Classification of Law

Civil Law

Sweden's legal system is a mixture of Roman civil law and Anglo-American common law systems.  Civil law operates in areas such as family relations, property, succession, contract, and criminal law, while statutes and principles of common law origin are evident in such areas as constitutional law, procedure, corporations law, taxation, insurance, labour relations, banking and currency.

Civil law systems are based on concepts derived from old Roman law, distinguishable by their reliance on having a comprehensive set of rules and principles codified and easily accessible to both citizens and legal professionals. Codified laws are regularly revised to reflect the current environment, and have stronger emphasis in civil law countries than any precedent set by earlier court cases. Civil law countries cover more than 65% of world’s legal system, including the majority of continental Europe, Central and South America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

eSignature Legality Summary

Under Swedish law, a written signature is not necessarily required for a valid contract - contracts are generally valid if legally competent parties reach an agreement, whether they agree verbally, electronically or in a physical paper document. To prove a valid contract, parties sometimes have to present evidence in court. Leading digital transaction management solutions can provide electronic records that are admissible in evidence under Chapter 35 Section 1 of the Swedish Code of Judicial Procedure, to support the existence, authenticity and valid acceptance of a contract.

In addition, Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market (the “eIDAS Regulation”) came into force on 1 July 2016. The eIDAS Regulation repealed and replaced the e-Signatures Directive (1999/93/EC) and is directly applicable in the 28 member countries of the European Union.

The eIDAS Regulation is technology neutral and defines three types of electronic signature (SES, AES, QES). Article 25(1) provides that an electronic signature shall not be denied legal effect and admissibility as evidence in legal proceedings solely on the grounds that it is in an electronic form or does not meet the requirements of a QES. Articles 25(2) and (3) give a QES the same legal effect as a handwritten signature and ensure that a QES recognized in one Member State of the EU is also recognized in other Member States. Finally, Recital 49 allows national law to set requirements regarding which type of electronic signature may be required in which circumstances.

Use Cases for Standard Electronic Signature (SES)

Use cases where an SES is typically appropriate include:

  • HR documents (except termination notices), such as regular employment contracts, non-disclosure agreements, employee invention agreements, privacy notices, benefits paperwork and other new employee onboarding processes
  • commercial agreements between corporate entities, including non-disclosure agreements, purchase orders, order acknowledgements, invoices, other procurement documents, sales agreements, distribution agreements, service agreements
  • consumer agreements, including consumer credit agreements, new retail account opening documents, sales terms, services terms, software licenses, purchase orders, order confirmations, invoices, shipment documentation, user manuals and policies
  • residential and commercial lease agreements
  • software license agreements
  • licenses of intellectual property, including patent, copyright and trademark
  • intangible property transfers (e.g., patent and copyright assignments)

Use Cases for Other Types of Electronic Signature (e.g. Digital Signature, AES[1], QES[2])

Use cases where an electronic signature other than SES may be required include:

  • AES or QES - an annual report that is prepared in an electronic form (Pursuant to Ch. 2 Sec. 7 of the Annual Reports Act) (Sw. Årsredovisningslagen)
  • AES or QES– a document which must be signed pursuant to the act may, unless otherwise stated (Pursuant to Ch. 1 Sec. 13 of the Companies Act) (Sw. Aktiebolagslagen)
  • AES or QES - a certificate created in electronic form (Pursuant to Ch. 1 Sec. 5a of the Banking and Financing Business Regulation) (Sw. Förordning om bank- och finansieringsrörelse)
  • AES – electronic offers if demanded by the procuring entity (Pursuant to Ch. 10 Sec. 3 of the Act on Procurement in the Defence and Security Sector) (Sw. Lag om upphandling på försvars- och säkerhetsområdet)
  • AES - a record of revenues that is created electronically (Pursuant to Sec. 26 of the Act on Transparency in the Financing of Political Parties) (Sw. Lag om insyn i finansiering av partier)
  • AES – electronic offers if demanded by the procuring entity (Pursuant to Ch. 9 Sec. 3 of the Act on Procurement within the Sectors Water, Energy, Transportation and Postal Services) (Sw. Lag om upphandling inom områdena vatten, energi, transporter och posttjänster)
  • AES – electronic offers if demanded by the procuring entity (Pursuant to Ch. 12 Sec. 7 of the Act on Public Procurement) (Sw. Lag om offentlig upphandling)
  • AES - a document which must be signed pursuant to the act may, unless otherwise stated (Pursuant to Ch. 1 Sec. 7 of the Act on Economic Associations (Sw. Lag om ekonomiska föreningar)
  • AES or QES - a document which must be signed pursuant to the Auditing Act (Sec. 2a of the Auditing Act) (Sw. Revisionslag)
  • AES or QES - a document which is required in order for the seller to apply to the Debt Enforcement Authority for repossession of goods (Pursuant to Sec. 43 of the Consumer Credit Act) (Sw. Konsumentkreditlagen)
  • AES or QES - a document which must be signed pursuant to the Act on Membership Banks may, unless otherwise stated (Ch. 1 Sec. 7 of the Act on Membership Banks) (Sw. Lag om medlemsbanker)
  • AES or QES – a document that must be signed pursuant to the Foundation Act (Ch. 1 Sec. 9 of the Foundation Act) (Sw. Stiftelselag)
  • AES or QES - a document which must be signed pursuant to the Savings-bank Act, unless otherwise stated (Ch. 1 Sec. 4 of the Savings-bank Act) (Sw. Sparbankslag)
  • AES or QES - a document which is required in order for the seller to apply to the Debt Enforcement Authority for repossession of goods (Pursuant to Sec. 11 of the Credit Sales Between Undertakings Act (Sw. Lag om avbetalningsköp mellan näringsidkare m.fl.)
  • QES - contracts to purchase or transfer real property (Ch. 4 Sec. 1 Swedish Land Code) (Sw. Jordabalken)
  • QES - contracts to purchase or transfer of owner occupied apartments (Ch. 6 Sec. 4 Tenant-Owner’s Rights Act) (Sw. Bostadsrättslag)
  • QES - contracts to purchase of transfer site leasehold rights (Ch. 13 Sec. 7 Swedish Land Code)
  • QES - summons applications in civil cases (Ch. 42 Sec. 2 Swedish Code of Judicial Procedure) (Sw. Rättegångsbalken)
  • QES - certain contracts governed by family law, such as marriage contracts and cohabitant contract (Ch. 7 Sec. 3 Marriage Code (Sw. Äktenskapsbalken) and Sec. 9 Cohabitees Act (Sw. Sambolagen)

Use Cases That Are Not Typically Appropriate for Electronic Signatures or Digital Transaction Management

Use cases that are specifically barred from digital or electronic processes or that include explicit requirements, such as handwritten (e.g. wet ink) signatures or formal notarial process that are not usually compatible with electronic signatures or digital transaction management.

  • Handwritten - signing of share certificates (Ch. 6 Sec. 3 Companies Act)
  • Handwritten - signing of issue certificates, convertible instruments issued in the form of debentures and warrant certificates (Ch. 11 Sec. 6 Companies Act)
  • Paper or registered letter - employment termination notices (Sec. 10, 20 and 38 Employment Protection Act (Sw. Lag om anställningsskydd))
  • Handwritten/witness - testamentary documents (Ch. 10 Sec. 1 Inheritance Act (Sw. Ärvdabalken))
  • Handwritten – certain corporate documents, including share certificates, issue certificates and convertible instruments in the form of debenture or warrant certificates (Companies Act) (Sw. Aktiebolagslagen)

[1] An AES is an “advanced electronic signature”, a type of electronic signature that meets the following requirements: (i) is uniquely linked to the signatory; (ii) capable of identifying the signatory; (iii) is created using electronic signature creation data that the signatory can, with a high level of confidence, use under his sole control; (iv) is linked to the data signed therewith in such a way that any subsequent change in the data is detectable.

[2] A QES is an “advanced electronic signature” that is created by a qualified electronic signature creation device, and which is based on a qualified certificate for electronic signatures.

Local Technology Standards

As a Tiered eSignature Legal Model country, Sweden supports the concept of a QES (Qualified Electronic Signature), requiring independent accreditation for those signatures by an approved certification body. While QES is only legally required for limited types of transactions, as previously discussed, Sweden as a member of the European Union, follows ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) standards to define the technical requirements for a QES. In compliance with the EU Regulation 910/2014/EU, Sweden maintains a publicly accessible list of supervisory bodies for qualified certificated providers together with other countries in the European Union.

DISCLAIMER: The information on this site is for general information purposes only and is not intended to serve as legal advice. Laws governing the subject matter may change quickly, so DocuSign cannot guarantee that all the information on this site is current or correct. Should you have specific legal questions about any of the information on this site, you should consult with a licensed attorney in your area.

Last updated: November 01, 2019

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