Upcoming events

Legal aid in Sweden

Questionnaire on legal aid 
Conference in Palermo on 12th and 13th November 2009

Questions and Swedish answer
I./ Procedural aspects

1./ Who decides whether legal aid is granted to a party?
- The Legal Aid Authority decides whether a party are entitled to legal aid. If the dispute has already reached court the court will decide on legal aid. 

2./ Is it possible to challenge this decision?
- Yes it is possible to challenge the decision.

3./ Is it possible to obtain legal aid already during the administrative procedure?
- Yes, but not common.
4./ Is legal aid valid for the whole procedure, legal remedies included or is decided separately for each level of the law suit?
- The legal aid is valid for the whole procedure.

5./ Do applications for legal aid have any impact on the course of the procedure, in particular on the run out of time limits (f.e. for legal remedies)?
- No.

II./ Prerequisites for legal aid

1./ Financial means
a./ Are there thresholds concerning income ruled by law or by court practice?
b./ Are there also such thresholds for real estates and other values?
- Being granted legal aid does not automatically mean that the State pays all the costs for your legal representative. The basic idea is that you should contribute to the cost to the extent you can afford. Legal aid is the difference between the costs that arise for your legal representative and the legal aid fee which you must pay yourself. If you have disposable gross income of more than 260 000 SEK (25,000 Euro) per year you are not entitled to legal aid from the State. In simple terms, your disposable gross income is the total of your assets and your wealth minus liabilities and support commitments. 
c./ Are there special rules for legal entities (societies, associations)?
- Legal aid applies first and foremost to private individuals, i.e. not to associations, companies or similar institutions. In exceptional cases a business proprietor can be granted legal aid. The estate of a deceased person can in some cases be granted legal aid. 

2./ Is the possible outcome of the case of relevance for granting legal aid? 
There should be a need for legal assistance and it should be reasonable that the State pays the costs in the dispute. The assessment is made by the Legal Aid Authority or by a court (in those cases where the dispute has already reached court). 

3./ Are there other criteria for granting or refusing legal aid?

  • As a rule, if you have legal protection cover through your insurance you cannot be granted legal aid. You should in the first instance make use of your legal protection cover to pay the cost of your representative. If you do not have any insurance but in the light of your financial circumstances you ought to have insurance, you could miss the right to legal aid. 

  • You will not be granted legal aid if you are receiving help from a public defence counsel or a public counsel. In these cases it is a question of a criminal case or an administrative matter. 

  • A condition for being granted legal aid is that you should have at least one hour’s compulsory advice consultation from an attorney or trained lawyer. You can receive up to two hours’ advice under the Legal Aid Act. 

  • As a rule you are not entitled to legal aid if the value of the matter/dispute is less than half a ’base amount’. A "base amount" is SEK 40.300, 2007. 

  • Nor will you receive legal aid for matters which involve more straightforward registration procedures, such as an application for property deeds or a mortgage on a property or for the drafting of documents such as a tax return, a will, a prenuptial agreement, an estate inventory or a deed of gift. 

  • You will not be granted legal aid if you represent yourself. Legal aid is paid for another legal representative to act for you. 

  • In some cases special reasons are required if you are to be granted legal aid. This applies, for example, to divorce cases.

III./ Benefits 

1./ What kinds of costs are covered by legal aid?
a./ Court fees
- There are no court fees.
b./ Costs of witnesses, interpreters and experts
- Normally not covered.
c./ The party’s travel expenses
- Cost normally covered.
d./ Advocates or other representatives 
d.a./ Under which conditions are advocates or other representatives at the disposal of the beneficiary in order to represent him in the lawsuit?
d.b./ How are these advocates or other representatives selected? Has the party any influence in this selection procedure?
-The party selects the advocates.
d.c./ Who covers the costs for these advocates or other representatives?
- You can receive legal aid for the whole or part of the cost of a legal representative up to 100 hours. In special cases the court can extend legal aid.
e./ Has legal aid an influence on the obligation of the beneficiary to refund certain expenses of opposing parties if he finally looses the case? 
- Not in administrative courts.

IV./ Can legal aid be revoked? 

1./ Under which conditions is it possible to revoke legal aid?
- Legal aid can be revoked 
* if you don’t pay the legal aid fee according to plan. 
* if you leave information about your economy that are false.
* if your income/economy changes. 
* if it is no longer reasonable that the State pays the costs in the dispute. 

2./ Can it be revoked even retroactively and can recovery of the state’s expenses be ordered? Which are the conditions for such a decision?
- No, but the party can be required to repay a larger amount than the legal aid fee.

3./ Are there time limits for such decisions?

V./ Practical importance of legal aid

1./ What is the percentage of cases with legal aid in general?
- Extremely few cases in administrative courts.

2./ Are there any scopes of administrative law where legal aid is of special importance? What is the percentage of cases with legal aid in these particular fields of administrative law?
- No.