The main role of the Supreme Court is to ensure uniformity, clarity and development of the law. This is done by establishing judicial precedents in leading cases thus ensuring guidance to the court of appeals and district courts.
The Supreme Court is the final instance in civil and criminal matters. Civil matters includes, for instance, contract, company law, personal injury, property law, insolvency law, family law etc. The Supreme Administrative Court on the other hand is the final instance for administrative matters such as tax and social security.
Decisions of courts of appeal (hovrätter) may in most cases be appealed against to the Supreme Court. However it is necessary to receive a leave to appeal in order for the case to be considered by the court. A leave to appeal is granted by the Supreme Court itself and basically only in those cases where it is important to establish a judgment that may provide guidance for the Swedish district courts and courts of appeal. The court receives appx. 5 100 applications for leave to appeal per year and decides to grant a leave to appeal in about 130 of those. This means that the court of appeal is in practice the final instance for most cases.
The Supreme Court also deals with cases which begin in the court itself and with some other types of matters such as annulment of final decisions taken by a court of appeal or the Supreme Court and advice to the ministry of Justice regarding certain requests for extradition.
The Supreme Court was established in 1789 and is located in the Old town of Stockholm.