June 9, 2016 Print

The winner of the inaugural Europe Liberty Award is the Sweden-based Centre for Justice (Centrum för rättvisa) for its “Litigating for Individual Liberty and Fundamental Rights” project: “The Nordic Individual Rights Revolution.”

“Despite historically weak constitutional protection of individual rights in the Nordic countries, the Centre for Justice has spearheaded a Nordic individual rights revolution,” said Clarence Crafoord, director of Centre for Justice. “Through cutting edge public interest litigation, the Centre for Justice has secured numerous high court victories, defending everyday people’s rights and setting legal precedents that have significantly increased individual liberty and defended free market principles.”

The Centre for Justice has, on behalf of its clients, won several liberty-increasing landmark cases in recent years, which have significantly improved not just the rights of individuals and small-scale entrepreneurs in Sweden, but have set legal precedents with the potential to increase the liberties of millions of individuals throughout Europe.

“When the Centre for Justice was launched, skeptics said that there would be no cases for us to litigate. Even if we would find a case, they said that we would never win, given the Nordic legal tradition of parliamentary sovereignty and a strong preference for collective welfare rights. They also said that no one would be willing to sponsor such a venture. However, so far, we have received about 200 judgments – and our clients have prevailed in nine out of ten cases,” said Crafoord. “Our clients have won all fourteen cases that we have had in the highest courts, such as the Swedish Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights. In this way, we have not only changed the law – we have strengthened individual rights and economic liberty for a great number of everyday people. So, yes, the Centre for Justice has been and is now more than ever a prime driving force in what could be described as a Nordic individual rights revolution. And from the start, we have been one hundred percent privately funded – we have never received, and we would never accept, contributions from the government.”

The Centre for Justice also runs a strategic law student program, reaching hundreds of law students each year. The annual summer camp for law students is the flagship of that program. The summer camp offers an introduction to the classical liberalism point of view on the topics of individual human rights and freedoms, democracy and the rule of law; and how to litigate such cases in Swedish and European courts. It also establishes a network of law students at Swedish universities and a network of practitioners at universities, law firms, courts, etc.

A court case involving six appraisers who were forced to pay examination fees to the Municipal, even though they were not members. Photo credit: Centre for Justice

Lars-Erik Jevås and Christina Nilsson were forced to pay the municipality of Partille for roads that they neither need nor want. In addition to the fees they were forced simultaneously to forgo land without compensation. Centre for Justice is helping them to recover their money. Photo credit: Centre for Justice

The other two finalists for the inaugural Europe Liberty Award were Lipa – Croatian Taxpayers Association in Croatia, and the Institute for Market Economics in Bulgaria.

The Europe Liberty Award is part of Atlas Network’s Regional Liberty Awards. This competition recognizes think tanks that have made important contributions to improving the landscape for enterprise and entrepreneurship in Europe. The winner of the Europe Liberty Award received $5,000 and was honored at the Europe Liberty Forum.