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General framework

Domestic law

Which domestic laws and regulations govern the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in your jurisdiction?

Questions regarding the recognition of foreign judgments or judgments from ordinary courts are governed by Section 19-16 of the Dispute Act. Arbitration court judgments are governed by Sections 45 and 46 of the Arbitration Act.

The Dispute Act gives effect to the relevant treaties, conventions and agreements on recognition and enforcement. This thus constitutes an exemption from the main rule that foreign court decisions have no legal force in Norway exists.

Section 45 of the Arbitration Act sets out that, as a rule, arbitral judgments will be recognised and enforceable in Norway, irrespective of the country of origin. However, this starting point is subject to the limitations of adequate procedure and the extensive list of limitations set out in Section 46.

The enforcement of foreign judgments is governed by the Enforcement Act.

Judgments that originate from the Nordic countries (ie, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden) are governed by the Act on the Recognition and Enforcement of Nordic Judgments on Questions Regarding Civil Law. However, this act is of little practical significance in light of the Dispute Act and the Enforcement Act.

Further, certain provisions are found in special laws on specific branches of jurisprudence, such as the Nuclear Energy Act, the Maritime Code and various family and child laws. As regards family and child law, certain domestic laws are open to foreign-status judgments being assigned legal force on the sole basis of domestic law (ie, in the absence of a mutual treaty or convention (Schei, Commentary on the Dispute Act, 2013).

In-court settlements may also be recognised and enforced under the Dispute Act and the Enforcement Act, provided that there is a relevant cross-border treaty. However, as in-court settlements infrequently hold legal force according to treaties and conventions, this alternative is of little practical significance (Schei, Commentary on the Dispute Act, 2013).

International conventions

Which international conventions and bilateral treaties relating to the recognition and enforcement of judgments apply in your jurisdiction?

Norway is bound by the following conventions concerning the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in civil law:

  • the Lugano Convention on the Jurisdiction and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (October 30 2007);
  • the Agreement between the United Kingdom and Norway regarding the Mutual Recognition of Judgments in Civil Cases (June 12 1961);
  • the Agreement between Norway and Germany regarding the Mutual Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments and Other Grounds of Enforcement in Civil Cases and Cases Regarding Trade (June 17 1977);
  • the Agreement between Norway and Austria regarding the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil Cases (May 21 1984);
  • the United Nations Convention on a Code of Conduct for Liner Conferences (April 6 1974); and
  • the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (June 10 1958).

The Lugano convention is the most practical and commonly applied convention.

Competent courts

Which courts are competent to hear cases on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

The recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments will be directed to the first-instance court. By contrast, the enforcement of domestic judgments starts with the filing of an enforcement request to the police authorities. Venue rules will apply in accordance with the relevant treaty, convention or domestic rules.

Distinction between recognition and enforcement

Is there a legal distinction between the recognition and enforcement of a judgment?

‘Recognition’ concerns whether the judgment in Norway:

  • is considered to be binding on the parties involved;
  • may be the basis for enforcement when it is final and has legal force; and
  • may prevent a later court case between the same parties regarding the same claim.

‘Enforcement’ concerns the enforcement of a judgment that has been recognised. 

Ease of enforcement

In general, how easy is it to secure recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in your jurisdiction?

Recognition normally follows automatically from a judgment in combination with the relevant treaties and applicable Norwegian acts, but must, based on the relevant documentation, be stated by the court before enforcement can occur.

For the first-instance court, this process does not involve presenting the demand for recognition for the defendant, but requires the relevant documentation to be submitted.

Following recognition, enforcement will not normally not constitute a difficult or lengthy process. However, a demand for enforcement will be subject to adversarial proceedings before the first-instance court. The time required for the court to hear the case will depend on its workload and the extent or content of the other party’s objections. Counterclaims may also be presented by the debtor and hence escalate the process. 

Reform

Are any reforms to the framework on recognition and enforcement of judgments envisioned or underway?

A process regarding the evaluation of the Dispute Act is ongoing, but, according to current knowledge, it does not appear that this will result in any changes regarding the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in Norway.

Conditions for recognition and enforcement

Enforceable judgments

Which types of judgment (eg, monetary judgments, mandatory or prohibitory orders) are enforceable in your jurisdiction and which (if any) are explicitly excluded from recognition and enforcement (eg, default judgments, judgments granting punitive damages)?

The regulation of recognition of foreign judgments in the Dispute Act concerns civil claims (ie, private-law claims). Foreign judgments regarding public claims (eg, taxes and fees) are thus not subject to recognition or enforcement in Norway. According to Schei’s Commentary on the Dispute Act (2013), litigation costs granted by a foreign judgment are not normally regarded as private-law claims, but may still be covered by binding legal force, provided that the necessary foundation by law or treaty prevails. Other than this, the Norwegian legal system generally does not distinguish between the different types of civil judgment referred to in the question. 

How are foreign judgments subject to appeal treated?

A foreign judgment must be final and binding in order to be enforceable in Norway. An award may be recognised in Norway before legal force prevails, but then under this same reservation – that it is not yet final and binding. Remedies for appeal will follow the rules of the country of origin (see Skoghøy, Litigation, 2017, p 86).

However, under the Lugano Convention on the Jurisdiction and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters a court may postpone the processing of a demand for recognition if there is a pending appeal, or the judgment is contested, in the country of origin. According to domestic law, and in the absence of security from the defendant, a recognised judgment not yet in legal force may serve as basis for the distraint. However, disposal of collateral cannot take place until legal force has been established. 

Formal requirements

What are the formal and documentary requirements for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

Depending on the relevant treaty, it can generally be assumed that a certified copy of the original judgment and an approved translation will be needed. Approval by a notary public and apostille are recommended.

Documentation to prove that there was an arbitration agreement or another basis for arbitration may also be required for arbitral judgments.

Article 54 of the Lugano convention requires the attestation of specific forms, but the court may find other documentation satisfactory. If the judgment is a judgment by default, the applicant for enforcement must also substantiate that the defendant was notified of the introductory letter with satisfactory notice, although will this not be tried by the first-instance court. As a general rule the defendant will always be able to dispute the recognition of the judgment, or the claim as such, in relation to a request for enforcement in Norway. Hence, even with all formal requirements in place, the enforcement of a foreign judgment may be confronted with difficulties if the defendant decides to use all means to argue against the validity of the judgment or the amount outstanding.

Substantive requirements

What substantive requirements (if any) apply to the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments? Are enforcing courts in your jurisdiction permitted to review the foreign judgment on the merits?

Recognition

Ordinary judgements A foreign judgment will be subject to recognition and enforcement only as far as it concerns a civil claim. Foreign judgments regarding public claims (eg, taxes and fees) are not subject to recognition or enforcement in Norway. 

Further, a foreign judgment will not be recognised or enforced if doing so would be incompatible with mandatory Norwegian law or fundamental principles of the Norwegian legal order ("public order").

Further substantive requirements may apply by virtue of relevant conventions or treaties.

Judgements from arbitration courts The review of arbitral judgments may be more intense. The Arbitration Act sets out a range of reasons that entitle the courts to reject an application for recognition, with regard to the service of process, judicial questions and formal requirements. This may, among other things, comprise an evaluation of whether:

  • principles of notice and contradiction have been followed;
  • the procedure corresponds with the laws of the seat of arbitration and the agreement between the parties; and
  • the judgment is binding or has possibly been set aside by a court at the seat of arbitration or in the country to which the legal regulations applied belong.

If under Norwegian law arbitration is not applicable to the dispute, the court must deny recognition and enforcement ex officio.

Enforcement Before enforcement, the deadline for payment of a claim must have expired, so that a breach of obligation has already occurred. In some cases, security may prevent enforcement.

Review on the merits Enforcing courts cannot review a foreign judgment on its merits, except for the public order limitation and the prohibition to controvert mandatory domestic law. This latter reservation is not to be understood literally and may, according to Skoghøy’s Litigation (2017), p 88, be regarded as an inaccurate reference to the public order rule (see also Schei, Commentary on the Dispute Act, 2013, which posits some reservations regarding this rule).

However, substantive review is sometimes required in order to identify the problems addressed and decided by the judgment and to assess potential lis pendens (ie, pending suit) or legal force problems.

Limitation period

What is the limitation period for enforcement of a foreign judgment?

The enforcement of judgments must be repeated every 10 years in order for a judgment to remain valid. The judgment must generally remain enforceable in the country of origin.

Grounds for refusal

On what grounds can recognition and enforcement be refused?

Recognition and enforcement applications may for instance be refused because:

  • they are not covered by an applicable convention, treaty or piece of Norwegian legislation;
  • sufficient documentation has not been provided;
  • the claim is not materially enforceable; or
  • the judgment conflicts with a prior domestic or enforceable judgment, public order or mandatory Norwegian law.

The court must deny recognition and enforcement of an arbitral judgment which, according to domestic law, could not be resolved by arbitration (Section 46 of the Arbitration Act).

Service of process

To what extent does the enforcing court review the service of process in the original foreign proceedings?

As far as judgments from foreign arbitration courts are concerned, the enforcing court may refuse to recognise or enforce the judgment if one of the parties was not given satisfactory notice before the proceedings. The enforcing court may also review the court of origin’s service of process.

Regular foreign courts judgments will depend on the relevant convention, treaty or agreement that forms the basis for the recognition and enforcement of judgments from the courts in that country. However, normally there will be provisions stating that the judgment should not be recognised if the defendant was not given satisfactory notice before the proceedings. 

Public policy

What public policy issues are considered in the court’s decision to grant recognition and enforcement? Is there any notable case law in this regard?

The courts will not recognise a judgment that conflicts with public order. This principle applies to judgments from ordinary and arbitration courts. As for judgments from ordinary courts, case law establishes that the scope of this exception is narrow and reserved for judgments in clear conflict with Norwegian ethics and common social views (Schei, Commentary to the Dispute Act, 2013, p 689).

Jurisdiction

What is the extent of the enforcing court’s power to review the personal and subject-matter jurisdiction of the foreign court that issued the judgment?

Under the Arbitration Act, the enforcing court may review a list of aspects regarding jurisdiction and the legality of the arbitration court.

Judgments from ordinary courts will depend on the relevant convention, treaty or agreement that forms the basis for recognition and enforcement of judgments from the courts in that country. Norwegian courts do not as a main rule review the jurisdiction of the foreign court, but for certain types of case – including cases regarding insurance claims and consumer contracts – the Norwegian courts will ensure that the foreign judgment conforms with mandatory provisions in the Lugano Convention on the Jurisdiction and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters on jurisdiction.

Concurrent proceedings and conflicting judgments

How do the courts in your jurisdiction address applications for recognition and enforcement where there are concurrent proceedings (foreign or domestic) or conflicting judgments involving the same parties/dispute?

Under the Lugano convention, the courts cannot enforce a judgment between the same parties that conflicts with a prior judgment in the enforcing jurisdiction or with an earlier foreign but enforceable judgment between the same parties regarding the same subject matter.

If a foreign judgment is recognised as legally binding in Norway before concurrent proceedings regarding the same claim have been concluded, the Norwegian court probably must reject further trial of the dispute.

Opposition

Defences

What defences are available to the losing party to a foreign judgment that is sought to be recognised and enforced in your jurisdiction?

     Under the Lugano convention, applications for recognition are not submitted to the defendant before recognition. Hence, in the first instance, the defendant normally has no means of defence at this stage of a recognition and enforcement process. The court must review all sides of the case and may rule in favour of the defendant by not recognising the foreign judgment. However, before enforcement, the defendant must be presented with the demand for enforcement and have the opportunity to present its view.

The defendant may object to the recognition before a higher instance court after having been presented the decision on recognition. The adversarial procedure will for recognition thus take place before the appeal instance.

Further, the court's enforcement decision may be appealed to a higher instance. When the basis for enforcement is a judgment, as opposed to other forms of basis for enforcement, there are limitations as to the type of objection that can be made.

The decision of the appeal instance may be appealed to the Supreme Court. However, in general – and especially for decisions that are not in themselves a judgment – only cases of clear significance will be subject to Supreme Court review.

Injunctive relief

What injunctive relief is available to defendants (eg, anti-suit injunctions)?

The Dispute Act provides a general opportunity to demand provisional injunctions through a separate court case, which presupposes that a primary claim and the need to preliminary secure it have been substantiated. However, such injunctions cannot be used to stop proceedings or steps of proceedings – for instance, the implementation of enforcement (Flock, Provisional security, 2011). Objections must be made within the procedural steps and remedies of the recognition and/or enforcement process.

Certain situations may qualify for the suspension of enforceability according to Section 19-13 of the Dispute Act (Schei, Commentary on the Dispute Act, 2013).

Recognition and enforcement procedure

Formal procedure

What is the formal procedure for seeking recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment?

Applications for recognition are, as a rule, handled by the first-instance court, based on formal requirements and without being presented to the defendant. The application must be accompanied by the relevant documentation.

Enforcement requests are presented to the defendant together with the decision on recognition of the foreign judgment. Having heard both sides – in some cases with several time limits for the other party's opinion or response to the allegations – the court will decide on the request for enforcement.

Timeframe

What is the typical timeframe for the proceedings to grant recognition and enforcement?

The time limit set by law to hear ordinary civil cases is six months (which, based on accessible resources, can in some cases be impossible for the courts to meet). Cases of recognition and enforcement are typically simpler and normally do not require the same amount of time. However, as cases may be complex and the court’s workload and the extent of objections from defendants vary, this should be regarded as the typical timeframe for handling such requests. This timeframe applies especially to enforcement, where the defendant is heard and makes objections before the court makes a decision. In some cases, it may take considerable time for the plaintiff’s application or the court decision to be served on the defendant, which may have its assets in Norway, but its head office overseas. 

Fees

What fees apply to applications for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

Fees vary from approximately €100 to €1,000 depending on the different requests or types of enforcement, and appropriate process service.

Security

Must the applicant for recognition and enforcement provide security for costs?

Under the Dispute Act, a defendant may request a foreign plaintiff to present security for costs. However, this may not be granted if such a request represents a breach of obligations for a fair trial or a requirement to treat domestic and foreign parties equally. This will typically be the case for parties domiciled in EU or European Economic Area member states.

Appeal

Are decisions on recognition and enforcement subject to appeal?

Yes, as a main rule within one month from the pronouncement of the court's decision to the affected parties.

Other costs

How does the enforcing court address other costs issues arising in relation to the foreign judgment (eg, calculation of interest, exchange rates)?

All costs (eg, interest and exchange rates) will be calculated or updated on the date of enforcement.

Enforcement against third parties

To what extent can the courts enforce a foreign judgment against third parties?

A judgment may be enforced only against a party covered by the judgment, unless it is justified that a third party acts or holds a position on behalf of the party covered by the judgment.

Partial recognition and enforcement

Can the courts grant partial recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

As for ordinary judgments, a judgment is either recognised or not. However, enforcement may be partial.

Arbitral judgments may be partially recognised and enforced, as one (or more) of the reasons for denying recognition or enforcement may concern only parts of the foreign judgment. In such cases, under the Arbitration Act the rest of the judgment may be recognised or enforced.