July 13, 2005

Norwegian employees

Regarding your article of May 10, I can confirm that the case was indeed handled by the Norwegian Supreme Court and that Conoco lost. The court found that porno surfing during work hours was an unlawful act, but that firing the workers was an unreasonably hard sanction. It should be added that Norway has very protective employment law in favour of the employee compared to the US.

Further the Norwegian Supreme Court can take on all cases, including speeding offenses. The right to appeal depends on whether the Supreme Court after a summary review of the judgement from the lower court, finds the judgment to be wrong or of principal interest. In most cases appeal is denied. Such a system is practicable in a country with 4.5 million citizens.

Norwegians are however probably less litigious than Americans. The reason for this is probably that the main rule is that a party has to pay the legal costs of his opponent should he lose. Attorneys are further not allowed to charge their fee as a percentage of what the client receives. The damages in tort cases are generally far lower than in the US. The main rule is that the injured party only can claim coverage of the economical loss. My impression is also that we to a much more limited extent are able to bend the law compared to US lawyers; this is very noticeable in cases where we are acting for US clients represented by an American lawyer.

-- Eirik Vinje, Attorney-at-law, Oslo, Norway

Posted by Walter Olson at July 13, 2005 09:31 PM