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Competition & Antitrust
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.
Energy & Natural Resources
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.
Environment & Climate Change
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.
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 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.
Sweden has obligations and climate goals in line with its duties as an EU member state. National policies on climate issues relate to these and other objectives set out by Parliament. A major question for the Swedish energy system remains over the future of its extensive nuclear power programme and how a gradual phase-out of nuclear power would affect the ambitious national goals on carbon dioxide emissions.
The new Ordinance on Traffic Noise Levels in Housing Construction contains provisions on noise from rail, road and airport traffic. The main purposes of the ordinance are to harmonise the legal framework for construction and promote the construction of residential buildings in urban areas. The ordinance sends a clear signal that the legislature intends to fulfil the goals set out to promote housing construction in urban areas.
The Land and Environment Court of Appeal recently tried two cases concerning the interpretation of the EU Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds. Both cases concerned the construction of wind turbines in areas where birds protected under the directive live and breed. The central question was whether the construction of the wind turbines should be considered to be the deliberate killing of these birds, and therefore prohibited.
The Chemicals Agency has published new guidelines for suppliers of articles concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals duties to inform about candidate list substances. The new guidelines underline the importance for Swedish suppliers to comply with the Swedish interpretation of how to calculate the level of substances in an article.
One of the largest science infrastructure projects in Europe, the European Spallation Source (ESS), has been given the formal go-ahead to start construction on the outskirts of Lund, Sweden. The groundbreaking took place after permission from the Swedish Land and Environmental Court and the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority. The environmental licensing of the ESS has given rise to a wide array of complex assessments.
A recent Environmental Court of Appeal ruling has clarified a property owner's liability for contaminated land. Such liability is subsidiary to the polluter's liability and comes into play when it is impossible to find the liable operator, or when the operator is unable to pay for or carry out the necessary remedial measures. The court has now established the scope of the subsidiary liability in relation to the specific time limit rule.
Target values for noise emissions from traffic and industrial activities follow authority guidelines and are not set by statutory law. Existing rules on noise pollution are believed to impede the building of new dwellings in Sweden, especially in urban areas where the demand is greater. In order to increase building, the government has decided to investigate the possibility of improving coordination of the existing regulations.
In a recent decision the Environmental Court of Appeal discussed the concept of operator liability and stated that in each individual case the person or entity which is the operator of the polluting activities must be considered. The decision established that, under certain circumstances, a parent company could be held liable for activities by its subsidiary which have caused contamination.
Tech, Data, Telecoms & Media
The debate regarding hidden marketing by influencers has been ongoing for some time, as social media's influencer scene grows from strength to strength. A recent judicial court judgment that the indication that a post constitutes marketing must be made at the very beginning of the post is perhaps unsurprising, as it is based on an established principle that the consumer must be able to identify marketing before he or she has read the entire advertisement.
The Supreme Court recently outlined the assessment of the terms 'trader' and 'marketing' with regard to a municipality's use of a private individual's picture in newspaper advertisements and other informative material. After a city in a municipality had been named the European capital of culture, the municipality used a picture showing a person. The person sued the municipality for damages on the grounds that it had used the picture in marketing the municipality and its business without his consent.