The court process

Information for clients of Advance Advokatbyrå Stefan Flemström AB regarding bringing proceedings before the courts and filing actions

Filing an action means that you are bringing a suit against a counterparty in a legal process before the court. The court process typically begins in the district court, usually at the district court where the counterparty resides. 

The individual initiating the court process by filing an action is called the plaintiff. As a rule, the plaintiff is obliged to be able to prove their claim. This means that as the plaintiff, you must be able to prove to the court that your claim is valid and that there are legal grounds for the claims you have brought forward.

There is never a guaranteed outcome when one enters the court process. During court proceedings, new evidence may emerge that had not been considered in the assessment when the action was brought before the court. We are only able to assess the likelihood of winning a case, in whole or in part, based on all of the information available to us at any point in time. Therefore, we can never guarantee any outcome when entering the court process, we can only assess the likelihood of a particular outcome.

Bringing an action before the court is always something one undertakes according to a cost risk analysis. When bringing an action before the court, one must consider that there is a high likelihood the plaintiff will be held accountable for the counterparty’s legal expenses in the event that the plaintiff does not succeed in proving his or her case. It is the losing party that shall be held accountable for costs incurred by the counterparty in the case, which may consist of legal assistance, research costs and witness compensation. It can be that both parties are obliged to bear their own costs in a case, in the event that the parties each partially win and lose.

It is very difficult to anticipate costs in a court case as the case proceedings and scope are largely dependent on the counterparty. If you win the case outright as described above, you are entitled to receive compensation from the counterparty for your legal costs. Compensation is then paid for ”reasonable legal costs” following an assessment by the court. This means that even as the winning party, you may not be fully compensated for the legal costs you have incurred since reasonable compensation for the work performed by the law firm on the client’s behalf may exceed what the court orders the losing party to pay.

If you have legal expense insurance, your insurance company may compensate some of the costs in the court process up to a pre-determined maximum amount after applying the excess. Legal expense insurance for private individuals typically covers costs at an hourly rate that is lower than the rate we charge for our services, and the policy holder is responsible for paying the difference. The stipulations for different legal expense insurance policies can be found in the insurance terms and conditions. An additional consideration is that when paying out legal expense benefits, insurance companies typically perform their own reasonable cost assessment and may decide not to compensate in full in accordance with the insurance terms and conditions.

Even if the court or insurance company finds that you are not entitled to receive compensation for the costs incurred in the court process, you are still liable for payment to the law firm. We will regularly bill you for the time we spend on your case, and we may also request that a client pays an advance under certain circumstances.

The court process typically lasts a minimum of one year from the date we file an action to the date a ruling is issued. The process begins with proceedings that are carried out in writing. Once the district court deems it appropriate, a preliminary hearing will be called. The preliminary hearing involves a meeting at the district court where the parties, their legal representatives and the court review the case and clarify any outstanding questions. Then, the parties have the opportunity to elaborate on their position through their representatives and present whatever evidence is cited to support this position. The parties and their representatives are then summoned to the court once more for the main hearing. The main hearing is the time that the case is tried and any oral evidence is presented through the examination of witnesses. After the main hearing, the court has several weeks to decide on a case and issue a written decision.

A district court ruling may be appealed to the appeal court or the Swedish Labour Court. In order for the appeal court or the Swedish Labour Court to try the case, there needs to be leave to appeal. If you are granted leave to appeal, you can expect that the processing time in the appeal court will also be relatively long.

A large number of disputes brought before the district court are completed when the parties reach a settlement during the process. This entails the parties finding a solution they can both accept without the court needing to determine the outcome. In the event a settlement is reached, a client is typically required to cover his or her own legal costs. There is no guarantee that a settlement will be reached in a case as it depends entirely on the willingness of both parties. There is no obligation for a party to reach a settlement, however, the court is obliged to examine the possibility of bringing the parties to a settlement. Therefore, it is very common that the parties settle sometime during the court process, often at the time of the preliminary hearing. There is no guarantee that a settlement will be reached, therefore, if you bring an action before the court, you need to be prepared for the dispute to ultimately be settled through a court ruling with consideration for the cost risk analysis described above.

Of course, disputes are not the only cases that are addressed through the courts, and other cases are handled differently than disputes.

In some cases, private individuals may be able to receive legal aid according to the rules of the Legal Aid Act. If this applies to your situation, we will inform you at the initial legal consultation.