Sweden: Q&A: Trends In Dispute Resolution From A Nordic Perspective

Last Updated: 1 April 2013
Article by Gisela Knuts and Henrik Fieber

What Is The Roschier Disputes Index?

In general, there is little publicly available information about the dispute resolution preferences of clients in the Nordic region. We obviously have our own views based on our work with clients, but in 2010 we decided to get the broader view and potentially initiate a discussion in the Nordic legal market about dispute resolution. So we contacted TNS Prospera, one of the best-known independent market research companies in this region, to set up this survey and the Roschier Disputes Index was born.

We formalized the questions alongside TNS Prospera and then surveyed the 100 biggest companies in Sweden and Finland respectively. TNS Prospera reported the findings to us and we prepared the commentary. The second edition of the Roschier Disputes Index was published this year.

How Have Clients Responded To The Findings?

The response has been very good. For many of these clients it seems that our questions have prompted internal discussions about the available legal choices and how to select appropriate dispute resolution mechanisms. So it has been a good way to put dispute resolution on the corporate agenda and to highlight the main themes and headlines surrounding its use. Generally speaking, when contracts are entered into it is not usually a priority to discuss where to hold a potential dispute, or through what method.

It is also important to note that the survey focuses on all three strands of litigation, arbitration and ADR. So it is a tool by which we serve the sentiment of dispute resolution – we are not trying to steer people towards one solution or another.

Why Is Arbitration The Preferred Method For Resolving Disputes?

In the Nordic region, arbitration is so popular that companies use arbitration even when it could be a better idea to go to litigation. These types of surveys spur companies to think about their policies when it comes to disputes. Disputes are increasingly important because they are getting bigger and they are costing more so it should be a priority for big corporations to have dispute resolution policies in place.

The companies that were questioned for this survey were the biggest companies in Sweden and Finland so these companies are very active in the global market. For very obvious reasons, arbitration is the preferred method of solving disputes for multinationals. Firstly, it provides a neutral venue, which is very useful if you're doing business in a country that you don't know that much about. An arbitral award can also be enforced all over the world, as opposed to a judgment in a national court that could be more difficult to enforce. In addition, arbitration provides the opportunity to appoint the decision maker and also gives you a line to commercially experienced arbitrators that are immersed in the international business community, as opposed to state judges' more general knowledge.

The non-public nature of arbitration also makes it attractive in comparison to courts where all matters are public.

How Has Sweden Managed To Retain Its Popularity As A Destination For Arbitration In The Face Of Increasing Competition From Rival Arbitration Centers?

There is certainly a lot more competition today between arbitration institutions. However, one has to remember that Sweden has a very long history of arbitration and of handling large complex arbitrations between parties from various nationalities; most notably it housed many of the East/West disputes that were so prevalent in the 1970s and 1980s. In terms of personnel, Stockholm has a reputation for very experienced and neutral arbitrators, while our lawyers have a strong tradition of handling complex disputes. Our dispute resolution infrastructure is also very good and we have a highly respected arbitration institute.

Why Is The Arbitration Institute Of The Stockholm Chamber Of Commerce (SCC) Considered So Attractive By Clients?

Its rules are obviously good but we think that the real strength of the arbitration institute of the SCC lies in its mindset. Its approach to resolving disputes is very pragmatic and in appointing arbitrators the institute is very committed to broadening its pool of specialists: it has a strong focus on regional quality and on gender equality and it takes great strides to ensure a competent and diverse panel of arbitrators. It is also very service-orientated and is constantly looking to improve services and cut down bureaucracy.

What Advantages Would Instructing Roschier In Arbitration Provide To Clients?

We are one of several excellent dispute resolution practices in Northern Europe – in fact it is one of the great strengths of the region that there is a broad range of expertise.

Our practice has a well-established track record of handling complex and high profile disputes. We also have a lot of experience in working alongside colleagues across the world to try to get the best results in cross-border cases.

On international comparisons, clients based in the Nordics or who are handling disputes connected to the region, appreciate the fact that culturally we are very pragmatic and commercial in our approach to resolving disputes.

Going Forward, What Trends Are Set To Influence The Use Of Arbitration As A Method For Resolving Disputes?

There is no doubt that cost-consciousness will always be one of the main trends, but how it will play out in practice remains to be seen. We think that we have seen a shift from the thinking that used to prevail that litigation was cheaper than arbitration. That is clearly no longer the case: complex litigation is at least as costly as the same case in arbitration because litigation is not a one-stop-shop.

There is increased competition in the market for providing dispute resolution services and that, in combination with the general sense of cost-consciousness, will increase pressure on counsel to become more cost-aware. This could drive new methods to deal even more efficiently with disputes.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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