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General framework

Domestic law

Which domestic laws and regulations govern the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in your jurisdiction?

No Swedish legislation addresses recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in general.

Recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment in Sweden requires that the judgment falls within the scope of an international treaty between the foreign state and Sweden. Such treaties exist, among others, between EU and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member states. The treaties applicable to judgments rendered in EU and EFTA member states are supplemented by additional procedural rules, of which the following are particularly important:

  • Act 1936/79 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments Rendered in Switzerland;
  • Act 1977/595 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in the Field of Private Law Rendered in the Nordic Countries;
  • Act 1983/368 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in the Field of Private Law Rendered in Austria;
  • Act 1998/358 on the Brussels Convention;
  • Act 2014/912 Laying Down Supplementary Provisions on the Jurisdiction of Courts and the Recognition and International Enforcement of Certain Judgments; and
  • Act 2014/1517 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Certain Foreign Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters.

Sweden is also a party to a number of international treaties which contain provisions on recognition and enforcement. The treaties are incorporated into Swedish law by either transformation into a statutory text or incorporation by reference. The following legislative acts are particularly important for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments:

  • Act 1986/1042 on Enforcement of Certain Foreign Decisions on Litigation Costs;
  • The Maritime Act (1994/1009);
  • Act 2005/253 on Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage; and
  • Act 2015/338 on International Railway Traffic.

However, in family law, there are certain legislative acts dealing with the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments which are not directly linked to international treaties or conventions. 

International conventions

Which international conventions and bilateral treaties relating to the recognition and enforcement of judgments apply in your jurisdiction?

Sweden has acceded to a number of EU regulations and international treaties relating to the recognition and enforcement of foreign awards in Sweden, including:

  • Council Regulation 44/2001 on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (the Brussels I Regulation (2000));
  • EU Regulation 1215/2012 on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (the Brussels I Regulation (2012)); and
  • the Lugano Convention on Jurisdiction and the Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (October 30 2007).

The following overview pertains to the abovementioned treaties, since these are invoked most frequently in cases where the recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment is sought in Sweden.

Brussels I Regulation 2000 The Brussels I Regulation 2000 governs the recognition and enforcement of judgments rendered in other EU member states (except Denmark), where the proceedings were initiated before January 10 2015. As stated above, the regulation has been supplemented by additional procedural rules in Swedish legislation.

Brussels I Regulation 2012 The Brussels I Regulation 2012 applies between all EU member states (including Denmark) for proceedings initiated on or after January 10 2015. It has also been supplemented by additional procedural rules in Swedish legislation.

Lugano Convention The Lugano Convention governs the recognition and enforcement of judgments from courts in Switzerland, Norway and Iceland in civil and commercial matters. It essentially mirrors the provisions of the Brussels I Regulation.

EU regulations Two additional EU regulations governing the enforcement of judgments from other EU member states are:

  • EU Regulation 805/2004 on European Enforcement Order for Uncontested Claims; and
  • EU Regulation 861/2007 on European Small Claims Procedure.

Regulation 805/2004 on the European Enforcement Order for Uncontested Claims provides rules for the recognition and enforcement of uncontested claims subject to EU law. Regulation 861/2007 on European Small Claims Procedure provides for the recognition and enforcement of claims in civil and commercial matters subject to EU law where the value of the claim does not exceed €2,000.

Regulations in relation to Denmark As stated above, Denmark did not accede to the Brussels I Regulation 2000.

The Brussels Convention on Jurisdiction and the Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters 1968 applies to Danish judgments rendered before 2007. The provisions of this convention are similar to the Brussels I Regulation 2000.

A separate treaty between the European Union and Denmark applies to judgments rendered after 2007. The treaty essentially mirrors the provisions of the Brussels I Regulation 2000.

Nordic convention Sweden has acceded to the Nordic Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil Matters alongside Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway. This applies when neither EU regulations nor the Lugano Convention do.

Other treaties  Sweden is a party to a number of international treaties covering various areas of law, including family law. This includes transportation, environmental, matrimonial, parental and succession matters.

Competent courts

Which courts are competent to hear cases on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

Foreign judgments under Brussels I Regulation 2012

Foreign judgments covered by the Brussels I Regulation 2012 are enforceable through the Swedish Enforcement Authority without the need for any special procedure. In certain situations, enforcement may be refused following an application by the party against which the enforcement is sought. An application for refusal must be filed before the district court in the judicial district where the applicant is domiciled.

Foreign judgments under Brussels I Regulation 2000 and the Lugano Convention Pursuant to the Brussels I Regulation 2000 and the Lugano Convention, enforcement of a foreign judgment requires a declaration of enforceability by a district court. An application for a declaration of enforceability will generally be filed with the district court in the judicial district where the opposite party is domiciled. When a declaration of enforceability has been issued, the foreign judgment is enforceable through the Swedish Enforcement Authority.

Distinction between recognition and enforcement

Is there a legal distinction between the recognition and enforcement of a judgment?

Recognition and enforcement have different legal significance under Swedish law. ‘Recognition’ of a judgment means that a Swedish court may take formal jurisdiction over the matter, but only to render a judgment corresponding to the foreign one without reviewing the merits of the case. Thus, recognition of a foreign judgment implies that it has a positive res judicata effect.

‘Enforcement’ of a foreign judgment means that the judgment is implemented with assistance from an executive authority. Enforcement is often linked to recognition, as recognition of a judgment generally enables enforcement.

Ease of enforcement

In general, how easy is it to secure recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in your jurisdiction?

It is generally easy to secure recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments that fall within the scope of international treaties acceded to by Sweden. Recognition and enforcement of such judgments require only a swift summary procedure.

Generally, it is not possible to secure the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments that fall outside the scope of the applicable EU regulations and international treaties and conventions to which Sweden has acceded.

Reform

Are any reforms to the framework on recognition and enforcement of judgments envisioned or underway?

No.

Conditions for recognition and enforcement

Enforceable judgments

Which types of judgment (eg, monetary judgments, mandatory or prohibitory orders) are enforceable in your jurisdiction and which (if any) are explicitly excluded from recognition and enforcement (eg, default judgments, judgments granting punitive damages)?

Pursuant to the Brussels I Regulation and the Lugano Convention, judgments in civil and commercial matters rendered by competent courts or authorities in other states bound by the regulations or conventions are enforceable in Sweden. These include both monetary and non-monetary judgments, provided that effective enforcement is possible in Sweden. 

Provisional measures ordered by a court or tribunal in a civil or commercial case may be enforced pursuant to the Brussels I Regulation 2012. However, those ordered by a court or tribunal without the defendant being summoned to appear may not be enforced, unless the judgment containing the measure is served on the defendant before enforcement.

Judgments that may not be enforced under the aforementioned regulations or conventions include those concerning:

  • revenue;
  • customs;
  • succession and wills;
  • bankruptcy;
  • social security;
  • arbitration proceedings; and
  • administrative law.

Default judgments are enforceable only where the defendant was served with the document that instituted the proceeding in sufficient time and manner to be able to arrange for proper defence and where the defendant has refrained from the possibility of challenging the default judgment.

How are foreign judgments subject to appeal treated?

Pursuant to the Brussels I Regulation and the Lugano Convention, a Swedish court may stay enforcement proceedings if an ordinary appeal against the judgment has been lodged in the state where the judgment was rendered, following an application by the party against which enforcement is sought.

Formal requirements

What are the formal and documentary requirements for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

Foreign judgments under Brussels I Regulation 2012

As stated, no declaration of enforceability is required for judgments that fall within the scope of the Brussels I Regulation 2012.

For such judgments, an application for enforcement is submitted to the Swedish Enforcement Authority. The application must include:

  • a copy of the judgment which satisfies the conditions necessary to establish its authenticity; and
  • a certificate issued by the court of origin using a standard form.

When an application concerns enforcement of a provisional measure, the certificate must contain a description of the measure and certify the court’s jurisdiction as to the substance of the matter and that the judgment is enforceable in the state where it was rendered. If the measure was ordered without the defendant being summoned to appear, the application must also include proof of service of the judgment.

Foreign judgments under Brussels I Regulation 2000 and the Lugano Convention Enforcement of foreign judgments under the Brussels I Regulation 2000 and the Lugano Convention requires a declaration of enforceability issued by a district court.

An application for a declaration of enforceability must include:

  • a certified copy of the judgment;
  • if the judgment to be enforced is a default judgment or a judgment given against an opposite party which was not present, the original or a certified copy of the document showing that the summons application or a corresponding document has been served on the opposite party;
  • documents showing that the judgment is enforceable in the state where it was rendered;
  • a document showing that the judgment has been served on the opposite party;
  • if the applicant had legal aid in the state of origin, documents showing this;
  • the address or details of a representative in Sweden or the European Economic Area for service of process; and
  • authorisation documents for any representative.

The court may also request that the applicant file authorised translations of the documents.

A subsequent application for enforcement of a foreign judgment is made to the Swedish Enforcement Authority. There are no specific requirements for the application for enforcement; however, the Swedish Enforcement Authority will require sufficient documentation to try the application. It is usually sufficient to enclose a certified copy of the judgment, the declaration of enforceability and a power of attorney. 

Substantive requirements

What substantive requirements (if any) apply to the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments? Are enforcing courts in your jurisdiction permitted to review the foreign judgment on the merits?

There are no substantive requirements for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, and the courts do not review foreign judgments on the merits. As a general rule, a judgment is enforceable if it is enforceable in the country where it was rendered and the country of origin is either an EU member state or a country with which Sweden has entered into an international agreement. However, recognition and enforcement will not be granted if the judgment is manifestly contrary to Swedish public policy (see below regarding the grounds for refusal). 

Limitation period

What is the limitation period for enforcement of a foreign judgment?

Neither the Brussels I Regulation, nor the Lugano Convention, nor the supplemental Swedish legislation establish any limitation period for enforcement of a foreign judgment. Under Swedish law, the limitation period is generally considered an issue of substantive law and therefore is governed by the law applicable to the legal relationship. The general limitation period is 10 years, with the possibility of extension by notice to the counterparty.

Grounds for refusal

On what grounds can recognition and enforcement be refused?

Foreign judgments under Brussels I Regulation 2012

The courts may refuse enforcement of judgments that fall under the Brussels I Regulation 2012 upon application for refusal of enforcement by the party against which enforcement is sought on the grounds that:

  • recognition is manifestly contrary to Swedish public policy;
  • the judgment was given in default of appearance and the defendant was not served with the document which instituted the proceedings or with an equivalent document in sufficient time and manner as to enable it to arrange for a defence (unless the defendant failed to challenge the judgment when it was possible to do so);
  • the judgment is irreconcilable with a Swedish judgment rendered between the same parties;
  • the judgment is irreconcilable with an earlier judgment rendered in another EU member state, a state that is party to the Lugano Convention or a third state involving the same cause of action and between the same parties; or
  • the judgment conflicts with mandatory provisions regarding jurisdiction.

Judgments under Brussels I Regulation 2000 or the Lugano Convention Recognition of judgments that are covered by the Brussels I Regulation 2000 or the Lugano Convention will be refused on the same grounds as those for judgments covered by the Brussels I Regulation 2012, without any prior application by the party against which enforcement is sought. 

Service of process

To what extent does the enforcing court review the service of process in the original foreign proceedings?

Foreign judgments under Brussels I Regulation 2012

As a main rule, courts review the service of process only if it concerns a default judgment and the opposing party applies for refusal of recognition and enforcement, claiming that there were deficiencies in the service of process in the original proceedings.

However, for the Swedish Enforcement Authority to enforce a judgment concerning an order for a provisional measure, the applicant must provide proof of service of the judgment if the measure was ordered without the defendant being summoned to appear.

Judgments under Brussels I Regulation 2000 or the Lugano Convention Following an application for a declaration of enforceability of a judgment that was given in default of appearance, the court will examine whether the defendant was served with the document which instituted the proceedings or an equivalent document in sufficient time and manner as to enable it to arrange for its defence.

Public policy

What public policy issues are considered in the court’s decision to grant recognition and enforcement? Is there any notable case law in this regard?

For judgments covered by the Brussels I Regulation 2012, public policy issues are considered by the court upon application for refusal of enforcementFor judgments covered by the Brussels I Regulation 2000 or the Lugano Convention, the prevailing opinion is that public policy issues are to be considered by the court ex officio.

For the court to refuse the recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment that falls under the aforementioned regulations or conventions, the judgment must be manifestly contrary to public policy.

In practice, the courts have been reluctant to refuse recognition of foreign judgments based on public policy. According to EU case law, recognition of a judgment will be refused if it would result in an unacceptable conflict with a public policy and this violation involves a clear breach of a policy or right which is fundamental to the legal system. The Swedish Supreme Court has also held that recognition can be rejected when a foreign judgment contravenes the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

There is no requirement for the court to search for circumstances relating to the judgment’s consistency with public policy. Thus, an application for refusal of enforcement by a party and the circumstances invoked in support thereof is generally central for the court’s assessment. 

Jurisdiction

What is the extent of the enforcing court’s power to review the personal and subject-matter jurisdiction of the foreign court that issued the judgment?

Generally, the court does not have authority to review the jurisdiction of the foreign court which has issued a judgment that falls within the scope of the Brussels I Regulation or the Lugano Convention. However, there are special provisions (eg, in relation to insurance matters and consumer contracts). Further, certain courts have exclusive jurisdiction in matters concerning, for example:

  • immovable property;
  • validity of the constitution, the nullity or the dissolution of companies or other legal persons and registration;
  • validity of entries in public registers; and
  • validity of patents, trademarks, designs or other similar rights.

If the jurisdiction of the foreign court is irreconcilable with special provisions, the court will refuse recognition in Sweden. For judgments that fall under the scope of the Brussels I Regulation 2012, an application for refusal of enforcement is required for the court to review and refuse recognition and enforcement.

Concurrent proceedings and conflicting judgments

How do the courts in your jurisdiction address applications for recognition and enforcement where there are concurrent proceedings (foreign or domestic) or conflicting judgments involving the same parties/dispute?

Where a foreign judgment rendered in an EU member state or a state party to the Lugano Convention is in conflict with a judgment rendered in Sweden involving the same cause of action and between the same parties, the foreign judgment will not be recognised in Sweden. This applies irrespective of the chronology of the judgments.

If a foreign judgment rendered in an EU member state or a state party to the Lugano Convention is in conflict with an earlier foreign judgment rendered in an EU member state, a state party to the Lugano Convention or a third state, involving the same cause of action and between the same parties, recognition and enforcement of the latter judgment will be refused in Sweden.

For judgments covered by the Brussels I Regulation 2012, the issue is addressed by the court following an application for refusal of enforcement by the opponent. For judgments covered by the Brussels I Regulation 2000 and the Lugano Convention, recognition will be refused without any application for refusal.

When concurrent proceedings for recognition and enforcement have been initiated before a competent foreign court in an EU member state or a state party to the Lugano Convention before the action before the Swedish court, the Swedish court will decline jurisdiction.

Opposition

Defences

What defences are available to the losing party to a foreign judgment that is sought to be recognised and enforced in your jurisdiction?

Foreign judgments under Brussels I Regulation 2012

Regarding foreign judgments falling under the scope of the Brussels I Regulation 2012, the losing party may file an application for refusal of enforcement. Such an application can be filed either before the opponent has taken any enforcement actions or after the Swedish Enforcement Authority has commenced enforcement of the judgment.

If the Swedish Enforcement Authority has already initiated enforcement of a foreign judgment under the Brussels I Regulation 2012, the courts may temporarily limit the enforcement to protective measures, subject it to the provision of security or suspend the enforcement proceedings, following an application for refusal of enforcement.

Foreign judgments under Brussels I Regulation 2000 or the Lugano Convention For judgments that fall under the Brussels I Regulation 2000 and the Lugano Convention, the losing party may defend itself against recognition and enforcement of a judgment by appeal against a decision for declaration of enforceability.

Injunctive relief

What injunctive relief is available to defendants (eg, anti-suit injunctions)?

No injunctive relief is available to defendants. 

Recognition and enforcement procedure

Formal procedure

What is the formal procedure for seeking recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment?

Foreign judgments under Brussels I Regulation 2012

In order to enforce a judgment covered by the Brussels I Regulation 2012, an application must be submitted to the Swedish Enforcement Authority. The application must include a certificate issued by the court of origin.

When an application concerns enforcement of a provisional measure, the certificate must contain a description of the measure and certify the court’s jurisdiction as to the substance of the matter and that the judgment is enforceable in the state where it was rendered. If the measure was ordered without the defendant being summoned to appear, the application must also include proof of service of the judgment.

Provided that the judgment is enforceable in the state where it was rendered and the application meets the documentary requirements, the Swedish Enforcement Authority will serve the certificate on the party against which enforcement is sought, accompanied by the judgment if it has not already been served on that party. Thereafter, the Swedish Enforcement Authority will take enforcement measures against the party against which enforcement is sought. Service of process is not required when the judgment concerns provisional measures.

In certain situations, enforcement of judgments covered by the Brussels I Regulation 2012 may be subject to a procedure before the district court, following an application for refusal of enforcement by the party against which enforcement is sought.

Foreign judgments under Brussels I Regulation 2000 and the Lugano Convention An application for a declaration of enforceability is usually filed with the district court in the judicial district where the opposite party is domiciled. When a declaration of enforceability has been issued, the losing party will be served with the court’s decision and a copy of the foreign judgment, if the judgment has not already been served on that party. The foreign judgment may then be enforced by the Swedish Enforcement Authority following an application.

 An application for a declaration of enforceability must include:

  • a certified copy of the judgment;
  • if the judgment to be enforced is a default judgment or a judgment given against an opposite party which was not present, the original or a certified copy of the document showing that the summons application or a corresponding document has been served on the opposite party;
  • documents showing that the judgment is enforceable in the state where it was rendered;
  • a document showing that the judgment has been served on the opposite party;
  • if the applicant had legal aid in the state of origin, documents showing this;
  • the address or details of a representative in Sweden or the European Economic Area for service of process; and
  • authorisation documents for any representative.

The court may also request that the applicant file authorised translations of the documents.

A subsequent application for enforcement of a foreign judgment is made to the Swedish Enforcement Authority. There are no specific requirements for the application for enforcement, although the Swedish Enforcement Authority will require sufficient documentation to try the application. It is usually sufficient to enclose a certified copy of the judgment, the declaration of enforceability and a power of attorney. 

Timeframe

What is the typical timeframe for the proceedings to grant recognition and enforcement?

The timeframe for the proceedings depends on the complexity of the case, although the minimum processing time is four weeks.

Fees

What fees apply to applications for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

The fee for an application for enforcement to the Swedish Enforcement Authority is Skr600. The application for a declaration of recognition or enforcement to the court is free of charge. 

Security

Must the applicant for recognition and enforcement provide security for costs?

No. However, the court may subject enforcement of security for costs if the opposing party submits an application for refusal of enforcement. 

Appeal

Are decisions on recognition and enforcement subject to appeal?

Yes.

For judgments covered by the Brussels I Regulation 2012, decisions on the application for refusal of enforcement may be appealed by either party to the Court of Appeal.

For judgments covered by the Brussels I Regulation 2000 or the Lugano Convention, either party may appeal a decision on the application for a declaration of enforceability.

In certain situations, the losing party may also appeal the decision of the Swedish Enforcement Authority regarding enforcement.

Other costs

How does the enforcing court address other costs issues arising in relation to the foreign judgment (eg, calculation of interest, exchange rates)?

A foreign judgment is registered in the currency used in the judgment on the day of registration at the Swedish Enforcement Authority and therefore currency exchange is not required. Interest is calculated in accordance with what is established in the foreign judgment.

Enforcement against third parties

To what extent can the courts enforce a foreign judgment against third parties?

A foreign judgment is not usually enforceable against third parties. However, there are exceptional cases in which foreign judgments may be enforced against third parties. 

Partial recognition and enforcement

Can the courts grant partial recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

Yes, the court and the Swedish Enforcement Authority may grant partial recognition and enforcement.