Portrait of a researcher

Jonatan Schytzer starts with a high-profile environmental problem in his latest research

Jonatan Schytzer is a new senior lecturer in civil law at the Faculty of Law and was named Teacher of the Year 2021 by the law students. He defended his award-winning dissertation, "The Rise of the Claim in Insolvency Law" in February 2021 and in April 2022 began his new research project "The Environment in Bankruptcy", which the Torsten Söderberg Foundation has funded.

- In my new project, I am starting with a societal problem, namely that in recent years we have repeatedly been made aware in the media of how criminal actors have profited by the expense of the environment. The actors have committed to take care of waste, but instead of complying with current regulations, black mass from ground batteries has been buried in fields outside Kumla, toxic waste has been evicted near water sources on the shores of Lake Mälaren and waste has been handled so poorly that hard-to-extinguish fires have broken out at waste facilities in southern Stockholm and in Småland. Poison masses have become a commodity in the underworld. We can talk about waste gangsters, says Jonatan!

There is an extensive regulatory framework on how, among other things, waste should be taken care of. The rules are based on the polluter pays principle, but in the vast majority of the cases mentioned, there are no funds to clean up the environment. The companies have been declared bankrupt, which short-circuits the environmental legal system. One could thus say that the environment goes bankrupt.

​How this societal problem is to be solved is something I will research in the project, says Jonatan. Specifically, I will examine three issues, namely:

  1. Under what legal conditions are environmental claims in a bankruptcy enforced?
  2. Under what legal conditions should environmental claims be enforced in a bankruptcy and how can bankruptcy law be changed to reduce the risk of situations arising when polluters cannot pay?
  3. What changes at the principle level can be implemented to reduce the risk of situations when polluters cannot pay arise?

The latter two questions are of a de lege ferenda nature, that is, they are about how the law should be, rather than what the law is. In this part, it is important to get inspiration from other areas of law and legal orders. At this stage of the project, Jonatan has presented the project in Dublin at the INSOL Europe Academic Conference and received many good comments from researchers from different countries in Europe that he will continue to work with.

- I have also been in contact with researchers in Canada and received information on how to solve these issues, as well as discussed, the project in Bergen. On June 3 -22, I will present the project at the Stockholm Centre for Commercial Law at Stockholm University. Then the former president of the Supreme Court, Stefan Lindskog, will be the commentator and I am convinced that I will get many good inputs. On June 8, I will also present the project, but then in the home environment, that is, at the Faculty of Law in Uppsala.

- After the dissertation, I have also had a collaboration with jur. dr Mikael Ek, who defended his thesis at the Faculty of Law in Uppsala but who is now active at the University of Gävle. We have examined the technically difficult issues of the status of VAT claims in bankruptcy. And we are now working on an article on the status of VAT claims in reorganisation. These are important questions, among other things, because the Swedish Tax Agency has established a new standpoint which have made the composition in a reorganisationup to 60 % more expensive. This makes  reorganisation impossible in many cases, concludes Jonatan.

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Last modified: 2022-06-10