Liability

Liability in Europe

Definition of Liability

Subjection to an obligation ; or the obligation itself. A contingent liability is a future or unascertained obligation. As to liability (1) for dangerous premises, see Todd v. Flight Miller v. Hancock ; Indcrmaur v. Dames ; Lane v. Cox. (2) for dangerous things, see llylands v. Fletcher; Nichols v. Marsland, Whalley v. Lanes and Yorks Ey. Co. [1] See also the definition of Liability in the legal Dictionaries.

Liability Rules and Press Freedom in Sweden

In the Swedish Constitution: The Freedom of the Press Act (SFS nr: 1949:105)

In addition to the Instrument of Government, Sweden has three fundamental laws (Sveriges Grundlagar): the Act of Succession, the Freedom of the Press Act, which covers the liability rules, and the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression. The Riksdag Act occupies an intermediate position between a fundamental law and ordinary law. The four fundamental laws of the country work in a similar manner to the constitutions of most countries.

Freedom of the Press Act

The most recent Freedom of the Press Act was adopted in 1949 although Sweden established freedom of the press by law as early as 1766 and was first in the world to do so, at least according to its government. Freedom of the press means the right to disseminate information in printed form but with accountability before the law. Another feature of the Freedom of the Press Act is the citizens right to study public documents, and the principle of public access to official documents.

On joining the Eropean Union, Sweden was therefore obliged to make a few minor adjustments to the fundamental laws. For example, the Freedom of the Press Act was amended to enable the prohibition of advertisements for breast milk substitutes.

Chapter 8 of the Freedom of the Press Act has the heading “Liability Rules”. Here are the content of Chapter 8:

  • On liability for periodicals Article 1 provides the following: Liability under penal law for an offence against the freedom of the press committed by means of a periodical lies with the person notified as responsible editor at the time when the periodical was published. If a deputy had been notified and was acting as responsible editor, the deputy is liable.
  • Article 2 provides the following: If no certificate of no legal impediment to publication existed at the time when the periodical was published, or if the responsible editor liable under Article 1, paragraph one, was no longer qualified, or his appointment as responsible editor had otherwise been terminated, the owner is liable. The owner is likewise liable in a case in which the responsible editor was appointed for appearanceโ€™s sake, or was otherwise manifestly not in possession of the powers stipulated in Chapter 5, Article 3, at the time when the periodical was published. If a deputy acting as responsible editor was no longer qualified at the time when the periodical was published, or if his appointment had otherwise been terminated, or if a circumstance specified in paragraph two pertained in respect of the deputy, the responsible editor is liable.
  • Article 3 provides the following: If it is impossible to establish the identity of the owner at the time when the periodical was published, the printer is liable in place of the owner. (see more about the Constitution of Sweden here)
  • Article 4 provides the following: If a person disseminates a periodical which lacks information concerning the name of the printer, or if such information is known to the disseminator to be incorrect and the identity of the printer cannot be ascertained, the disseminator is liable in place of the printer.
  • On liability for non-periodical printed matter Article 5 provides the following: Liability under penal law for an offence against the freedom of the press committed by means of non-periodical printed matter lies with the author, if he has been identified as the author of the printed matter in the manner prescribed in Chapter 3, Article 2. The author is not, however, liable if the matter was published without his consent, or if his name, pseudonym, or pen-name appeared therein against his will.
  • Article 6 provides the following: If an author is not liable under Article 5 for matter which includes or is intended to include contributions from several authors, and if a particular editor has been identified in the manner prescribed in Chapter 3, Article 2, the editor is liable. In the case of printed matter other than printed matter under paragraph one, the editor is liable only if the author was deceased when the matter was published. The editor is not liable if his name, pseudonym, or pen-name appeared on the matter against his will. The editor of non-periodical printed matter is understood to be the person who, without being the author, delivers the matter for printing and publication.
  • Article 7 provides the following: If neither the author nor the editor is liable under Article 5 or 6, or if, when the matter was published, he was deceased, the publisher is liable. The publisher of non-periodical printed matter is understood to be the person who has undertaken to print and publish the writings of another.
  • Article 8 provides the following: If there was no publisher, or if the identity of the publisher cannot be ascertained, the printer is liable in place of the publisher. (see more about the Constitution of Sweden here)
  • Article 9 provides the following: The provisions of Article 4 apply in like manner to the liability of a disseminator of nonperiodical printed matter. (see more about the Constitution of Sweden here)
  • Provisions applying to all printed matter Article 10 provides the following: If the person who would have been liable under Article 2, 5, 6 or 7 at the time of publication of the printed matter has no known place of domicile within the Realm, and if his current whereabouts within the Realm cannot be ascertained in the case, liability shall pass to the person liable next thereafter, but not to the editor of non-periodical printed matter other than in a case under Article 6, paragraph one, or to a disseminator. The same applies if a circumstance pertained in respect of the person liable under Article 1, 2, 5, 6 or 7 which according to law excluded criminal responsibility, and if the person liable next thereafter was cognizant of, or should have been cognizant of, the circumstance.
  • Article 11 provides the following: A circumstance which would result in the liability under this Chapter of a person other than the defendant shall be taken into consideration only if the circumstance was adduced prior to the main hearing.
  • Article 12 provides the following: In determining the liability of a person responsible for printed matter under this Chapter, the content of the matter shall be deemed to have been inserted with the knowledge and consent of the person concerned.

Other Chapters of the Act are:

  • Chapter 1: On the freedom of the press
  • Chapter 2: On the public nature of official documents
  • Chapter 3: On the right to anonymity
  • Chapter 4: On the production of printed matter
  • Chapter 5: On the publication of periodicals
  • Chapter 6: On the dissemination of printed matter
  • Chapter 7: On offences against the freedom of the press
  • Chapter 9: On supervision and prosecution
  • Chapter 10: On special coercive measures
  • Chapter 11: On private claims for damages
  • Chapter 12: On court proceedings in freedom of the press cases
  • Chapter 13: On matter printed abroad etc.
  • Chapter 14: General provisions

Resources

Notes

  1. Definition of Liability is, temporally, from A Concise Law Dictionary (1927).

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