An exemplar of the arbitration process, Sweden has acquired a solid reputation for dispute resolution over the past 20 years, with the Swedish Arbitration Act of 1999 having done much to establish the country as a well-respected and attractive seat of arbitration.

In recent years, however, the Swedish legislature felt compelled to modernise the Act and thus moved to update a number of its key provisions – pertaining in the main to judicial review procedures, ad hoc arbitration provisions, applicable law mandates and changes in terminology. A revised version of the legislation came into force on 1 March 2019.

“The revision project was initiated in 2014 to further increase the attractiveness of Sweden as an arbitral seat,” says Milo Molfa, counsel at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. “Based on a review of how the 1999 Act performed in practice and in consultation with Swedish arbitration users, the revisions seek to adapt the 1999 Act to best international arbitration practice, fill certain gaps in the existing statutory regime and provide certain clarifications to that regime.”

Essentially, after almost 20 years, the legislation needed to be adapted to the current realities of arbitration in Sweden and around the world. “There is intense competition between European cities to capture the market for arbitral seats,” observes Noah Rubins, a partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP. “This fuelled the desire within the Swedish legal community to boost their jurisdiction with ‘perfected’ arbitration legislation.”

That said, many practitioners are keen to point out that there was no major discontent with the 1999 Arbitration Act – considered at the time of its enactment to be state-of-the-art legislation – among the arbitration community.

Jul-Sep 2019 issue

Fraser Tennant