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Swedish dictionary:  "Juridik" section

This page is only for words connected to legal documents
SweGGate General dictionary is
Words in estate inventories are here.
Also consult the "Titles dictionary"
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Please note that the letters å, ä and ö are sorted after z in the alphabet

A word of caution
Reading old legal documents is a very difficult task requiring multiple skills (old handwriting, old language, legal terminology, history, social structure and conditions etc). Most native Swedes will not fully understand the meaning. The language uses numerous special terms and the phrases are compact, often with a meaning "between the lines". A simple "word by word" dictionary type of translation will often not give you the correct meaning of a phrase or a document and sometimes lead you completely off the track. Add to that the difficult handwriting which causes frequent misreading, reduced only by experience and knowledge of the commonly used expressions.
To make sure you get the correct meaning better leave this task to experts - at the very least let an expert proof-read your finished translation.
Word T Explanation

Special legal topics

Courts and institutions
domstol A (n) court (any level)
häradsnämnd O a board of 12 lay members of the häradsrätt.
häradsrätt O district court. Jurisdiction in one härad. Manned by the häradshövding as chairman and the häradsnämnd - a board of 12 lay members named nämndeman (plur: nämndemän). Since they were 12 on the board an alternate title was tolvman (tolv =  number 12, plur: tolvmän). A nämndeman was elected by the local population for a period of 6 years.
The häradsrätt convened in two periods per year, lagtima (regular) vårting and höstting (spring- and autumn-). For urgent matters a urtima (extra) ting was held.
tingsrätt O (n) The lowest level in the modern judicial system. Replaced the häradsrätt
tingslag O (n) The geographical district of a häradsrätt. Usually one, but in a few places a few, härad
domsaga O (n) The geographical district of a häradsrätt. Usually one, but in a few places a few, härad
hovrätt O (n) Regional court
högsta domstolen O (n) Supreme court of Sweden
kammarrätt O (n) court for taxation, regional level only
ståndrätt O a special court, used only in war-time, where a summary trial is performed and punishment is immediately executed. Abolished in 1949.
gäldstuga O Debtor's prison. gäld = debt, stuga = small dwelling house.
fängelse O (n) prison.
sockenstämma O Local community council meeting. Worldly, not religious, meeting.
Legal procedures
möte A Meeting, general term.
stämma   Formal meeting, e.g. sockenstämma, bolagsstämma (yearly meeting with stockholders in a company). Older language.
sammanträde A Formal meeting, e.g. of a company board. Modern language. Earlier often stämma
ting O (n) Very old term used for a meeting where justice was served and laws decided. Later a meeting with the häradsrätt
arvsskifte A the event and documentation of distribution of inheritance, i.e. "deciding who gets what". cf bouppteckning. NOT the same as English "probate" which deals only with wills.
böta A (v) pay a fine. böte (imperative). "den som 
bötfälla A (v) order someone to pay a fine. bötfälld = is fined
försumma A (v) to neglect. (n) försummelse.
ogill O old word for unattended. (plur) ogilla. Do not confuse with verb ogilla = dislike or in legal context = reject. A common expression in old laws (as early as the middle ages) is ligge ogill (probably from ogulden = unpaid) = let (this matter) rest, take no action.
sakfälla O (v) to declare guilty in a court ruling. Opposite is frikänna = declare not guilty.
sakfälld O (adj) person who is declared guilty in a court ruling. sakfällde / sakfälte (plur)
skatteköp O A buy of land from the state regulated by special law. When a person buys land defined as kronojord this land is transferred from kronojord to skattejord, i.e. the owner becomes liable to tax for the land ownership. Only the åbo has this legal right to buy the land he uses. The buy is confirmed by a document called skattebrev. This became a legal form of buy in 1719 and became of great importance to farmers. This possibility was disallowed in 1919. Cf land types
tredska A (v) to be contumacious
tredsko A (n) the act of being contumacious
Legal documents
lag A = law. The earliest laws were landskapslagarna (provincial laws), created by each province on its own. In 1350 king Magnus Ladulås enforced separate laws for rural and urban areas. The first common law applying to the entire nation and rural and urban areas alike was enforced in 1734.
kyrkolag A = church laws. The first national church law was decided in 1686, valid from 1688. 
   about real estate
uppbud, upbud, opbud O (n) obligation to announce (make publicly known) any intended transfer of real estate. "Bud" (long "u") = message.
The intended transfer was described in a document sent to the häradsrätt (district court) which in turn published that. The purpose of this was to enable people who might have claims in the estate (inheritance or mortgage security) to come forward before the sale / transfer was completed. This obligation ceased in 1875 with the introduction of lagfart
fastebrev O = land deed, certificate of ownership of land and house. In older language faste breff or fastebref. Used before 1875 (in Finland used at least until 1920's). After 1875 this document is called lagfart / lagfartsbevis.
lagfart(sbevis) M = land deed, certificate of ownership of land (and house). Until 1874 (in Finland at least until 1920's) this document was called fastebrev.
gravationsbevis M official document listing the mortgages on a real estate.
skattebrev O Legal document confirming a skatteköp.
äktenskapsförord A premarital contract = prenuptial agreement
testamente A = will
bouppteckning A the event and documentation of evaluating and making an inventory of a deceased person's goods and chattels, i.e. "deciding what there is". Performed after every death when any belongings are left. cf arvsskifte. Not the same as English "probate" which deals only with wills. Se special dictionary
arvsskifte A  see under procedures
   records, minutes
protokoll A minutes from a meeting.
dombok O ledger for minutes from court proceedings. Most old ones are available on film but rarely on line. Difficult to read and interpret (handwriting, legal terminology etc).
O Minutes from a local community council meeting - sockenstämma. Sometimes a useful source for confirmation or new leads but less available than parish records.
  in courts
häradshövding A Chairman of district court, the only member with a law degree. See here
häradsdomare A Honorary title for the oldest nämndeman in a häradsrätt =district court.
nämndeman A Plur: nämndemän. (nämnd =commission).
1 Lay member of a court. The different courts (except högsta domstolen = supreme court) have a group of people that make the decision. The group is composed of lay people (today politically elected) and lawyers. (The courts do not have the jury system).
Also named tolvman
2  Members of different boards in the local governments are also called nämndeman (sing), nämndemän (plur).
Häradsdomare, häradshövding and the härad topic.
tolvman O nämndeman in a häradsrätt - so named since there were 12 people appointed (tolv = twelve)
åklagare A (n) prosecutor
chefåklagare A (n) district prosecutor
mästerman O Older (medieval) name for skarprättare - probably referring to the devil as "mäster"
bödel O Hang-man and torturer with lower status than a skarprättare (q.v.)
skarprättare O special form of executioner, using sword or axe as opposed to a hang-man. Older (medieval) name: mästerman.  cf bödel
After the 16th century no distinction between skarprättare and bödel - both names were used interchangeably. Before 1858 there was one S. in each county but 1887 - 1920 only one for Sweden. After that no need for that profession.
  police and taxation
häradsskrivare O (n) Officer in the länsstyrelse (county gov't) with responsibility to do census, taxation registers for persons and estate, etc.
landsfiskal M Before 1917: see länsman
1917-1964: Local government position created in the 1917 local government reform combining the duties of the former kronolänsman.

Official performing duties as public prosecutor (AmE district attorney), district chief of police and distrainor. In 1965 the position was split into its 3 parts and replaced by separate officials as polismästare (district chief of police), chefsåklagare (district prosecutor) and
kronofogde (distrainor only in modern times). 
The position required a law degree. In 1917 the reform created 332 landsfiskalsdistrikt (districts for a landsfiskal), In 1942 there were 408 districts. 
landsfogde who is the superior of all the landsfiskaler in a län (county). 
länsman (a similar official until 1917)
kronofogde A Local government official. Position created in the 1687 reform of local government. He had duties as local chief of police, local prosecutor and distrainor. The geographical area of jurisdiction for a kronofogde is called a fögderi usually larger than a härad but smaller than a län (county). In the 1917 reform of local government these duties were taken over by the landsfogde and the landsfiskal. In another reform in 1965 the position of kronofogde was reintroduced but duties were reduced to distrainor only.
kronolänsman O See länsman
landsfiskal A Title created in 1917 for the local prosecuting officer. 
landsfogde A Government official in a county performing duty as polischef =chief of county police and överåklagare =senior prosecutor (AmE district attorney) of the county. The position was created in the 1917 reform of local government, then partly replacing the earlier position of kronofogde (taking over the two "legal duties" of that position). The position was replaced in the 1965 reform by länspolismästare (county chief of police) and länsåklagare (county prosecutor).
länsman A A title. The use has changed over time. Originally, in the middle ages (1100-1500), the title of a person appointed by the king to represent the king in a härad. He collected the taxes for the king and executed the king's power in his district. Later used also in the meaning "receiver of land from the king" during the feudal period. In the 17th century it is used as a title for a government official responsible for doing investigations in criminal cases, arresting and prosecuting criminals - a kind of early LOCAL public prosecutor (AmE district attorney). He was also responsible for supervising general law and order and collecting state tax. The title kronolänsman is in later times used for the same office. "Krono" denotes the connection to the government (kronan = the crown) and so differentiates the title from the above mentioned alternative use ("receiver of land..") (but the two meanings have slightly different pronounciation). 
In a reform in 1917 the legal duties (prosecution) were transferred to a new office, the
landsfiskal. The geographical area of responsibility becomes larger for each of these transfers. The landsfiskal was employed by the länsstyrelse (county administration) and his immediate superior was the landsfogde.
profoss O Originally an army employee handling law and order, prosecutions and punishments, Later title of any person who executed bodily punishments (like flogging) or executions. At times also used to denote a common policeman. This word is a loan from German but originally from Latin propositus = manager, superintendent.  cf gevaldiger
polis A (n) [from Greek politeia = well organized society] = police, the profession (any rank). Created through the 1850 police reform  - foundation of today's police organization. First implemented in Stockholm and in the late 19th century in other cities as well. The first police station was opened already in 1839. There were 554 local police districts in Sweden in 1965 when the police was transferred to a state responsibility. Today there are only 21 police districts.
Swedish police have helped to organize (establish) the police in S:t Petersburg, Russia (1893), Persia (1910) and Ethiopia (1946-49).
poliskommissarie M (n) a rank in the police corps.
(polis)konstapel A (n) police constable. Title used 1850 - 1972. (not to confuse with the rank konstapel in the army artillery)
polismästare M (n) district chief of police. First used by the chief of police in Stockholm Liljensparre in 1776.
länspolismästare M (n) county chief of police.
fånggevaldiger O A police constable in charge of transport of prisoners. cf gevaldiger.
fångvaktare O (n) prison guard
gevaldiger O Loan from the German "Gewaltiger = profoss". The word was in use until 1850 in Swedish, after that the word poliskonstapel or simply polis is used. In English this would be a police constable. cf profoss
fjärdingsman O Until 1954 the title of a subordinate assistant to the police authority in every kommun. There were originally four fjärdingsmän in each härad [fjärding = one fourth). From 1850 there was one fjärdingsman in each socken.
stadsfiskal O same as landsfiskal but in a city.
Legal status
hemmansägare A Farm owner, i.e owner of both land and buildings. cf åbo. Alt spelling hemmansegare. Abbrev: hemmansäg., hemmanseg., hem.äg., hem.eg. Cf land owners
skatteman O 1 (middle ages) tax collector
2 (later) owner of land for which tax is paid (
åbo O Legal farm user. (bo=live in/on referring to one's home, å from på = on). This is a legal term. Read more at Farming people Cf hemmansägare
åborätt O A legal right to use a farm owned by someone else. See åbo
arrendator A (n) tenant farmer. The rent paid is named arrende.
städsla O (v) old word for (to) employ (a worker, maid etc). städslad = employed
torpare O A farmer who farmed land owned by someone else and paid his rent in dagsverke = by working a specified number of days for the land owner. Read more in Farming people
statare O a farm labourer employed by the land owner.  Read more in Farming people
stattorpare O A statare who also farmed a torp (both statare and torpare). Cf Farming people
laga försvar O The legal term "laga försvar" refers to a privilege for employees in noble homes - effectively an exempt from being drafted for military service and from being regarded as lösdrivare. Conversely the term "försvarslös" means "without the protection of laga försvar status"
The term became obsolete with the creation of the
lösdrivarlagen from 1885 which gives every citizen this status as long as he/she is known to have a steady income and a moral conduct.
undantag(et) O Allotment from farm, usually prepared for old people. Old parents often got their own small house and maybe a small piece of land when the son took over responsibility for the farm. cf sitta på undantag. Read more >>
sitta på undantag O Living on an undantag allotment. Read more >>
luffare A vagrant, vagabond in common language. Used in modern Swedish as well but those people are very rare today.  cf lösdrivare
lösdrivare O = vagrant, vagabond in legal terms. From ancient Swedish lös (lösker) = loose, nomad, unmarried. More recent terms: lösdrivare, luffare, vagabond. The legal term applies to "a person who moves from place to place without means to support himself" OR "a person who neglects to attempt to honestly support himself according to his abilities and also leads a life that creates a danger to general security, order or public moral." This includes begging and prostitution.
löske(r)karl O See lösdrivare.
Some laws
lösdrivarlagen O The law - "lösdrivarlagen" (In full: "Lag angående lösdrifvares behandling")  refers to lösdrivare = vagrants. It was in force 1885 - 1964 and states a punishment from 1 month to 3 years imprisonment at a "arbetsanstalt" (a special prison where prisoners were obliged to work). The law applied only to persons "of age", i.e. 21 and upwards. Although formally a law until modernized in 1964 it was not applied for many years before that. In the 20th century there were two such allmän tvångsarbetsanstalt, Svartsjö (for men) and Växjö (for women). tvångsarbete = forced labour.
vådeligen O violently, usually as a cause of death meaning dead by some accident.
(förut)bemälte O (n) aforementioned

note i brackets like this [p:staat] is pronunciation for English speakers.
In the "T' = Time column: O = Old times, M = Moderns language, A = All times
Explanation by F Haeffner unless otherwise stated. Want improvements of this page ? .. Mail me your contribution or request.

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Last updated by F Hae 2005-06-30 22:33 © Fredrik Haeffner, 2003-5