Thursday, March 15, 2012

Accepting Facts

The American radio and television journalist Andy Rooney is quoted as once having said, "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe.”

The Swedish legal system is based on what is sometimes called the Continental European legal system, where laws are codified in statutes that are passed by the elected legislatures. The laws are then interpreted by the courts in the cases that come before them. The courts are however bound by the the wording and framework of the laws and the intentions of the legislature and cannot interpret the freely or without basis in the wording. The Swedish Supreme Courts interpretation of the laws (precedents)  then limit the lower courts and their own future interpretation of disputes where the facts of the cases are the same. 

I have been at a tiresome meeting today. The object of the meeting was to inform and advice the 74 attendees on how the existing laws in Sweden regulate a specific dispute and what the relevant precedence is that would be applied by the courts when deciding their dispute.

The biggest problem to deal with was that about 25 of those at the meeting (the loudest naturally) were not there to listen or to be informed but instead to argue, from a purely emotional standpoint, how they believed - or would have preferred - the laws and the precedents to have been different.

I do not mind working for a change of existing or laws or how they should be interpreted. In Sweden such a change cannot be achieved in the courts solely but needs a lot of political footwork and lobbying against the legislature.

The 25 people at the meeting had little or no knowledge of the Swedish legal system and had probably seen too many American films and television dramas - where the legal system is completely different - of how victories and change of law comes about through valiant court battles with cunning and impassioned lawyers. Any explanation of how their disputes would be adjudicated by a Swedish court was meaningless to them, but instead only proved to them that there was something lacking with the lawyer.

1 comment :

  1. Good insight, and mostly correct. Most of TV here in the US is bullshit (idealistic blather for the masses), and our laws here in the US are made mostly the same way they are made in Europe, I imagine - through graft and corruption of the career elites making those laws.

    But our Supreme Court here in the US can strike down any law created by the legislature if it determines that the law in question violates our fundamental document, the US Constitution.

    But even with that safeguard, corruption is rampant and universal, and all politicians can be bought regardless of their nationality or political orientation. And that INCLUDES our increasingly partisan Supreme Court Justices here in the US.

    Truly sad, but sadly true.



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