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Why Many Are Looking North
for International Arbitration

English to Swedish Legal Translation Services

We’ve blogged about legal translation services in the context of international arbitration in France and India. The need for Swedish legal translation services comes up in the context of international arbitration in Sweden. According to a recent article published in the National Law Journal, Sweden is thriving as a neutral arbitration destination. Sweden’s history as a popular jurisdiction for international dispute resolution spans back to the Cold War era of the 1960s and 1970s. In order to simply the procedure of picking an arbitration jurisdiction between a communist and non-communist country, as trade relations began to open up between the US and the USSR many companies began looking for a neutral jurisdiction. It didn’t take long for these entities to see Sweden as this neutral jurisdiction.

At the time, Sweden already had a reputation for its acceptance as a venue for international arbitration. In fact, it was because of this reputation that the USSR Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the American Arbitration Association created a model arbitration clause specifically for contracts between US and USSR entities, providing that Stockholm and the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce be the designated jurisdiction for arbitration matters. This agreement was continued post-Soviet Union, only ratified to recognize the Russian Federation but maintaining Stockholm as the preferred venue for arbitrations between the United States and the Russian Federation.

As a result of this history, today Stockholm (and Sweden in general) maintains its position as the venue of choice for East/West arbitration. Other international organizations and institutions that provide arbitration services in this jurisdiction include the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, the London Court of International Arbitration, the Federal Economic Chamber in Vienna and the International Courts of Commercial Arbitration of Moscow and Kiev.

The Swedish Translation Advantage

In general, the Swedish legal system is adversarial in nature and arbitrators are given great leeway, with the power to rule on the cases as presented by the parties. More so, when required, the arbitrators have a duty to clarify the positions of the parties, although they must refrain from taking an inquisitorial approach in doing so.

Sweden’s rules of evidence are clear and straightforward, with the relevant rules of procedure clearly adapted and outlined for use in the arbitration setting. For example, it is common practice that witness statements be used in substitution of an examination in chief.

Interestingly, the role of the Swedish attorney (outside counsel) tends to be limited in the Swedish arbitration arena. The individual parties’ counsel – typically in-house counsel – will represent the client during the arbitration without the support of local counsel. In the rare instances that local counsel is used, there is the benefit that most are near-native English speakers. Finally, unlike many jurisdictions, there is no ‘rivalry’ between the Swedish arbitral tribunals and the Swedish courts, with the courts limiting their role to providing support as needed.

If a party so chooses, it is possible to challenge an arbitral award before the Swedish Court of Appeal – although one recent survey shows that out of 13 challenges brought before the court of appeal, three claims were withdrawn and of the 10 cases tried on their merits, only one resulted in the arbitral award being set aside. In other words, the Swedish courts place significant deference on the arbitration process and decision of the arbitrator.

Why the faith in the arbitration system? This again goes back to the long history that Sweden has with arbitration, which has developed an environment conducive to arbitration. As a result, the system has severely limited the possibility to successfully attack an arbitration award minus the showing of a serious violation of proper procedure.

As a result of this history of arbitration success, Sweden remains an attractive venue for international arbitration. Even with many more arbitral options available to Russian and Western contracting parties (including the US), many still tend to favor the Swedish system. More so, many newly emerging countries also are looking to Sweden as its arbitration venue of choice. A recent trend is an increase in the referral to Stockholm for the arbitration of disputes between foreign investors and host states under the auspices of a bilateral investment treaty -many of which list Stockholm as an alternative option to other methods of dealing with disputes under such treaties.

Contact All Language Alliance, Inc. to request Swedish into English legal translation, or English into Swedish legal translation.

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