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Playing with fire lands 11-year-old with million kronor debt

Playing with fire lands 11-year-old with million kronor debt

Published: 13 Nov 2009 08:20 GMT+01:00
Updated: 13 Nov 2009 08:20 GMT+01:00

An 11-year-old boy has been ordered to pay 1.9 million kronor ($276,000) in damages after causing smoke and water damage to a Stockholm home, the Aftonbladet newspaper writes.

The boy, who was nine at the time, was visiting another family in the suburb in southern Stockholm when he got hold of a cigarette lighter and proceeded to set light to some paper in a wardrobe with devastating consequences.

The insurance company agreed to meet the costs incurred by the family for the damages to their home - 1.9 million kronor - and then proceeded to sue the boy in court.

The court has now ruled that the boy is responsible for his actions - the debt can not be claimed from the other members of his family.

"According to Swedish law children can be liable for damages to the same extent as adults," said Mårten Schultz, an expert in liability law, told the newspaper.

"The debt is the child's, it is the boy that has to pay up," he confirmed.

While Schultz explained that Swedish law supported the decision he said that he had never heard of someone so young being ordered to pay such a high sum. The figure is usually significantly reduced.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:45 November 13, 2009 by Durai
I am not sure how a small boy can pay this Amount.His parents should be punished for his behavior.

This is totally stupid.
10:15 November 13, 2009 by spy
Perhaps the little chap should file for bankruptcy.
10:42 November 13, 2009 by jose_s
doctors, politicians, thieves, drunk drivers and many others get slapped with jokes of punishments and fines.... the next story will be a one year old paying for burping up his food on some ladie's prada shoes....
10:48 November 13, 2009 by testUserName
At least the Child knows what to do in life. May be like Bollywood movies, become so rich and buy insurance company or become judge himself. what about politician!?

Otherwise may be he could sue the ligther company as it could happen in states!
11:36 November 13, 2009 by foxpur
Oddly, he can't file Bankruptcy till he is 15.
11:40 November 13, 2009 by Dr. Dillner
Poor kid, now he has to face the pangs of puberty and a life of indentured servitude!
13:11 November 13, 2009 by glamshek
Well thas strange. I think that boy would could become very rich later on. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Otherwise the huge fines will have to be cancelled. By the way is it right to fine an 11 year old with such a heavy amount?
13:23 November 13, 2009 by gerillataktik
Published: 13 Nov 09 08:20 CET

Why does The Local wait so long to update their daily news? Shouldn't the morning's stories be published long before 9am.

Its not like the translation work is that demanding.
13:26 November 13, 2009 by sthlmstdnt
well, if the boy is responsible of his own actions, not the family, as a social state, the government should pay the punishment of its own citizen who is unable to pay. Do not call this strange! after reading this kind of news
13:46 November 13, 2009 by spy
foxpur

Very interesting that he can not file for bankruptcy until he is 15. I am not quite sure about the rules in Sweden but would this preclude him from being a Company Director for a year or so and mean that he would not be allowed any credit? Also will any property he owns be clawed back by the creditor?

- Is this incident is really going to affect his life? . .
14:11 November 13, 2009 by eZee.se
Totally ridiculous.
15:07 November 13, 2009 by Nuname
He was 9!

How can you be responsible for your actions at 9? If you're not able to be criminally responsible, which he can't be, then surely you shouldn't be economically responsible either.

P.S The local, what does this mean? Doe's he have to start paying the debt back when he's earning? Can he get a student loan?
16:02 November 13, 2009 by mbe
My God.. how bad is this... he was only 9 when it happened... lets make these kids more mature than they are....
16:17 November 13, 2009 by duncs
he would have got of cheaper for murder. if i were him i would have killed the judge!
18:04 November 13, 2009 by mkvgtired
He would have gotten a lighter punishment if he murdered someone.
19:15 November 13, 2009 by karex
I love Sweden but there are things that happen here that so trouble me sometimes.

People are fond of stating that Sweden is a secular country and so forth, and so forth. I more and more get the feeling that Swedes have not become less religious but just changed the God worshipped. The new worship is the God of money and taxes. Increasing taxes are the miracle cure of any of society's problems, or so it seems.

A person who murders someone in cold blood gets off scot free or with minimum time incarceration, or a period of reflection at a psychiactric facility. However, if a crime is committed which damages someone's "pockets", the maximum penalty is applied, even to 9-year-old children.

What's wrong with this picture?
19:49 November 13, 2009 by glamshek
Money is the god of Swedes. Killers are set free, but property damagers at 9-year old could get 1.9 Million Kronors of fine. Typically, its the worship of Money !!
21:21 November 13, 2009 by Aussie_Downunder
Reading swedish news is quite disturbing, and at times totally BS, much like this story; or like with any news for that matter.

Anyway I find it downright stupid if this 9 year old gets a huge fine, although if he were to rape someone, he would get off much lighter.

I agree with karex, there is something seriously wrong with this picture the Swedish Justice System has painted.
21:56 November 13, 2009 by insect
Durai

I think this is how it works. The parents pay the money on a monthly basis till the child comes of age then he or she takes over and pays the money
23:01 November 13, 2009 by MTH
How come he gets a bigger punishment for this than for comiting murder? Maybe it was better (in terms of punishment) that he murdered the family than burning the house.
23:52 November 13, 2009 by coot
The comments mention "fine" and "punishment", but I don't understand why.

In common law countries (like the UK and US), the 1.9 million kronor is not a fine, and not a punishment. It is money to repair the house.

So, from an American point of view: This child burned the house. It was not a crime, because he did not intend to damage the house. But the owner had a house yesterday, but not today. Who pays to fix the house? The answer is simple: who caused the damage? In this case, somebody accidentally caused a fire, and is being held responsible for the damage.

Is that not how it works in Sweden?
02:45 November 14, 2009 by Coalbanks
Declares bankruptcy at 15, enters rehab/therapy for the effects (mental illness, drug use, alcoholism) of anxiety caused by this fine hanging over his head for years, writes book, makes $, the insurance company sues him - can they collect if he is bankrupt?
10:29 November 14, 2009 by karex
@coot

I think that you may have a point there. From the information given in the article, it was the insurance company who sued. Ergo, a private suit, or?

Perhaps what's wrong with the whole thing is that laws governing crime and those which affect private lawsuits are not aligned, i.e., there are different standards applied. It also seems that judges don't act in a uniform way, making it seem that the outcome of a trial is more depending on the judge (plain luck) than the letter of the law. It seems to me that this cannot be good for society in the longrun.
05:17 November 15, 2009 by Canada_Girl
This child gets a huge debt and the Baby Faced rapist will get a tap on the wrist.
14:01 November 15, 2009 by glamshek
@coot

If you make the property damager repay for the damages, then what about the killer who kills somebody?

An eye for an eye. A humana for a human. And an animal for an animal.

Property damage for property damage.

There is definitely something wrong with this judicial system.
15:58 November 16, 2009 by coot
@glamshek

Do you not have a concept of "criminal" and "civil" law? I am familiar with US and UK law, but not so much with Swedish law.

Killing somebody is a criminal offense. The law says "If you kill somebody, you will be punished". Typically, that punishment is to be put in prison. (This is true even in the US, which still has capital crimes.)

Stealing is a criminal offense. The law says "If you steal, you will be punished".

The law says this because we want people to think "I won't do that because I don't want to be punished".

The law does not say "If you damage something accidentally, we will put you in prison". That would not prevent accidents, because nobody _wants_ to cause accidents. (If they want it to happen, it is not an accident.)

But the law does say "If you damage property by accident, you have to repay the owner for the cost of the damage."

How else should it work? Should we put people in prison for accidents? Or should I have to pay when somebody else damages my property in an accident?
13:16 November 17, 2009 by glamshek
@coot

Killing somebody is criminal offence. The law says"If you kill somebody, youe will be punished". Typically that punishment is to be put in prison.

Well, I think there is something seriously wrong. We are not discussing what verdict is being given. We are disucssing what kind of verdict is being given. In other words we are actually analysing the kind of laws that exist here.

Let us take criminal law irrespective of civil law.

In criminal law they put you in prison for some time if you take the whole life of somebody. Even if we do not compare this law with Civil law, we still do not see justice in it.

Why? Because in Civil law you go for damage for dame concept but here in criminal law when it means to reciprocate through punishment because there is some crime commited, you give a much lighter punishment. Is it not non sense?

Punishment has to be either tougher or at least equal.

But we punish the guy who takes the life of somebody by putting him/her in prison for some time and then we later on let him/her scott free.
13:00 November 18, 2009 by izbz
11 years old to pay for damages? Which court can allow that? Does that means he'll have to grow up with 1.9 millions in debt?

To reprimand the kid fair enough but............there are many ways to reprimand .....community work after school for instance. I really don't think the kid did that intentionally, must have wet his pants watching the place burned down.
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