Discrimination and damages: Swedish Supreme Court requests CJEU ruling on procedural requirements

By Madelene Ackheim, Simon Söderhom


Where a defendant, without admitting to discrimination, agrees to pay damages requested by the claimant, does Swedish court still have an obligation to examine whether the defendant has acted discriminatory?

The Swedish Supreme Court has now requested a preliminary ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union regarding the judicial procedural requirements in discrimination cases.

The Swedish Equality Ombudsman sued an airline requesting that the airline pay SEK 10,000 in damages to a passenger who allegedly had been treated in a discriminatory manner by airline staff.

The airline denied discrimination but agreed to pay the requested damages on a voluntary basis in order to avoid further court proceedings.

The Equality Ombudsman requested that the court, in spite of the airline's agreement to pay the discrimination damages, rule that the airline staff's actions had discriminated against the passenger.

The Stockholm District Court (of first instance) as well as the Svea Court of Appeal held that the rules of judicial procedure did not allow for an examination and a ruling on the allegedly discriminatory circumstances of the case where the defendant agrees to pay the requested damages.

What's next?

Upon the Equality Ombudsman's appeal, the Swedish Supreme Court has requested that the Court of Justice of the European Union clarify whether EU law requires that Swedish courts examine the circumstances of the case even if the defendant has agreed to satisfy the claim for damages.