Hearing by Telephone Conference

Photo: Government Offices of Sweden

General

Swedish rules

It is provided by the International Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act (2000:562) that the rules of the Code of Judicial Procedure on hearings by telephone in criminal matters may be applied by a Swedish court when the person to be heard in a trial is in another country and the other country so allows. A Swedish prosecutor may in the course of a preliminary investigation also hold a hearing by telephone conference with someone in another country, provided the other country so allows. The possibility of holding hearings by telephone in civil matters within the EU is governed by the EC Regulation on the taking of evidence (see below). This Regulation is supplemented by the Act (2003:493) relating to the EC Regulation on the taking of evidence in civil or commercial matters and the Government's Notification (2003:483) regarding the same subject. In relation to non-EU states, there are no Swedish statutory rules regarding hearings by telephone in civil matters. However, according to established practice, such hearings may take place provided the other country so allows.

In the cases referred to above, a precondition for hearings by telephone is that the person to be heard consents to the hearing.

Regarding a foreign request for a hearing by telephone in Sweden, the Swedish position has long been that it does not constitute the exercise of official power where another country holds a hearing by telephone with someone in Swedish territory. This is deemed to apply in both criminal and civil matters. Consequently, a foreign authority may hold a hearing by telephone with someone in Sweden without any formalities and without involving Swedish authorities, provided the person to be heard consents to the hearing.

International rules

Within the EU there are rules, under the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union of 2000, governing the possibility in criminal matters of holding a hearing by telephone with someone in another Member State's territory. Sweden has ratified the Convention and nearly all of the other Member States have acceded to it.

Special regulations on taking of evidence between EU Member States under the EC Regulation on the taking of evidence in civil or commercial matters apply in civil matters as of 1 January 2004. The provision of the Regulation on 'direct taking of evidence' (Art. 17) shall apply when a court in a Member State wishes to hold a hearing by telephone with a person who is in another Member State. This Regulation applies directly in Sweden.

Otherwise, Sweden does not have any agreements with other countries concerning hearings by telephone. It is up to each country to determine whether it will allow a hearing by telephone in its territory and if so under which preconditions such a hearing may be conducted. Information about the position of other countries regarding hearings by telephone is provided in a special schedule on this website.

Alternatives if hearings by telephone conference are not allowed

As indicated by the schedule listing the possibilities in various other countries to hold hearings by telephone, some States do not allow foreign authorities to hold hearings by telephone in their territory at all. In order to be able to gain access to evidence given by a person who is staying in such a country, one alternative may be to request legal assistance in criminal matters/civil matters with the taking of evidence by the hearing of a witness at court. Many countries allow representatives of the requesting authority to attend at the hearing. Information about what a request should contain is available on the pages on legal assistance in criminal matters and legal assistance in civil matters and cases.

Hearings by telephone conference in criminal matters

Hearings with a person in Sweden

It is stated in Chapter 4, Section 8 of the International Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act (2000:562), that Sweden, without any requirement for a request and without involving Swedish authorities, allows foreign judicial authorities to hold a hearing by telephone with someone in Sweden, provided the person to be heard consents to the hearing by telephone.

If a foreign authority needs the assistance of a Swedish prosecutor or court in connection with the hearing, for example to verify the identity of the person, the foreign authority may request legal assistance with a hearing by telephone. Such a request shall be submitted to the Ministry of Justice, which will pass it on to a competent prosecutor or district court depending on whether the hearing is to take place in the course of a preliminary investigation or a trial. A request from another EU State or from Norway or Iceland may be made directly to a competent court or prosecutor under the EU Convention of 2000 and the Nordic Agreement of 1974. The same applies for other countries, provided this is prescribed by an international convention that binds Sweden. More detailed information about the content and the forms for a request for legal assistance in Sweden is available on the page on legal assistance in criminal matters.

Hearings with a person abroad

Many countries have the same approach as Sweden regarding the possibility of holding a hearing by telephone with someone in their territory. This means that they allow Swedish courts or prosecutors to call up the person to be heard directly, without any request for legal assistance having to be made. One precondition is that the person consents to the hearing, see Chapter 4, Section 9 of the International Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act (2000:562).

Indeed, other countries allow hearings by telephone in their territory without a special request, but only subject to certain specified preconditions. One such condition may be that a hearing by telephone is only allowed with foreign citizens or that the hearing by telephone must be conducted at a certain place, for example at a court, embassy, police station or the like.

A third case is that the other country requires a formal request for legal assistance to be made to allow a hearing by telephone. A Swedish prosecutor or court can then request legal assistance regarding a hearing by telephone if an agreement has been concluded regarding such legal assistance under an international agreement with the other country or if that country otherwise provides such assistance.

Finally, there are countries that do not allow hearings by telephone in their territories at all. The possibility then available is that a request is made for the taking of evidence in the other country through the agency of the public authorities of that country.

Within the EU, the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union of 2000 applies in most Member States in connection with hearings by telephone. This means that those Member States that have acceded to the Convention can request assistance of another Member State to hold a hearing by telephone with witnesses or experts who are in their territory (Art. 11). The Member States can impose conditions, such as that the hearing by telephone can only be conducted at a local court or that representatives of the domestic authority should attend. Any conditions are shown by the information on the page listing the possibilities in various other countries to hold hearings by telephone. Requests for legal assistance must be made directly to the competent judicial authority, that is the court in the judicial district where the person to be heard is located, or in exceptional cases via the Swedish Central Authority (Art. 6 of the Convention). The relevant competent courts in the respective States are shown on the website of the European Judicial Network in criminal matters.

More detailed information about the content and the forms for a request for legal assistance abroad is available on the page on legal assistance in criminal matters.

Hearings by telephone conference in civil matters

Hearings with a person in Sweden

According to the EC Regulation on the taking of evidence in civil or commercial matters, a request for a hearing by telephone in Sweden from another Member State shall be made on a special form (I) to be transmitted to the Swedish Ministry of Justice. The Ministry must notify the foreign authority whether or not the request has been accepted.

As regards a foreign request for a hearing by telephone in Sweden, there are no rules on procedure besides those contained in the EC Regulation on the taking of evidence. However - as mentioned above - foreign authorities are allowed to hold a hearing by telephone with a person who is in Sweden without any formalities and without involvement of Swedish authorities, provided the person to be heard consents to the hearing. If the foreign authority wishes Swedish authorities to assist in connection with a hearing by telephone, for example to verify the identity of the person to be heard, a request for taking of evidence in Sweden for a foreign court is required.

More detailed information is available on the page on legal assistance in civil matters.

Hearings with a person abroad

Many countries allow Swedish courts to hold a hearing by telephone with a person who is in their territory, without any conditions having to be satisfied or a request for legal assistance having to be made. However, other countries impose certain requirements to allow a hearing by telephone to be conducted, for example that a representative of the country's own authorities attend at the hearing. The information available on this website shows the requirements regarding the possibilities in various other countries to hold hearings by telephone. There are also countries that only allow hearings by telephone in their territory if the hearing is preceded by a request for legal assistance in civil matters. Finally, there are countries that do not allow hearings by telephone at all. The possibility then remaining is to request the taking of evidence in the other country through the agency of the public authorities of that country.

Within the EU, as mentioned above, there is a special procedure according to the EC Regulation on the taking of evidence in civil or commercial matters. This Regulation applies directly in all Member States except Denmark. Article 17 of the Regulation shall be applied if a Swedish court wishes to hold a hearing by telephone in civil matters with a person who is in one of the EU Member States. This provision prescribes that the requesting court must complete form I (which is annexed to the Regulation) and transmit it to the relevant country's central body or competent authority which must respond to the request. More information about the Regulation on the taking of evidence and also which courts/authorities are competent is available on the page on legal assistance in civil matters and cases and also on the website for the legal network in the area of civil law.

Laws, Conventions and Agreements

The following statutes contain special provisions on hearings by telephone in relation to another country:

- International Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act (2000:562) (Government Bill 1999/2000:61, Government Bill 2004/05:144)

- International Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance (2000:704)

- Notification (2004:745) of agreements referred to in the International Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act (2000:562)

- Act (2003:493) relating to the EC Regulation on the taking of evidence in civil or commercial matters

- Government Notification (2003:483) regarding the EC Regulation on the taking of evidence in civil or commercial matters (Government Bill 2002/03:76)

The following international agreements contain provisions on hearings by telephone:

- Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union of 2000 (Swedish International Agreements - SÖ 2005:42)

- Council Regulation (EC) No 1206/2001 of 28 May 2001 on cooperation between the courts of the Member States in the taking of evidence in civil or commercial matters (OJ L 174, 27.6.2001 p. 1)

Contact

Central Authority
Ministry of Justice
Phone +46(0)8-405 45 00
Fax +46(0)8-405 46 76
Visiting address Jakobsgatan 24
Address 103 33 Stockholm
email to Central Authority