Birgitta Blom was one of the most prominent Swedish female judges of the twentieth-century and a pioneer within the field. She was part of the ground-breaking generation of female legal practitioners and thus became a role model for future generations.
Birgitta Blom was born in Stockholm. She was the daughter of assistant vicar Wilhelm Bergstrand and his wife Inga Bergstrand, and she grew up with three siblings. Her sister Margit died as a young child. In 1955 Birgitta Blom married Lennart Blom, a politician, and the couple had a daughter called Kerstin.
Birgitta Blom gained her Bachelor’s degree in law at Stockholm university in 1954. She carried on to complete court service from 1954–1956. She then began training to become a judge as a trainee at the Svea court of appeal in 1957, then as a judge at Stockholm magistrates’ court from 1958–1965, and as assistant judge in 1966. She served as an expert at the Department of Justice from 1966–1969 and as under-secretary there from 1969–1976. During her time at the department of Justice Birgitta Blom largely worked with matters of maritime law and other transport laws, and she played an important role with regard to the formulation of Nordic laws in this sphere. Birgitta Blom also handled international matters and often served as the Swedish representative in negotiations for international organizations such as the European Council and the UN organ called the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Birgitta Blom was the first-ever woman to be appointed chief judge to the Svea court of appeal in 1975 and remained in post until 1983. She was then appointed president of the Svea court of appeal, a position which she held until she retired in 1996. This was also the first time a woman had held that post in Sweden. During her time as president of the Svea court of appeal she was also the chairperson when the court of appeal adjudicated on the Stockholm district court’s judgement on the notable Palme case in the autumn of 1989.
Further to her role as judge Birgitta Blom was also the chairperson of the maritime law commission from 1978–1983 and the chairperson of the national mobility services authority from 1978–1984. She was appointed as a member of the permanent court of arbitration in The Hague in 1981. In conjunction with her presidency of the Svea court of appeal she automatically became the chairperson of the national disciplinary board. Birgitta Blom was also one of the instigators behind the magazine Karnov – svensk lagsamling med kommentarer, and she was the chairperson for its editorial board from 1993–2006.
Her experience with various international matters contributed to Birgitta Blom’s growing interest in arbitration and she made a significant contribution to developing the Swedish arbitration procedure. She played an important role as chairperson of the Stockholm chamber of commerce’s institute for arbitration in the years 1988–1999. She was also involved in expanding the institute into one of the world’s leading arbitration institutions, not least by ensuring that the institute’s regulations conformed to high international standards.
In 1989 membership of the Rotary also became accessible to women. That year Birgitta Blom was elected onto the Stockholm Rotary club where she was later elected as the club president. For many years she was also chairperson of the Heart- and Lung-foundation. Birgitta Blom was appointed Professional Woman of the Year in 1983 and was awarded an honorary doctorate at the law faculty of Stockholm university in 1992.
Birgitta Blom died in 2012.