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Trends and developments

Trends and developments

Are there any notable trends or recent legal developments in your jurisdiction’s shipping industry?

The most recent developments in the shipping industry have been in the area of technology, rather than law. A hot topic is the development of crewless ships, in which Norwegian companies are playing a leading role.

In September 2016 an agreement establishing the world’s first test area for crewless vessels in Norway was signed by parties representing the public sector, marine technology companies and university and research institutes. Further, on October 4 2016 the minister of transport and communications opened the Norwegian Forum for Autonomous Ships conference in Oslo. These events confirm that crewless vessel technology is a major priority for the Norwegian technology industry and public authorities.

No information has been provided regarding the legal amendments that will be required when crewless vessels become a reality. In particular, there is uncertainty around the regulations governing captains and how they manage safety in various situations (eg, salvage operations). These legal issues will have to be addressed before crewless vessels can become a reality. 



Which ships are eligible for registration in the national shipping register(s) and which parties may register ships?

Norway maintains the Norwegian Ordinary Ship Register (NOR) and the Norwegian International Ship Register (NIS).

Norwegian ships that are 15 metres or longer can be registered in the NOR or NIS if they are not registered in another country’s ship register. The Norwegian registers do not permit bareboat registration.

A ship is regarded as being Norwegian if it is owned by:

  • a Norwegian citizen;
  • a partnership in which 60% of the members are Norwegian citizens; or
  • a limited liability company with its main office in Norway where:
    • the majority of directors, including the chair, are Norwegian citizens domiciled in Norway; and
    • 60% of the shares and votes are held by Norwegian citizens.

However, any individual, company or activity covered by the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement will be considered to be Norwegian under the agreement’s nationality requirements, provided that – in the case of a company or an activity – such company or activity:

  • was established in accordance with the relevant rules;
  • has its place of business in an EEA country; and
  • has a majority of directors, including the chair, who are citizens of and domiciled in that EEA country.

There is an additional condition for EEA individuals, companies and activities, whereby the ship must undertake an economic activity based in Norway and be operated from Norway.

A ship which does not comply with these nationality requirements can be registered in the NIS if:

  • the shipowner appoints an agent for service of process that is domiciled in Norway; and
  • the ship is managed by a ship management company whose main office is in Norway.

Ships registered in the NIS are subject to Norwegian legislation, although there are specific exemptions for wages and working conditions. These are regulated by collective agreements, which must expressly refer to working on board NIS-registered ships and entitle Norwegian trade unions to participate in negotiations.

As opposed to the NOR, there are trading restrictions on ships registered in the NIS, which are not permitted to:

  • carry cargo or passengers between Norwegian ports; or
  • service passenger lines between Norwegian and foreign ports.

An offshore oil and gas installation on the Norwegian Continental Shelf is regarded as a Norwegian port. As of 2016, these trading restrictions were relaxed somewhat.


What are the procedural and documentary requirements for registration?

A registration application must be filed with the NOR or NIS registrar, as applicable, in advance, although certain documents will be available only on delivery. It is always advisable to have documents pre-approved.

Before delivery, the applicant must provide the registrar with:

  • the certificate of the ship’s name;
  • proof of the shipowner;
  • a completed registration application;
  • proof of the appointment of a processing agent;
  • the ship’s management agreement;
  • declarations of nationality for the shipowner, manager and processing agent;
  • the ship’s tonnage certificate;
  • the ship’s International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea certificate;
  • International Safety Management and Continuous Synopsis Record forms;
  • a bank guarantee for the payment of employees’ wages and their return journey; and
  • information to enable the calculation of registration and annual fees.

On closing, the registrar requires a notarised and apostilled bill of sale and a certificate of the ship’s deletion from its former register.

Grounds for refusal

On what grounds may a registration application be refused?

Applications can be refused if they fail to comply in form or substance with the registration requirements. In most circumstances, the registrar will communicate with applicants before refusing applications and inform them of errors or omissions so that they can remedy the situation.


Are there any particular advantages of flying your jurisdiction’s flag?

Norway has a long tradition of being a shipping nation with a well-developed reputable maritime administration that manages the NOR and the NIS. Ships flying the Norwegian flag enjoy the support of this administration with a high level of service, including consular services in 164 countries.

Liens and mortgages


How are encumbrances such as maritime liens and mortgages registered in your jurisdiction and what are the effects of registration?

Mortgages must be registered by the ship registrar in order to obtain legal protection. Following registration, a mortgage claim will be secured in the ship and the mortgagee’s security interests will be protected from other creditors, except where they are secured by maritime liens.

Maritime liens cannot be registered against the ship or anything else. Maritime liens exist under law in connection with certain claims connected to a ship and, as such, are ranked ahead of mortgages.

Securable claims and priority

What claims can be secured by maritime liens and what is the order of priority?

The list of claims that can be secured by maritime liens is provided by the International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules relating to Maritime Liens and Mortgages 1967, which is similar to the International Convention on Maritime Liens and Mortgages 1993.

Claims against a shipowner or any other party to which the shipowner has delegated its functions are secured by maritime liens against the ship, insofar as they relate to:

  • wages and other sums due to the ship’s master or other persons employed on board the ship;
  • port, canal and other waterway and pilotage dues;
  • damages regarding loss of life or personal injury occurring in direct connection with the ship’s operation;
  • damages regarding loss of or damage to property occurring in direct connection with the ship’s operation, provided that the claim is incapable of being based on a contract; or
  • salvage rewards, compensation for wreck removals and general average contributions.

Maritime liens take priority over all other encumbrances on a ship and are secured in the order in which they are listed above; those ranked the same are equal. However, maritime liens arising in regards to any of the matters listed in the last point take priority over all other maritime liens which were attached to the ship earlier. As regards the priority of maritime liens arising in relation to this point, priority will be accorded to the most recent.


Under what circumstances are maritime liens extinguished?

A maritime lien becomes time barred one year from the day on which the claim in question arose, unless the ship is arrested before the time limit expires and the arrest leads to a forced sale. A ship will be deemed to have been arrested when the warrant of arrest is served on board or the arrest is otherwise made effective on board.

Foreign liens

Are foreign liens recognised in your jurisdiction?

A mortgage or lien regarding a foreign ship will be recognised as valid in Norway, provided that:

  • the mortgage or lien is established and registered according to the legislation of the ship’s state of registration;
  • the register and documents which must be deposited with the registrar in accordance with the legislation of the ship’s state of registration are publicly accessible and extracts from the register and transcripts of the documents can be obtained from the registrar; and
  • the register or a document mentioned in the above point shows:
    • the name and address of the original mortgagee or lienor (or that the document was issued to its present holder);
    • the amount secured by the mortgage or lien; and
    • the date and other circumstances which, in accordance with the legislation of the ship’s state of registration, determines priority.

Foreign maritime liens will be recognised only if the claim would have been secured under Norwegian law. 

Transfer and assignment

Which rules govern the transfer and assignment of liens, mortgages and other encumbrances?

If a ship is acquired, becomes Norwegian property and is entered in a Norwegian ship register, any mortgages or liens listed in the foreign certificate of deletion will be transferred to the ship’s entry in the Norwegian ship register, complete with the priorities of the encumbrances in accordance with the original registration. If an encumbrance does not meet the requirements for being included in the Norwegian ship register, the registrar will give the parties at least 60 days to rectify the matter. The effects of registration remain valid until the time limit expires. 


Grounds for arrest

Under what circumstances can a ship be arrested in order to secure a claim against it?

Ships can be arrested while in Norway to secure maritime claims defined in Section 92 of the Maritime Code.

Can a ship be arrested to secure a non-maritime claim?

According to Section 92 of the Maritime Code 1994, only maritime claims, as defined therein, can form the legal basis of an arrest. However, Section 91 provides some exceptions to this rule.

Can a ship be arrested to secure a claim against a sister ship?

Yes. Section 93 of the Maritime Code permits the arrest of sister vessels (ie, vessels fully owned by the legal entity personally liable for the maritime claim). Hence, ships owned by separate legal entities with the same parent company are not subject to sister ship arrests.  


What are the procedural and documentary requirements for seeking arrest of a ship?

Under Section 95 of the Maritime Code, ships can be arrested through the filing of a petition for arrest with a court where the ship arrived or is expected to arrive.   


What security must the arresting party put up in order to secure arrest of a ship and how is this security calculated?

Under Section 97 of the Maritime Code, within one week the arresting party must provide continuous security for harbour fees for at least 14 days. Under Sections 3 and 4 of the Enforcement Act, the security can be in the form of:

  • a cash deposit in a Norwegian bank, with an undertaking from the bank that the deposit cannot be released without court consent; or
  • a guarantee from a bank or other institution authorised to conduct financial activities in Norway.

Section 98 of the Maritime Code refers to the Enforcement Act and the Civil Procedure Code with respect to applicants’ liability and the security for such liability. In essence, applicants are strictly liable for wrongful arrests and the court considering a petition for arrest has discretionary authority to require that the applicant provide security as the court deems appropriate. There are no firm rules on the calculation of security, which is fixed at the court’s discretion.

What security can the arrested party provide for release of an arrested ship?

An arrested party can provide security in the form of:

  • a cash deposit in a Norwegian bank, with an undertaking from the bank that the deposit cannot be released without court consent; or
  • a guarantee from a bank or other institution authorised for financial activities in Norway.

In practice, parties will often agree on security in the form of a guarantee or club letter from a protection and indemnity club.

Judicial sale of ships


What is the legal procedure for the judicial sale of ships in your jurisdiction?

An agreement entitling a creditor to sell a ship without the enforcement authorities’ assistance is invalid if it is entered into before a default has occurred. This does not apply to pledged shares in favour of banks.

Otherwise, creditors must work with the enforcement authorities. In the event of a valid enforcement ground and a due claim, a creditor must apply to the enforcement court in the district where the ship was found. The court may decide to effectuate the sale by way of a forced auction or as an assisted sale where the court appoints an assistant (normally a shipbroker). This decision will be based on the expectation of what is likely to result in the highest net proceeds.

In an assisted sale, the broker will advertise the sale to obtain offers, which can be presented to the creditor for approval. The court will confirm the sale when all requirements have been complied with and it finds that no further efforts would generate higher proceeds.

In a forced sale:

  • the sale will be advertised;
  • an auction will be held; and
  • the court will confirm the highest bid.

This procedure may be cheaper, but may generate lower bids and be more time consuming.

In both procedures, the court will issue an auction bill of sale to the buyer enabling the registration of its title to the ship.

Foreign sales

Under what circumstances are foreign sales recognised?

If a Norwegian ship is subject to a foreign sale, the sale will be recognised in Norway and all maritime liens, registered mortgages and other encumbrances will cease to attach, provided that:

  • the ship was in the state’s territory at the time of the sale; and
  • the sale was performed in accordance with the laws of the state and the International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules relating to Maritime Liens and Mortgages 1967.

Limitation of liability


What parties may limit liability for maritime claims?

Section 171 of the Maritime Code 1994 provides for a shipowner, charterer or manager to limit its global liability in accordance with Chapter 9 of the code. The same applies to anyone performing services directly connected with salvage. In addition, servants and employees of the aforementioned entities can limit their liability. Further, carriers have the right to limit their liability for:

  • cargo claims, which is specifically provided for under the section on the carriage of goods; and
  • injury to and death of passengers and loss of luggage, as per the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea 1974.

For what claims can liability be limited? Are any claims explicitly exempt from the limitation of liability?

Under Section 172 of the Maritime Code, liability can be limited for the following claims, regardless of whether the basis for the claim is strict liability or negligence:

  • loss of life, personal injury or loss of property that occurs on board or in direct connection with the operation of a ship or salvage operation;
  • damage resulting from a delay in the carriage by sea of goods, passengers or their luggage;
  • other damage caused by infringement of a non-contractual right that arose in direct connection with the operation of the ship or a salvage operation;
  • measures taken to avert or minimise losses for which liability would be limited, including losses caused by such measures.

Under Section 174 of the Maritime Code, a person or legal entity liable under Section 172 of the code cannot limit his or her liability if it is proven that he or she:

  • caused the loss deliberately or through gross negligence; and
  • knew that such loss was likely to occur.

Parties such as shipowners and demise charters are not classified as crew members and may thus be entitled to limit their liability where a crew member is not eligible to do so.

Under Section 172(a) of the Maritime Code, liability can be limited for claims relating to:

  • the raising, removal, destruction or rendering harmless of a ship which is sunk, stranded, abandoned or wrecked;
  • the removal, destruction or rendering harmless of a ship’s cargo;
  • measures taken to avert or minimise losses for which liability would be limited under this section, including losses caused by such measures.

Under Section 173 of the Maritime Code, liability cannot be limited for the following claims:

  • claims for salvage, including:
    • special compensation for the limitation of environmental damages;
    • general average contributions; and
    • remuneration pursuant to a contract regarding measures to avert or minimise a loss subject to the limitation of liability for wreck removal;
  • claims for oil pollution damage pursuant to the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage 1992 and certain other oil pollution claims;
  • claims subject to any international convention or national legislation governing or prohibiting the limitation of liability for nuclear damage;
  • claims in respect of nuclear damage caused by a nuclear-powered ship;
  • claims in respect of injury to an employee who has the right to limit his or her liability and whose duties are connected with the operation of the ship or a salvage operation; and
  • claims for interest and legal costs.

Separate rules apply for oil pollution and cargo claims and claims from passengers.


What limits are set for eligible claims?

For claims governed by Section 172 of the Maritime Code, liability can be limited as follows:

  • For claims regarding personal injury to a ship’s passengers, liability is limited to 250,000 special drawing rights (SDR) multiplied by the number of passengers that the ship is entitled to carry according to its certificate.
  • For other claims regarding personal injury, liability is limited to 3,020,000 SDR. For ships whose tonnage exceeds 2,000 tons, the limit is increased by:
    • 1,208 SDR for every ton between 2,001 to 30,000 tons;
    • 906 SDR for every ton between 30,001 to 70,000 tons; and
    • 604 SDR for every ton over 70,000 tons.
  • For all other claims, liability is limited to 1,510,000 SDR. For ships whose tonnage exceeds 2,000 tons, the limit is increased by:
    • 604 SDR for every ton between 2,001 to 30,000 tons;
    • 453 SDR for every ton between 30,001 to 70,000 tons; and
    • 302 SDR for every ton over 70,000 tons.

The above limits apply in regards to the total amount of all claims arising from one event against the reder (ie, a party that runs the vessel for its own account), shipowner, charterer, manager and anyone for whom any of these parties are responsible.

If salvors do not operate from any ship or operate only from the ship to which the salvage pertains, the liability limits will be calculated according to a tonnage of 1,500 tons. The liability limits apply in regards to the total amount of all claims arising from one event against the salvors and any party for which they are responsible.

Liability for claims covered by Section 172(a) of the Maritime Code is limited to 2 million SDR. For ships whose tonnage exceeds 1,000 tons, the limit is increased by:

  • 2,000 SDR for every ton between 1,001 and 2,000 tons;
  • 5,000 SDR for every ton between 2,001 to 10,000 tons; and
  • 1,000 SDR for every ton over 10,001 tons.

Separate rules apply for oil pollution and cargo claims and claims from passengers.

Limitation funds

What rules and procedures govern the establishment of limitation funds?

Under Section 177 of the Maritime Code, when a claim or petition for an arrest is made, the liable party can apply to the court handling the matter to establish a limitation fund. For claims covered by Sections 172 and 175 and certain claims covered by Section 175(a), the establishment of a limitation fund will bar the arrest of the ship and other forms of enforcing the claim.

How are liability funds distributed?

Under Section 176 of the Maritime Code, each liability amount shall be distributed among the claims to which the limitation applies in proportion to the amounts of the proven claims.

If the amount mentioned in Section 175(2) of the Maritime Code does not fully satisfy the claims to which the amount relates, the remainder will be paid on an equal footing with other claims out of the amount mentioned in Section 175(3).

Carriage of goods

International conventions

Is your jurisdiction party to any international conventions on the carriage of goods by sea? If so, does the relevant domestic implementing law contain any notable modifications (eg, extensions to the scope of application)?

Norway is a party to and has ratified the International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law relating to Bills of Lading, as amended by the Brussels Protocol 1968 (the Hague-Visby Rules). The Hague-Visby Rules have been incorporated into the Maritime Code 1994 without any notable modifications.

Norway is also a party to the United Nations Convention on the Carriage of Goods by Sea 1978 (the Hamburg Rules), although it has not been ratified. However, some of the convention’s provisions that do not conflict with the Hague-Visby Rules have been incorporated into the Maritime Code.

In 2009 Norway signed the Convention of Contracts for the International Carrying of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea 2008 (the Rotterdam Rules), with the purpose of unifying the Hague-Visby Rules and the Hamburg Rules. However, as is the case with most other maritime nations, Norway has yet to ratify the Rotterdam Rules and is not expected to do so in the near future.

Carrier’s responsibility

What is the official extent of the carrier’s responsibility for goods?

Under Section 274 of the Maritime Code, carriers have a mandatory responsibility for goods in their custody. This is more comprehensive than the extent of responsibility required under the Hague-Visby Rules and instead follows Article 4 of the Hamburg Rules. This responsibility is incorporated in all Nordic maritime codes and includes the loading and discharging of goods.

Under Section 275 of the Maritime Code, carriers are responsible for any loss or damage caused to goods while in their custody, unless the carrier can provide evidence that there is a more than 50% probability that the carrier (or any party that the carrier is identified with) has not acted negligently. Liability is therefore based on negligence with a reversed burden of proof. 

Contractual limitation of liability

May parties contract out of any legal provisions governing cargo liability?

No. The Maritime Code provisions concerning cargo liability are mandatory and any contract clauses deviating from them will be void (similar to Article 3(8) of the Hague-Visby Rules). However, the contract will still be in force and only clauses that are in breach of the mandatory provisions will be invalid.

Title to sue

Who has title to sue on a bill of lading?

Under Section 287 of the Maritime Code, the holder of an original bill of lading and any person with contracted rights under it may be entitled to sue the carrier and sub-carrier for damages with in solidum liability. Therefore, a cargo owner can sue a performing carrier directly under Norwegian law.

Time bar

What is the time bar for cargo claims?

Under Section 501(7) of the Maritime Code, the time bar for cargo claims is one year from the date on which the goods arrived or should have arrived at their place of destination according to the bill of lading. 

Definition of ‘carrier’ and ‘goods’

How are ‘carrier’ and ‘goods’ defined in respect of cargo claims? Is there any especially pertinent case law on this issue?

A ‘carrier’ is defined as the person responsible for performing a carriage of goods. Under Section 285 of the Maritime Code, carriers can use sub-carriers to take on all or part of the carriage, but the carrier will generally be liable to the cargo owner along with the sub-carriers.

The ‘goods’ are those which are described in the bill of lading. In the bill of lading, the goods must be described in terms of their nature, quantity and any visible damage as of the date on which the carrier takes custody of them. However, the duty for carriers to investigate goods is lenient.

Defences available to carrier

Under what circumstances may the carrier rely on the perils of the sea defence? What other defences are available to the carrier?

Carriers can rely on the liability exemptions prescribed for in Article 4(2) of the Hague-Visby Rules, including perils of the sea where the event constitutes force majeure. The burden of proof as to whether force majeure has occurred lies with the carrier.

The Maritime Code is supplemented by Articles 5 to 7 of the Hamburg Rules in this regard. Carriers must prove that they, their servants or agents took all reasonably required measures to avoid the occurrence and its consequences (Article 5 of the Hamburg Rules).

Third parties

What legal protections and defences against cargo claims are available to agents of the carrier and other third parties (eg, Himalaya clauses)?

Cargo owners can direct a cargo claim directly to the sub-carrier or agent responsible for the damage. Such a sub-carrier or agent can then rely on the same defences and liability limitations available to carriers under Section 282 of the Maritime Code. The code therefore implements the identity of carrier or Himalaya clause, as incorporated in many bills of lading.   

Deviation from route

Under what circumstances is deviation from the agreed route allowed?

Under Section 340 of the Maritime Code, deviation from an agreed route is permitted only on the grounds of saving lives, ships or cargo or any other ground that can be deemed reasonable.

Carriers can also deviate from the agreed route if barriers (eg, war, a strike, export or import restrictions or an embargo) hinder discharge of the goods at the agreed port of destination. In such cases, carriers can choose a reasonable port of discharge. 

Claims against shipper

What claims can the carrier pursue in respect of the shipper’s failure to meet its obligations?

Shippers are liable to the carrier for any damage caused by negligence on their part or that of a party that the shipper is associated with. This is in line with Article 4(3) of the Hague-Visby Rules and Article 12 of the Hamburg Rules.

This liability includes the delivery of dangerous cargo to the carrier or a sub-carrier without informing it about the cargo’s dangerous nature. Depending on the situation, in such cases carriers can generally discharge or destroy the cargo without any liability. 

Multimodal carriage of goods

How is multimodal carriage regulated in your jurisdiction?

There is no specific Norwegian regulation for multimodal carriage due to the lack of an international convention on this matter. Therefore, the applicable provisions under the relevant regulation for the transport in question apply – for example:

  • shipping is covered by the Maritime Code and the Hague-Visby Rules 1924/1968;
  • road carriage is covered by the Road Carriage Act and the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods (CMR) 1956;
  • aviation is covered by the Aviation Act and the Montreal Convention 1999; and
  • railway carriage is covered by the Uniform Rules concerning the Contract of International Carriage of Goods by Rail (Appendix B of the Convention concerning the International Carriage by Rail 1999).

The question of which rules to apply is predominantly determined by the relevant transport agreement, as evidenced by the issued transport document (ie, the CMR waybill or the bill of lading). However, even if a particular carriage is agreed on and a transport document under such rules is issued, the rules for another transport regime (eg, sea carriage) may mandatorily apply to a particular stage if certain requirements are met. 

Marine accidents

Collision and pollution

What rules and procedures (under both domestic and international law) apply to the prevention of, liability for and remedy of:

(a) Collision?

Chapter 8 of the Maritime Code 1994 is based on the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law with respect to Collisions between Vessels 1910 (the Brussels Convention). The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 have also been implemented through regulations under the Maritime Code.

Liability for damage that occurs due to a collision is determined on the basis of negligence by the carrier or a party that the carrier is identified with. However, in collisions that involve oil pollution, carriers will be held liable on objective grounds, such as liability notwithstanding negligence (for further details see question (b)).

Collision claims will typically be governed by the law and jurisdiction where the collision occurred. They are secured by law in the vessel liable for the damage and are time barred for two years from the date on which the damage occurred. 

(b) Oil pollution?

Chapter 10 of the Maritime Code implements the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage 2001, the Civil Liability Convention 1992 and the Fund Convention 1992, including the Supplementary Fund Protocol 2003.

Under Section 183 of the Maritime Code, the shipowner or charterer or any other party responsible for a ship’s daily operations will be held strictly and objectively liable for oil pollution. This includes all damage or loss that is caused by bunkers or oil escaping the vessel, including expenses, damages or loss that occurs due to reasonable measures taken to prevent immediate and significant damage.

A shipowner can avoid liability if it is documented that the oil pollution occurred due to:

  • an act of war or an unavoidable and exceptional natural disaster;
  • an act or omission by a third party that caused the damage; or
  • negligence or another unlawful act by public authorities when conducting necessary maintenance regarding a lighthouse or another navigation aid.

A shipowner’s liability can also be reduced in cases of contributory negligence or willful conduct by the claimant. 

(c) Other environmental damage caused by a ship?

Please see question (b) above. 


What is the legal regime governing salvage and general average?

Chapter 16 of the Maritime Code implements the International Convention on Salvage 1989. Chapter 17 implements the York-Antwerp Rules 1994 for the adjustment of general average contributions. These rules have similarly been implemented in all other Nordic countries.

The salvage rules are generally not mandatory, but apply unless otherwise agreed. They can be set aside only if an agreement:

  • conflicts with mandatory provisions in the Maritime Code regarding environmental damage or oil pollution; or
  • is deemed unreasonable and was made under severe stress or with the imminent risk of damage.

Places of refuge

What framework governs access to places of refuge for ships in distress?

Under Section 39 of the Harbour Act 2009, every ship is entitled to enter ports and all port terminals must accept vessels, with some exceptions. For vessels in distress, Section 38 of the Harbour Act allows public authorities to require the shipowner, carrier or other operators to invoke measures to prevent an emergency situation and secure the vessel when needed to:

  • prevent the loss of life or damage to persons, the environment or property; or
  • secure the safety and navigability of Norwegian waters. 

Wreck removal

What rules and procedures apply to the removal of wrecks in your jurisdiction?

Under Section 34 of the Harbour Act, no party can leave ships or wrecks in Norwegian waters where they may cause danger, damage or inconvenience to the waters or their navigability or traffic. The responsible party, being in any case the registered owner, must invoke measures to prevent or reduce such danger, damage or inconvenience.

Under what circumstances can the authorities order removal of wreckage?

Under Section 35 of the Harbour Act, the government can order the responsible party to remove a wreck within a specified period when it prevents the waters being used in regards to navigability, safe traffic or otherwise. If the wreck is not removed within the specified period, the responsible party can be ordered to:

  • cover reasonable expenses for the wreck removal; or
  • clean up the area affected by the wreck.

Under Section 37 of the Pollution Act, the relevant municipality can order the responsible party to clean up a wreck that is polluting the water or pay for such clean up or removal. The ‘responsible party’ is the registered owner of the wreck both at the time of the incident and when the wreck’s removal is ordered by the public authorities.


Mandatory coverage

What maritime risks must be covered under the law and what is the mandatory level of coverage?

Norway is a party to the following conventions requiring the insurance of risks:

  • the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage 2001;
  • the Protocol to the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage 1992;
  • the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund 1992;
  • the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea 1974; and
  • the Athens Protocol 2002.

In addition to the above conventions, Norway has implemented the EU Safety Rules and Standards for Passenger Ships Directive (2009/45/EC).

Insurable risks and ships

What other risks are typically covered by marine insurance contracts concluded in your jurisdiction and what ships are insurable?

Marine insurance contracts typically protect against:

  • hull and machinery damage;
  • protection and indemnity;
  • total loss;
  • war;
  • loss of hire; and
  • cargo interest.

Subrogation rights

What is the legal regime governing marine insurers’ subrogation rights?

An insurer paying a claim will be subrogated into the recipients claim against any third party tortfeasor. In general, the recipient will also sign a subrogation receipt whereby it assigns the claim to the insurer. 

Jurisdiction and dispute resolution

Competent courts

What courts are empowered to hear maritime cases in your jurisdiction?

All Norwegian courts are empowered to hear maritime cases. 

Exclusive jurisdiction and arbitration clauses

Under what conditions will exclusive jurisdiction and arbitration clauses in shipping contracts be held as valid?

The freedom of contract principle implies that exclusive jurisdiction and arbitration clauses will be valid unless prohibited by law. For maritime claims, Sections 310 and 311 of the Maritime Code 1994 provide for the limitation of the freedom of contract principle with respect to jurisdiction and arbitration of cargo claims. After a claim has arisen, the parties are free to agree on jurisdiction and arbitration. Jurisdiction and arbitration clauses in bills of lading are of particular concern.

Maritime arbitration

What is the general state and prevalence of maritime arbitration in your jurisdiction?

Arbitration is generally regarded as a safe, efficient and advantageous dispute resolution method for maritime claims, as it allows the parties to:

  • appoint arbitrators with legal or technical expert knowledge of the rules and regulations governing the dispute; and
  • agree on procedural rules that are unavailable in the ordinary courts – for example, that the hearing and award will be confidential or concluded in a foreign language (eg, English).

Further, arbitration can also be regarded as a good choice where the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958 will ensure international recognition and enforcement not covered by other conventions. 

Recognition and enforcement

What regimes govern the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments and arbitral awards?

The two most important regimes for the enforcement of foreign judgments and arbitration awards are:

  • the Lugano Convention on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters 2007 between the European Union, Denmark and the European Free Trade Association; and
  • the New York Convention.

Law stated date

Correct as of

Please state the date as of which the law stated here is accurate

November 18 2016.  

Marine security

Legal regime

What regime governs the imposition of security measures on ships and in port facilities?

Security measures on ships and in port facilities are governed by the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code and the Regulations on Security and Terror Preparedness Onboard Ships and Mobile Units, as amended on July 1 2011, issued pursuant to the Ship Safety Act 2007.

Security officers

What rules apply to the qualification and conduct of security officers on ships and in port facilities? Are armed guards allowed on ships?

Security officers are evaluated by the relevant shipowner in accordance with the International Maritime Organisation guidelines. Such evaluation must be reported to the Norwegian Maritime Authority. Armed guards are allowed south of latitude 46 degrees in areas of Alert Level 2 or 3. 

Security information

What rules govern the provision of security information to port authorities?

A ship which has had to defend itself must report to the Norwegian Maritime Authority immediately (and within 72 hours) if there is reason to believe that its use of force has caused personal injury or death.