The development of the Swedish Legal Code is closely tied to the political and economic life of Sweden. Sweden is situated on the borders of Western Europe and has never been subject to forcible foreign rule.<1> Laws, by their very nature, reflect the society in which they are created, that is, they are the 'moral rules' in which a society reflects its very nature. Sweden carries its own unique history and, with it, its own unique legal system. Overall, this essay will attempt to examine the Swedish Legal Code, however, this examination will concentrate on the Swedish Criminal law because of the vast nature of Swedish legal system. By way of explanation, the Swedish Code, hereafter called 'the Code', will be compared to the Australian Criminal system. This essay will examine, firstly, the nature of codification, secondly, the historical background to Swedish law and, finally, the Swedish Code system.
In 1686, the task of revising the mediaeval Code was begun, however, it was not until 1721 that the first revision draft was handed to Sweden's Parliament. The final draft of the Code was passed by Parliament in 1734. The Code of 1734,<10> was divided into two parts, the 'Book of Offences' and the 'Book of Punishments'. The Book of Offences regulated the course of litigation up to final judgement and this was called the rättegångsbalk. The Book of Punishments regulated both the security measures and modes of execution following final judgement and this was called the utsökningsbalk.<11> Revision of this Code was commenced in the early 19th century. In 1864, this 1734 Code was replaced by the Penal Code of 1862.<12> However, this was not a comprehensive reform of the 1734 Code, but merely a revision of the procedural rules. It was not until 20th century, that overall reform took place.
Comprehensive reforms were commenced in 1911, however, it was not until 1965 that the present Penal Code of 1962<13> came into force. The provisions which regulate the enforcement of criminal justice are held within the Code under the Code of Judicial Procedure.<14>
The Penal Code is the underpinning of the Swedish criminal system. The Code contains general provisions on crime, responses to crime, and specific provisions regarding the major offences and basic regulations of the existing penal measures. As well as the Code, there are various other statutes which regulate other offences, such as traffic, revenue and the police force.<15> The Swedish Code is separated into three parts, each part, in turn, is broken into chapters and each chapter is divided into sections. Part one, basically, contains the definitions of crimes, sanctions and also contains the boundaries for the application of the criminal law. Part two outlines specific offences and ends with two chapters on attempt, preparation, conspiracy, self-defence and other acts of necessity. Part three encompasses the penal measures, principles of the assessment of penalties and the administration of criminal justice.<16>
The provisions which regulate the procedure and enforcement of criminal justice are held within the Code under what is known as the Code of Judicial Procedure. This Code encompasses both civil and criminal proceedings. The Code of Judicial Procedure, has seven principal divisions which are summarised as follows: (1) defines the composition and organisation of the judiciary; (2) defines matters of procedure and, specifically, the general regulations applicable to proceedings at every level; (3) defines the rules of evidence; (4) specifies the rules of procedure applicable in the Lower Courts; (5) specifies the rules of procedure applicable in the Courts of Appeals; (6) specifies the rules of procedure applicable in the Supreme Court; and (7) contains regulations governing relief from judgements and orders when ordinary legal remedies are subject to time limitation.<17>
* Most of the relevant Internet sites are, unfortunately, in
Swedish. So, as I do not speak Swedish, they are not very helpful. The
two from the Swedish Parliament were useful in tracking down the relevant information,
and I have attached them for reference.
<1> Andersson, 1955, p 53.
<2> Waller and Williams 1997, p. 21.
<3> Nygh and Butt, 1997, p. 72.
<4> Model Criminal Code 1995 (Cwth).
<5> The Constitution 1901 (Cwth).
<6> Bruzelius and Gingsburg, 1968, p. 2-3.
<7> Bruzelius and Gingsburg, 1968, p. 3-4.
<8> 1319 to 1365.
<9> Andersson, 1955, p. 58.
<10> Penal Code of 1734 (Sweden).
<11> Bruzelius and Gingsburg, 1968, p. 4-5.
<12> Penal Code of 1862 (Sweden).
<13> Penal Code of 1962 (Sweden).
<14> Bruzelius and Gingsburg, 1968, p. 4-5.
<15> Strömholm, 1981, p. 136-137.
<16> Strömholm, 1981, p. 137-138.
<17> Bruzelius and Gingsburg, 1968, is the English translation of the Swedish Code of Judicial Procedure.
I.A. (1955), A History of Sweden, Weidefield and Nicolson,
Bruzelius, A. and Gingsburg, R.B. (1968), The Swedish Code of Judicial Procedure, The American Series of Foreign Penal Codes, vol. 15, F.B. Rothman and Co, USA.
Nygh, P.E. and Butt, P. (eds) (1997), Butterworths Concise Australian Legal Dictionary, Butterworths, Sydney.
Strömholm, S. (1981), An Introduction to Swedish Law, vol. 1, Kluwer, Netherlands.
Waller, C. and Williams, L.(eds) (1997), Brett, Waller and Williams: Text and Cases, 8th edition, Butterworths, Sydney.
Model Criminal Code 1995 (Cwth).
The Constitution 1901 (Cwth).
Penal Code of 1734 (Sweden).
Penal Code of 1862 (Sweden).
Penal Code of 1962 (Sweden).