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Last update: 17-08-2004
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Organisation of justice - Sweden


Sweden has two parallel types of court - general courts, which deal with criminal and civil matters, and general administrative courts, which deal with administrative matters. There are three levels of general courts - the district courts (tingsrätt), the courts of appeal (hovrätt) and the Supreme Court (Högsta domstolen). There are also three levels of administrative courts - the county courts (länsrätt), the administrative courts of appeal (kammarrätt) and the Supreme Administrative Court (Regeringsrätten).

Organisation chart (PDF 39kb)


General courts
The district court is the court of first instance. There are 72 district courts spread across Sweden. They vary in size from having a few hundred employees to around ten.

The next instance is the court of appeal. There are six of them. General speaking, a party is free to refer the decision of a district court to the court of appeal.

The Supreme Court is the highest instance. It is made up of at least 16 justices. The Supreme Court's main task is to review judgments which might be of significance to the development of law, i.e. by setting a precedent. In order for a judgment to be fully reviewed by it, the Supreme Court must give special permission. In carrying out its review, the Court will decide whether there are any issues in the judgment which might be useful in terms of setting a precedent. If permission is given, the judgment is normally reviewed by five justices.

General administrative courts
The county court is the court of first instance. There is at least one county court in each county (län).

The administrative court of appeal is the court of second instance. There are four such courts. For most types of judgment, permission is required for the administrative court of appeal to carry out a full review.

The Supreme Administrative Court is the highest instance. It is made up of at least 17 justices. Its main task, like that of the Supreme Court, is to create precedent. Permission is required in most cases. If permission is granted, the case is normally reviewed by five justices.

Special courts
Special courts handle disputes within various specific areas which are felt to require special knowledge. Examples are the Employment Tribunal (Arbetsdomstolen), which settles disputes under employment law, and the Market Court (Marknadsdomstolen), whose area of responsibility includes cases concerned with unlawful marketing and competition.
Summary proceedings
Not all disputes under the law of property need to be handled by the courts but can in some cases be settled following the submission to the public prosecution authorities of an application for an injunction to pay a debt or for assistance. If the defending party does not contest the application, the public prosecution authorities may issue a ruling in the applicant's favour. Such a ruling has the same effect as a court judgment. However, if the defending party does contest the application, the applicant may request that the matter be referred to the district court for a judgment. Information on summary proceedings and application forms can be found at sv.
Consumer disputes
In consumer disputes, i.e. disputes between a trader and a consumer concerning a product or service which the consumer has purchased for his/her own use, the consumer may obtain assistance from a consumer adviser. These can be found in most municipalities. A consumer who does not obtain redress after having complained about a product or service may refer the matter to the General Claims Board (Allmänna reklamationsnämnden, or ARN). The latter's decision takes the form of a recommendation to the parties to settle the dispute in a particular manner. If the trader does not comply with the Board's decision, the consumer may take the matter to court. Further information about the Board's operations and application forms can be found at ARN - Allmänna reklamationsnämnden sv.


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Last update: 17-08-2004

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