By: Pontus Sörlin
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Party insight into dealer agreements
The Supreme Court finds that a decision regarding party access with reservations pursuant to ch.
§ 1 of the Code of Judicial Procedure can not be appealed separately.
An appeal of such a decision must therefore be made in connection with a judgment or final decision in the case.
The companies Ullareds Teknik och Access have a dispute in the District Court regarding a dealer agreement.
Access submits certain documentation to the court as evidence.
The main rule is that evidence submitted to court is public, which means that anyone can take part in it.
Access believes, however, that the documents in question constitute trade secrets and should therefore be covered by secrecy in accordance with ch. Section 2 of the Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act (OSL).
The provision stipulates that secrecy applies to information concerning, among other things, the company’s business or operating conditions if it can be assumed that the company suffers significant damage if the information is disclosed.
The company therefore requests that the court release the material to Ullareds Teknik with a reservation in accordance with Chapter 6, Section 1 of the Code of Judicial Procedure (RB).
According to the section, the court may decide that a task that a party takes part in during a process may be subject to reservations.
According to Access’ request, the reservation shall restrict Ullared Technique’s right to provide information in the documentation further or use it outside the case.
The district court approves the request and releases the material with the requested reservation.
Ullareds Teknik appeals the decision to the Court of Appeal in particular, requesting that the material be released without reservation.
The fact that the appeal is made separately means that only the question of reservations that are being appealed – a decision in the case itself has not yet been announced.
The Court of Appeal begins by examining whether the information in question is covered by secrecy according to ch. 1 § OSL.
The Court finds that some of the relevant information does indeed contain such information on Access’ business and operating conditions as is referred to in the provision.
However, the company has already made statements regarding the information in the District Court without requesting that it be covered by confidentiality.
Regarding the information that has not been disclosed by Access in the lower instance, the Court of Appeal considers that it is not of such a nature that it should be covered by secrecy.
Ullareds Teknik thus wins the case, which is why Access appeals to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court begins by examining whether the District Court’s decision on a reservation could be appealed separately at all or whether an appeal could only be made in connection with a final decision in the case.
The court finds that rejection of a decision to take part in documents may be appealed separately in accordance with ch. Section 7 of the Freedom of the Press Ordinance (TF).
A prerequisite for that provision to be able to be applied, however, is that the rejection decision was made based on provisions in TF or OSL.
The Supreme Court states that the District Court’s decision to disclose the information with reservations constitutes an application of the so-called right of party access.
The right – which both follows from and can be limited according to ch.
§ 1 RB – means that the person who is a party to a court process has a far-reaching right to take part in and dispose of the information that has been added to the case.
The court further states that the right to party access must be separated from the right to take part in public documents – which is less far-reaching but belongs to everyone and everyone – which follows from TF.
It follows from the court that a decision regarding the right to party access according to ch.
§ 1 RB does not at the same time entail a decision regarding the right to take part in a public document according to TF.
Thus, an appeal regarding the right to party access can not be made in accordance with ch.
§ 7 TF but it is instead ch. 49 § 3 and ch. 54 § 5 RB to be applied.
According to the provisions of RB, decisions regarding party access must be appealed in connection with a judgment or final decision in the case – a special appeal is therefore not possible.
As the District Court applied RB when the decision to release the information with reservations was made, the Supreme Court thus finds that the Court of Appeal acted incorrectly by examining the appeal regarding disclosure of information with reservations.
The Court of Appeal’s decision is therefore set aside and Ullared Technique’s appeal of the District Court’s decision is rejected.