This is an update on the legal proceedings taking place in the Stockholm District Court and their implications for corporate accountability. Whereas future briefs are likely to be more concise and deal with specific topics, this post will attempt to provide an overview of the case and summarise the most important legal developments in the trial.

Last week, on the 22nd of November, in the ongoing trial of Lundin and Schneiter for allegedly aiding and abetting crime against the law of nations, the Stockholm District Court ruled that individual claims for damages (by the survivors of crimes allegedly committed by the Sudanese Government between 1999-2002) would be separated from the ongoing criminal trial. The Court’s decision means that the 32 aggrieved parties must now file individual claims for personal damages which will be handled independently by the Stockholm District Court.


In a closed preparatory meeting held on the 20th of October 2022, almost a year before the start of the trial, the Defence requested that any individual claims by the Plaintiffs be submitted as soon as possible to allow the Accused to adequately prepare for the upcoming trial. The Plaintiffs’ counsel responded that they were working to submit the filing by the end of 2022. By the second meeting on 24 of March 2023, no filing had been submitted. The Defence, therefore, argued that if a filing was submitted, they would motion for it to be separated from the criminal trial as it would not be possible for them to adequately prepare for the anticipated litigation.

On the 16th of September 2023, three weeks before the start of trial, the Plaintiffs’ counsel submitted claims totalling 110,000,000 SEK (approximately €9,693,420) for individual damages on behalf of various victims. The claims were largely based upon Sudanese law.

Given the delay in the submission, the Defence filed an application for the claims to be separated from the criminal trial. In support of their motion, the defence referenced the substantial time and effort which would be required to review the claims, to investigate the relevant Sudanese law, and to adequately prepare the Accused’s defence. They pointed out that, in contrast to the subject of the criminal trial, these individual claims related to separate attacks, which concern an unknown number of attacks by unknown assailants at, largely, unknown times. In reference to the vast amount of work which would be required, and the fact that the Claimants were not of Swedish origin nor residing in Sweden, the Defence also requested the plaintiffs be required to deposit a security for the required legal work – an estimated 500,000 SEK (approximately €44 000) per Plaintiff.

The Plaintiffs – with support from the Prosecution – argued against the motion, submitting that the work required to review the (purportedly new) facts was not substantial. Indeed, the facts were the same as those in the criminal trial. In addition, both the Plaintiff’s and the Prosecution rejected the need for security for costs to be provided by the victims. Finally, they added that a separation of these claims from the criminal trial, as well as a requirement for a security deposit, would prevent access to justice for the Plaintiffs who were vulnerable and impoverished victims of war crimes.

Separation of the Claims for Damages

The Court ruled in favour of the Defence, concluding that it would present an immense disadvantage for the Defence to have to process and prepare for additional claims of such size that had been presented only three weeks before the criminal trial, a trial that has been in preparation for more than two years. The Court held that it would mean that the Accused would be forced to prepare their responses during an ongoing criminal trial. In addition, the Court ruled that allowing the case to proceed in these circumstances would likely violate the Accused’s right to a fair trial in accordance with Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. While the court recognised the Plaintiffs’ equal right to a fair trial, they found that this decision did not prevent them from pursuing their claims upon the completion of the criminal trial. In addition, the Court also found that powers of attorney had not yet been submitted for five of the thirty Plaintiffs and that if they were not submitted prior to the 16th of January 2024, their respective claims could be summarily dismissed. On a final note, the Court remarked that the decision could not be appealed other than in conjunction with the final verdict, thus definitively removing the plaintiffs right to seek damages in conjunction with the criminal trial.

On 29 November 2023, in response to this decision, Plaintiffs’ counsel Advocate Thomas Bodström (former Minister for Justice), and Advocate Anders Sjögren raised allegations of bias against the Presiding Judge Tomas Zander on behalf of the 15 plaintiffs they represent.

The Court’s Chief Magistrate was summoned to the Chamber to preside over the issue. The main focus of the arguments was prejudicial; the Stockholm District Court had, in previous cases, allowed for powers of attorney on behalf of the plaintiffs to be submitted in person in conjunction with their testimony (which is scheduled to be heard in mid-2024). Advocate Bodström remarked that, on occasion, powers of attorney had not even been submitted until the appellate court were to handle the matter. Thus, he argued that this decision was not aligned with standard practice, and the decision had shaken their confidence in Judge Zander’s capacity to oversee the case in an unbiased manner. Notably, Advocate Percy Bratt and Advocate Karl Harling, on behalf of the 17 plaintiffs which they represent, did not support the allegation but agreed that the courts findings were a departure from normal practice.

The Chief Magistrate subsequently concluded that the circumstances presented by the complaining plaintiffs’ counsel were insufficient to challenge the impartiality of Judge Zander. The court additionally ruled that the complaint of bias could not be appealed other than in conjunction with the final verdict.

Benjamin Nord
Intern at Global Rights Compliance