Judiciary of Norway

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The Supreme Court building in Oslo

The judiciary of Norway is hierarchical with the Supreme Court at the apex. The conciliation boards only hear certain types of civil cases. The District Courts are deemed to be the first instance of the Courts of Justice. Jury (High) Courts are the second instance and the Supreme Court is the third instance.


The structure of the courts of justice is hierarchical and hierarchic with the Supreme Court at the apex. The conciliation boards only hear certain types of civil cases. The District Courts are deemed to be the first instance of the Courts of Justice. Jury (High) Courts are the second instance and the Supreme Court is the third instance.

Supreme Court[edit]

The Supreme Court is Norway's highest court of justice and the instance of appeal for verdicts handed down by courts of a lower level. The court is situated in Oslo. The decisions made here are final and cannot be appealed or complained against. The only exception is for cases that can be brought before the Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Interlocutory Appeals Committee[edit]

Three of the Supreme Court judges form the Interlocutory Appeals Committee. This committee has to agree that a case is to be brought before the Supreme Court.

Courts of appeal[edit]

The country is divided into six appellate districts. Each court of appeal (Norwegian: lagmannsrett) is headed by a senior judge president and each Court of Appeal has several appellate judges. The courts are:

District courts[edit]

A district court building in Hamar

The district courts (Norwegian: tingrett) are the first instance of the courts of justice. There are 83 district courts.

Conciliation boards[edit]

A conciliation board is allocated to each municipality. Each conciliation board consists of three laymen and an equal number of deputies elected or appointed by the municipality council for terms of four years. Conciliation boards are to mediate between disputing parties and are widely authorised to pronounce a verdict. The majority of civil disputes are resolved by the conciliation boards. Conciliation boards do not hear criminal cases, and participation in their hearings is voluntary.

Special courts[edit]

There are special courts that hear or process issues not covered by the District Courts:

  • The Industrial Disputes Tribunal: This court deals with cases pertaining to labour legislation, for example wage disputes.
  • The Land consolidation courts: Their main task is to find acceptable solutions for ownership disputes and issues concerning correct land usage.


Main article: Law of Norway

The king has the right in the Council of State to pardon criminals after sentence has been passed. This right is seldom used and always by the elected government in the name of the King.


The Ministry of Justice and Public Security is the government ministry in charge of justice, police and domestic intelligence.

The National Courts Administration is the government agency responsible for the management and operations of the courts. It is purely an administrative organisation, and does not interfere with the judicial processes nor the appointment of judges or other judicial positions in the court system.



The Judicial Appointments Board nominates judges for appointment, who are officially appointed by the Council of State.

Lay judges[edit]

Further information: Lay judge

In the district courts of Norway, lay judges sit alongside professional judges in mixed courts in most cases.[1] In most cases, 2 lay judges sit alongside 1 professional judge. The court leader may decree that a case have three lay judges sit alongside two professional judges if the workload on that case is high or if there are other compelling reasons.[2] Decisions are made by simple majority.[1]

In the Court of Appeals, criminal cases where the maximum penalty is less than six years are tried by a panel consisting of three professional judges and four lay judges.[3]

Lay judges are not considered to be representative of the population.[1] About 75% of lay judges are nominated by the political parties in Norway.[1]


Further information: Jury

In the Court of Appeals (Lagmannsrett), 10 jurors determine the issue of guilt where a penalty of 6 years or more may be imposed.[4] In complicated and lengthy cases, the number of jurors may be increased to 11 or 12 in case a juror is unable complete the trial. If there are more than 10 jurors after the closing arguments, the number is reduced to 10 by dismissing jurors by lot.[5] The jury verdict is not final, and the 3 professional judges may set aside both convictions and acquittals for a retrial in the Court of Appeals. Retrials have three professional judges and four lay judges instead of a jury.[6]

Jurors are selected from the lay judge roster for that Court of Appeals. The municipalities are responsible for assigning people to the roster.[7]

Juries have been in use since 1887.[4] There have been recent proposals to abolish jury trials in Norway.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Malsch 2009, p. 47.
  2. ^ "Lov om rettergangsmåten i straffesaker (Straffeprosessloven). Femte del. Saksbehandlingens enkelte ledd." (in Norwegian). Retrieved 1 August 2014.  §276
  3. ^ "Meddomsrett" (in Norwegian). domstol.no. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c Malsch 2009, pp. 47–48.
  5. ^ "Lov om rettergangsmåten i straffesaker (Straffeprosessloven)" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  6. ^ "8.12.5 Tilsidesettelse av juryens kjennelse" (in Norwegian). Justis- og beredskapsdepartementet. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  7. ^ "Domstolene i samfunnet" (in Norwegian). Justis- og beredskapsdepartementet. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 


External links[edit]