Supreme Court of Norway

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Supreme Court of Norway
Høyesterett
Coat of arms of Norway.svg
Established 1815
Country Norway
Location Oslo
Coordinates 59°54′51.63″N 10°44′40.19″E / 59.9143417°N 10.7444972°E / 59.9143417; 10.7444972
Authorized by Constitution of Norway
Number of positions 20
Website www.domstol.no
Chief Justice
Currently Tore Schei
Since 2002
The Supreme Court building in Oslo.
Photographer: Commons user Bjoerntvedt

The Supreme Court of Norway (Norwegian Bokmål: (Norges) Høyesterett; Norwegian Nynorsk: (Noregs) Høgsterett; lit. ‘Highest Court’) was established in 1815 on the basis article 88 in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Norway, which prescribes an independent judiciary. It is located in the capital Oslo. In addition to serving as the court of final appeal for civilian and criminal cases, it can also rule whether the Cabinet has acted in accordance with Norwegian law and whether the Parliament has passed legislation consistent with the Constitution.

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The Supreme Court is Norway's highest court. It has the entire Kingdom as its jurisdiction. It is a court of appeal, i.e. cases cannot be brought before the court if they are not tried in a district court (Norwegian: tingrett) and in most cases also in a regional court (Norwegian: lagmannsrett). Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has the prerogative to decide itself which cases of appeal it shall hear. This leads the court to hear cases of principal importance, where clarification is needed or where standards need to be set. Rulings set substantial precedence for the lower courts as well as for the Supreme Court itself.

As a subject to Norwegian law, one has no right to be heard in the Supreme Court, as the universal Human Rights article on a fair trial is believed to be satisfied with the district courts and as courts of appeal the regional courts.

The Supreme Court has a committee consisting of three justices who decide what cases shall be tried in the Supreme Court. The same committee decides in procedural questions appealed from the lower courts. Once approved, the case is heard and decided by 5 justices. A case may be decided in grand chamber, set with 11 justices, if the court decides that clear precedence needs to be set. In rare circumstances, a case may be heard in Plenum by all 20 justices. This happens when the court needs to decide if legislation conflicts with the constitution or a case involves fundamental questions.

The court is chaired by a Chief Justice together with 19 other justices. The current Chief Justice is Tore Schei.

To be eligible to apply for the position as a Supreme Court justice, the Constitution of Norway states that one must be a Norwegian citizen, have a law degree with excellent academic record and be at least 30 years old. Once a justice has taken office, he or she may only be removed by impeachment through conviction in the Riksrett. As of 2013, this has never happened. Justices face mandatory retirement at age 70.

The court's salary is regulated by the Storting. Since October 1 2011, justices have been paid NOK 1,487,000 ($262,600) and the chief justice NOK 1,724,000 ($304,500).

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