The immunities of States and international organisations

This database contains the original national contributions bringing together information on The immunities of States and international organisations

Information on the contribution

Member State
Type of document
Permanent link to the contribution
Database of the CAHDI "The immunities of States and international organisations" - contribution of Sweden - Statement of 25/01/1996

Statement by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to the Swedish Competition Authority


Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Nature of the document


Date of the document


Points of law

State immunity ex officio; Swedish practice regarding State immunity; the question of immunity regarding a contract on ferry-service

Specific provision(s) of the document

The Competition Authority sent a request for a statement to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs on 7 December 1995. In the request it was explained that the Authority dealt with a case regarding the ferry- service between Sweden and Estonia. The company Nordström & Thulin AB (N&T) had concluded an agreement in 1989 with the Soviet Estonian Transport Committee (ETC). The Government of Estonia later on decided to transfer the said agreement to the Estonian Shipping Company. The agreement established a joint company Estline, which was given the exclusive right to run the ferry-service between Stockholm and Tallinn without competition during ten years. The Competition Authority investigated the matter according to Sweden's Competition Law and made inquiries at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs about the question of State immunity. The question regarded Swedish practice in general on State immunity, and in the present case if N&T's party in the agreement could enjoy State immunity.

The Ministry initially stated that the right to State immunity should be considered ex officio, and that establishing a contact with the foreign State's Ministry for Foreign Affairs might give an advance notification regarding the State's point of view on State immunity. Thereafter, it is stated that practice as well as literature indicate that Sweden has adopted the restrictive theory even though many questions remain to be solved. Furthermore, it is noted that according to Swedish literature in the matter it is likely that the subjective method should be used in Sweden to distinguish between acta jure imperii and acta jure gestionis.

As regards the case before the Competition Authority, the Ministry was of the view that according to the information included in the request, it seemed as if the purpose of the disputed act mainly had been to establish a commercial ferry-service between Stockholm and Tallinn. Therefore, the Ministry found that the act seemed to belong to acts jure gestionis, why it then would be difficult for the State of Estonia to invoke immunity before a court. The Ministry, however, pointed out that this naturally was a question to be settled by the court. Furthermore, the Ministry noted that the Estonian party to the agreement was a State owned business company, which also spoke against the right to invoke immunity.


Archives of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (not published)

Additional information (explanations, notes, etc.)

Swedish Competition Authority, Decision, 20 March 1998 (Dnr 300/95)