Norwegian Life And Society THE NORWEGIAN LEGAL SYSTEM - UiO

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Norwegian Life and Society THE NORWEGIAN LEGAL SYSTEM Eléonore Maitre-Ekern Research fellow, Dept. of Public and International Law, UiO 15 April 2013

1. Some questions for reflection: Legal systems: The Norwegian legal system: What is a legal system? Similar or different from other legal systems? Why do we need a legal system? Different institutions? Different way of thinking? Different material (substantive rights) rights? Which institutions do the legal system consist of? What do we need “checks and balances” for?

2. Foundation: The Constitution of 1814 17th of May 1814 Constitution: inspired by USA, France and right to self determination Radical and democratic Constitutional Monarchy - Sovereignty of the People Division of powers Legally binding? Limiting legislative and executive powers Judicial review?

Norway today Constitutional monarchy: King Harald V, since 1991 Prime Minister: Jens Stoltenberg (Labour), since 2005 State Church: Protestantism

3. The Parliament (Stortinget) – the legislative branch Unicameral Power to issue new legislation The Principle of legality – Rule of Law – Sovereignty of the people – Citizens able to foresee their legal position (legal certainty) Constitutional limitations on the legislator

4. The Government – the executive branch The Council of State: The governmental conference: Chaired by the King Chaired by the Prime Minister Adoption of decisions Preliminary discussions Matters of main significance

The executive branch (2) Legislative process: Substantial influence on the legislative process (“lov”) Power to issue directives (“forskrifter”) – delegated powers Executive power – enforcing legal order: Criminal cases Civil cases Other fields of law

5. The Court System - the judicial branch The independence of Courts Tasks of the Courts – Criminal cases No investigative courts – Civil cases Not all disputes settled in courts of law Conciliation proceedings – Administrative cases Courts only rule in legal matters

Hierarchy of the Court system Supreme Court “Høyesterett” Appeal Courts ”Lagmannsretten” District Courts ”Tingretten”

District Courts 70 District Courts Jurisdiction in all matters – No division of ordinary courts and administrative courts – No division of criminal courts and civil courts – No separate constitutional court Appeal Courts Only 6 Appeal Courts Right to appeal – Civil cases – Criminal cases

Supreme Court Right to appeal heavily restricted Purpose – – – – – Not to ensure right outcome in each and every case Ensure uniformity of legal process Resolve matters where the law is unclear Develop the law Decide in matters of principle

Composition of the Courts Professional judges Lay judges District Courts: 1 Appeals Courts: 3 Supreme Court: 5 Supreme Court - plenary session: 19 Civil cases: None, but parties may demand Criminal cases: Lay judges in majority in first and second instance. None in the Supreme Court.

Court proceedings and hearings Civil cases Criminal cases Strong oral tradition Oral tradition even stronger Witnesses, documentary evidence and legal arguments presented directly before the court during “main hearing” Judges as "tabula rasa” Presumption of innocence Evaluation of evidence Principle of contradiction Principle of transparency

6. A continental or common law system? Continental law Extensive and detailed legislation Principles of law Common law Case-law developed by Courts of law Tradition Norwegian law Parliamentary legislation key figure Legislation less detailed Trusts the courts to find “the spirit of the law” But courts emphasise the “preparatory works” of legislators Supreme Court case-law highly important Courts recognised to “develop law” Fields of law that are not legislated Scandinavian “legal pragmatism” – less principles

7. Some major trends in the Norwegian legal system Wide administrative powers in the aftermath of WWII Increased protection of citizen’s position Consumer protection Deregulation – more free market EU/EEA-legislation Human Rights Soft on crime – or tougher on crime? The aftermath of 22 July 2011?

Norwegian law Parliamentary legislation key figure Legislation less detailed Trusts the courts to find "the spirit of the law" But courts emphasise the "preparatory works" of legislators Supreme Court case-law highly important Courts recognised to "develop law" Fields of law that are not legislated

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