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 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.
Workplace harassment between employees raises questions regarding employers' responsibility to maintain a healthy and sustainable work environment and what actions can be taken against disruptive employees. Employers and their representatives have an extensive responsibility to maintain a positive work environment, including assessing, preventing and acting against risk factors such as harassment.
The government recently decided to appoint a special investigator to explore the possibilities of modernising some of the basic regulations of Swedish labour law. The investigation aims to explore how Swedish labour law can be modernised and adapted to meet current market needs while maintaining the fundamental and historical balance between the various parties to the labour market.
Company leaders such as CEOs are expressly excluded from the scope of the Employment Protection Act. Therefore, the parties to a CEO's employment agreement must agree its terms. However, the reasonability and validity of the agreed terms and conditions may be assessed or determined by the Swedish courts. Given the lack of applicable law in this area, the parties to a CEO's employment agreement must agree on the terms relating to both active employment and termination (by either party).
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.
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.