedish labour market should be aware of the delimitation in law between consultants and employees. Whether an individual is to be considered a company consultant or an employee will determine the applicability of employment protection and could have significant tax implications affecting both companies and private individuals.
A number of revisions to the Environmental Code recently entered into force. The new rules apply to operators of hydroelectric power plants and plants that originally intended to produce hydroelectric power. The legislative changes aim to provide hydroelectric power plants with modern environmental conditions and ensure efficient national access to hydroelectric power.
A Swedish district court recently ruled on a matter where approximately 800 Chileans had sued a Swedish mining company for damages, based on the grounds that the mining company had exported toxic waste which subsequently caused damage to the plaintiffs' health. The court held that the mining company was not liable for damages and the plaintiffs were obliged to pay the mining company's full litigation costs.
In the mid-1980s a Swedish mining company exported toxic waste to Chile to be processed. In the 1990s the waste was allegedly used in building foundations and the high arsenic levels allegedly caused serious health issues to the local residents. Subsequently, close to 800 Chileans sued the Swedish mining company. The trial started in October 2017 after more than three years of preparatory proceedings. A decision is expected in early 2018.
The Land and Environment Court of Appeal recently determined a case regarding exemption from national provisions to protect the fungus species Sarcosoma globosum. While the ruling provides some nuance and clarification, the case has since been subject to interesting and varying interpretations by land owners, authorities and law practitioners.
The Cross-party Committee on Environmental Objectives recently presented its final report, "A climate policy framework for Sweden". The Climate Policy Framework is a result of a cross-party political agreement that will supposedly make the climate a top issue in all policy work. The report resulted in a draft bill which was circulated for consideration. The Council on Legislation presented its views on the new Climate Act in February 2017.