Strasbourg, 14 February 2002

CCJE (2003) 13
English only

Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE)

Questionnaire on judges’ training: reply submitted by the delegation of Sweden

Questionnaire on judges’ training

As an answer to most of the questions we below shortly describe the judicial career in Sweden.

The general courts and the general administrative courts also employ non-permanent judges and other civil servants with legal training. Most of them are at some stage in their judicial career. After normally four and a half-year's of studies at a university, the student takes the degree of Master of Law (LL.M.). Many of these law graduates are subsequently taken into service as district court clerks (recording officers) or county administrative court clerks at a district court or county administrative court. These services are limited to a period of two years. Since the degree of L.L.M. is purely academic, service as court clerk constitutes a vital practical supplement to theoretical studies. This training is undertaken irrespective of the area of law in which the court clerk intends to specialise at some time in the future. The court clerk assists the ordinary judges in various respects. Towards the end of their term of service, they are also competent to adjudicate in more straightforward cases.

On completion of their articled service, a number of the court clerks subsequently apply to become trainee judges at a court of appeal or administrative court of appeal. Those admitted are employed on a period of probation for about six months. They are awarded the title Court of Appeal Reporting Clerk or Administrative Court of Appeal Reporting Clerk. Service in the court of appeal and administrative court of appeal primary consists of the preparation and presentation of cases. The Reporting Clerk may then serve for a number of years, usually two years, at a district court or county administrative court and is there competent to deal with all cases apart from the most complicated.

A new period of probation then begins in the court of appeal or administrative court of appeal lasting about one year, during which time the Reporting Clerk is co-opted onto the bench. The Reporting Clerk may then be approved as Associate Judge of Appeal or Associate Judge of Administrative Appeal. An Associate Judge may also serve as non-permanent judge at a district court or county administrative court. The Associate Judge may also act as briefing presenter in the Supreme Court or Supreme Administrative Court. However, it is not unusual for an Associate Appeal Court Judge to serve outside of the court, for example as legal advisor in a ministry or as permanent secretary to a Government committee of enquiry. After six to eight years the Associate Judge may be short-listed for regular service as permanent Judge, Judge of Appeal or Administrative Court of Appeal Judge.

Most judges presiding in the special courts have followed the career described above. It is also usual that the special courts employ the services of Deputy Judges and Associate Judges as case presenters.

For a more general and detailed presentation on judicial training in Sweden; see App. A.


During his whole career the prospective judge as well as the appointed judge has to undergo continuos training, mainly as in-service training, but he or she is also given the opportunity to take part in different external courses.

There is no specific judges training institution (Ba 4) but most courses organised outside the courts are organised and administrated by the National Courts Administration. This body is a separate authority directly responsible to the Government and has been established for the judiciary. It is primarily empowered to deal with questions on administration, information and training. The National Courts Administration has no more power than any other authority in the administration of justice in the courts (Ba 3 - 5 and Bb 3).

All courses and other training activities are free of charge for the participants and participating is seen as a part of their work so during the courses they have their ordinary salary (Ba 3).

There is no specific training scheme stipulated in any law or regulation (Ba 2 and Bb 5) but mostly the training are carried on in line with a scheme that has been worked out by the National Courts Administration.

For reporting clerks of the appeal court and Associate judges it consist of seven courses with a total of 35 workdays during three to four years. The courses covers among others different aspects of courts proceedings in district court and appeal court as well as certain areas of Swedish criminal, civil and administrative law, EC-law and human rights issues, court administration and media contact (Ba 6 and Bb 5). For details; see App. B.

For newly appointed permanent judges there is an initial course during five weeks as an introduction to the new assignment and after that on-going training is offered with the aim that the judge at least every third year shall undergo some kind of frequently recurs in his or her work. (Ba 6 and Bb 5). The great majority of in-service training is provided by DV. It is organised in two parts. On the one hand, all tenured judges are required to attend one-week continuing legal education classes every other year. These courses focus on issues of leadership, effective case management and sociological aspects such as ethnicity. On the other hand, a large number of optional shorter seminars are offered on specialised topics. These seminars normally also have a limited number of slots for junior judges. For optional seminars, all judges need the permission of the presiding judge to apply to attend. Normally, seminars are designed for either the courts of the general jurisdiction or the administrative courts. On occasion, a seminar on a topic such as legal psychology or Internet legal research may be open to judges from both court systems. Examples of seminar topics offered during the year 2001 for judges in the courts of general jurisdiction were: criminal procedure, narcotics and the newly adopted Environmental Code.

For non-permanent judges the courses are in princip compulsory and for permanent judges they are in fact optional but to a great extend seen as compulsory (B b 2).

          App. A.



The primary purpose of this brief article is to give a broad overview of how Swedish judicial training is organised. This overview includes a description of who manages the training, which parts of the judiciary receive training, what subject matters are addressed and how Sweden cooperates with its national and international training partners. First though some words about Swedish legal history and the court system.

Swedish Legal History1

The kingdom of Sweden can be said to have emerged only toward the middle of the Viking period, around the year 1 000, when the Svear, centred in old Uppsala, and the Götar, from Västergötland and Östergötland, acquired a common King. In medieval Sweden, a culture not bereft of violence and a society where the regions retained a high level of independence and each region had its own law (Sw. landskapslagarna), the “lawmen”(Sw. lagmän) who presided at the “thing” (Sw. ting) were held in high honour. Illustrative of the importance of the lawmen and of the law is the fact that the law of Västergötland, which was drafted in about 1280, became the country’s first book.2

A modern unified nation did not emerge until the early 1520s under the leadership of the famous Swedish King Gustav Vasa. The consolidation of the powers of the central government was achieved during the reign of Gustav II Adolf, the “Lion of the North”, who fundamentally reorganised the judiciary during the early 1600s. Under Gustav II Adolf, the traditional local courts, from which appeal could only be made to the King, were supplemented by appellate courts that adjudicated in the name of the King who in practice still had final authority. Amongst these superior courts were the Svea Court of Appeal (Sw. Svea hovrätt) and courts in Finland, which was regarded as a major province, and Estonia. In 1629, toward the end of the reign of Gustav II Adolf, the first professorship in Swedish law was created.

Specialised courts arose in the early and mid 1600s and included what was eventually called the Court of Chamber (Sw. Kammarrätten), war and admiralty courts. King Gustav III established a number of new state institutions including in 1789 the Supreme Court. Through major constitutional reforms in 1809, a pivotal period in Swedish history when Finland was “lost” and the Bernadotte dynasty was founded, the Supreme Court effectively achieved independence from the King.

The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the courts of general jurisdiction did not encompass administrative cases which were ultimately decided by the Government, headed by the King. To ease the burden these cases placed on the Government, the Supreme Administrative Court (Sw. Regeringsrätten) was created in 1909.

In the 1960s major governmental reforms were undertaken to substantially centralise a significant part of the public sector. Both the police and prosecutors were reorganised and made part of the national state. In regard to the judiciary, national district courts were established to replace the local city and country courts (Sw. rådhusrätt, häradsrätt); this distinction between city and country courts had existed since the middle ages.

Despite the creation of the Supreme Administrative Court, the Government retained a large sphere of administrative competence that has only gradually and not completely disappeared. The status of the Supreme Administrative Court was markedly improved in the 1970s when a system of three tiers of general administrative courts was created and the Court was able to focus on selecting cases of precedential value.

The Contemporary Court System

At the core of the court system are the courts of general jurisdiction (Sw. allmänna domstolar) and the general administrative courts (Sw. allmänna förvaltningsdomstolar). Both types of courts have three levels: a court of first instance, a court of appeal and a Supreme Court. There is a clear division between the two central parts of the court system through distinct rules of subject matter jurisdiction, the applicability of different procedural rules and the absence of a judicial system to resolve possible conflicting opinions.3

The courts of general jurisdiction decide criminal cases and civil disputes (that is to say disagreements between private parties) while the administrative courts resolve a wide variety of cases typically involving an appeal of an administrative authority’s decision in the areas of taxation, social security insurance, social welfare and licensing. A great part of the judicial docket is made up of criminal cases and the courts of general jurisdiction outnumber the administrative courts by more than three to one. In the year 2000 there were 129 735 criminal and civil cases brought to the district courts and 86 719 cases brought to the county administrative courts. The total number of judges employed by both court systems is approximately 1 660. In addition to the general jurisdiction and administrative courts, there are a number of specialised courts and tribunals. Some of these courts, such as the environmental and the real property courts (Sw. miljödomstolar, fastighets-domstolar) are incorporated within the structure of the general courts while others such as the Labour Court (Sw. Arbetsdomstolen) and the Market Court (Sw. Marknadsdomstolen) are independent. There also exist the Rent and Tenancy Tribunals that are not formally incorporated within the general courts but are located on the same premises and to some extent share a common administration.


The Judicial Career

To a great extent, the Swedes believe in learning by doing. Unlike France there does not exist a formal school for the training of judges. In order to qualify to apply for a tenured judicial position, one has to have worked in the courts first as a law clerk for two years and then as a junior judge for approximately four further years. It is also expected that one acquire additional qualifications, traditionally through several years of employment by the Swedish government for legal research and writing in connection to legislative inquiries.4

The Swedish National Courts Administration (DV)5

Since 1975, DV (Sw. Domstolsverket), a national administrative authority, has been entrusted with the administration of the courts with the exception of the specialised independent courts. This administration includes support in the areas of computer technology, payroll administration, and judicial training.6 Currently, DV has a staff of 10 persons who work exclusively in this last and rather rapidly growing area.7 The Scope of Judicial Training Quite literally, with the sole exception of lay judges8, all categories of employees working in the Swedish courts affiliated with DV, have received some form of training. Court secretaries have not only been trained in automated file management, administration of archives and word processing but many have also had the opportunity, through a video correspondence class, to take an introductory legal class and gain university credit. Last year a project was begun to offer training (Sw. beredningssekretareutbildning) to those advanced legal secretaries who have been authorised by presiding judges to take some of the initial preparatory steps in case management such as, in an administrative case, deciding to what extent the parties can submit written comments on one another’s case. Presiding judges and heads of personnel (Sw. administrativa chefer) have participated in courses and conferences for management supervisors. Training exists also for accountants, administrators, caretakers, computer programmers, librarians and receptionists. While the scope of DV’s training is broad, the focus is placed on providing support to the judges and other legally schooled court employees.

Judicial Training of Judges, Court Lawyers and Law Clerks

The first rung of Swedish judicial decision-makers is composed of the law clerks(Sw. underrättsnotarier).9 These clerks work exclusively in the first instance courts and in the second half of their clerkship they are authorised to independently decide cases of an uncomplicated nature. Presently, only those law clerks that work in the county administrative courts take part in DV’s substantive law courses. 10 These courses are designed to compensate for the lack of attention given to administrative law by the Swedish universities. Basic training is provided in central areas such as the rules of administrative procedure.11 All law clerks receive training in automated case management.

In contrast to law clerks, court lawyers (Sw. föredragande och berednings-jurister) are tenured employees. Their main role is to do legal research, draft suggested rulings and present cases and suggested rulings for professional and lay judges. The Court lawyers have no authority to judge on their own and up until recently solely the county administrative courts employed them.12 Administrative court lawyers could in the last few years choose from among the following subjects in DV’s courses and seminars, most of which are two to three days in duration and offered several times a year: Aid to the disabled, Real estate taxation, Value-added tax, Drafting judgements, Reporting techniques, Business accounting, Basic and advanced income taxation and European Community law. Last year a four-day continuing legal education seminar was introduced to address such broad issues as the impact of computer technology, workplace psychology, and living in a multi-ethnic society.

Junior Judges

Upon completion of a clerkship, one can apply to a court of appeal for a position as a junior judge in either the courts of general jurisdiction or the administrative courts. A junior judge’s first year is served at the court of appeal where his/her work is similar to that of a court lawyer. Afterwards, a junior judge works two years in a court of first instance before returning to the appellate court for a period of final testing. In these latter two stages a junior judge performs the same work as a tenured judge but has a lesser caseload and in theory can not be assigned overly complicated cases. Throughout the four years of this position, junior judges are continually reviewed by their superiors who however can not interfere with the junior judge’s authority to independently rule.13 While the clear focus for the apprenticing judge is on the practice of judging, increasingly, recognition is made for the need for judicial training. In the year 2002, DV’s ambition is that junior judges will be able to participate in a one-week course approximately every six months. These courses are led by experienced tenured judges; external lecturers, primarily from the university and the government, are employed as well. The content of the courses is developed in co-operation with the junior judges who are both eager to get practical advice from their senior colleagues and also to build upon their academic understanding of complicated areas of the law such as the administrative rules of procedure in tax cases and the determination of an appropriate sentence.

Tenured Judges For a newly appointed tenured judge, who normally finished his/her work as a junior judge four to ten years earlier, there exists a mandatory one to two week course to freshen up one’s skills and to meet other colleagues. The other obligatory element of judicial training for tenured judges is to attend a one-week course in continuing legal education once every three years. Besides the mandatory courses, tenured judges can take part in a number of seminars concerning for example important new legislation. Judges need the permission of the presiding judge to apply to attend these seminars. Normally, seminars are designed for either the courts of general jurisdiction or the administrative courts. On occasion a seminar on a topic such as legal psychology or Internet legal research may be open to judges from both court systems. Examples of seminar topics offered during the year 2001 for judges in the courts of general jurisdiction are: Criminal procedure, Narcotics, and the newly adopted Environmental Code. Judicial Co-operation At a national level, DV’s most important partners in the field of judicial training are the Swedish universities. A considerable number of courses and seminars engage professors and lecturers. In addition, Swedish universities are sometimes asked to develop a specific course. In March 2001, the University of Lund organised for DV a pilot six-month Internet-based class in European Community Law.14 DV works also with the Swedish Bar (Sw. Advokatsamfundet) whose members occasionally teach for DV but more often are asked to attend certain seminars where it can be beneficial to obtain the perspective of a private practitioner.15 For the same reasons, prosecutors sometimes attend DV seminars. In general though, there is a great reluctance to cooperate with the National Office of the Prosecutor-General (Sw. Riksåklagaren), due to fears of tainting the independence of the judiciary.16

Internationally, DV has since 1990 worked with the European Institute of Public Administration, Antenna Luxembourg, and with the European Academy of Law (Trier). Both institutes have arranged seminars for DV and Swedish judges have also participated in seminars abroad. Through the Grotius programme of the European Commission, DV has worked together with a number of national training institutes such as France’s Ecole Nationale de la Magistrature and Italy’s Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura. In December 2000 DV became a member of the newly launched European Judicial Training Network that had its first official meeting in Stockholm in October 2001.



Anners, Erik, Den europeiska rättens historia, Norstedts, Lund 1990.

Bodgan, Michael, Ed., Swedish Law in the new millenium, Norstedts, Stockholm, 2000.

Inger, Göran, Svensk rättshistoria, Liber, Stockholm, 1988.

Scott, Franklin D., Sweden: The Nation’s History, Southern Illinois University Press, 1988.

Swedish Law a survey, Ed. Hugo Tiberg, Fredrik Sterzel and Pär Cronhult, Juristförlaget, Stockholm 1994.

DV Publications

Facts about the Swedish Judiciary 2001.


University of Uppsala

By: John S. Panofsky
American J.D., Swedish Jur Kand
Employed in DV’s Training Section

App. B

Course Programme for the Courts of General Jurisdiction

The First Year

I. (introductory course)

For days, 1, 4 and 5 classes are mixed, that is to stay junior judges from both the courts of general jurisdiction and the administrative courts are in attendance.

Day 1: Judicial ethics and a study-visit to the Supreme Court of general jurisdiction
Day 2: Appellate Court procedure
Day 3: Sentencing
Day 4: An actor's advice about making presentations, study-visit to the Supreme Administrative Court
Day 5: Case-briefing with an emphasis on verbal presentations, the art of rhetoric

II. (preparatory course # 1 for two year period in the court of first instance)

Training in how to manage pre-trial preparations and trials. Emphasis on mock-trials.

The Second Year

III (preparatory course # 2)

Training in how to ensure that one makes a correct judgement. Emphases: law of criminal and civil procedure, evaluating evidence, rules pertaining to what must be classified as a secret and principles of legal writing.

In addition: leadership training.

IV (Scientific Evidence)

Day 1: Difficult issues in the field of sentencing
Day 2: Evaluating interrogations and the statements of witnesses from a psychological perspective,
Day 3 & 4: Study-visits at the state institutes in charge of forensic evidence
Day 5: Effectiveness of the different penal measures

The Third Year


Issues in bankruptcy and torts, also journalists and the courts and a study-visit to a court in Copenhagen.

VI (preparatory course for: a. the fourth year when the junior judge returns to the court of appeal and b. the seventh biannual course)

Days 1 and 2: The role of a judge in the court of appeal, appellate court procedure

Days 3 to 5: International law, emphases: European Community Law and the European Convention of Human Rights

The Fourth Year

VII : Study-visit to institutions and courts in Luxembourg and Strasbourg with junior judges from the administrative courts.

Course Programme for the Courts of Administrative Jurisdiction

The First Year

I. (introductory course)

Days 1, 4 and 5: See above.
Days 2 & 3: Administrative Court Procedure


Day 1: Judicial interpretation of the complex statute governing rural and urban development
Day 2: Interplay of statutory provisions governing public assistance, principles of legal writing
Day 3: Care of the mentally disabled and drug-dependent
Day 4 & 5: Value Added tax, emphasis on interpretation of European Community law

The Second Year

III (preparatory course for two-year period in the court of first instance)

Administrative procedure and practice including mock trials.

In addition: leadership training and relations between the media and the courts.

IV (advanced course in taxation)

Topics: Administration of taxes by the national authority, procedural framework of litigation in the courts, international taxation, company taxation and draft legislation.

The Third Year

V (Social Insurance: regulatory system, administration and legislation including aspects of European Community law)

VI (preparatory course for: a. the fourth year when the junior judge returns to the court of appeal and b. the seventh biannual course)

Days 1 and 2: The role of a judge in the court of appeal, administrative appellate court procedure
Days 3 to 5: International law, emphases: European Community Law and the European Convention of Human Rights

The Fourth Year

VII : Study-visit to institutions and courts in Luxembourg and Strasbourg together with junior judges from the courts of general jurisdiction.

1 The sources for this section are Inger p. 11, 14, 157, 232, 233 & 301, Scott p. 18, 25, 59-61, 162 & 187, Tiberg p. 31, 33 & 547-549 and Uppsala University Internet.
2 According to a provision of this law, not indicative of contemporary biases, it was not considered a serious crime to harm an Englishman but a high fine had to be paid if a Swede were killed.
3 Although still slight, the likelihood of conflict has increased in recent years due to the growing importance of European human rights law and European community law.
4 In recent years, due in part to an increasing difficulty to compete against the private sector, there has been considerable discussion about the system for appointment of judges. Many feel that the field of potential candidates should be broadened by reducing the formal requirements and creating a more secure judicial track.
5 The internal judicial training conducted by the courts themselves and the judicial training of judges in the specialised courts are not part of the scope of this article.
6 The constitutional relationship between DV and the courts has been a subject of controversy; some outspoken members of the judiciary have, in regard to DV’s role in suggesting changes in the structure of the courts and their judicial routines, accused DV of encroaching on the independence of the judiciary.
7 In the last few years “education” and “personal development” (Sw. utbildning & kompetensutveckling) have become almost a mantra for both the private and public sectors.
8 A large number of lay judges work a limited number of days in both the district courts and courts of appeal. These judges have no legal education and work exclusively together with the professional judges who almost always have a decisive role in the actual outcome of a case.
9 Although it is not obligatory for the practice of private law to clerk after law school, it is generally still viewed as an important merit.
10 Clerks who are employed in the district courts participate in regional substantive law courses organised by the district courts; they also participate in a DV-course designed to help them in their work as recording clerks in criminal cases.
11 Currently, there are two three-day courses.
12 As part of an effort to streamline judicial decision-making, even district courts and administrative courts of appeal have begun to hire for this type of position.
13 If upon review one’s work is found to be below a minimum threshold then one is not allowed to continue.
14 Relevant to the area of European Community law is a governmental institute called Forum Europa. This institute has since 1994, shortly before Sweden’s entry in the European Union, arranged courses and seminars to improve national government employees knowledge of the European Union. Forum Europa was one of the organisers of the European Law Conference which was held in Stockholm in early June 2001; a large number of Swedish judges attended this conference.
15 Continuing education programmes for attorneys are managed by a private institute called VJS. Sometimes judges attend VJS programmes such as the yearly conference of Swedish jurists.
16 The Prosecutor General has, inter alia, an ambitious training programme for aspiring prosecutors.

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