Copyright (c) 2003 Trustees of Indiana University
Indiana International & Comparative Law Review
ARTICLE: THE SWEDISH LEGAL SYSTEM: AN INTRODUCTION
13 Ind. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 405
Bernard Michael Ortwein II *
Culturally, the Swedish people are less inclined than U.S. citizens to resort to outside sources for help in solving their legal problems. In addition, when they do seek outside assistance they have a history of utilizing arbitration rather than litigation as their primary dispute resolution method. 1 One Swedish commentator reports that, in the private law area, only "[a]bout 20,000 to 25,000 ordinary civil cases, 15,000 small claims cases and 30,000 family law cases are dealt with by the courts each year." 2 Litigation is more the exception than the rule and, in many ways, is considered the true alternative method of resolving disputes in Sweden. 3 Generally, the Swedish people do not automatically think of seeking legal advice as problems arise. 4 This attitude is fostered to some extent by the way the legal system is designed in Sweden as much as the cultural nature of the population. 5
It has been stated that if one were to ask the average Swedish citizen what the "third branch of power" in their government might be, they would most likely reply "the press, the media. No one would think of the Courts." 6 This attitude is not unusual in countries with a strong civil law tradition. 7 Typically, in civil law countries, the Judiciary is not on equal footing with the Legislative (Parliamentary) Branch in affecting the law. This may be changing in Sweden. At least one commentator has predicted that the role of the court ...
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