Tax Litigation Norway: overview

A Q&A guide to civil and criminal tax litigation in Norway.

This Q&A provides a high level overview of the key practical issues in civil and criminal tax litigation, including: pre-court/pre-tribunal process, trial process, documentary evidence, witness evidence, expert evidence, closing the case in civil and criminal trials, decision, judgment or order, costs, appeals, and recent developments and proposals for reform.

To compare answers across multiple jurisdictions, visit the Tax Litigation: Country Q&A tool.

The Q&A is part of the global guide to tax litigation. For a full list of jurisdictional Q&As visit www.practicallaw.com/taxlitigation-guide.

Contents

Overview of tax litigation

Issues subject to tax litigation

1. What are the most common issues subject to tax litigation in your jurisdiction?

The most common issues subject to tax litigation are civil law matters. The tax issues before the courts generally concern the interpretation of the Norwegian tax law provisions on the basic issues, such as whether an income is taxable or whether a loss or a cost is deductible. There are also a number of cases which concern when income or cost is accrued. The penalties (in the form of a penalty tax) that are imposed by the tax authorities are also commonly the subject of civil tax litigation. In general, criminal tax litigation usually concerns tax evasion, and can often involve quite substantial amounts.

Legislative framework

2. Outline the legislative framework and principal pieces of legislation governing both civil and criminal tax litigation.

Civil tax litigation

The following Acts constitute the pillars of Norwegian tax law:

  • General Tax Act.

  • VAT Act.

  • Petroleum Tax Act.

  • Tax Assessment Act.

  • Tax Payment Act.

  • Norwegian Civil Procedure Act of 2005.

The General Tax Act contains only material tax rules. The Petroleum Tax Act and the VAT Act contain both material rules and procedures for complaints, law suits and assessment. The Tax Assessment Act and the Tax Payment Act provide the formal procedure for assessment and payment.

The Tax Assessment Act contains rules governing the time limits for when a matter can be appealed using the administrative appeal procedure. An administrative appeal is handled by a Tax Appeal Board. Due to massive criticism for the lack of fair and independent treatment, the Tax Appeal Board system has recently been changed. The Tax Appeal Board will now comprise independent representatives with a minimum level of relevant competence in tax matters. The deadline for submitting an administrative appeal is, as a general rule, six weeks from the day on which the tax assessment was sent to the taxpayer, although this deadline is shortened to three weeks if the assessment involves a deviation from the taxpayer's own tax return.

The taxpayer can choose not to use the administrative appeal procedure and bring his case directly to the court. The deadline to initiate court proceedings where the administrative procedure has not been used is six months from the date when the assessment was sent to the taxpayer. If the assessment has been brought before the Tax Appeal Board, the deadline is six months from the date the Tax Appeal Board's resolution was sent to the taxpayer. If the taxpayer does nothing within these six-month deadlines, as a main rule the assessment is final. However, there are certain exceptions to this where an appeal can be initiated after the relevant deadline has passed (for example, if there is a court ruling determining that the previous assessment is based on the tax authorities' wrong interpretation of the law, or if the tax authorities announce that their previous practice was incorrect).

The Ministry of Finance and the City Council can initiate court proceedings if a tax assessment is based on incorrect facts or the wrong legal basis. The deadline to initiate these proceedings is four months from the date that the assessment was made. However, these types of proceedings are extremely rare.

The legislation governing tax litigation and court proceedings concerning tax matters are the general rules which apply to all civil litigation. There are no special rules applicable to tax matters. The general rules on civil court proceedings are found in the Norwegian Civil Procedure Act of 2005. Norway does not have any special courts or court proceedings for handling tax matters, and there are no special requirements for expert judges or associate judges.

Criminal tax litigation

The principal pieces of legislation governing criminal tax litigation are as follows:

  • Tax Assessment Act.

  • Criminal Code.

  • Criminal Procedure Act.

The Tax Assessment Act also governs the requirements for when the tax authorities must treat a tax matter as a criminal matter. As an initial step instead of commencing criminal proceedings, the Tax Assessment Act outlines the circumstances in which a "penalty tax" can be imposed on a taxpayer by the tax authorities. A penalty tax can be imposed by the tax authority on a taxpayer if the taxpayer has provided incorrect or incomplete information to the tax authorities, and this has, or could have (if not revealed) resulted in an assessment to tax that is too low. The taxpayer's intention in providing incorrect or incomplete information is not relevant, as it is not necessary to show that the taxpayer either intentionally or deliberately provided the incorrect/incomplete information for a penalty tax to be imposed.

Penalty taxes are imposed at the following three rates:

  • 10% of the difference between the amount of tax paid and the amount of tax actually due.

  • 45% of the difference between the amount of tax paid and the amount of tax actually due.

  • 60% of the difference between the amount of tax paid and the amount of tax actually due.

Penalty tax is only imposed at the higher rates where it can be shown that the taxpayer understood, or should have understood, that the incorrect or incomplete information provided could lead to a more favourable tax treatment.

The tax authorities must evaluate, in each case, whether to impose a penalty tax or, where the case is deemed sufficiently severe, whether to bring criminal charges against a taxpayer instead of imposing a penalty tax. Since the penalty tax is considered to be a "penalty" under Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights, a taxpayer cannot be subject to both a penalty tax and criminal charges. In some matters the tax authorities will choose to impose a penalty tax even where the violation of tax law is quite serious.

If the prosecution authority finds that the matter presented by the tax authorities involves a legal offence under the Criminal Code, it will initiate criminal court proceedings by charging the taxpayer. The Criminal Code distinguishes between three separate tax offences:

  • Tax fraud.

  • Gross negligent tax fraud.

  • Gross tax fraud.

These offences can be subject to penalties of either fines or up to six years' imprisonment. Criminal tax proceedings follow the general rules applicable to criminal litigation as contained in the Criminal Procedure Act.

Tax evasion and other criminal tax offences

3. What are the key elements that constitute tax evasion and other main criminal tax offences in your jurisdiction?

The most common element that constitutes tax evasion is that the taxpayer fails to report income or assets. The main criminal tax offences tend to involve either undeclared work or undeclared sales. The latter is often related to cross-border activities.

 

Pre-court/pre-tribunal process

Assessment, re-assessments and administrative determinations in civil law

4. Outline the procedure for tax assessments, re-assessments and administrative determinations in civil law.

All taxpayers must submit an annual tax return to the Tax Office. There are five regional tax offices. Tax assessments are initially made by the tax authorities on the basis of what has been reported by employers, banks and so on. Taxpayers receive a draft tax return which they must ensure is correct and complete and amend accordingly.

If the Tax Office finds that the information contained in the tax return is incorrect or incomplete, the taxpayer will be given the opportunity to comment on the matter before a decision is made. If the taxpayer is not satisfied with the decision, he can appeal to the Tax Appeal Board within three weeks of receiving the decision, or submit the case directly to the district court. In most cases matters are tried before the Tax Appeal Board before being submitted to the court. Before the Tax Appeal Board makes its decision, the taxpayer will have the opportunity to see and comment on the suggested resolution presented by the Tax Office before it is sent to the Tax Appeal Board.

Resolving disputes before commencing court proceedings

5. What are the main procedures used to resolve disputes before commencing proceedings in a civil court/tribunal?

If the taxpayer disputes the Tax Office's resolution the only available alternative for him is to appeal to the Tax Appeal Board. However, the taxpayer has no obligation to appeal to the Tax Appeal Board before initiating court proceedings. Tax Appeal Board proceedings are conducted in writing only.

Once a decision is made by the Tax Appeal Board the tax authorities have very limited scope to enter into a settlement. After court proceedings have been initiated, the tax authorities can settle a case based on a much broader evaluation of the circumstances (for example, the likeliness of succeeding in court proceedings, and so on). However, it is quite rare that the tax authorities settle tax matters.

As another alternative to commencing court proceedings, Norwegian taxpayers are increasingly using the Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) for disputes that concern issues relating to transfer pricing. MAP is generally preferred in disputes that concern transfer pricing, and generally constitutes a better way to resolve complex valuation cases involving transfer pricing.

Elements of the offence in criminal law

6. What are the elements of the main criminal law offences in tax litigation?

There are three main criminal law offences in tax litigation:

  • Tax fraud.

  • Gross negligent tax fraud.

  • Gross tax fraud.

Tax fraud. This is committed where a taxpayer fails to fulfil his duty of disclosure to the tax authorities. It is not necessary to show that the taxpayer intended to fail to fulfil his duty of disclosure for the offence to be committed.

Gross negligent tax fraud. This is committed where a taxpayer knew, or ought to have known, that his failure to fulfil his duty of disclosure could lead to a reduction of tax.

Gross tax fraud. This is committed where the tax fraud either:

  • Involves large amounts of money.

  • Involves repetition of the behaviour that constitutes tax fraud.

  • Is difficult to detect.

  • Is organised.

  • Involves a misuse of trust or position.

  • Is related to business activities.

The most common defence is that the information provided in the tax return is in fact complete and correct. As with most criminal law offences, the taxpayer's intentions and knowledge are the core issues to consider in criminal tax litigation.

Early resolution

7. What are the main procedures used for the early resolution of criminal law offences before trial?

There are no particular procedures for the early resolution of criminal law offences before trial. If the tax authorities find that a penalty tax is the appropriate penalty, the matter can be settled without commencing court proceedings provided that the taxpayer accepts the decision of the tax authorities or the Tax Appeal Board.

 

Trial process

Format of the hearing/trial

8. What format does the hearing/trial take?

All trials, both civil and criminal, are normally held in public, including those concerning tax matters. If certain conditions are met, the court can decide to hold a hearing behind closed doors. The protection of a taxpayer's business secrets or know-how may justify a closed hearing.

As a general rule in civil cases, trials must be postponed where a party fails to attend a hearing but has a valid excuse for their non-attendance. If a party fails to attend a hearing but does not have a valid excuse, the counterparty can demand a judgment by default provided that certain conditions are met. When a judgment by default is delivered, the party who fails to attend can request a retrial. If the party has a valid excuse for not attending, then a retrial is likely, but it is not likely if they do not have a valid excuse for not attending.

The general rule in criminal cases is that the case can only be tried if the defendant is in attendance. However, an important exception to this rule applies where the prosecuting authority is requesting a penalty of less than one year's imprisonment. In this instance, the trial can proceed in the absence of the defendant where the court finds that either:

  • The defendant's presence is not necessary to obtain an adequate description of the relevant facts of the case.

  • It is more likely than not that the defendant does not have a valid excuse for his absence from the trial.

Role of the judge/arbitrator/tribunal members

9. What is the role of the judge/arbitrator/tribunal members in both civil and criminal tax litigation?

Civil tax litigation

The judge's role is to pass a verdict based on the evidence presented to the court during the proceedings.

At first instance, the district court usually consists of one presiding judge. At second instance, the Court of Appeal usually consists of three judges. The final appeal court, the Supreme Court, consists of five judges.

At each level, the court can be comprised of judges who are experts or laymen.

Criminal tax litigation

The judge's role is the same as for civil tax litigation (see above, Civil tax litigation).

At first instance, the district court usually consists of one presiding judge and two lay judges. At second instance, the Court of Appeal usually consists of three judges. At an appeal hearing that includes the assessment of evidence in relation to the issue of guilt, or a decision concerning a penalty for a felony punishable under statute by imprisonment for a term exceeding six years, the Court of Appeal will sit with four lay judges in addition to the three judges. The final appeal court, the Supreme Court, consists of five judges.

Commencement of proceedings: civil law

10. What is the procedure for commencing tax litigation proceedings in civil law and/or a taxpayer appealing a decision of the tax authority?

Where an appeal is being made from a decision of the Tax Office, an appeal to the Tax Appeal Board must be made within three weeks from the date that the taxpayer receives the decision of the Tax Office. There are no other specific formal requirements.

A taxpayer can bring his case to the court either directly or from the Tax Office or he can choose to appeal to the Tax Appeal Board first. If the case is not appealed to the Tax Appeal Board the appeal to the court must be made within six months from the date that the Tax Office issued its decision. If the taxpayer chooses to appeal the case to the Tax Appeal Board, the appeal to court must be made within six months after the Tax Appeal Board issued its decision.

To commence tax litigation proceedings, the taxpayer must submit a writ of summons to the court. The court will then order the tax authorities (that is, the state) to submit a defence in response to the writ of summons.

Where a taxpayer wishes to appeal a court ruling to either the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court, the taxpayer must submit the appeal within one month from the date that the court judgment is served to the taxpayer.

An appeal to the Tax Appeal Board is free of charge. The commencement of court proceedings requires the payment of a fee, the amount of which will be determined by the court on a case-by-case basis. To provide a general indication of fees, the basis of calculation is a legal fee of NOK1,025, which is multiplied by a number which reflects the complexity of the case.

 
11. Must a taxpayer pay the disputed tax before leave to appeal the tax authority's decision is granted?

The law requires that the taxpayer must pay the tax that has been assessed as due by the Tax Office. There are currently ongoing discussions to change this requirement. However, a taxpayer can make an application to the Tax Collection Office (the body responsible for collecting tax on behalf of the tax authorities) to have the tax payment that is due postponed where the taxpayer is appealing the Tax Office's decision. Lately, postponements have regularly been granted where a taxpayer appeals a decision of the Tax Office. The extension will most often be extended if the Tax Appeal Board's decision is later appealed to the court.

If payment is postponed and the taxpayer loses the appeal, interest accrues until payment is made. No other penalty is imposed as a result of the postponement.

Commencement of proceedings: criminal law

12. What is the procedure for commencing tax litigation proceedings in criminal law?

Criminal tax litigation is commenced by the prosecuting authority submitting an indictment to the district court together with a request that the case be heard.

The defendant is entitled to be represented by defence counsel during the main hearing, and the court will appoint a defence counsel when the indictment is received if the defendant has not already been assigned a defence counsel.

Government response

13. How has the government responded to recent civil and criminal law cases to improve the court procedure?

Civil law

The current law regulating civil proceedings entered into force on 1 January 2008. There are no current suggestions to change the court procedure. However, the taxpayer's obligation to pay the tax assessed by the tax authorities before commencing the handling by the Tax Appeal Board, and before commencing litigation, is currently under discussion, as is the taxpayer's obligation to pay a penalty tax before a court has made that penalty legally binding.

Criminal law

The Criminal Procedure Act was enacted in 1981 and there are no current plans to introduce any changes.

Burden of proof

14. What is the burden of proof in both civil and criminal tax litigation proceedings?

Civil law

The main rule is that the courts must make their decisions based on an overall assessment of the facts that are deemed to be most likely to be true. Though not contained in the legislation, this principle is affirmed through case law.

There is no burden of proof on the tax authorities concerning the tax assessment provided to the taxpayer.

However, where a penalty tax has been imposed that is the subject of civil tax litigation, the tax authorities bear the burden of proving that the requirements have been met to impose that penalty tax. Where a penalty tax has been levied at the lower level, the tax authorities must prove this "on a balance of probabilities". Where a penalty tax has been levied at the higher levels, the tax authorities must prove this "beyond all reasonable doubt" (see Question 2, Criminal tax litigation).

Criminal law

The prosecuting authority bears the burden of proof. This includes both that:

  • The defendant has committed the criminal offence.

  • All the subjective and objective conditions necessary to impose any penalties proposed have been fulfilled.

The defendant's guilt must be proven by the prosecuting authority beyond all reasonable doubt.

Main stages

15. What are the main stages of typical court proceedings for tax disputes?

Civil law

Court proceedings commence when the taxpayer submits a writ of summons to the district court. The court will then order the tax authorities (that is, the state) to submit a defence in response to the writ of summons. Generally, the court will schedule a planning meeting once the writ of summons and the defendant's response have been received. The date for the hearing is often set immediately, and the hearing will take place within a reasonable time, which is considered to be six months. However, the hearing usually takes place within between six to 18 months.

After the hearing, the court should present its ruling within four weeks. If the case is heard by a single judge, this time limit is reduced to two weeks (although this deadline is seldom kept). The district court's decision can be appealed to the Court of Appeal, and the Court of Appeal's decision can be appealed to the Supreme Court. The deadline to submit an appeal is one month from the date the previous court decision was served to the taxpayer.

Appeals to the Supreme Court will usually be rejected after hearing the counterparty, unless the court finds that the case contains an issue of fundamental interest.

Criminal law

Criminal court proceedings commence once the tax authorities and the prosecuting authority have completed their investigation, and the prosecuting authority finds a reason to indict the taxpayer and submits an indictment to the district court.

Once the court receives the indictment, the case is taken under consideration by the court, which then determines the time and place for a hearing. The court will also appoint a defence counsel for the accused at this point, if the accused does not already have a defence counsel.

The district court's judgment in a criminal case can be appealed to the Court of Appeal, although these appeals can be denied under certain rules relating to the sentencing framework. As for civil matters, appeals to the Supreme Court are not automatically tried by the Court, and appeals to the Supreme Court will usually be denied unless the case contains an issue of fundamental interest.

After the hearing, the court must present its ruling within two weeks.

It should be noted that the prosecuting authority can decide not to take a case to trial and to instead, and more simply, charge the accused and apply a penalty of a fine or a confiscation, or both. If this charge is not accepted by the accused, the case will either proceed to trial or be abandoned by the prosecuting authority.

 

Documentary evidence

Disclosure of documents in civil proceedings

16. What documents must the parties disclose to the other parties and/or the court in civil proceedings? Are there any detailed rules governing this procedure?

The parties do not, at the outset, have any obligation to present any particular documents. However, if a party claims that other party has documentation that should be disclosed, the judge can instruct that those documents are disclosed.

The parties can present all the documents they believe are relevant to argue their case. In tax matters, the issue for the court is whether the decision made by the Tax Office or the Tax Appeal Board is valid. Neither the taxpayer nor the tax authorities can present new evidence (that is, evidence that was not presented before the decision was made). Further evidence to substantiate what has already been presented is allowed.

The preparations before the hearing must be completed two weeks before the main hearing. All documents and other evidence must be presented before the court within this deadline.

As a general rule, the court will order the parties to submit a written closing submission before the preparatory stage is completed. This is made publicly available at the court.

Special rules/considerations

17. Are there any special rules or considerations concerning the disclosure or discovery of documents in civil tax litigation?

The tax authorities have been allowed to consider information about other taxpayers as privileged. As a general rule, this is not disputed. However, government practice is often invoked as a source of law. The Supreme Court has ruled that secret comparisons between taxpayers which introduce privileged material are acceptable as evidence, and has therefore accepted that the taxpayer in certain maters may be unable to investigate the evidence of the case, because it is privileged.

The taxpayer can choose to withhold information that would harm his business if made public, but must at the same time accept that the court cannot consider facts that are not presented. It is sometimes possible for the court to apply a closed doors policy with this type of evidence, although in practice this is seldom granted. Taxpayers can also be prohibited from revealing information as a result of binding business contracts. These considerations are often relevant when considering whether to initiate court proceedings.

Disclosure in criminal proceedings

18. What documents must the parties disclose to the other parties and/or the court in criminal proceedings? Are there any detailed rules governing this procedure?

The prosecution must submit all documents/evidence which are relevant to clarify the facts of the case to the court, which includes both evidence that suggests the accused is guilty and evidence that suggests he is not guilty. During the investigation, there can be restrictions on the accused's full access to documents until the investigation is completed.

The taxpayer has an extensive duty to provide all relevant information to the tax authorities during the ordinary tax assessment. If there are documents that the court or the prosecution requires that have not been presented, such evidence can be seized under the established rules. However, evidence that a witness is under no obligation to testify about cannot be seized (see Question 21).

Special rules/considerations

19. Are there any special rules or considerations concerning the disclosure of documents in criminal tax litigation?

Tax cases are subject to the ordinary criminal procedural law rules. Therefore, the defendant can refuse to incriminate himself or a related party.

 

Witness evidence

Trial considerations

20. Do witnesses of fact give oral evidence or do they just submit written evidence? Is there a right to cross-examine witnesses of fact?

Civil law

As a main rule, witnesses give oral evidence. The witness can testify directly before the court, or by distance examination if attending is burdensome and not required. Written statements are only accepted before the Supreme Court as no witnesses appear in the Supreme Court.

The witness will first be examined by the party that has summoned him, then by the other party and then by the court. The court is entitled to start the examination of witnesses that it has summoned on its own motion, but it can also leave this to the parties' lawyers.

Criminal law

A witness in a criminal case must appear before the court once he has been given notice to do so by the court, and will generally testify orally before the court during the proceedings (except before the Supreme Court, where only written statements are presented).

The order of examination is usually the same as for civil law matters (see above, Civil law).

Witness preparation

21. Provide a brief outline of the procedure for preparing witnesses in both civil and criminal cases. Are there any special or unique features to consider for witness evidence in criminal cases?

Civil law

It is common to be in contact with and prepare witnesses before they testify. There are few rules that deal with the preparation of witnesses, but the client and the attorney must not commit undue influence (for example, by influencing the witness to state anything but the truth and what he actually knows about the case). A party is also allowed to be in contact with, and ask questions of, the witnesses of the opposing party. However, if these witnesses have special ties to the opposing party, then contact should not be made without the opposing party's attorney being notified in advance.

Generally, any person must give evidence on the facts of the case before the court if they have been duly convened to do so, and they do not have a valid reason to be absent from the court.

Before a witness can testify to the court at the main hearing, the judge/administrator will urge the witness to tell the truth and not conceal anything that is important in order to clarify the case. The administrator will explain that it may be a criminal offence to lie to the court and the witness must swear to tell the truth.

There are exceptions from the obligation to give evidence, which includes evidence relating to the following matters:

  • Confidential information.

  • Information pertaining to related parties.

  • Trade secrets.

  • Information that may lead to the prosecution of the witness, or those closest to him.

Criminal law

There are broadly similar rules concerning the obligation to give evidence in criminal cases as in civil cases (see above, Civil law). However, certain differences can apply to criminal cases. It should also be noted that the defendant in a criminal case cannot be punished for perjury as a result of his own statements.

Hearsay evidence in civil and criminal trials

22. Are there any rules concerning the introduction of hearsay evidence in civil and criminal trials?

Civil trials

Hearsay evidence is allowed, although the court can, depending on the circumstances in which the evidence is introduced, consider this evidence as less decisive than other evidence presented to the court.

Criminal trials

Hearsay evidence is allowed, although the court can, depending on the circumstances in which the evidence is introduced, consider this evidence as less decisive than other evidence presented to the court.

 

Expert evidence

Expert reports in civil trials

23. What are the rules concerning the introduction of expert reports in civil trials?

An expert report can be presented as evidence provided that either:

  • The parties agree to this.

  • The opposing party is given the opportunity to examine the expert providing the expert report.

Where the party not introducing the expert report does not approve of its submission, the report cannot be presented unless the expert witness will appear before the court to be examined by the opposing party.

Expert evidence in civil trials

24. What are the rules concerning the introduction of expert evidence in civil trials?

There are two types of expert witnesses in civil proceedings:

  • Court-appointed experts.

  • Experts that the parties wish to call on their own initiative.

These are experts who have not had dealings with the case in advance, but have been appointed or engaged as experts as a result of the dispute. Experts who have been involved in the case before the dispute was a fact can only be called as ordinary witnesses.

Expert witnesses are normally not permitted to be called in relation to legal matters, unless permission has been granted to do so by the court. Legal investigations conducted for the case can only be submitted as evidence with the consent of all parties.

The expert will normally prepare a report that the parties can study before the case is admitted for oral hearing. The expert must be available to answer questions from the party introducing the expert and the opposing party during the main hearing if the report has been submitted without the opposing party's approval (see Question 23).

An expert witness can, unlike ordinary witnesses, attend the hearing and can be allowed to ask questions to parties, witnesses and other experts. The examination will in all other respects be conducted in accordance with the provisions governing the examination of ordinary witnesses.

Expert evidence in criminal trials

25. What are the rules concerning the introduction of expert evidence in criminal trials? Is it possible to introduce expert reports?

Expert evidence

The court can appoint experts to serve the court, but the court is not obliged to follow the experts' views and assessments.

As a rule, experts will submit a written report to the court, either jointly or individually. The experts can be summoned to give oral evidence before the court, either instead of submitting a written report or in order to further elaborate on the written report. They are bound to attend subject to the same rules as apply to ordinary witnesses.

Experts will be examined under the rules applicable to ordinary witnesses, but they can be present throughout the proceedings. The court can allow them to put questions to the parties, witnesses and other experts, and to consult each other before they answer.

The parties can also introduce experts to the court without prior appointment.

Expert reports

Expert reports can be submitted in a criminal case, both from court-appointed experts and from the prosecuting authority and the defendant.

Special considerations

26. Are there any special considerations for introducing expert evidence/reports in both civil and criminal trials?

Civil trials

There are no other special considerations for introducing expert evidence/reports other than those outlined in Questions 23 and 24.

Criminal trials

There are no other special considerations for introducing expert evidence/reports other than those outlined in Question 25.

 

Closing the case in civil trials

27. What are the rules governing the submission of both written and oral argument in closing a civil trial?

Normally, a civil hearing ends with an oral procedure in which oral submissions are made by both parties. In exceptional cases, the court can decide that written submissions must be made. In appeals against rulings or decisions, the general rule is that the proceedings are conducted in writing only.

 

Closing the case in criminal trials

28. What are the rules governing the submission of both written and oral argument in closing a criminal trial?

The rules are the same as for civil trials (see Question 27).

 

Decision, judgment or order

Civil law cases

29. What are the rules governing the issuance of a decision in civil cases?

A ruling that is made on the basis of a court hearing must be made by the judges who have participated in the hearing.

Each claim or procedural legal controversy to be determined will be voted on separately. If there is more than one ground for summarily dismissing, quashing or staying a case, for setting aside an appealed ruling or for applying for reinstatement or reopening, each ground will be voted on separately.

Each ruling must be made by a majority vote unless otherwise provided by statute. In the event of a tie vote, the presiding judge will have the casting vote.

The ruling must be pronounced within four weeks after the main hearing or appeal hearing is closed. If the case is heard by a single judge, this time limit is reduced to two weeks.

The rulings of the court must state the:

  • Name of the court.

  • Time and place where the ruling was pronounced.

  • Members of the court.

  • Parties to the case.

  • Court reference number for the case.

The ruling must be in writing and be signed by the members of the court. The ruling must state whether it is unanimous. If there are dissenting votes, the ruling must state who is in dissent and the issues to which the dissent relates.

Grounds must be given for judgments. The grounds must include:

  • A presentation of the case.

  • The parties' prayers for relief and the grounds upon which the prayers are based.

  • The assessment of the court.

Judgments must contain a conclusion that accurately states the outcome of the ruling that is made.

If the ruling can be enforced when it is pronounced, the court will fix a time limit for the ruling to be enforced. The time limit must be a fixed day or a fixed period of time, which will run from the date of service of the judgment. The time limit for monetary obligations will be two weeks from the date of judgment, unless the claim falls due and payable at a later date. Otherwise, if the time limit for seeking a remedy does not leave sufficient time to comply with the order, the court will fix a time limit to run from the date when the ruling becomes final and enforceable. If an obligation is contingent, the court will decide which condition must be fulfilled before the ruling can be enforced.

Criminal law cases

30. What are the rules governing the issuance of a decision in criminal cases?

If the court has more than one member, it will carry out its deliberations and voting in camera before judgment is delivered, unless the members immediately agree on the decision.

The issue of guilt will be voted on separately. A decision on the issue of guilt in disfavour of the person charged requires five votes in the Court of Appeal. Otherwise all decisions must be made by an ordinary majority unless otherwise provided. If the votes are tied, the president's vote will be conclusive. Trials by jury are to be abolished.

The court cannot go beyond the matter to which the indictment relates, but it is not bound by the particulars as regards time, place and other circumstances. Only when it finds special reason to do so can the court go beyond the matter to which the indictment relates, such as where circumstances exist that would bring the matter under a more severe penal provision than that specified in the indictment.

With regard to the penal provision applicable to the matter, the court is not bound by the indictment or the contentions that are submitted. The same applies with regard to a penalty and other applicable sanctions. Before the court applies a penal provision other than that specified in the indictment, or imposes a sanction or a confiscation greater than that proposed by the prosecution, it must give the parties an opportunity to express their views on the matter.

A judgment must contain:

  • A short account of the subject matter of the case.

  • The claims that have been made.

  • The reasons for the decision.

  • The conclusion of the judgment.

The grounds of the judgment must state whether the judgment is unanimous or, if this is not the case, which of the members of the court do not agree with the conclusion of the judgment, and the points on which there is disagreement.

The judgment must be delivered immediately after the case has been closed for judgment. If this cannot be done, and it is therefore decided to postpone delivery of the judgment until a subsequent sitting of the court, a time and place for this sitting must, if possible, be fixed before the case is closed for judgment. If the judgment is not delivered within three days after the case has been closed for judgment, the reason for this delay must be stated in the court record.

The judgment will be delivered at a court sitting. If the person charged is present in court, judgment will be delivered by reading the judgment aloud. If the person charged is not present, the judgment is deemed to be delivered as soon as it is signed.

 

Costs

31. How is the issue of costs determined in both civil and criminal cases?

Civil law

As a rule, the losing party must bear the legal costs (both his own and the opposing party's costs), but there are exceptions that can lead to a different solution, depending on the outcome and the merits of the case.

Criminal law

If the defendant is sentenced in the case, it is the general rule that the defendant will be required to compensate the state for the necessary costs.

In cases where the defendant is acquitted, he is entitled to compensation for the economic loss he has incurred as a result of the prosecution.

There are some special provisions governing the allocation of legal costs in criminal cases. Only the main rule is presented here.

 

Appeals

Right to appeal in civil law

32. What are the main grounds for appealing a civil law decision?

An appeal can be brought against a judgment on the grounds of:

  • Error in the assessment of the facts.

  • Error in the application of law.

  • Error in the procedure on which the ruling is based.

Procedure to appeal in civil law

33. What is the procedure for appealing a civil law decision?

As a main rule, an appeal can relate to claims that have been determined by the appealed ruling. The prayer for relief in respect of a determined claim can only be broadened if the opposite party consents or if the amendment is based on circumstances that became known to the party after the main hearing in the district court.

The time limit for appeal is one month after the date the judgment is served to the party, unless otherwise provided by statute. When pronouncing judgment, the court can fix a time limit for appeal of up to six weeks from the date of service of the judgment if it will be particularly difficult for the parties to observe the one-month time limit.

Right to appeal in criminal law

34. What are the main grounds for appealing a criminal law decision?

An appeal can be brought on the following grounds:

  • Error in the way in which the proceedings were conducted.

  • Error on the assessment of the evidence on the question of guilt.

  • Error on the application of the law on the question of guilt, or a decision on punishment or sanction applied.

The time limit for appeal is two weeks from the date the judgment is served.

However, an appeal to the Supreme Court cannot be based on errors on the assessment of evidence on the question of guilt.

Procedure to appeal in criminal law

35. What is the procedure for appealing a criminal law decision?

Appeals against judgments of the District Court or the Court of Appeal can be brought by the parties to the appellate court.

The time limit for an appeal is two weeks from the date on which judgment is delivered. The time limit for the person charged runs from the date when the judgment is served on him.

If one party appeals, the other party can lodge a cross-appeal within one week of the date the initial appeal is served to the counterparty.

An appeal by the person charged must be submitted in writing or orally to the court that has delivered the judgment, or to the prosecuting authority.

The notice of appeal will specify the judgment that is being appealed against, and whether the appeal relates to the whole judgment or only some parts of that judgment.

The notice of appeal must also state:

  • The error on which the appeal is based.

  • Any new evidence that is to be invoked.

  • The alteration proposed to the original judgment.

 

Recent civil law developments and proposals for reform

36. Outline the main recent civil law developments in tax litigation in your jurisdiction. Are there any proposals to reform civil law tax litigation?

There have been no recent developments or proposals.

 

Recent criminal law developments and proposals for reform

37. Outline the main recent criminal law developments in tax litigation in your jurisdiction. Are there any proposals to reform criminal law tax litigation?

There have been no recent developments or proposals.

 

Online resources

Stiftelsen Lovdata

W https://lovdata.no

Description. This is a non-profit trust established by the ministry of justice and the Legal Faculty at the University of Oslo. It provides an updated database of all laws and regulations and also court rulings.

Skatteetaten

W www.skatteetaten.no

Description. This is the website of the tax authorities, which provides guidelines for individuals as well as companies. Some of this information is available in English.

University of Oslo

W http://app.uio.no/ub/ujur/oversatte-lover/

Description. The University of Oslo has made public translated versions of the Criminal Procedure Act and the Civil Procedure Act. These translations are unofficial.



Contributor profiles

Cecilie Amdahl, Partner/Lawyer

Schjødt AS

T +47 23 01 18 84
M +47 918 40 360
F Schjødt: +47 22 83 17 12
E ceam@schjodt.no

W www.schjodt.com

Professional qualifications. Head of Taxation; Head of Corporate Advisory and Transactions

Areas of practice. Tax; corporate law; transactions; restructuring; litigation

Languages. Norwegian, English

Professional associations/memberships

Cecilie has broad experience from holding several board positions in large companies, including, among others, Scatec Solar ASA, Moeco Norge AS, Norse Energy Corporation ASA, Bridge Energy ASA, Telio ASA, Acta Kapitalforvaltning AS and Wunderlich Securities AS.

Sigurd Holter Torp, Partner/Lawyer

Schjødt AS

T +47 23 01 18 08
M +47 913 80 422
F Schjødt: +47 22 83 17 12
E sht@schjodt.no
W www.schjodt.com

Professional qualifications. Head of Dispute Resolution. Extensive expertise in litigation and a significant practice in advising on complex disputes related to a broad spectre of business law. Admitted to the Supreme Court in 2010.

Areas of practice. Contract law; tax law; intellectual property rights; media law; white collar crime; litigation.

Languages. Norwegian, English


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