Reduced Activity in the Norwegian Courts – Impact on Commercial Disputes

Public safety is top priority. Unprecedented and extraordinary measures have been put in place to combat the spread of Covid-19. It is a challenging time for all as we are part of this immense national effort. Our thoughts are with businesses and families struggling with the harsh effects of the pandemic outbreak. In this newsletter, we will give a brief update on the impact Covid-19 has on the Norwegian courts’ handling of commercial disputes.

Reduced activity from 13 March up to and including 26 March 2020

The general starting point is that all Norwegian courts have reduced their activity from 13 March up to and including 26 March 2020, with a limited exception for certain interim measures involving important public interests. The period may be extended depending on how the situation with Covid-19 evolves.

As a result, many commercial disputes which have a main hearing scheduled to start in this period, will be postponed and rescheduled. However, the practical approach is somewhat different from court to court, and details need to be checked with each individual court on their homepage. For instance, Oslo District Court will discuss with the counsels the possibility of conducting main hearings via video link in combination with written submissions.

Commercial disputes which do not have a main hearing scheduled to start in this period, will not be severely affected. The main hearing will not be postponed and rescheduled (unless the period with reduced activity is extended). However, it may take longer for the court to arrange case management conferences or render decisions on procedural issues.

Time limits

It is important to be aware that time limits for filing lawsuits and appeals have not been suspended, even if the counsel is quarantined. A statement of claim or appeal complying with the minimum requirements of the Dispute Act has to be submitted in time.

The same applies to the limitation periods. However, the parties may agree to suspend the limitation period.

Also, the deadline for the defence statement and other deadlines set by the courts will run as usual. However, these deadlines may be extended by the courts.

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