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Foreign Direct Liability Claims in Sweden: Learning from Arica Victims KB v. Boliden Mineral AB?

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image of Nordic Journal of International Law

On 12 September 2013 what may be the first foreign direct liability claim in Sweden was filed in the County Court of Skellefteå, a court action reflective of a growing wave of civil liability suits in European jurisdictions to hold transnational corporations accountable for human rights violations and environmental damages. This article examines the feasibility of foreign direct liability claims in Sweden, focusing on enabling conditions with regards to jurisdiction, collision rules and applicable law, substantial legal basis, procedural and practical circumstances, and the theories by which parent companies can be held liable for negligence in supervising acts of subsidiaries and contractors. It is demonstrated that foreign direct liability claims on environmental damage are indeed possible in Sweden, albeit with considerable constraints, primarily of a procedural and financial character. The conclusion provides some cautious remarks on the merits of the claim against Boliden and the reform options available to a Swedish government committed to improving the access to justice for victims of violations perpetuated by Swedish companies, their subsidiaries and contractors.

Affiliations: 1: Research Fellow, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Stockholm, Sweden ,


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