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    International private law

    Area of expertise

    When a legal relationship has links with several jurisdictions, it is international (interlegal) private law that determines which country’s legal system shall apply.

    For example, a question might arise concerning an international contractual relationship where the buyer and seller are associated with different countries.

    It may be the case that a property is located in one country, while the parties are situated in another country. Or a tortfeasor may be in one country, the injured party in another, and the damage incurred in a third country.

    In such international cases, the question arises as to which country has the authority to adjudicate a dispute between the parties. This is known as the jurisdictional question, or in which country is the correct legal venue?

    Once the jurisdictional question has been clarified, the question arises as to which country’s laws the court shall apply in adjudicating the dispute. This is the choice-of-law question. Finally, questions pertaining to the recognition and enforcement of the decisions of other states also form part of international private law.

    International private law extends over several specialist fields, as disputes affecting different states may involve practically all branches of law.

    In recent years we have gained solid international law experience. This can be ascribed to the fact that our cases have become increasingly trans-national and because a significant number of our clients are linked to other countries than Norway. We have pleaded international law cases in courts at all levels in recent years, including the Supreme Court of Norway.

    The support we provide is marked by its effectiveness and the fact we put the interests of the client centre stage. We achieve this by virtue of our specialist expertise and by employing digital solutions such as web template systems and experiential databases that are search-engine optimised.

    Furthermore, as have an extensive international contact network. We are also a member of Law Europe, a network consisting of cooperating law firms in Europe, USA, India and Singapore, among other locations.

    The requirement enabling a lawsuit to be pursued in Norway is laid down in Section 4-3 of the Dispute Act. According to this provision, the facts of the case must have a sufficiently strong connection to Norway.

    The extent to which a case has a sufficiently strong connection, must be judged specifically in each instance. The fact that international conventions, such as the Lugano Convention, have decreed Norwegian courts to be competent usually means that the requirement for a sufficiently strong connection is fulfilled. The same applies if one can establish, pursuant to Section 4-4 or 4-5 of the Act, that the legal venue is Norway. If a court in Norway cannot be decreed a legal venue, this does not necessarily exclude the case from being heard here, but to do so will be difficult, especially in cases involving disputes concerning the law of property.

    If an action has been brought in another state, this can exclude a case subsequently being brought in Norway owing to so-called pendency rules. The purpose of these is to avoid parallel legal procedures concerning the same claim, and they prevent a case being adjudicated by more than one court at the same time.

    The law of which country shall be applied in adjudicating the dispute?

    When the question of legal venue has been decided, and a court has been found competent to adjudicate the case, it must then address the question of which country’s law shall be applied.

    The basic situation is that even though a Norwegian court wields judicial authority, it is not necessarily the case that the Norwegian court shall apply the law of Norway in adjudicating the dispute. One outcome, which is not entirely impractical, is for the Norwegian court to apply other law than Norwegian law. This is typically the case where the parties have agreed on the choice of law, or where this choice is determined by statutory law.

    The choice-of-law question is to a great extent non-statutory and determined by legal practice.

    There are, however, convention rules that can determine the choice-of-law question within their areas of application. One example is the Rome Convention of 19 June 1980 concerning the choice of law in contractual relationships. Even though Norway is not a signatory to the Rome Convention, its clauses will in many cases coincide with the non-statutory choice-of-law rules that apply in Norwegian international private law.

    Svein Steinfeld Jervell

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    Our services
    • Drafting of contracts of an international character, including deliberation and the drafting of choice-of-law and legal venue clauses.
    • Advice concerning international legal matters.
    • Conflict and dispute resolution.