The immunities of States and international organisations

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Database of the CAHDI "The immunities of States and international organisations" - contribution of Sweden - Jurisprudence of 01/11/2005

Introduction Case Law



Date of the decision, of the judgment


Points of law

In Sweden, the question of State immunity has hardly been regulated and case-law on the matter is scarce. Nevertheless, it has for a long time been argued in literature as well as by courts and the Executive, that Sweden adheres to the restrictive theory of State immunity. In reality, however, the practice of the courts has been rather unclear. This is why it was of utmost importance when the Supreme Court in 1999 handed down a decision in which it invoked the restrictive theory of State immunity. As regards the important question of the categorisation of states' acts as sovereign or commercial, the Supreme Court commented that it is difficult to formulate a distinction applicable in all circumstances. For that reason the Court did not make the categorisation only by considering the form and nature of the act nor solely by considering the State's purpose with the act. Instead, the Supreme Court found that the practical solution, when making such a categorisation, was to make an assessment in case of the circumstances that support one position or the other.

Very few national laws and regulations deal with State immunity in Sweden. There is one act on certain regulations regarding foreign State- owned vessels and their cargo (issued in 1938) and another act on immunity from embargo for certain aircraft (issued in 1939).
Furthermore, Sweden has ratified the International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Concerning the Immunity of State-owned Ships of 1926.

At the international level, Sweden has actively participated in the work of the ILC and of the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly on State immunity. In these fora, Sweden has consistently argued in favour of the restrictive theory of State immunity.

Preliminary phase of collection of data

As mentioned above, Swedish case-law regarding State immunity is rather scarce. Furthermore, it has been somewhat difficult to fully study the practice of the district courts and of the courts of appeal since these courts still lack easily accessible information systems regarding their decisions and judgements.
The enclosed preliminary collection of data has been divided into three different parts. The first part is concerned with the practice of the Courts and Tribunals (S/CT), whereas the second and third parts include material from the Executive (S/E) and the Legislative (S/L) respectively. As regards the Executive, the material is furthermore subdivided according to the subject dealt with in every document: S/E 1 - S/E 3 comment on the European Convention on State Immunity, S/E 4 - S/E

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