Dissertation: Property Offences and Private Law. On the Offences in Ch. 8 and Ch. 10 of the Swedish Criminal Code and their Relationship to Private Law

  • Date:
  • Location: Zoom: https://uu-se.zoom.us/j/66158159813
  • Doctoral student: Gustaf Almkvist
  • About the dissertation
  • Organiser: Juridiska institutionen
  • Contact person: Estelle Lerceteau-Köhler
  • Disputation

Gustaf Almkvist defends his thesis in Criminal Law

Opponent: Prof Erling Johannes Husabø, University of Bergen
Chairperson of the public defence: Prof Magnus Ulväng

The public can follow the dissertation in the University Hall via a computer provided by the faculty. Once the main entrance is closed, the side entrance should be used.

The property offences, understood in a broad sense, are constructed in a way that pre-sup- poses rules on property, obligations, agency, possession and similar basic concepts of pri- vate law. That raises the question whether the offences simply refer to the private law – and if so in what way – or if the special character of the criminal law implies a different, independent understanding of the various concepts that are mentioned in the different offences.

This thesis aims to answer that question with the help of both a specific analysis of some of the most important property offences in Swedish law – such as theft, embezzle- ment and breach of trust – and a general analysis of possible ways of understanding the relationship between private law and criminal law in the field of the property offences. The analysis is supported by a broader reflection on the nature of legal reasoning, espe- cially in the criminal law, and the nullum crimen sine lege principle and what it means to be bound by the words of a statute.

The general analysis starts off in the history of the property offences in Swedish law and of the ideas that have influenced Swedish private law during much of the 20th cen- tury. The influence of Scandinavian Legal Realism and Functionalism on the private law means that reasoning in terms of general concepts, which is central to the criminal law, is often seen as unsuitable or even untenable. While this must be acknowledged when the property offences are analysed, it is ultimately a question for the criminal law how to understand its own subject matter.

Based on that conclusion and in an interplay with the specific analysis of the various offences, the provisions of the offences are categorised as being either accessory or auton- omous. Most aspects of the position that is attacked or misused – such as ownership or obligation – can be understood as accessory to the private law, in the sense that a private law conclusion is considered a matter of fact in the criminal law. On the other hand, most aspects of what it means to attack or misuse the position – such as stealing or keeping someone else’s property as one’s own – can be seen as autonomous questions, where the private law has few or no answers to provide. The challenge in both cases, which is the theme of the remainder of the thesis, is to determine the closer meaning of the provisions of the property offences.