1 Legal and judicial framework
1.1 Which legislative and regulatory provisions govern the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in your jurisdiction?
In the absence of any applicable statutes or agreements between Norway and the relevant foreign state, recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments/awards in civil and commercial matters are subject to the Norwegian Enforcement Act of 26 June 1992, read with the Dispute Act of 17 June 2005 and the Arbitration Act of 14 May 2004.
The Lugano Convention (2007), which corresponds to the Brussels I Regulation (2001) applicable between EU member states, is incorporated into the Dispute Act and is to be deemed as Norwegian rules of law, see the Dispute Act Section 4-8.
1.2 Which bilateral and multilateral instruments on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments have effect in your jurisdiction?
The following bilateral and multilateral instruments have effect in Norway:
- the Convention on jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters of 30 October 2007 (the Lugano Convention);
- the Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance of 23 November 2007
- the Agreement between Norway and the United States for the Enforcement of Maintenance Obligations of 10 June 2002;
- the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution damage of 23 March 2001;
- the European Patent Convention 2000, as adopted by decision of the Administrative Council of 28 June 2001;
- the Protocol for the Modification of the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail of 3 June 1999;
- the Civil Law Convention on Corruption of 4 November 1999;
- the Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Cooperation in respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children of 19 October 1996;
- the Nordic Agreement on Assistance in Tax Matters of 7 December 1989;
- the European Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions concerning Custody of Children and on Restoration of Custody of Children of 20 May 1980;
- the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions relating to Maintenance Obligations of 2 October 1973;
- the Convention on the Recognition of Divorces and Legal Separations of 1 June 1970;
- the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards of 10 June 1958 (the New York Arbitration Convention);
- the Convention concerning the Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions relating to Maintenance Obligations towards Children of 15 April 1958; and
- the Agreement between Norway and the United Kingdom regarding Legal Proceedings in Civil and Commercial Matters of 30 January 1931.
1.3 Which courts have jurisdiction to hear applications for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?
The ordinary courts of Norway have jurisdiction to hear applications for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. The application is sent to the local district court in accordance with the venue provisions of the Norwegian Enforcement Act.
2 Requirements for enforceability
2.1 What types of judgments may be recognised and enforced in your jurisdiction? Are any types of judgments specifically precluded from enforcement?
In the absence of any applicable statutes or agreements between Norway and the relevant foreign state, enforcement of foreign judgments is subject to the judgment being rendered by a court agreed upon by the parties (see Section 4-6 of the Dispute Act, requiring a written jurisdiction clause insofar as it expands or narrows the Norwegian court's jurisdiction, and requiring agreements with consumers to be entered into after the dispute has occurred in order to be binding). In practice, the same applies to the recognition and enforcement of foreign awards, recognising that the jurisdiction of arbitration panels is also subject to the parties having agreed upon it in the arbitration agreement.
In Norway, a ‘judgment' is deemed to be any decision made by a court of justice, regardless of what the decision is named (typically deciding (some of) the material claims brought before the court and/or the legal costs). In-court settlements and settlements affirmed in an arbitral award have the same effect as judgments or arbitral awards, and accordingly are also capable of being recognised and enforced in Norway insofar as they are final and enforceable in the relevant foreign state.
The rules in the Dispute Act concern "civil claims" (private law claims) having been decided by way of a foreign judgment, not public claims (eg, taxes and fees). The latter are not subject to recognition and enforcement in Norway.
2.2 Must a foreign judgment be final and binding before it can be enforced?
The judgment or award must be enforceable in its country of origin in order to be enforceable in Norway. It depends on the rules of the country of origin whether this requires that judgment be final and binding.
2.3 Is a foreign judgment enforceable if it is subject to appeal in the foreign jurisdiction?
The judgment or award must be enforceable in its country of origin in order to be enforceable in Norway. It depends on the rules of the country of origin whether the judgment is enforceable despite being subject to appeal.
2.4 What is the limitation period for making an application for recognition and enforcement?
There is no such limitation period under Norwegian law. However, if an application is not sent within one year after it was possible to do so, the application is subject to prior notice giving the debtor at least two weeks to respond.
3 Recognition and enforcement process
3.1 Is recognition of a foreign judgment a separate process from enforcement and does it have separate legal effects?
Yes, a foreign judgment being recognised in Norway means that its effect is extended to Norway and that the Norwegian courts, in a new action in which the court is required to consider the claim in order to rule on the case, shall apply the result without any re-trial of the relevant issues. In the event of a new action between the same parties where the claim has been ruled on, the Norwegian court shall reject the action (provided that the plaintiff has no legal interest in such a new action due to disputing the judgment's binding effect).
The enforcement of foreign judgments means that the Norwegian authorities will force the debtor to fulfil the judgment in accordance with applicable Norwegian rules for enforcement. In this respect, recognition happens automatically by virtue of fulfilment of the conditions for recognition, while enforcement requires an application to the courts.
3.2 What is the formal process for recognition and enforcement?
In order to enforce a foreign judgment or award, the creditor must apply for enforcement before the district court (instead of the enforcement authorities). The legal venue is determined by the domicile of the debtor or where its assets are.
The court gives notice to the debtor after a preliminary assessment of the legitimacy of the application, with a two-week deadline for commenting on matters of importance for enforcement of the claim. Once this period has expired, the court may decide whether to allow the application and send it to the enforcement authorities or to disallow it. If allowed, the enforcement authorities will then decide when to search for assets and enforce the judgment or award pursuant to the application.
3.3 What documents are required in support of an application for recognition and enforcement?
Foreign judgments or awards must be made available either in the original or in a duly certified copy; if not rendered in Norwegian, Swedish or Danish, the creditor must also provide a translation of the award into one of these languages. However, arbitral awards rendered in English need not be translated and the courts will often make the same exception for judgments rendered in English. The courts may do the same for judgments or awards rendered in other languages, provided that all parties understand the relevant language. See also Articles 30, 50 and 53 of the Lugano Convention, requiring an Appendix V attestation from the foreign court in support of the application.
3.4 What fees are payable for recognition and enforcement?
For a petition for an execution lien, there is a court fee of NOK 1,955 (all fees are subject to an annual adjustment). Additional fees will be incurred for additional enforcement steps, as follows:
- For an enforcement and temporary injunction order requesting enforcement (1.1 R), the fee is NOK 1,265 (even if the request is later withdrawn or rejected);
- For an enforcement and temporary injunction order requesting disbursement, also from other countries (1.7 R), the fee is NOK 1,955;
- For a complaint to the district court about a compensation order (1 R), the fee is NOK 1,150; and
- For a seizure and temporary injunction order (2.5 R), the fee is NOK 2,875.
If the court decides on other types of enforcement, another fee will apply.
3.5 Is the applicant required to provide security for costs?
If the defendant objects to enforcement, the court may decide that it is subject to the applicant providing security (before deciding on next steps).
3.6 How long does it usually take to obtain a declaration of enforceability?
Normally, it takes two to three months from when the request is sent to the court until the enforcement procedure is brought to an end by establishing security in the defendant's assets. The timeframe for subsequent foreclosure will depend on the kinds of assets involved, as the further procedures differ. If there are substantive objections to the validity of the award, our experience is that the first phase is extended to about six months.
3.7 Can the applicant seek injunctive relief while the process is ongoing?
Yes, the applicant may seek injunctive relief pursuant to the Dispute Act while the enforcement process is ongoing, as long as there is a basis for such a security. In short, the debtor's conduct must give grounds to fear that enforcement of the claim would otherwise be evaded or considerably impeded, or would have to take place outside of Norway; or that injunctive relief is otherwise necessary to avoid considerable loss.
4.1 On what grounds can the defendant challenge recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment?
Foreign judgment or awards will not be recognised in Norway if they are contrary to Norwegian mandatory laws or offensive to the Norwegian legal system (ordre public). In addition, certain grounds for challenging arbitral awards specifically have been established by law as follows:
- One of the parties to the arbitration agreement lacks legal capacity; or the arbitration agreement is invalid under the laws to which the parties have agreed to subject it or, failing such agreement, under the law of the jurisdiction in which the arbitral award was made;
- The party against which the arbitral award is being invoked was not given sufficient notice of the appointment of an arbitrator or of the arbitration, or was not given an opportunity to present its views on the case;
- The arbitral award falls outside the scope of the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal;
- The composition of the arbitral tribunal was incorrect;
- The arbitral procedure was contrary to the law of the place of arbitration or the agreement of the parties, and it is obvious that this may have impacted on the decision; or
- The arbitral award is not yet binding on the parties or has been set aside, permanently or temporarily, by a court at the place of arbitration, or by a court in the jurisdiction whose laws were applied in determining the subject matter in dispute.
The courts shall, of their own accord, refuse recognition and enforcement of an arbitral award if:
- the dispute would not have been capable of being determined by arbitration under Norwegian law; or
- recognition or enforcement of the arbitral award would be contrary to public policy (ordre public).
If a legal action to set aside an arbitral award has been brought before a court, the court may postpone the ruling on recognition and enforcement if it deems such postponement to be appropriate. The court may in such case, at the request of the party demanding recognition or enforcement, order the opposite party to provide security.
4.2 What is the limitation period for filing a challenge?
The deadline for filing a challenge is the two-week deadline mentioned in question 3.2. However, the decisions of the courts or enforcement authorities may also subsequently be appealed.
4.3 Can the defendant seek injunctive relief to prevent enforcement while a challenge is pending?
No, it is not possible to seek injunctive relief against court decisions.
5 Court analysis and decision
5.1 Will the court review service of process in the initial proceedings?
Yes, if the judgment falls within the scope of the Lugano Convention.
5.2 Will the court review the jurisdiction of the foreign court in the initial proceedings?
5.3 Will the court review the foreign judgment for compliance with applicable law and public policy?
Foreign judgments or awards will not be recognised if they are contrary to Norwegian mandatory laws or offensive to the Norwegian legal system. However, recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment or award will normally not be affected by a conflicting Norwegian law or Norwegian judgment between different parties, due to the foreign judgment or award not being subject to any re-trial in Norway.
5.4 Will the court review the merits of the foreign judgment?
5.5 How will the court proceed if the foreign judgment conflicts with a previous judgment in relation to the same dispute between the same parties?
Judgments within the scope of the Lugano Convention will not be enforced in Norway if the judgment is irreconcilable with a previous judgment between the same parties in Norway or another country that is party to the Lugano Convention.
There are no rules regarding conflicting judgments under Norwegian internal law. There is no case law on the question outside the scope of the Lugano Convention.
5.6 Are there any other grounds on which the court may refuse to recognise and enforce the foreign judgment?
5.7 Is partial recognition and enforcement possible?
5.8 How will the court deal with cost issues (eg, interest, court costs, currency issues)?
For judgments falling within the scope of the Lugano Convention, foreign judgments regarding court costs will be recognised and enforced in Norway. Outside of the Lugano Convention, however, the enforceability of court costs will depend on the statutes or agreements between Norway and the relevant foreign state. It is not clear from the Dispute Act whether court costs are to be regarded as ‘civil claims' (private claims).
6.1 Can decisions in relation to the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments be appealed?
6.2 Can the applicant seek injunctive relief while the appeal is pending?
There is no particular injunctive relief relating to enforcement proceedings, but the applicant may seek the ordinary preliminary measures available to secure the claim.
7 Enforcing the foreign judgment
7.1 Once a declaration of enforceability has been granted, how can the foreign judgment be enforced?
Once the declaration of enforceability has been granted, enforcement is made pursuant to the local rules of enforcement in the Norwegian Enforcement Act.
Judgments on monetary claims are enforced by submitting an application for attachment with the debtor's assets to the local enforcement office. The enforcement office can grant the attachment for any assets belonging to the debtor, including bank accounts, real estate, movable property and claims against third parties.
After that, an application for enforcement of the claim is submitted to the enforcement office, which can result in a forced sale of the property or an order to the bank to pay the creditor from the bank account and so on, depending on which type of asset is attached.
Non-monetary judgments can be enforced both through the enforcement office and through the local district court, depending on the type of claim. The enforcement authorities have a variety of options to force the debtor to fulfil the judgment, including fulfilling the judgment themselves, giving the right to the creditor to carry out the claim or imposing on the debtor a running fine as long as the judgment is not fulfilled.
7.2 Can the foreign judgment be enforced against third parties?
Monetary judgments can be enforced against third parties if the third party has possession of assets belonging to the debtor.
8 Trends and predictions
8.1 How would you describe the current enforcement landscape and prevailing trends in your jurisdiction? Are any new developments anticipated in the next 12 months, including any proposed legislative reforms?
The most interesting development is the uncertainty created by Brexit (the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union).
9 Tips and traps
9.1 What are your top tips for smooth recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, and what potential sticking points would you highlight?
For foreign creditors, which rarely have a procedural address within Norway, it will often be a requirement to be represented by Norwegian counsel. Such assistance may be preferable in any case in order to follow up with the enforcement authorities every step of the way. The Norwegian courts are quite effective and accept judgments or arbitral awards rendered in Norwegian, Swedish and Danish. The courts also accept arbitral awards rendered in English and will often make the same exception for foreign judgments (provided that all parties understand English).
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.