The Supreme Court recently clarified that Chapter 32 of the Environmental Code can be applied between contracting parties and that it is possible to derogate from those provisions and even exclude their application through contractual provisions. While this ruling confirms that a contracting party can safely rely on terms which modify the liability rules in the Environmental Code, it also highlights the importance of ensuring that such provisions are clearly worded and well understood.
In a case concerning the distribution of the cost of remediation of pollution caused by polychlorinated biphenyls, the Land and Environment Court of Appeal denied the operator compensation from the polluter for remediation costs. The case demonstrates that a civil law agreement can be deemed a relevant circumstance and be considered by a court when making its assessment of reasonableness regarding how costs for environmental damage should be distributed among joint and several liable operators.
The legislature has decided that official decisions which could have a major impact on future environmental conduct should be made at the political level rather than through a judicial review. Although there are benefits to politicians being accountable for decisions regarding businesses that have a significant environmental impact, it remains to be seen whether the legal uncertainty in this regard will inhibit the willingness of companies to expand into Sweden.
In a long and extensive environmental liability suit in Sweden, approximately 800 Chileans sued a Swedish mining company. The claim was based on the grounds that the mining company had exported toxic waste to Chile which subsequently caused damage to the plaintiffs' health. The case regards a potentially tortious act which occurred more than 30 years ago and poses the question of whether a company can be liable for environmental damage disclosed long after the tortious act has taken place.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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 government recently presented a bill to Parliament suggesting changes to the electricity certificate system – Sweden's primary support system for renewable energy. Producers of renewable energy receive one certificate per megawatt hour of renewable energy produced. The government is now proposing to extend the certificate system to 2045 and to increase total quota obligations with an additional 18 terrawatt hours until 2030.
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.
The Environmental Court recently rejected a farmers' organisation's appeal and refused to grant a new emergency authorisation for the use of Stomp SC in Sweden regarding the commercial production of onions. According to the appellant, the decision could jeopardise the competitiveness of certain Swedish crops on the European market, since Stomp SC is allowed in other EU member states and no equally effective alternatives are available in Sweden.
The government and three opposition parties recently reached an agreement on the long-term energy policy. Among other things, the agreement sets out that by 2040, 100% of Sweden's electricity production will come from renewable energy sources. However, according to the government, this goal should not be understood as a cut-off date for nuclear energy.
The Drinking Water Inquiry recently submitted its final report to the government. The aim of the report was to identify challenges to a secure drinking water supply from raw water sources to delivery, and to suggest relevant actions. The inquiry contains good proposals to improve planning and management of drinking water from source to tap. However, its future success relies heavily on the work of authorities within their appointed areas of responsibility.
The Energy Commission recently reported on energy production conditions as part of the first phase of its work. Although the report clearly identified the difficulties for renewable energy production, it offered no solutions. In addition, there is confusion around the political landscape beyond 2020 in regard to development aims and subsidies. While the market is requesting clear post-2020 policies, Parliament is largely awaiting the commission's final results.
In a case initiated by the Swedish state against the European Commission, the General Court of the European Union stated that the commission had failed in its obligation to adopt a delegated act specifying scientific criteria for the determination of endocrine-disrupting properties pursuant to the Biocides Regulation. Sweden held that the commission had infringed the regulation and sought a declaration that it had unlawfully refrained from laying down rules.
The government recently submitted a proposal regarding amendments to the Planning and Building Act to a judicial preview. The proposed changes aim to shorten processing time for detailed development plans and area regulations by eliminating one of the instances in the court hierarchy. The proposal suggests that the county administrative board should be excluded from court hierarchy, as it has a difficult position in the judicial process.