Disputes and risk allocationDispute resolution
How are disputes between the government and defence contractor resolved?
DAR section 9-10 prescribes that the procuring authority requires contracts in the defence and security sector to dictate Norwegian law as the governing law, with Oslo District Court as the governing venue. See question 8 on dispute resolution under the armed forces standard procurement contract.
To what extent is alternative dispute resolution used to resolve conflicts? What is typical for this jurisdiction?
Generally, disputes are resolved through negotiation, and if this is unsuccessful, through the Oslo District Court (see Armed Forces of Norway Form 5052 - General Purchase Conditions section 15). These conditions are used in small and medium-sized contracts, whereas larger contracts may require supplementary or alternative contracts and terms. Normally, larger contracts are based on the same contract principles and conditions that are used in Form 5052.
Arbitration is rarely used in Norwegian defence contracts.
Although the relationship between a prime contractor and a subcontractor is usually considered an internal matter, the procuring authority may, in certain circumstances, such as classified information disclosure, require that the prime contractor include clauses on conflict resolution equivalent or similar to those as stipulated in DAR.
DAR section 9-10 allows for deviations, such as accepting another country’s jurisdiction or laws, if the contract involves international aspects and the deviation is necessary owing to the nature of the negations and the safeguarding of Norwegian interests. Whether to deviate is a matter of a case-by-case assessment and, in general, a foreign contractor ought not to rely on a requirement to apply national laws when negotiating with the Norwegian government.Indemnification
What limits exist on the government’s ability to indemnify the contractor in this jurisdiction and must the contractor indemnify the government in a defence procurement?
The procuring authority is entitled to compensation for direct losses caused by delay or defect (see Armed Forces of Norway Form 5052 sections 6.6 and 7.7). The contractor will also be liable for indirect losses caused by his or her negligence. In larger contracts, the procuring authority may accept a limit on the contractor’s liability for direct or indirect losses.
Form 5052 section 10.1 provides that the procuring authority must indemnify the contractor from any claim owing to the use of drawings, specifications or licences provided by the procuring authority. The contractor must, in turn, indemnify the procuring authority from any claim owing to patent infringement or other immaterial rights related to the completion of the agreement.
In accordance with Armed Forces of Norway Form 5055 - General Terms for Cost Control, the following costs are considered unallowable should they incur in any contract:
- fines and compensatory damages; or
- costs and legal fees for legal action or preparation of such.
Further, the standard procurement contract states that, in the event of default, the armed forces shall pay interest in accordance with Act No. 100 of 17 December 1976 Relating to Interest on Overdue Payments etc. (See Armed Forces of Norway Form 5052 section 5.2.) As such, the maximum interest rate is currently set at 8.5 per cent.Limits on liability
Can the government agree to limit the contractor’s liability under the contract? Are there limits to the contractor’s potential recovery against the government for breach?
If the procurement is time-sensitive or otherwise warrants it, the procuring authority must contractually require the contractor to pay liquidated damages upon failure to meet any deadlines (DAR section 26-4). Liquidated damages shall incur at 0.001 per cent of the contract price per working day, related to the part of the delivery that is unusable owing to the delay. Normally, the maximum liability shall be set at 10 per cent of the price for the same part.
The procuring authority may also exempt the contractor from liquidated damages or accept an extension of time in the implementation and execution of the procurement. If the waiver exceeds 500,000 Norwegian kroner, the procuring authority must request prior approval from the Ministry of Defence (see DAR sections 5-5 and 5-9).Risk of non-payment
Is there risk of non-payment when the government enters into a contract but does not ensure there are adequate funds to meet the contractual obligations?
The Norwegian government budgets future procurements through a long-term strategy plan. The plan undergoes an update on an annual basis and is valid for a seven-year period. The current plan is available at https://www.regjeringen.no/globalassets/departementene/fd/dokumenter/rapporter-og-regelverk/faf-2018-2025-english---final.pdf.
The risk of non-payment for contractual obligations, excluding contract disputes, is non-existent as the procuring authority evaluates budgetary limits before entering into a contract.Parent guarantee
Under what circumstances must a contractor provide a parent guarantee?
The contractor must have financial strength that is proportionate with the financial risks entailed by the contract in question. If the procuring entity has doubts concerning the contractor’s financial ability, it may request adequate security of performance of the contract. The procuring authority calculates the need for security based on the perceived consequences for the defence sector, should the contractor incur financial problems.
In accordance with DAR section 18-6, paragraph 6, or section 36-2, such security could be in the form of a guarantee from a bank, financial institution or insurance company, or a parent guarantee. In the case of parent guarantees, the guarantee must be issued by the highest legal entity in the corporate group and reflect the contractor’s obligations under the contract.
In larger contracts, the use of a performance guarantee is usually the norm and the guarantee used is often that of a parent guarantee.
The main rule in Norwegian defence procurement is payment upon delivery or the achievement of milestones. Under certain circumstances, the procuring authority may pay the contractor prior to fulfilment. In such situations, the contractor shall provide a surety for payments due before delivery (see DAR section 23-7). The surety shall cover the full amount of any outstanding payment.