Strasbourg, 24 October 2005
CCJE (2005) 32
Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE)
Questionnaire on theme “Justice and society”: Reply submitted by the delegation of Norway
The National Courts Administration, various courts and the Norwegian Association of Judges have arrangements aiming at informing the users of justice and the general public about the functioning of the judicial system:
1. The National Courts Administration has an internet site, www.domstol.no, which includes a survey of the Norwegian judicial system, landmark decisions delivered by the courts and citizen’s guides and information aiming at for instance jury members.
2. The Information Department at the The National Courts Administration is providing both the media and the general public with information concerning the average length of proceedings in the various courts, alternative means of settling disputes and various statistical information concerning the courts in Norway. Such information is published in yearbooks, in a periodical published by The National Courts Administration and on the internet site.
3. The Supreme Court of Norway and the Court House in Oslo, where the Appeal Court and District Court are situated, have information officers, who provide information on decisions of the courts and supply the media with information about the proceedings and the general public about the functioning of the courts.
4. The Norwegian Association of Judges provides the media with information on the development of the judiciary system and comments on the lawmaking process, as well as assisting judges in the relations with the media.
To satisfy the information needs of the groups mentioned under Question A2, there are a number of different channels such as the production of statistics, committee reports and special reports on different topics. The judicial internet site referred to under A1 is often used to make information accessible to the public at large.
We understand that the question refers to the way people in general learn about the judicial system through judicial decisions. There is no specific program in Norway which has this particular aim as a starting point. In a general sense there is of course an educational element in the fact that courts are open to the public, thereby making the proceedings of the courts transparent for the citizens. In practice, however, the media is today the main channel for informing the public about court decisions.
As stated, court hearings are normally open to the general public. Thus, everyone has a right to:
q know when a case will take place in court,
q attend a proceeding
q express in public what has happened in a proceeding.
q have a copy of judicial decisions
There are exceptions from this, for example in family proceedings. Reference is made to the information given under the answer to question C.4.
Some judicial decisions are published on the home pages of the courts. The Supreme Court publishes summaries of all its decisions on its own home page. Decisions made by the Supreme Court and the appeal courts are also available on a public law site www.lovdata.no.
A general introduction to the Norwegian judicial system is part of the curriculum in Secondary school. Many classes will also at that time visit a court, though this is not compulsory. At University level , leaving aside the legal field, the court system will only be part of the studies where this is relavant, for example in social and political sciences.
No particular "outreach programs" exist. In a specific field one might point to a recent development, when last year a dual language (Sami - Norwegian) District court was established in the Northern-most part of Norway in an area where many Sami people live. The point is not only that those who wish to do so, may use the Sami language, but also the judges in that particular court will be more accustomed to Sami culture, tradition and even customary Sami law.
As a final part of our response to the questions under part A, we include a report from the Supreme Court Information Officer on her work:
The Supreme Court of Norway and The District Court of Oslo have their own information offices, the staff consists of one person in each court.
To reach the general public The Supreme Court of Norway focuses on the active use of the internet and we are updating our pages on the world wide web every day. We have both summaries of all the judgements and a page where all the cases that are going to be heard can be reviewed. We state the names of the parties involved (except in criminal cases), the lawyers names, names of the judges and what the case is about. We also have general information on our internet-pages, such as the history of the court and the names of all justices. The internetpages www.hoyesterett.no are visited by between 8500 and 10 000 every day. By comparison, the courtrooms seldom have more than 5 – 20 spectators.
The media receive a list of the all cases that are going to be heard in the court every month. They get this information sent directly to their personal e-mail-addresses. After reviewing the list they may put in an ”order” for all the cases they would like to receive when finished. The press tell us that this is considered an excellent service from their point of view, and they get the finished cases in a matter of minutes by fax. We serve close to 100 newspapers all over Norway on a regular basis. We also assist journalists searching for older cases, find the papers in the archives and send it to them by fax.
The Supreme Court receives groups of people, law students, younger school pupils, companies and other groups for lectures about the court and a tour of the building several times almost every week. About 2000 – 2500 people participate in these programs every year. Once a year we have ”Open Court” weekends where interested citizens may visit the court, listen to lectures and have a look around on a guided tour.
Finally, we have had two media training seminars for the judges in the Supreme Court. They get a general idea of how the press works, and get a session of training in front of a television camera on how to present rather complicated messages in less than 40 seconds. The general idea is to build a ”bridge” from the often secluded courtroom-life to the general public and the world around us.
B.1. to B.3.
a) Training in deontology
The debate surrounding ethics is of prime importance within the judical environment. Judges, too, have to face important ethical challenges, and the ethics debate is currently put on the agenda by the Council for Professional Training of Judges. The Council provides one programme on ethics for judges. Our aim has been to relate the ethical debate to the judges’ everyday situations, for example concerning court mediation, influences on the judges decisions and which ethical consequences can currently be drawn from the decisions from the Supervisory Committee for Judges. Also superior ethical considerations of human and international issue will be discussed.
(The Supervisory Committee for Judges was established in November 2002, and is a separate, administrative, collegiate body composed of five members appointed by the Government. It receives and acts upon complaints from parties to a case or from the public relating to the conduct of judges.)
The Council for Professional training of Judges also provides one program on The Multicultural Society. The Council intends to arrange a new program next year as a follow-up to this year’s course: The Multicultural Society – challenges for the Court System.
To some extent deontology is discussed in the basic training course for court staff as part of a wider education programme named Justina. The course is arranged by the Council for Professional Training of Court Executives.
b) Court infrastructures
There are no specific programmes aimed at removing causes of distrust in the courts. Referring to the text of the questionnaire, we may mention that in a Norwegian courtroom a prosecutor is already placed on the same level as the defence lawyer and the defendant.
c) Court procedure
Norway has no such actions as described in the questionnaire.
d) Access to justice programmes
Norway has no specific program for access to justice, but we provide a large annual sum of legal aid and free legal counsel.
The government introduced a report, About Free Legal Aid, to the Storting in 2000 (printed as St.meld nr. 25 (1999-2000). The report gives an historic account of the development of public legal aid. Norway has a tradition for meeting the people’s need for legal assistance through a long-established system for free legal aid in court cases, which has helped those of limited means to gain access to court. A free legal advice arrangement was first established in 1961. The Storting enacted the Legal Aid Act in 1980. This act gathered together the existing rules on legal aid in court cases and free legal advice.
The free legal aid arrangement must be assessed on the basis of what kind of legal assistance the public needs. It is thus important to have knowledge about the extent of judicial problems and the need for legal aid.
Several research projects that are referred to in the 2000 report to the Storting, survey uncovered need for legal aid. The research shows widespread uncovered need for legal aid and that the need for legal aid increases when social and economic resources decline.
In the report to the Storting the government points out the connection between legal aid and rules of law and legal aid and equality under the law. Rule of law and equality under the law are fundamental values in the modern welfare state. A well-developed legal aid system is important, as many will be in need for judicial assistance in order to know their rights and to take care of their legal interests.
The public’s uncovered need for legal aid is mostly linked to laws ensuring that basic needs are met. Various investigations indicate that people with most need for social services are also those who least know their rights. The offer of legal aid should therefore be a part of the welfare system and an important tool for making the welfare laws efficient.
Finally the government outlines the public’s responsibility in relation to free legal aid. The government does not see it as a public responsibility to cover every need of legal aid. There must be a valid reason for obtaining free legal aid and public funds to legal aid should be used where such services are needed the most. The offer should primarily comprise cases which generally mean the most for people or which affect their personal relations strongly.
Several courts organize ”Open day in Court”. These arrangements are announced in newspapers etc. and the participants are ”interested citizens”.
As referred to under A1, Norway has a common internet site for the courts, www.domstol.no, which for example provide information about
q how the court works,
q rights and duties for citizens in relation to a court case
q dictionary of procedural/judicial vocabulary
q calendar comprising all scheduled court cases
In accordance with inter alia Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), freedom of information is the main principle in the Norwegian judicial system. This principle has three elements:
i) First of all, according to the Courts Act section 124, the public has free access to court hearings.
ii) Furthermore, the press, and media in general, are allowed to report from the hearings without restrictions.
iii) The third element is availability to the public of information contained in the courts decisions, ensured by the Courts Act section 124. The press and the media may publish such decisions.
There are some exceptions:
i) According to the Courts Act section 125, the court may decide that a hearing should be held – wholly or partly - in camera.
ii) The court may also, according to the Courts Act section 129, decide reporting restrictions on the hearing.
iii) And, finally, according to the Courts Act section 130, the court may also forbid publication – wholly or partly – from a courts decision.
Such decisions are based on the court’s discretion, balancing the conflicting interests of - in most cases – the right to information, on the one hand, and protection of privacy or the interest of clarification of the case, on the other.
Some specific restrictions concerning publication of evidence are codified in the Criminal Procedure Act Part III, Chapter 10, and in the Civil Proceedings Act Part II, Chapter 15 on Witnesses. The court may decide restrictions, both in civil and criminal cases, e.g. concerning:
- Evidence related to the interests of national security or relations with a foreign State
- Evidence that a witness cannot give without breaching a statutory duty of secrecy, or
- Revealing industrial secrets
- The same applies to the editor of a printed publication concerning who is the source of any information contained in an article in the publication.
There are no regulations concerning the right of third parties to acquaint themselves with the procedural materials and the processing of a civil case. The statutory duty of secrecy for any judge or other employee at court, with reference to the Courts Act section 63a, will often prevent third parties to get any other information than courts decisions and protocols.
The Civil Procedure Commission, presenting a draft version of the Civil Proceedings Act in 2001 - still not approved by the Parliament - suggested that third parties, i.e. the media in particular, should have the right to inspect procedural materials during the course of the preparation of the case. It is expected that the Ministry of Justice early spring 2005 will submit a bill to the Parliament on the draft version of the new Civil Proceedings Act.
In criminal cases the press has no right to inspect any procedural materials during the preparation of the case, except for the indictment.
When date and time for a hearing is settled, and due notice of the hearing has been given to the parties involved, the court is obliged to enter the case on a list over court hearings. The list is made public on the National Court Administration web site.
There are no restrictions concerning publishing the names of the judges, the prosecutor, jurors etc. involved in a case. The media seem to be more interested now than previously in publishing names and pictures of judges. In exceptional cases, names and pictures of jurors have been published.
The Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data was ratified by Norway 20 February 1984 without reservations, and entered into force 1 October 1985.
The Data Inspectorate, an independent administrative body under the Norwegian Ministry of Modernisation, was set up to ensure enforcement of the Data Register Act of 1978, now made obsolete by the entry into force of the Personal Data Act of 2000.
The purpose of the Personal Data Act is to protect natural persons from violation of their right to privacy through the processing of personal data. The Act shall help to ensure that personal data are processed in accordance with fundamental respect for the right to privacy, including the need to protect personal integrity and private life and ensure that personal data are of adequate quality.
The Personal Data Act implements the obligations under the convention.
Complementary provisions to the Personal Data Act have been laid down by the Royal Decree of 15 December 2000 (Personal Data Regulations).
For the purposes of providing public health services and the public health administration with the necessary information and knowledge without violating the right to privacy, and to ensure that medical assistance may be provided in an adequate, effective manner, the Person Health Data Filing System Act was passed by the Parliament 18 May 2001.The Act shall ensure that personal health data are processed in accordance with fundamental respect for the right to privacy, including the need to protect personal integrity and respect for private life and ensure that personal health data are of adequate quality.
Act of 19 June 1970 No. 69 relating to public access to documents in the public administration (the Freedom of Information Act) seems in general to cover - and to some extent broaden - the principles and minimum standards set out in Recommendation Rec(2002)2 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on access to official documents.
The Freedom of Information Act applies to such activities as are conducted by administrative agencies, i.e. any central or local government body and private legal persons in cases where such persons makes individual decisions or issues regulations on behalf of the government, cf. section 1 of the Act. The Act does not apply to the judicial sector.
According to section 2, the main provisions of the Act are:
i) Case documents of the public administration are public insofar as no exception is made by or pursuant to statute,
ii) Any person may demand of the pertinent administrative agency to be apprised of the publicly disclosable contents of the documents in a specific case. The same applies to case registers and similar registers and the agenda of meetings of publicly elected municipal and county municipal bodies.
iii) Notwithstanding that a document may be exempted from public disclosure pursuant to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, the administrative agency shall consider whether the document should nevertheless wholly or partly be made public.
The case documents of the public administration are documents, which are drawn up by an administrative agency, as well as documents, which have been received by or submitted to such an agency. A logically limited amount of information stored in a medium for subsequent reading, listening, presentation or transfer, shall be regarded as a document. Electronic documents are therefore covered.
There are some limitations in the right of access to official documents, which in general seem to be correspondent with the limitations mentioned in the Recommendation Rec(2002)2 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on access to official documents.
The administrative agency shall, with due regard for the proper conduct of the case, decide how a document is to be disclosed to the person who has requested to examine it, and shall within reasonable limits provide - free of charge - on request, a transcript, print out or copy of the document.
Requests to examine documents shall be decided without undue delay. A person whose request to examine a document has been refused may appeal against the refusal to the administrative agency that is immediately superior to the administrative agency that has made the decision.
According to the Personal Data Act section 6, the Act shall not limit the right of access to information pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, the Public Administration Act or any other statutory right of access to personal data, see C.5.1. above.
There is an ongoing revision of the Freedom of Information Act, and a draft version – still not submitted to the Parliament - was presented in 2003. The Recommendation Rec(2002)2 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on access to official documents is one of the sources of law for the draft version.
For statutes concerning the Recommendation Rec(2003)13 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the provision of information through the media in relation to criminal proceedings, reference is made to C.4. and C.7. Neither the existing Freedom of information Act, nor the draft version of a revised act, see C.5.2. above, comprises judiciary authorities.
In addition notice could be taken of the Code of Ethics of the Norwegian Press, after which each editor and editorial staff should:
- avoid presumption of guilt in crime and court reporting, and make it evident that the question of guilt, whether relating to somebody under suspicion, reported, accused or charged, has not been decided until the sentence has legal efficacy.
- report the final result of court proceedings which have been reported earlier.
- always consider how reports on accidents and crime may affect the victims and next of kin.
- be cautious in the use of names and pictures and other items of definite identification in court and crime reporting.
- show particular consideration when writing about cases still being investigated, and cases involving young offenders.
- refrain from identification unless this is necessary to meet just and fair demands for information
If a decision is made to hold a court session in camera, only the parties to the case may challenge that decision. Thus the media have no recourse action. If, on the other hand, a decision is made to refuse the right to report from public hearings or to publish the decision in the case, anybody concerned - including the media - can challenge the decision.
Except for the Supreme Court and Oslo City Court, no courts have information staff. The information officers are not judges; they are usually recruited from the press or other similar trades.
Judges are allowed - but by tradition reserved - to make statements to the press. Normally the President of the Court makes statements concerning the court’s administration. As a general rule, because of the risk that comments may be interpreted as additional arguments for the ruling, judges do not comment on their own decisions.
In criminal cases, according to Courts Act section 131a, photographing, shooting of film and recordings for radio and teleevision is forbidden. The purpose of the provision is - on the one hand - maintenance of a proper and fair trial, and - on the other - the protection of privacy and rights for those involved in the case. It is forbidden to take pictures or make recordings of the person charged as long as he or she is on the way in or out, or inside the courthouse.
Provided that the parties involved have been heard, and assuming that it would not have any negative impact for the proceedings, and no other interest breached, photographing or recordings may be allowed. Recordings can take place under conditions decided by the court, e.g. that only certain parts of the proceedings may be recorded.
Application for recordings shall be denied in cases involving accused minors, and – in general - whenever recordings will represent an unreasonable burden for the accused or convicted, his or her family, or victims and witnesses.
Breaching this provision may qualify to penalty (fine), cf. the Courts Act section 198.
Notwithstanding these general rules television had until recently only been granted permission to broadcast the judge reading the verdict. However, for the first time in Norwegian legal history the Supreme Court gave permission in 2002 to transmit live television from its hearings - at which neither the accused nor witnesses were present - in a highly publicised murder case. This set an example for other courts in the country and in a similar case in the District court of Oslo permission was given to televise some of the proceedings (only the professionals) in January 2005.
In 2003, concerning an exceptional murder case, where television recording at the very end of the trial illuminated principle aspects of the proceedings, the Supreme Court held that Article 10 ECHR protected publishing recordings of the convicted person, even against his protest (The Norwegian Legal Gazette, Rt 2003 page 593).
There are no specific rules laid down to govern the broadcasting of the recorded television images in order to prevent the risk of manipulation. Norwegian defamation law may though give some protection against such manipulation.
1) Under Norwegian defamation law, three kinds of remedies exist for unlawful defamation, namely the imposition of a penalty under the provisions of the Penal Code, an order under Article 235 of this Code declaring the defamatory allegation null and void and an order under the Damage Compensation Act 1969 to pay compensation to the aggrieved party.
a) Conditions for holding a defendant liable for defamation are set out in Chapter 23 of the Penal Code, Articles 246 and 247 of which provide:
"Article 246. Any person who by word or deed unlawfully defames another person, or who is accessory thereto, shall be liable to fines or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months.
Article 247. Any person who, by word or deed, behaves in a manner that is likely to harm another person’s good name and reputation or to expose him to hatred, contempt, or loss of the confidence necessary for his position or business, or who is accessory thereto, shall be liable to fines or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year. If the defamation is committed in print or in broadcasting or otherwise under especially aggravating circumstances, imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years may be imposed."
The applicability of Article 247 is limited as of the requirement that the expression must be unlawful (rettsstridig). This is expressly stated in Article 246, while Article 247 has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to include such a requirement.
Further limitations to the application of Articles 246 and 247 are contained in Article 249, which reads:
"1. No penalty pursuant to sections 246 and 247 shall be imposed if the allegation is proved to be true.
2. Even if the truth is proved as stated in subsection 1, the allegation is criminal if it is made without any respectable reason for doing so, or if it is otherwise unwarranted because of the form or manner in which it is made or for other reasons.
3. No penalty pursuant to sections 246 and 247 shall be on any person who is under a duty or obligation to express his opinion or who has expressed his opinion in legitimately taking care of his own or another's interests if it is established that he has shown proper care in all respects.
4. Evidence of the truth of an allegation may not be given
a) for a criminal act of which the accused has been acquitted by a final Norwegian or foreign judgment,
b) if the court unanimously finds that the allegation is undoubtedly unwarranted regardless of its truth and that refusal to admit such evidence is desirable in the interests of the aggrieved person. Admission of such evidence must never be refused if the prosecuting authority or the plaintiff has indicated in advance that a penalty pursuant to section 248 will be demanded or that only civil legal claims will be pursued.
5. When evidence of the truth of an allegation is not admitted, evidence concerning whether the person indicted (the defendant) believed in or had reason to believe in the truth of the allegation is also inadmissible."
An aspect worth noting with regard to cases of defamation is that a private party normally institutes the legal proceedings. In general, private prosecutions are unusual in Norway. Conditions for instituting a private prosecution are set out in Chapter 28 of the Criminal Procedure Act. The aggrieved party may institute a private prosecution in the case of criminal act that for certain reasons are not prosecuted by the public authorities.
b) Under Article 253 of the Penal Code, a defamatory statement, which is unlawful and has not been proved, may be declared null and void by a court. The relevant part of this provision reads:
"1. When evidence of the truth of an allegation is admissible and such evidence has not been produced, the aggrieved person may demand that the allegation be declared null and void unless otherwise provided by statute."
This remedy is applicable only with regard to factual statements. The truth of value judgements is not being susceptible of proof.
Although the provisions on orders declaring a statement null and void are contained in the Penal Code, such an order is not considered a criminal sanction but a judicial finding that the defendant has failed to prove its truth and is thus viewed as a civil-law remedy.
In the late 1990's it was debated in Norway whether one should abolish the remedy of null and void orders, which has existed in Norwegian law since the sixteenth century. Because of its being deemed a particularly lenient form of sanction, the Norwegian Association of Editors expressed a wish to maintain it.
c) Libel, slander, and/or similar violations of a person's reputation may give rise to a civil compensation claim under the Damage Compensation Act.
Section 3-6 of the Damage Compensation Act 1969 reads:
"A person who has injured the honour or infringed the privacy of another person shall, if he has displayed negligence or if the conditions for imposing a penalty are fulfilled, pay compensation for the damage sustained and such compensation for loss of future earnings as the court deems reasonable, having regard to the degree of negligence and other circumstances. He may also be ordered to pay such compensation for non-pecuniary damage, as the court deems reasonable.
If the infringement has occurred in the form of printed matter, and the person who has acted in the service of the owner or the publisher thereof is responsible under the first subsection, the owner and publisher are also liable to pay the compensation. The same applies to any redress imposed under the first subsection, unless the court finds that there are special grounds for dispensation…"
The European Court of Human Rights has dealt with three cases against Norway in the area of defamation law – Bergens Tidende and others v. Norway dated 2 May 2000 (application no. 26132/95), Bladet Tromsø and Stensaas v. Norway dated 20 May 1999 (application no. 21980/93), and Nilsen And Johansen v. Norway dated 25 November 1999 (application number 23118/93). The European Court of Human Rights found a violation of Article 10 in all three cases. In its recent decisions, the Norwegian Supreme Court has expressly referred to the general principles that follows from these decisions.
Consequently, it is the European Convention on Human Rights and the practice of the European Court of Human Rights that are the primary sources of law when Norwegian courts must draw the line for defamatory statements that can be made the object of punishment or a declaration that the defamatory statements are null and void. Norway ratified the European Convention of Human Rights in 1952, and it was made directly applicable in the Norwegian legal order, by the Human Rights Act of 1999. The Act reinforces these rights through a priority clause, stating that the convention prevail over any other conflicting statutory provisions. As a result the European Convention of Human Rights, has been considered to be of "Semi-Constitutional" character.
2) According to the Penal Code section 246 and 247, a person who unlawfully defames another person, shall be liable to fines or imprisonment. However, the case-law in this area show that imprisonment is not used, and fines are rare. The important and practical sanctions are compensation to the aggrieved party in accordance with the Damage Compensation Act, and – to a certain extent – orders declaring a statement null and void.
See also answer to C.10.
3) and 4) It follows from case-law and leading legal writers that there are different thresholds as to whether the alleged aggrieved part is a public figure or not. In discussions relating to the political arena, and current debates on social affairs, freedom of speech is considered to weight more heavily than the question of defamation. Politicians, police officers and chief executive officers are examples of figures for which the threshold is different. In a decision from 1990 (The Norwegian Legal Gazette, Rt. 1990 page 257), the Supreme Court held that the editor's note in a newspaper had to be viewed in light of the on-going political election campaign, and the fact that the statements concerned a politician. The Court noted that freedom of expression with regard to politics was of great importance.
In 2003 (The Norwegian Legal Gazette, Rt. page 1190) the Supreme Court found that articles about an attorney's work for a charitable foundation, were defamatory. Nevertheless, the articles fell within the scope of Article 10 ECHR. The conditions were of particular great interest to the public, and the conduct of the journalist was not reprehensible.
In theory, the penalty for defamation committed against the King or any member of the royal family, is more severe than in general cases. However, prosecution shall be initiated only by order of the King or with his consent, which has never happen.
1), 2), 3) As it follows from C.8, it is the European Convention on Human Rights and the practice of the European Court of Human Rights that are the primary sources of law when Norwegian courts must draw the line for defamatory statements that can be made the object of punishment or a declaration that the defamatory statements are null and void.
According to the Norwegian Penal Code section 249.3, no penalty pursuant to sections 246 and 247 shall be imposed on any person who is under a duty or obligation to express his opinion or who has expressed his opinion while legitimately taking care of his own or another's interests if it is established that he has shown proper care in all respects.
4) In a case from 2000 (The Norwegian Legal Gazette, Rt. 2000 page 279) a newspaper had printed an article on an administrative decision concerning the suspension of two driving instructors' official licences. The instructors sued for compensation and requested eight statements to be declared null and void. The newspaper did not deny that the article might include defamatory statements and that evidence proving the truth of the allegations had not been adduced.
The Supreme Court attached considerable weight to the fact that the case concerned an essentially correct article about an administrative decision. The administrative decision had been passed after an adversarial procedure, and the journalist had gained access to the decision in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. Furthermore, essential parts of the article were also based on a lawsuit about an earlier decision of suspension concerning A. The newspaper had already reported on the main hearing and the judgment in that case. The subject matter was considered to be of public interest, and the appeal from the aggrieved parties was dismissed.
5) With regard to reporting related to the provisional arrest of a citizen on the basis of criminal charge, it is considered defamatory should the media's coverage extend to other than a factual and sober report of the status and basis of the case, cf. section 249 of the Penal Code.
6) The police officers and the prosecution offices hold press conferences. They are aware that Article 6.2. ECHR applies.
1), 2), 3) According to relevant legislation, the Court has a wide discretion with regard to compensation for loss of future income and suffering. In Bergens Tidende and Others v. Norway, the Supreme Court had awarded the following compensation to a surgeon who claimed loss of business after several newspaper articles: Loss of income plus interest from 1986 to 1994 NOK 2,000,000, compensation for damages NOK 200,000, loss of future income NOK 500,000 and the non-pecuniary damage NOK 1,000,000. The Supreme Court noted that when fixing reparation, regards had been made to the exceptional pressure that the surgeon had endured over a long period of time, due to the articles.
In Bladet Tromsø and Stensaas v. Norway, ten crew members of a seal hunting vessel had been awarded NOK 11,000 each in compensation as a result of articles published by the newspaper Bladet Tromsø.
In Nilsen and Johansen v. Norway, two policemen in charge of two police associations that in dispute with an academic, the aggrieved party had received a compensation of NOK 25 000 for non-pecuniary damage.
In all these cases the ECHR ordered the Norwegian Government to compensate the applicants for the sums paid.
Recent case-law seem to indicate a normal level of compensation for non-pecuniary damage of NOK 20 000 – 100 000. However, in the last five years very few claims of defamation have been successful as Norwegian courts attach great importance to the freedom of expression. In the last five years, the Supreme Court has held for the aggrieved party in only one of the eight cases heard by the court.
1), 2) According to the ethical rules of the press, a party that is subject to accusation has – as a general rule – the right to have his comments published with the article, and the right to follow up with rebuttals.
A spontaneous rectification may be considered as a mitigating factor.
In cases where The Press Complaints Commission, see # C. 12, finds a violation of the ethical rules of the press, the newspaper or television company that has been found to violate the rules is expected to publish the written decision of the Commission.
If a court impose a penalty for defamatory statements or declare a defamatory allegation null and void, the aggrieved party may demand that the perpetrator publish the verdict.
The Broadcasting Act has a specific provision for rectification, section 5-1, which reads:
"Any natural or legal person whose rightful interests have been infringed by factually incorrect information presented in a broadcast programme shall be entitled to rectify the assertions made. A claim regarding rectification must be presented to the broadcaster concerned no later than three months from the day the programme was broadcast. A claim for rectification may be rejected if endorsing it would entail a criminal act or involve the broadcaster in liability…"
1) In accordance with the Criminal Procedure Act chapter 16, objects deemed to be significant as evidence may be seized. The same applies to objects that are deemed to be liable to confiscation.
According to section 38 of the Penal Code printed matter containing anything felonious may be confiscated by a court judgment regardless of whether any person may be punished for such a publication or even if the author cannot be punished at all because of the circumstances mentioned in section 249, subsection 3, or other circumstances that exclude a penalty.
As for civil procedures, a party may ask the Court of Execution and Enforcement to issue a preliminary injunction ordering for instance a publisher to withhold distribution, to enclose a correction when a book is sold and to forward such correction to libraries and official institutions which had already bought the books.
The relevant procedures are found in chapter 15 of the Act of Enforcement.
In 1999 (The Norwegian Legal Gazette, Rt. 1999 page 1762), the Supreme Court held that a preliminary injunction ordering the publisher and the authors of certain historical books to enclose a correction when sold, and to forward this correction to institutions which had already bought the books, did not infringe upon the right to freedom of expression in Article 100 of the Constitution, Article 10 ECHR and Article 19 of the International Covenant Civil and Political Rights.
2) Such injunctions are not considered as censorship in advance, which is prohibited in Article 100 of the Constitution.
3) The executive branch does not have a role in supervising the media. A proposal to create a politically independent Press Ombudsman was rejected a few years ago.
On the other hand, The Press Complaints Commission, composed of members from the press and an equal number of representatives from the public, plays an important role in Norway.
Last year, the Commission received 267 complaints, exceeding the number of complaints from 2003 by 46 %. The Commission decided 155 cases, of which 64 were considered to be a violation of good journalistic practice/media ethics. A newspaper or a television company that has been found to violate is expected to publish the written decision of the Commission. In deciding upon the complaints the Commission applies the Code of Ethics described under C.5.3. above.
1), 2) Neither the Judicial Service Commission – in Norway: the National Courts Administration – nor the judicial associations play a role in the event that a judge or a court is attacked by the press for reasons connected with the administration of justice. In such case, a complaint to The Press Complaints Commission would be an appropriate measure. A judge is free to file a complaint, but it rarely happens. A judge may also make general statements to the press, but should never comment on the reality of a specific case.