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    Land consolidation

    Area of expertise

    By means of land consolidation, changes may be made to real estate, or rights to real estate may be amended in order to achieve improved applicability.

    Land consolidation cases deal with real estate and the rights associated with it.

    The common feature where the law is concerned is that these cases are heard in the land consolidation court, through which many remedies are available for resolving the issues involved. Our lawyers are widely experienced in applying land consolidation law in order to achieve favourable outcomes wherever complex real estate matters are involved. Land consolidation law also addresses disputes arising out of a lack of clarification with regard to boundaries and rights between properties, as well as cases involving differing real estate assessments. Dalan has considerable experience of assisting clients in primary industries and real estate developers, experience which includes pleading cases in the land consolidation court.

    The Land Consolidation Act of 21 June 2013 no. 100 determines the scope of activity of the land consolidation court.

    The purpose of the Act is to “facilitate the efficient and advantageous use of real estate and resources for the benefit of owners, easement holders and wider society”, cf. Section 1-1. This objective shall be achieved by the land consolidation court “remedying impractical property ownership arrangements and easements, clarifying and determining boundaries and rights, carrying out appraisals and issuing other rulings pursuant to this and other legislation.”

    The land consolidation court has three main tasks as governed by the Act:

    • Land consolidation (Land Consolidation Act, Chapter 3)
    • Legal clarification and boundary determination (Land Consolidation Act, Chapter 4)
    • Appraisals (Land Consolidation Act, Chapter 5)

    Land consolidation is the term used for a process whereby existing real estate arrangements are amended or re-ordered in such a way as to render the use of the property more practical. Impractical arrangements, such as difficulty in utilising a property or a right gainfully, provide grounds for land consolidation pursuant to Section 3-2 of the Land Consolidation Act. Furthermore, and pursuant to Section 3-3 of the Act, the court may only effect land consolidation in order to make the property arrangements in the land consolidation more advantageous. There is also a requirement that a land consolidation settlement shall not result in costs and other disbenefits that are greater than the benefits (cf. Section 3-18 of the Land Consolidation Act).

    The measures that may be taken to make the property more suitable for use are set out in Sections 3-4 to 3-10 of the Act. These may involve modifications to the property and perpetual easements, establishing joint ownership, dissolution of joint ownership and joint use, division of other property than real estate, laying down rules for shared use, orders to carry out joint measures and joint investments, as well establishing new associations for operation or maintenance where several parties are to use the property or exercise their right of use.

    This is the other main task of the land consolidation court, whereby the court determines and clarifies existing boundaries and the legal issues relating to real estate. These tasks stand in contrast to the those in chapter 3, which are intended to change and re-order the arrangements relating to the property and rights of use. Here there is no requirement that a dispute exists; it is sufficient that there is a lack of clarification regarding the boundaries and rights of use.

    Chapter 5 sets out the third main task of the land consolidation court: “Appraisals and other rulings pursuant to other legislation”. Included under appraisals are, for example, expropriation appraisals, project-related land consolidation as well as the determination of compensation for the acquisition of land, or the right of use of a private road, the variation or extinguishment of easements, as well as questions pursuant to the Reindeer Husbandry Act. The land consolidation court also performs appraisals and issues other rulings pursuant to the provisions of other legislation. A summary of the particular legislation concerned is given in Section 5-3 of the Land Consolidation Act.

    The procedural rules in the Land Consolidation Act are supplemented by references to the rules included in the Dispute Act.

    In cases relating to land consolidation, legal clarification and boundary determination, the main rule is the land consolidation court apportions the costs between the parties according to the benefits accruing to them as a result of the case.

    The exception to this rule is set out in Section 7-9, where it is stated that if a judgement has been passed in a dispute, the reimbursement rules of the Dispute Act are applied. Similarly, a cost limit of 20% applies if the disputed sum is less than NOK 125 000, as in chapter 10 of the Dispute Act. One should therefore be able to provide, if possible, documentation that the disputed sum amounts to more than NOK 125 000.

    Appraisal cases pursuant to chapter 5 are governed by the rules of the Appraisal Procedure Act with respect to the costs relating to conducting the appraisal, cf. Section 7-1, second sentence.

    A ruling by the land consolidation court may be appealed to a court of appeal. The rule governing appeals is set out in chapter 8 of the Act. Where the land consolidation court has reached an appraisal pursuant to the Assessment and Expropriation Act, the legal remedy is a re-evaluation in the court of appeal, which shall then sit with a bench comprising one court of appeal judge and four lay judges.

    Håkon Mathiesen

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    Harald O. Sletner

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