Class/collective actions in Sweden: overview

A Q&A guide to class/collective actions in Sweden.

The Q&A gives a high level overview of class/collective actions, including current trends; the regulatory framework; limitation periods; standing and the procedural framework for bringing an action; funding and costs; disclosure; damages and relief; settlement; appeals; alternative dispute resolution and proposals for reform.

To compare answers across multiple jurisdictions, visit the Class Actions Country Q&A Tool.

This Q&A is part of the Class Actions Global Guide.

Contents

Overview of class/collective actions and current trends

1. What is the definition of class/collective actions in your jurisdiction? Are they popular and what are the current trends?

Definition of class/collective actions

Under the Swedish Group Proceedings Act (2002:599), a group action is an action brought by a claimant acting as a representative for a group of persons. The action has legal effects for the group members, although such members are not parties to the case.

The term group action will be used in this Q&A to refer to actions brought under the Group Proceedings Act, as this is the English term used by the Swedish Government and Ministry of Justice.

Use of class/collective actions

The Group Proceedings Act has only been in force since January 2003 and has not yet been used to a great extent. Therefore, there are no historical matters of interest regarding the use of group actions in Sweden. Group actions are not commonly used as a method of settling disputes in Sweden.

The procedure for joint adjudication of similar cases under the Swedish Code of Judicial Procedure (1942:740) is more commonly used to settle disputes involving several claimants, and is therefore of more practical importance. The Code of Judicial Procedure and case law on joint adjudication adopt a relatively liberal approach to joint adjudication of similar cases brought by several claimants. Since joint adjudication is governed by the provisions of the Code of Judicial Procedure, the same rules apply as for individual civil cases.

A group action cannot be brought unless the majority of the claims to which the action relates cannot equally be pursued through individual claims that are jointly adjudicated under the Code of Judicial Procedure (section 8, Group Proceedings Act).

This Q&A primarily focuses on the specific regulation of group actions in Sweden under the Group Proceedings Act.

Current trends

Few group actions are brought under the Group Proceedings Act. There are therefore no general trends or recent developments in relation to group actions in Sweden.

 

Regulatory framework

2. What are the principal sources of law and regulations relating to class/collective actions? What are the different mechanisms for bringing a class/collective action?

Principal sources of law

The Group Proceedings Act, which entered into force on 1 January 2003, contains specific procedural rules on group actions and is applicable to all civil claims. The provisions of the Code of Judicial Procedure also apply to group proceedings unless otherwise stated in the Group Proceedings Act. Accordingly, most of the provisions of the Code of Judicial Procedure apply in the context of group actions.

The Group Proceedings Act is purely procedural and does not affect the provisions of substantive law.

For claims based on environmental law, the Environmental Act (1998:808) contains, in addition to the Group Proceedings Act, specific provisions governing group proceedings (Chapter 32).

In addition, the Code of Judicial Procedure contains provisions regarding the joint adjudication of similar cases brought by several claimants (see Question 1, Use of class/collective actions).

Principal institutions

In Sweden, group actions are heard by courts of general jurisdiction. The government has designated 21 district courts to examine cases under the Group Proceedings Act. There is at least one competent district court in each county. Group actions based on environmental law are examined by the district courts that are designated as environmental courts (five in total).

Disputes between consumers and business operators can be brought as group actions by the Consumer Ombudsman before the National Board for Consumer Disputes (Allmänna reklamationsnämnden) (ARN). The National Board for Consumer Disputes is not a court and its recommendations are not legally binding. See Question 23 for more information on the National Board for Consumer Disputes.

No institution or body has judicial oversight or supervision of the group action process.

There are no jurisdictional issues of great importance related to group actions under the Group Proceedings Act. The competence of the district courts is determined according to the rules of the Code of Judicial Procedure. The general rule in Sweden is that jurisdiction is determined on the basis of the defendant's legal domicile. Therefore, in cases where the competence of the district courts is based on the general rule, there is no difference between group actions and individual civil claims. However, in certain cases, jurisdiction is based on other factors (for example, the place where the damage occurred or the place where the defendant runs its business). In such cases, the claims of all group members must be heard by the same court. Therefore, the district court in question must have jurisdiction over all claims that are handled by the court.

Different mechanisms

In Sweden, a claimant can file a summons application to bring one of the following types of group action:

  • Private group action.

  • Organisation group action.

  • Public group action.

See Question 5, Potential claimant for more details on the three types of group action.

A claimant that brings an individual civil claim in a district court can also apply in writing to the district court to request that the claim be converted into group proceedings.

In addition, a group action can also be filed by the Consumer Ombudsman before the National Board of Consumer Disputes (see Question 23).

 
3. Are class/collective actions permitted/used in all areas of law, or only in specific areas?

The Group Proceedings Act is not restricted to certain areas of civil law. Any legal claim that can be heard by courts of general jurisdiction under the Code of Judicial Procedure can also be litigated as a group action under the Group Proceedings Act, provided that other requirements in the Act are fulfilled. Therefore, claims that are heard by special civil courts, including the Market Court and the Labour Court, cannot be litigated as group proceedings. This also applies if the claim is filed in a court of general jurisdiction but appeals must be brought before a special civil court. Certain labour and marketing law claims are therefore excluded from the scope of the Group Proceedings Act.

Product liability

Group actions are permitted in product liability cases.

Environmental law

Group actions are permitted in the area of environmental law. Special provisions of the Environmental Act apply in addition to the Group Proceedings Act.

Competition law

Group actions are permitted in competition law cases.

Pensions disputes

Group actions are permitted for pensions disputes.

Financial services: consumer redress

Group actions are permitted in financial services/consumer redress cases.

Other areas of law/policy

As the Group Proceedings Act is purely procedural, the law on group actions interacts with all areas of substantive law that can give rise to group actions.

Claims for damages resulting from the commission of a crime can be handled in criminal proceedings, but not when such claims are brought as a group action. If a group of persons has claims for damages resulting from a crime, such persons can apply for their claims to be tried in either (after their claims have been separated from the criminal matter):

  • Group action proceedings under the Group Proceedings Act.

  • Joint adjudication proceedings under the Code of Judicial Procedure.

 

Limitation

4. What are the key limitation periods for class/collective actions?

The Group Proceedings Act does not contain specific limitation periods for group actions. However, there are numerous limitation periods under substantive law which can affect access to court proceedings. The applicable limitation periods for group actions are therefore governed by the law applicable to the merits of the case.

Most limitation periods do not require that the claim must be commenced within a certain period of time, but rather that the opposite party must be notified of the claim within a certain period of time. The court will not uphold the claim in the event of a failure to give timely notification. However, the courts cannot enforce limitation periods ex officio, and these must be invoked by a party.

 

Standing and procedural framework for bringing an action

Standing

5. What are the rules for bringing a claim in a class/collective action?

Definition of class

The summons application for a group action must contain details concerning the group to which the action relates, and the names and addresses of all members of the group if this is necessary for managing the case (section 9, Group Proceedings Act). Therefore, the group members can be identified individually or collectively (for example, as "all persons that bought shares in company X in 2015").

Potential claimant

There are three types of group actions under the Group Proceedings Act:

  • Private group actions (section 4, Group Proceedings Act).

  • Organisation group actions commenced (section 5, Group Proceedings Act).

  • Public group actions (section 6, Group Proceedings Act).

Private group actions. A private group action can be commenced by any natural person or legal entity that has a claim subject to the action.

Organisation group actions. An organisation group action can be commenced by a non-profit organisation that, in accordance with its statutes, protects either:

  • The interests of consumers or wage-earners in disputes between consumers and business operators.

  • Nature conservation and environmental interests.

An organisation group action can also be brought by an association of professionals in the fishing, agricultural, reindeer or forestry industries.

Contrary to what was initially suggested during the legislative procedure, there is no requirement regarding how long the non-profit association must have existed before starting a claim. Therefore, a non-profit association can be created solely for the purpose of bringing a group claim (which has happened in some cases). The non-profit association does not need to be approved by the state.

An organisation group action must concern either consumer law or environmental law. Regarding consumer law, the dispute must concern goods, services or other utilities that a business operator offers to consumers. However, in special cases, the conditions for bringing an organisation group action can be applied less strictly, provided that there are significant advantages in the disputes being jointly adjudicated, taking into account the adjudication of the claim and other circumstances.

Public group actions. A public group action can be commenced by certain public authorities (designated in advance by the government) that, taking into consideration the subject of the dispute, are suitable to represent the members of the group in question. To date, the Consumer Ombudsman and the Environmental Protection Agency are the only authorities approved to start claims through public group actions.

According to the preparatory works of the Group Proceedings Act, a public group action should only be commenced if either:

  • A private or organisation group action is not likely to be brought.

  • There is a particular public interest in starting a public group action.

A public group action commenced by the Consumer Ombudsman can only relate to consumer disputes. According to the specific instructions given by the government, such a claim can only be pursued if it is in the public interest. If the court orders consumers to pay litigation costs, the state will bear such costs.

The Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to bring claims for damages in the environmental courts. The Agency can bring a group action if it is necessary to satisfy urgent public environmental interests. If the court orders the Environmental Protection Agency to pay litigation costs, the state will bear such costs.

Claimants outside the jurisdiction

A claim under the Group Proceedings Act can be brought on behalf of individuals from several jurisdictions. The same rules regarding jurisdiction apply as for individual civil claims, regardless of whether certain individual members of the group come from other jurisdictions.

There are no specific issues of "forum shopping" related to group actions. Potential issues of "forum shopping" in relation to both group actions and individual civil claims are minimised by the application of:

  • Regulation (EC) 44/2001 replaced by Regulation (EU) 1215/2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels Regulation).

  • Lugano Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters 2007 (New Lugano Convention).

Professional claimants

The purchase and pursuit of claims is not prohibited under Swedish law. The authors are not aware of any large-scale purchasing of consumers' claims having taken place in Sweden.

Other

There are no other relevant considerations.

Qualification, joinder and test cases

6. What are the key procedural elements for maintaining a case as a class action?

Certification/qualification

A group action is started by filing a summons application in accordance with the Code of Judicial Procedure. The court examines the application in the usual manner when considering the general requirements for initiating proceedings. However, as group actions are intended to complement individual legal proceedings, a claim under the Group Proceedings Act will only be heard by the court if certain specific conditions are satisfied, which must be examined by the courts ex officio. The following conditions must be satisfied (sections 8 and 11, Group Proceedings Act):

  • The action is based on circumstances that are common or similar to the claims of the members or the group.

  • Group proceedings do not appear to be inappropriate having regard to the claims of group members (for example, having regard to the cause of action and any substantial differences between the claims).

  • Most of the claims to which the action relates cannot be equally and adequately pursued through personal actions by the individual members of the group.

  • The group is appropriately defined, taking into consideration its size, scope and other factors.

  • The claimant can appropriately represent the members of the group, having regard to:

    • its interest in the substantive matter;

    • its financial capacity to bring a group action; and

    • the general circumstances of the case.

  • A private group action and an organisation action must be brought by a member of the Swedish Bar Association (advokat).

If the court finds that all the conditions above are satisfied, the action will proceed as a group action under the Group Proceedings Act. Otherwise, the court will dismiss the action. There is no requirement for certification of the group by the court.

A group action can also be commenced where a claimant in an ordinary civil proceeding applies to the district court to request the reallocation of the claim to group proceedings. Such an application will only be granted if both:

  • The specific conditions to bring a group action are satisfied (see above).

  • The defendant consents or it is clearly apparent that the advantages of group proceedings outweigh the inconvenience of such proceedings for the defendant.

If the district court where the civil claim is pending lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate group actions, the application will be transferred to a competent court. However, if the application is manifestly unfounded, the court can reject the application immediately without transferring it to a competent court (section 10, Group Proceedings Act).

Minimum/maximum number of claimants

The Group Proceedings Act does not specify any minimum number of claimants required before a group action can be brought. However, the number of claims must be taken into account when deciding whether a group action should be permitted (section 8, Group Proceedings Act).

Joining other claimants

If the claimant's application to commence group proceedings is not dismissed, the members of the group (that is, the persons who meet the claimant's description) must be notified of the group proceedings (section 13, Group Proceedings Act). Such notification must normally be given by the court (or by a party in certain specific circumstances) by way of personal service or any other suitable form (for example leaflets, newspaper or radio advertisements). There are no legal restrictions on such advertising. However, members of the Swedish Bar Association are subject to rules that restrict "ambulance chasing".

Group actions are initiated on an opt-in basis through personal notice given to the court by each group member (section 14, Group Proceedings Act). Each member of the group must give notice to the court in writing, within the period of time determined by the court, that he or she wishes to be included in the group action. In the absence of such notice, the member is deemed to have withdrawn from the group.

New group members can join the litigation at a later stage provided that this does not cause any significant delay in the determination of the case or other substantial inconvenience for the defendant (section 18, Group Proceedings Act).

Test cases

There are no provisions, either in the Code of Judicial Procedure or in the Group Proceedings Act, that govern the procedure for initiating, handling or determining test cases. However, judgments only have legal effect between the parties to the case. Therefore, test cases can only have an evidential effect on related claims.

Timetabling

7. What is the usual procedural timetable for a case?

The procedural timetable for a case is set on a case-by-case basis and depends, among other factors, on the complexity of the case and the specific court (or judge) that is handling the case. There is therefore no usual timetable. The case timetable is usually set at the case management conference. In Sweden, a trial usually lasts between one and a half to two years in the district court, and another one to one and a half years in the court of appeal.

Effect of the area of law on the procedural system

8. Does the applicable procedural system vary depending on the relevant area of law in which the class/collective action is brought?

The applicable procedural system does not vary depending on the relevant area of law in which the group action is brought, except for group actions based on environmental law. Environmental group actions are heard by the district courts that are designated as environmental courts. Environmental courts consist of both environmental experts and ordinary judges.

 

Funding and costs

Funding

9. What are the rules governing lawyer's fees in class/collective actions?

The general rule under the Code of Conduct of the Swedish Bar Association is that contingency fees are not allowed. However, contingency fees can be allowed in group actions and other cases where access to justice may be denied if contingency fees are not allowed. Contingency fees are very rarely allowed in practice.

The Group Proceedings Act regulates certain fee arrangements referred to as risk agreements (sections 38 to 41). A claimant can conclude an agreement with a lawyer under which the lawyer's fees will be determined with regard to the extent to which the claims of the group members are successful. However, the agreement can only be binding on the group members if it has been approved by a court. Risk agreements can only be approved if they are reasonable in light of the nature of the substantive matter. In addition, the agreement must be in writing and specify how fees will deviate from customary fees if the claim is successful or dismissed. Additionally, the fees under the risk agreement must be set in a way that gives no reason to questions the lawyer's independence. Risk agreements cannot be approved if fees are based solely on the value of the case.

A risk agreement is not binding on the defendant. Therefore, a losing defendant cannot be ordered to pay the claimant's legal costs that are higher than normal legal fees that are reasonably incurred.

 
10. Is third party funding of class/collective actions permitted?

There are no rules that restrict third party funding under Swedish law.

 
11. Is financial support available from any government or other public body for class/collective action litigation?

The legal aid system in Sweden is subsidiary to the private insurance system. Governmental legal aid is not granted if the claimant has, or should have had, insurance covering the matter. On private insurance see Question 12.

For cases tried under the Group Proceedings Act, only the claimant and not the group members can be granted public legal aid. In practice, this means that public funding only covers a very small portion of the actual costs associated with a group action.

Public legal aid is restricted to claimants unable to fund the legal costs themselves. Individuals with a certain level of annual income do not qualify for public legal aid. In addition, a claimant that benefits from legal aid will usually need to self-fund a portion of the costs, depending on its level of income. When public legal aid is granted, it normally covers costs for 100 hours of work and does not cover the counterparty's costs if the case is unsuccessful.

The government bears the legal costs when the Consumer Ombudsman or the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency starts group proceedings.

 
12. Are other funding options available to claimants in class/collective actions?

Most private home insurance policies cover legal costs when a claimant initiates an action under the Group Proceedings Act. Legal expenses cover includes liability to pay the costs of the counterparty, but is always restricted to a certain (relatively low) maximum amount. Usually, only the claimant, and not the group members, can be granted legal expenses cover from an insurance provider.

Costs

13. What are the key rules for costs/fees in class/collective action litigation?

Costs are assessed by the court at the end of the trial. The same rules apply in both group actions under the Group Proceedings Act and normal civil cases. The "loser pays" principle applies as a general rule, meaning that the losing party must pay all costs (for example, issuance fees, cost of witnesses and legal counsel). There is no cap imposed on costs, although only costs that are reasonably incurred to safeguard the party's interest must be reimbursed (Code of Judicial Procedure). Consequently, if the losing party has not accepted the successful party's claim for costs, the court will determine whether the winning party's litigation costs are reasonable.

Only the parties are responsible for the costs. This means that the claimant (that is, the individual, organisation or authority that represents the group) is responsible for the costs if the case is lost. The other group members are generally not parties and are therefore not responsible for the legal costs (section 33, Group Proceedings Act).

However, group members can be held liable for costs under the same rules as for individual civil cases if they have caused costs to increase as a result of their conduct (section 35, Group Proceedings Act).

In addition, a group member can be held liable for costs if there are additional costs related to a risk agreement (see Question 9), which the defendant has not been ordered to pay (section 34, Group Proceedings Act). The defendant can only be ordered to pay standard legal fees, not any extra costs relating to any risk agreement between the claimant and its lawyer.

If the claim is successful and the defendant cannot pay, each member of the group must pay his share of the costs to the claimant (section 34, Group Proceedings Act).

If a member of the group who is not the claimant discontinues his claim, there are no costs consequences. A former claimant who has been replaced for being no longer appropriate to represent the group can be responsible for litigation costs in certain circumstances (section 31, Group Proceedings Act).

The Group Proceedings Act does not contain any rules regarding costs if the case is settled. However, when a case is settled, the parties normally bear their own costs.

Key effects of the costs/funding regime

14. What are the key effects of the current costs/funding regime?

The key effects of the current costs/funding regime is that group actions under the Group Proceedings Act are not an attractive method for settling disputes, especially private group actions. The responsibility of the claimant to bear the costs involves a considerable financial risk for the claimant and deters many potential claimants from bringing group actions. The forms of funding available (that is, from insurance companies or the government (see Questions 11 and 12)) do not help as the compensation offered is not sufficient to cover expected litigation costs if the case is lost. While it is possible to conclude risk agreements, lawyers are not keen on either assuming the economic risk involved with such agreements, or concluding such agreements at all in light of the provisions in the Code of Conduct of the Swedish Bar Association (see Question 9).

 

Disclosure and privilege

15. What is the procedure for disclosure of documents in a class/collective action?

Before litigation

There are no obligations to disclose documentary evidence before court proceedings are commenced either in group actions or ordinary litigation.

During litigation

All documentary evidence that a party wishes to invoke must be disclosed as part of the pre-trial procedure. Parties are not required to disclose all documentary evidence in their possession, unless the counterparty requests disclosure of certain and identified pieces of evidence. Such requests can only be granted if the court considers that the piece of evidence is significant for the adjudication of the case.

 
16. Are there special considerations for privilege in relation to class/collective actions?

There is no concept of privilege in Sweden. However, correspondence between a lawyer and his client can always be kept confidential. In addition, a party cannot be ordered to disclose documents that include trade secrets, except in exceptional circumstances. There are no special considerations on these issues in the context of group actions.

 

Evidence

17. What is the procedure for filing factual and expert witness evidence in class/collective actions?

The procedure for filing factual and expert witness evidence under the Code of Judicial Procedure applies to cases tried under the Group Proceedings Act. Generally, there are no restrictions on the evidence that can be filed (such as length of statements or issues that can be covered). Proof of circumstances that are generally known and proof of legal rules are not required. The courts can also reject facts and evidence adduced by a party if it considers that such facts or evidence are:

  • Not important in the case.

  • Unnecessary.

  • Evidently of no effect.

A party can request an expert witness to submit a written statement/expert report. Such statements/expert reports must be, and usually are, exchanged prior to trial. The report must state the reasoning and circumstances on which the expert's opinion is based. No witness statements are submitted for witnesses of fact. However, parties are not allowed to present new facts not previously invoked in submissions through the hearing of a factual witness.

An expert witness can be appointed either by the court or a party. Before the court can appoint an expert, the parties must be invited to state their views and, if the parties agree on one expert, then that expert is duly appointed provided that he is found suitable and there is no impediment to his appointment. However, the court can also appoint an additional expert.

An expert who has submitted a written opinion must also be examined orally if either:

  • One party so requests, provided that such examination is not plainly without importance.

  • The court otherwise considers it necessary.

Before the oral examination, the expert must take the oath. Courts rarely appoint experts in practice.

More commonly, the parties present their own expert evidence, such as written statements combined with an oral examination of the expert. Before the oral examination, the expert must also take the oath.

There are no restrictions on the nature or extent of expert evidence.

 

Defence

18. Can one defendant apply to join other possible defendants in a class/collective action?

Joining other defendants

The application procedure for one defendant to join other defendants to a group action is not regulated under the Group Proceedings Act. This situation is governed by the general rules on third party intervention under the Code of Judicial Procedure. Third party intervention is available if a third party starts an action against one or both parties which concerns the same matter at issue. Therefore, a defendant cannot apply to join other possible defendants in a group action without commencing an action either against the claimant or the other defendants.

Rights of multiple defendants

There are no rules under Swedish law that restrict or prevent multiple defendants from entering into "joint defence agreements" or other arrangements that permit the sharing of confidential information or any other co-operation in the proceedings.

Multiple defendants can be represented by the same lawyers provided that there is no actual or potential conflict of interest. Members of the Swedish Bar Association are bound by the Code of Conduct of the Swedish Bar Association, which contains strict regulations on conflicts of interest. However, in most civil claims with multiple defendants in Sweden, each defendant engages its own lawyer, especially in complex cases. This does not prevent the defendants' lawyers from fully or partially co-operating in relation to the defence. Such co-operation can include, for example, the instruction of joint experts or witnesses.

 

Damages and relief

19. What is the measure of damages under national law in the field of class/collective actions?

Damages

There is no difference between the types of damages recoverable for claims brought as group actions and regular individual claims under Swedish contract or tort law. As a general rule, all types of quantifiable damages (except punitive damages) are available, including the value of damaged property. As a general rule, damages are only awarded for proven economic losses.

There is no cap on the quantum that can be recovered, either from a single defendant, or overall.

The court apportions damages between the group members based on the economic loss suffered by each member. The court cannot award a lump sum to be divided among the group members; the judgment must specify the amount awarded to each claimant or group member.

Recovering damages

Damages paid by one defendant can be subsequently recovered by that defendant from other persons responsible for the conduct complained of if the defendant files an action for recourse which is upheld by the court.

Interest on damages

There are no special rules applicable to the payment of interest in the field of group actions. Interest on damages runs from the date of the judgment until the damages are paid.

 
20. What rules apply to declaratory relief and interim awards in class/collective actions?

Declaratory relief

The same rules apply for group actions as for individual civil cases. However, there are a wide range of options available for declaratory relief under the Code of Judicial Procedure.

A claim for declaratory relief must be examined by the court if there is uncertainty on the existence of a legal relationship and the uncertainty exposes the claimant to a detriment. In addition, a request for declaratory relief can be granted if determination of the matter at issue depends on the existence or non-existence of a certain disputed legal relationship.

Declaratory relief can be applied for when initiating proceedings (in the summons application) or during the proceedings. Declaratory relief can be granted during the proceedings as an intermediate judgment, or in the final judgment.

In light of the low number of group actions in Sweden, declaratory relief is not commonly applied for in the field of group actions.

Interim awards

There are no specific rules regarding interim awards under the Group Proceedings Act, and the provisions of the Code of Judicial Procedure regarding interim measures apply to group actions.

Interim awards can be applied for/granted before proceedings have been initiated or during the proceedings. When there are no pending proceedings, an application must be made in writing and addressed to the court that has jurisdiction over the dispute. In such a case, proceedings must be commenced within one month from the day of the interim award. When proceedings are pending, an application for interim measures can be filed orally or in writing with the court that handles the case.

The interim awards available include:

  • Sequestration of an identified asset.

  • Sequestration of the defendant's assets up to the value required to secure the claimant's right.

  • Other measures deemed necessary to secure the claimant's right (for example, a prohibition order subject to a default fine, an order to perform a certain act or an order subject to a default fine).

In principle, the defendant will be ordered to reply to the application for interim measures. However, if any delay would jeopardise the applicant's claim, the court can impose an interim order immediately. As a general rule, the claimant must deposit security with the court for the loss that the opposing party may suffer as a result of the interim award.

In light of the low number of group actions in Sweden, interim awards are not commonly applied for in the field of group actions.

 

Settlement

21. What rules apply to settlement of class/collective actions?

Settlement rules

Under the Group Proceedings Act, group members are not bound by a settlement made by the claimant unless it is approved by the court. The court will approve a settlement unless it is discriminatory against some group members or is otherwise obviously unreasonable (section 26, Group Proceedings Act).

Separate settlements

If there is more than one defendant, they can settle separately. The situation is not regulated by the Group Proceedings Act, and the provisions of the Code of Judicial Procedure apply in this situation.

The effect of one defendant settling separately is that the proceedings against the other defendants will continue, provided that the remaining defendants choose not to settle.

 

Appeals

22. Do parties have a right to appeal decisions relating to class actions, such as a decision granting or denying certification of a class action?

In addition to the right to appeal under the Code of Judicial Procedure, parties are entitled to appeal specific decisions relating to a group action under the Group Proceedings Act (sections 42 to 48).

The court does not make any specific decision granting or rejecting certification of a group action (see Question 6, Certification/qualification). However, if the group action is dismissed by the court, the claimant can appeal the decision under the Code of Judicial Procedure. The decision can be appealed to the competent court of appeal within three weeks from the date of the decision. Permission to appeal is required.

Specific group action decisions that can be appealed under the Group Proceedings Act include those that:

  • Reject the claimant's request to bring a private group action or organisation group action without a lawyer (advokat) acting for the group.

  • Consider a request for approval of a risk agreement (see Question 9).

To appeal such decisions, the party must give notice of appeal to the court where the case is heard either:

  • Immediately if the decision is made at a hearing.

  • Within one week from the date the party receives notice of the decision.

If the party fails to give notice, the right to appeal is lost. The decision must be appealed to the court of appeal within three weeks from the date of the decision. Permission to appeal is required.

A judgment of a district court can be appealed to the court of appeal by the claimant or defendant within three weeks from the date of the judgment. Permission to appeal is required.

Under the Group Proceedings Act, a group member is entitled to appeal a judgment or a final decision either on behalf of the group or individually. If the appeal is made individually, the court of appeal will not handle the case in accordance with the Group Proceedings Act. Permission to appeal is required.

 

Alternative dispute resolution

23. Is alternative dispute resolution (ADR) available in class/collective actions?

ADR is available in group actions.

It is possible to pursue third party voluntary mediation in a private dispute under the Mediation Act (2011:860). Mediation is voluntary and is conducted by two or more parties with the help of a third party mediator. An agreement that has been reached by two parties during mediation can be officially sanctioned by the court following a joint application.

Disputes between consumers and business operators can be brought before the National Board for Consumer Disputes (Allmänna reklmaationsnämnden) (ARN). Such disputes can also be brought as group actions by the Consumer Ombudsman. The National Board for Consumer Disputes is not a court and its recommendations are not legally binding or enforceable. The procedure before the Board is based solely on written submissions. Therefore, the risk of large procedural costs is reduced. The dispute must involve a certain minimum value (about EUR20 to EUR200) and notification to the Board must be submitted within six months after the business rejected the consumer's claim.

Arbitration can be used to resolve disputes if the parties agree to do so. In consumer disputes, arbitration can only be used if the arbitration agreement is concluded after the dispute has arisen. There is no special consumer or group arbitration procedure available in Sweden.

 

Proposals for reform

24. Are there any proposals for reform concerning class/collective actions?

An official evaluation of the Group Proceedings Act was conducted in 2008. Minor changes to the Act were proposed, but none of these proposals were enacted. The authors are not aware of any other plan to reform the rules on group actions.

The authors are not aware of any proposals for reform relating to the current funding/costs regime.

As far as the authors are aware, the European Commission's recommendations for reform concerning class actions will not at this stage affect the current regime in Sweden.

 

Online resources

Group Proceedings Act (English translation)

W www.government.se/government-policy/judicial-system/group-proceedings-act/

Description. The Swedish Government's website provides access to the English translation of the Group Proceedings Act. The website was updated on 15 June 2015.

Code of Judicial Procedure (English translation)

W www.government.se/government-policy/judicial-system/the-swedish-code-of-judicial-procedure/

Description. The Swedish Government's website provides access to the English translation of the Code of Judicial Procedure. The website was updated on 15 June 2015.

Fact sheet on group proceedings

W www.regeringen.se/contentassets/6f0809523f274ae4822ac6988f1e83f9/group-proceedings

Description. The Swedish Government's website provides access to a fact sheet regarding group proceedings published by the Ministry of Justice. The fact sheet is dated December 2002.

Evaluation of the Group Proceedings Act

W www.government.se/contentassets/bc2108232b1a4a3291505fce2299fa62/evaluation-of-the-group-proceedings-act---summary-in-english

Description. The Swedish Government's website provides access to the evaluation of the Group Proceedings Act. The website was updated on 17 May 2015.



Contributor profiles

Krister Azelius, Partner

Vinge

T +46 010 614 55 00
F +46 010 614 58 85
E krister.azelius@vinge.se
W www.vinge.com

Professional qualifications. Member of the Swedish Bar Association, 1993; Junior judge, 1987-1990

Areas of practice. Dispute resolution; international and national litigation; arbitration; commercial dispute resolution.

Non-professional qualifications. LLM, Lund University, Sweden, 1987

Languages. Swedish, English

Professional associations/memberships. Swedish Bar Association; International Bar Association; Executive Committee of the Swedish Arbitration Association.

Publications.

  • "Making Use of the New SCC Rules on Emergency Arbitration, Why the Emergency Arbitrator's decision cannot be enforced and how the new rules may be made useful nonetheless", Juridisk Tidskrift nr 4 2009/2010, Krister Azelius, Lina Bergquist and Emma Linde.

  • "Procedural estimates of damages", Juridisk Tidskrift nr 3 2011/2012, Krister Azelius och Jerker Kjellander (in Swedish).

  • The International Comparative Legal Guide 2013-2015, Krister Azelius and others.

Maria Maaniidi, Associate

Vinge

T +46 010 614 55 00
F +46 010 614 58 85
E maria.maaniidi@vinge.se
W www.vinge.com

Professional qualifications. Member of the Swedish Bar Association, 2011.

Areas of practice. Dispute resolution; intellectual property; marketing law.

Non-professional qualifications. LLM, Lund University, Sweden, 2005; University of Toronto, Law School, 2004

Languages. Swedish, English

Professional associations/memberships. Swedish Bar Association; Young Arbitrators Sweden (YAS).

Publications.

  • Class & group actions 2015, 7th edition, Chapter 26 Sweden, International Comparative Guide, Krister Azelius and Maria Maaniidi.

  • Class & group actions 2014, 6th edition, Chapter 26 Sweden, The International Comparative Guide, Krister Azelius and Maria Maaniidi.

  • Class & group actions 2013, 5th edition, Chapter 24 Sweden, The International Comparative Guide, Krister Azelius and Maria Maaniidi.


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