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WG Independence-Efficiency > Meetings > Würtzburg 2007 > Questionnaire on the Independence and Efficiency of administrative Justice : Sweden

Questionnaire on the Independence and Efficiency of administrative Justice : Sweden

I./ Personal Independence of the administrative Judge: 

Indicate the ways in which judges are selected/appointed for/to administrative Justice as well as the terms and nature of the judicial selection/appointment:

Describe the selection/appointment procedure that is applied in your country

Answer: The executive power, that is the Swedish government, appoints all judges. Judges on a lower level are appointed following applications from interested candidates and nominations/suggestions from a special board , Tjänsteförslagsnämnden, TFN. TFN is a board within the Swedish National Courts Administration, a central administrative authority accountable to the government.
The presidents of the larger city courts and administrative courts as well as a lot of judges on higher levels are appointed by the government alone, without outside involvement. It is not possible to apply for such a position. In reality officials from the Department of Justice decides who is going to be appointed. 
Appointments of presidents of the courts of appeal and the supreme courts follow the same procedure as appointments of judges on the highest levels. It is possible to apply for a position as president of district courts and county administrative courts (except for the largest courts at first instance where the government decides solely and without outside involvement).

What are the qualifications and terms of this kind of nomination?

Answer: For being appointed as a judge the only necessary requirements are a Swedish citizenship and a Master of Law. To the Supreme Courts sometimes a lawyer (advocate) or a professor of law is appointed. Regarding the “normal” judicial career, se under 1.3.

Is there specific professional background such as previous work record in the administration or general legal training included?

Answer: To be appointed as a permanent judge you most often have to have gone through the judicial career: A law degree (Master of Law, four and a half year´s of studies), two years of service as a district court clerk or county administrative court clerk, then a probation period as a trainee judge at a court of appeal or an administrative court of appeal to become a Court of Appeal/Administrative Court of Appeal Reporting Clerk. The Reporting Clerk may then serve for a number of years at a district court or county administrative court. A new period of probation then begins in the court of appeal lasting about nine months during which time the Reporting Clerk is co-opted to the bench. The Reporting clerk may then be approved as Associate Judge of Appeal/Administrative Appeal. After six to eight years the Associate Judge may apply for a position as a permanent judge.

What are the possible contents examined during this procedure?

Answer: The ability and efficiency of the applicant are the most important citeria but also previous experience and leader-ship abilities.

Who meets the decisions in the course of the selection/appointment procedure and who selects and appoints the aforementioned decision –makers?

Answer: The TFN board (se above). The members are selected by the government.

Does the law provide for judicial remedies against decisions concerning appointment/selection?

Answer: Yes, a candidate not nominated by the TFN can appeal to the government.

Does there exist any difference in the way the selection/appointment of judges of the civil/penal courts takes place?

Answer: No

Is it possible for “external candidates” to be appointed as judges at different court levels and instances?

Answer: Yes

Are those legal provisions concerning the ways of selection/appointment of judges constitutionally entrenched?

Answer: No

Describe in brief the conditions of service and tenure (security of tenure, suspension and removal, transfers etc.) of the judges:

Is the term of judicial appointment for life?

Answer: Yes with mandatory retirement between the age of 65 and 67.

Is it possible to extent the term of service of judges beyond retirement age? In this case who has the power to take the decision?

Answer: Yes, the chief judge/court president after permission from the Swedish National Courts Administration

Is it possible to appoint temporary judges?

Answer: Not in the ordinary courts.

Is it possible for the judge to be removed or transferred and under what specific terms?

Answer: Involuntarily only if the court shuts down. Otherwise you may apply for a position at another court.

Where does the power of removing or transferring judges from one office to another lie?

Answer: The Ministry of Justice (the Government)

Is it possible to transfer between the different divisions and types of courts?
Answer: Yes

Is it possible to transfer to government administration and back?

Answer: Yes

Does a transfer to the administration have a career-promoting effect?

Answer: Yes

Is incompetence a ground for removal of a judge from the bench?

Answer: No

Financial security (salaries, remunerations, pensions etc.)

Who decides about judges’ salaries?

Answer: The Swedish National Courts Administration and the Judges’ trade union are parties in the negotiations of the salaries of the judiciary.

In what way and under what conditions are the salaries of judges increased?

Answer: The Swedish National Courts Administration wishes to introduce individual salaries for the judges. Until now the salaries are based on objective grounds such as the number of years you have been employed.

Are they accompanied by annual cost-of-living adjustments?

Answer : No

Is there a need for executive approval or executive decision to initiate the increase?

Answer: Officially the executive does not want to interfere in the negotiations, see 3.1.

Is it possible for the judges to initiate judicial proceedings against the State with regard to their remuneration and which are the competent courts in this case?

Answer: No

Is there a uniform salary scheme for all courts, divisions and types?

Answer: Until now, yes, but see 3.2

Career prospects (promotions etc.)

Describe briefly the ways in which the promotions of judges are made. What kind of procedures are to be applied in this context?
Indicate the competent body for the promotions and the criteria applied thereto.
Are judges of the administrative courts promoted to the Supreme Administrative Court and under what conditions (seniority etc.)?

Answer to 4.1 -4.3: See under 1.1

Can judges accept any government assignment after retirement?

Answer: Yes

Standards of conduct (professional and service Code, public activities, law-related activities etc.)

Can a judge be involved in law-related activities (arbitration, law practice, writing books)?

Answer: Yes, in arbitration and writing books, but not law practice.

Can a judge be involved in business activities?

Answer: After permission from the TFN.

Is the judge entitled to sideline employment?

Answer: Yes but it must not be harming the public’s confidence.

Is there a Code of conduct of judicial behaviour?

Answer: No

Is there a Commission on Judicial Conduct or any other body to supervise the behaviour of a judge?

Answer: The National disciplinary board, the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the Chancellor of Justice

Describe the restrictions - if there are any - on judges’ right to express their views?

Answer: There aren’t any restrictions.

Inspection of judges and disciplinary proceedings

Who is in charge of the inspection of judges and in what way is this inspection conducted?

Answer: The Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Chancellor of Justice. In most cases only after complaints and most often through a written procedure.

Are there specific criteria for the evaluation of the performance of judges?
Answer: No

Who holds the legal power to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the judge?

Answer: The Chief Judge may report to the Disciplinary Board. Its verdict may be appealed against to a disciplinary tribunal.

Who decides the disciplinary tribunal and its composition? Is it permanent or ad hoc?

Answer: It is permanent but the judges are not nominated for life. The members of the tribunal are appointed by the government.

Is there a legal remedy against the decisions of the disciplinary body provided for by law?

Answer: Yes

Is there a special procedure for investigating and prosecuting a judge?

Answer: Yes and even more special for the members of the Supreme Courts.

II./ Functional and Institutional Independence of administrative jurisdiction:

II.a./ General aspects

Separation of powers and judicial independence

Indicate who is responsible for the central administration of administrative jurisdiction

Answer: The Swedish National Courts Administration which is an authority directly under the Ministry of Justice, accountable to the government.
Individual and collective independence of the judiciary (?)
Is it possible for sanctions (of any kind) to be imposed on a judge based upon the content of his/her decision?

Answer: No, but see 1.4

Can a judge face disciplinary charges solely on the basis of the substance of his/her ruling? Is this the case when a judge declines to follow a supreme court’s decision?

Answer: No, although there is a crime, “misuse of office”. Some judges have been prosecuted for mistakes, such as miscalculating the days for someone in custody.

Do you think that accountability of judges threatens judicial independence?

Answer: It might. There has been a discussion in Sweden concerning the cases under 1.4.

Can a judge be held liable in civil actions for his/her judicial acts (e.g. be sued for damages for actions taken in his/her judicial capacity)?

Answer: No, not personally except when the judge has committed a crime through actions taken in his/her judicial capacity, in which case he/she also can be sued for damages.

Are judges immune from prosecution in other courts for their judicial acts?

Answer: Yes

Can criminal charges be brought against a judge for actions on his/her duties?

Answer: See under 1.4.

Do judges face sanctions for “decisional conducts”?

Answer: See under 1.4

Judicial administration at the Court level (division of work among judges and assignment of cases etc.)

Is the division of work among judges and the assignment of cases to each judge or panel done according to a predetermined rigid plan or is it flexible and may be changed easily?

Answer: It is done according to a predetermined plan decided in the administrative rules at the court.

Who is in charge of case assignment?

Answer: The president decides who is to work in which department of the court. At some courts the cases are not delivered directly to a judge but to a department within the court. The president (or someone designed to do this task) then distributes the cases among the judges or among staff at a lower level.

Self - administration of justice 

Is judicial administration effected through independent judicial self-governance?

Answer: The President or Chief Judge of a court is responsible for the judicial administration of the court and each court is entitled to judicial self-governance in accordance with administrative statutes and the budget frame decided by The Swedish National Courts Administration. At courts divided into divisions the Senior Judge is responsible for the judicial administration of his or her division.
Describe briefly how the governing body/committee is elected?
Is there any restriction for the members of the above body to participate in other syndicalistic bodies?

Answer: There are no longer any similar bodies/committees within the Swedish courts’ system.

Human, financial and material resources necessary for the performance of judicial functions

Who is responsible for the administrative staff employed in the courts?

Answer: The chief judge

Who is competent to make available the necessary funds for the performance of justice?

Answer: The Parliament decides the budget for all courts. The Swedish National Courts Administration distributes the funds among the courts.

Who has the power to execute and spend the budgetary allocations?

Answer: See 4.2

II.b./ The relation between administrative jurisdiction and other powers:

Relations with the executive (the influence of the Administration on the judge etc.)

Have there been cases of executive pressure on judges in any form?

Answer: No

Can judges be members of the Government?

Answer: Yes, when on leave from the employment as a judge.

Is it allowed for judges to participate in administrative bodies having decisive or consultative competences?

Answer: Yes

Do the administrative courts have the power to challenge administrative acts of general character (presidential decrees etc.)?

Answer: Only when they are contrary to EC law or when it is obvious that they are contrary to the Swedish Constitution

Relations with the legislature (retroactive legislative reversals of cases etc.)

Can the legislature override a decision of a court if they disagree with the way the latter has applied or interpreted a law?

Answer: No

Have there been retroactive legislative reversals of court decisions?

Answer: No
Has there been legislation abolishing courts with results of statutory removal of judges and if so, how was it received?

Answer: No in these cases the judges are transferred but no removed.

Pending cases?

Answer: No

Can judges be members of the legislature?

Answer: Yes

Do the administrative courts have the power to challenge laws?

Answer: Only when they are contrary to EC law or when it is obvious that they are contrary to the Constitution

Interest representation of administrative judges

Are judges organised in associations for furthering their rights and interests?

Answer: Yes
Are there separate professional representations for administrative judges, or a joint association of judges?

Answer: Joint

What are the specific activities of the aforesaid association? Describe them in brief.

Answer: “Building opinion”, editing a magazine 3 – 4 times a year, to consider proposed measures from the government from a legal point of view

Do judges have the right to strike or to hold a demonstration?

Answer: Yes

II.c./ The relation between administrative jurisdiction and the society:

The administrative judge and the media scrutiny (the press, the judiciary and the courts, criticism of judicial decisions etc.)

Is criticism of judges, judicial decisions and judicial conduct in the press existent, frequent, rare? What are the relevant grounds for this? Could you give major examples?

Answer: The general courts are frequently criticized for not giving hard enough sentences in criminal matters.

Are trials open to TV?

Answer: No

Do you think that press reporting and commenting on judges, courts, judicial decisions and matters pending before the courts poses a challenge to judicial independence?

Answer: Yes. Some judges have been threatened to death after media reporting.

The administrative judge and the public opinion

Do you think that a judge’s engagement in politics or speaking his/her mind in favour of a political party compromises the public confidence in the judiciary?

Answer: No

Are there institutions that favour strong public opinion in defence of the independence of the judiciary?

Answer: No institutions but the judges’ own organisations.

Judges and politics

Is it allowed for judges to become member of political parties?

Answer: Yes

Are there any major restrictions for judges with regard to their political activities? What are the consequences in case of breach?

Answer : No

Are there any other restrictions for judges as far as their public activity is concerned?

Answer: No

Have there been cases where political leaders attacked the judges and criticised their decisions?

Answer: Yes, judges in general courts after having giving judgement in rape cases. While we still had the Aliens Appeals Board the judges working there were sometimes criticised by political leaders.

III./ Efficiency in the internal organisation of an administrative jurisdiction.

The judge and his work

Describe briefly the kind of the initial training and the qualifications of an administrative judge prescribed by law and his further education and/or formation, inter alia in European law, emphasizing more particularly the aspects which might help the judge to improve the efficiency of administrative justice.

Answer: Legal training – see I 1.1. There is no training prescribed by law.

Do you think that a higher salary paid to the judge and, more specifically, other (material) advantages which may be granted to him in consideration of the output might help to improve the efficiency of administrative justice?

Answer: No

Please indicate the number of administrative judges in your country and compare it to the population being under their jurisdiction (an average number can be indicated per country).

Answer: Around 350 permanent judges in the general administrative courts. Sweden has a population of 9 million.

Please indicate the number of legal or other assistants (including clerks, secretaries …) working for the administrative jurisdictions, indicating more particularly the average number per judge working at an administrative court.

Answer: Roughly 250 non-permanent judges, 200 court clerks, 300 case preparing officers, 260 court secretaries and 60 administrators.

Describe briefly the working conditions of an administrative judge in your country, emphasizing more particularly the technical means which are at his/her disposal, as well as legal or other assistants helping him/her in his/her duties, his/her access to libraries and data bases, access to internet and so on…

Answer: The technical means are very good as are access to internet, libraries, data bases. Every judge in the first instance has 2 – 3 legal assistants.

Describe briefly the internal working regulations of an administrative court and more particularly the way in which the work is distributed among the judges, the person in charge of the distribution of the work to be done by the respective judge and of the control of his/her work, indicating inter alia the criteria according to which the way of distribution is decided as well as the criteria according to which the work of the administrative judge is controlled, as well as the possible sanctions which may be taken against the judge who does not fulfil the legal or internal requirements concerning the quality of his/her work. Describe in this context internal control procedures (if there are any).

Answer: The procedure for the lotting of cases – see above. The chief judges, the presidents, the Swedish National Courts Administration are following the statistics closely – which is easily done by the data bases - but no sanctions are taken against a judge who works “slowly”.

The jurisdictional procedures

Describe briefly the access to administrative justice, indicating more particularly whether the complaint or file has to be introduced by a lawyer or any other professional and the conditions under which the plaintiffs may have access to legal assistance. Can you also indicate whether the procedures are accomplished only on a written basis or whether also oral hearings take place, indicating in which cases such oral hearings are organised and the persons who, at these occasions, are allowed to make oral submissions to the court.

Answer: There is no requirement under Swedish law for a party in a case before the court to engage legal counsel. Most procedures are accomplished only on a written basis. The county administrative court and administrative court of appeal – but not the Supreme Administrative Court – must hold oral hearings if any party so requests and if such hearings are not unwarranted.

In cases at the general administrative courts a mandatory two-party procedure was introduced in 1996. This means that if an individual appeals against the decision of an administrative authority, the authority that first decided in the matter shall be the individual’s opposing party. At an oral hearing both sides are present. Witnesses can be heard.

Describe briefly the different types of procedures which can be introduced at an administrative court, insisting inter alia on the differences existing between those procedures.

Answer: According to the main rule, the proceedings in the general administrative courts are in writing, but as mentioned above there are possibilities for an oral hearing. Since the principle of immediateness does not apply, the court must base its determination on all of the material in the case irrespective of whether it was adduced at the oral hearing or not. It is the duty of the court to ensure that the case is as well investigated as its nature requires.

In certain cases, primarily such as relate to compulsory orders issued in respect of the mentally ill, drug or alcohol misusers and children, the party is entitled to be represented by a public counsel. These are generally members of the Swedish Bar Association. Legal costs to counsel are defrayed in their entirety by the state.

Describe briefly the different steps of the procedures to be followed at an administrative court of your country, starting with the date the file is introduced until the date the judgment is pronounced, insisting more particularly on the deadlines which may have to be respected by the parties in order to introduce written notices, briefs, pleadings, statements as well as on the deadlines to be respected by the judge to pronounce the judgment.

 There are no deadlines except in certain cases, such as public procurement and cases relating to compulsory orders.

Describe briefly the internal organisation of an administrative court, and indicate whether the judges are working in chambers or if they are acting as individual judges, as well as the criteria according to which a case is dealt with either by a chamber or by an individual judge.

Answer: At first instance the cases are dealt with by an individual judge and three lay judges. At the administrative courts of appeal the judges work in chambers.

Which kind of procedures do apply in case an urgent matter of any kind is introduced with an administrative court? Indicate also what kind of decisions may be taken by the judge dealing with this kind of urgent matters.
What kind of interim measures or measures of suspensive effect may be granted by 
your Court upon the receipt of a complaint? 
a) suspension of the administrative act complained against, Answer: Yes
aa) becomes effective when served to the parties, Answer: Yes
bb) may also have retroactive effect, Answer: No
b) may Court order any interim measure deemed necessary when the interests 
of justice so require. Answer: Yes
What are the legal criteria for a decision to give an order of suspensive effect or 
order an interim measure? Answer: A probability of a change – but this an unwritten criterium.
a) Does the prospective outcome of the proceedings have any relevance?
Answer: Yes
b) Please give a short description of the content of the legal provisions concerned.
Answer: The Act on Administrative Procedure from 1971, § 28 – no criteria are laid down.

Indicate the types of control the administrative court may exercise over the activities of the administration or over the decisions taken by it: is it a control only of the legality of its decisions or can the judge also control whether the discretion was used by the authority in the spirit of the law? Is the judge allowed to take a decision instead of the administrative authority? Do there exist other types of control procedures?

Answer: The judge is allowed to take a decision instead of the administrative authority and can control whether discretion was taken by the authority in the spirit of the law.

Indicate the delays of the procedures introduced with an administrative court, starting from the date of introduction of a complaint until the date the judgment is pronounced (average delays).
Is there any remedy against undue length of the proceedings for the parties of the 
proceeding before courts? 

Answer: No only the European convention on human rights

Is this
a) a remedy provided by law (please give a quotation of the legal provision) 
b) a remedy of informal character (please give a short indication of its content).
What may be the result of such a remedy?
a) actual acceleration of an individual proceeding
b) payment of just satisfaction 
c) reduction of a penalty imposed 
d) disciplinary measures against individual judges
Which authority is responsible to deal with such a remedy? 
a) the president of the Court
b) a supervising judicial body 
c) an administrative authority

Which kind of means are at the disposal of the administrative judge (or the parties) in order to provide for a correct execution (enforcement) of the judgment. Does the judge have the possibility to give injunctions to the administration? Do there exist specific procedures which the parties may use in case the administration does not voluntarily execute the judgments?

Answer: No means are at the disposal of the judge. The party can turn to the Parliamentary Ombudsman or the Chancellor of Justice.

Which kind of new technologies are at the disposal of the administrative judge and do the procedures to be followed at the administrative court provide for the possibility to use standard forms or electronic transmittal techniques (for example, are the parties allowed to introduce the briefs by way of mail or other electronic transmittal systems) ?

Answer: An appeal must be signed by hand-writing. Other documents can be introduced by electronic techniques etc.

Do the administrative courts in your country possess central computer systems to which all judges are linked, and comprising inter alia data bases, general information, laws, procedural acts, access to electronic files and so on

Answer: Yes

Indicate whether you think that the facilities used by the administrative courts and the means put at the disposal of these courts by the State are appropriate and, if this is not the case, indicate the problems you have noted in this context and the possibilities to remedy.

Answer: They are appropriate.

Indicate the total amount of money spent by the State to ensure the functioning of administrative justice, compared to the total amount of the State budget

 For the year 2007 the total amount of the State budget is 907 billion SEK. 30,7 billion are for the judicial system as a whole (3,9 %) and of that 4,2 billion to the courts, general and administrative together. The Swedish National Courts Administration has given the administrative courts 1,4 billion from that latter sum.

Do there exist alternatives to the contentious proceedings, for example mediation, arbitration procedure and so on in your country?

Answer: Yes, but not in administrative cases.

Which kind of effective legal remedies can be used against a judgment of an administrative court of first instance?

Answer: The Administrative Court of appeal, the Supreme Administrative court. You can also apply for relief for a substantive defect.

IV./ Efficiency in the relations of an administrative jurisdiction towards third parties

Access by the public or the parties to the information held by the administrative courts

Do the administrative courts in your country have a person in charge of the relations with the press (press speaker)?

Answer: Yes, the larger ones.

Do the administrative courts in your country prepare annual reports about their activities? Is this report available to the public? To whom/ or to which body this report is it addressed?

Answer: Yes, an annual report to the Swedish National Courts Administration. It is available to the public.

Does there exist a possibility to access by internet or by any other means the judgments pronounced by the administrative courts and other documents which might be relevant for the public/parties?

Answer: No, not yet, since the problem with electronic signing of judgements is’nt solved.

Do the parties of the case pending at an administrative court have the possibility to get information, by electronic or other means, about their file and the state of the proceedings

Answer: They can always come to the court and look for themselves in their files or have information by telephone.

Do the administrative courts of your country have the possibility to exchange information or experience with other national or international courts or with courts situated in other countries and, if this is the case, could you give more information about this kind of exchanges?

Answer: With other national courts, yes. There is a common electronic system. Via the Internet you can connect to the European Courts in Luxemburg and Strasbourg.

Control of the activities of the administrative courts

2.1 Do the administrative courts prepare statistics about affairs settled during the judicial year, about the stock of affairs pending and about the number of affairs dealt with by individual judges?


2.2 Do the administrative courts possess electronic systems to ensure the follow-up of the affairs pending (e.g. electronic file system…)?

Answer: Yes

2.3 In your country, are there mutual or internal evaluations (on periodical basis) of the quantity and quality of the work to be done by the court? Which is the body which is competent to prepare this kind of evaluations, are they done by the court itself or by any other bodies, authorities or courts? Do there exist control procedures of the judicial work done by the administrative judges and, if this is the case, by which kind of authorities (national or international) are these procedures accomplished?

Answer: There are both internal and external evaluations of the quantity of the work to be done by the courts but not by individuals. The Government sets up goals to be obtained each year.

2.4 Which kind of sanctions may be taken against individual judges in case of misbehaviour or in case the work to be done by judges has not been delivered in certain delays?

Answer: See II a 1.4 -1.7 above…..

2.5 Do there exist compensation procedures in case of errors committed by the court or individual judges or in case of delays in the proceedings? If this is the case, could you briefly describe the kind of compensation procedures which may be used by the victims of such errors or delays.

Answer: No, see II a 1.4 – 1.7 above…..

2.6 Do there exist possibilities for the public or the parties to introduce complaints against the way the administrative courts work

Answer: Yes, to the Parliamentary Ombudsman and to the Chancellor of Justice

Do there exist studies about the feed-back of “customers” (in a broad sense of meaning) of administrative justice, on the bases of inquiries made among the public, the parties or their lawyers, about the functioning of the court?

Answer: Some courts have made surveys among their “customers” to get feed-back.

V./ Conclusion

Could you indicate, according to your opinion, which are the factors (concerning organisation or rules of process) that cause malfunctions in the administrative judicial system in your country? 

 The greatest problems are too many balanced cases and too long delays. The procedural rules are modern and well functioning but at times there have been a lack of personnel.

Could you indicate which, in your opinion, might be possible remedies?

 More personnel - more funds.

Have you noted whether effective measures have been introduced in recent times to improve the system in your country? 

Answer: The technical equipments are modern and so are the electronic systems.