Report No. 77
In Norway, when it is intended to bring an action against someone, the case cannot as a rule be brought before the court unless an attempt has been made to settle the dispute by way of mediation. Such mediation is carried out by the conciliation council. This council is composed of three members elected by the rural or town councils for a period of four years.
As a rule, each municipality is to have a conciliation council. It is, however, permissible to divide a municipality into several different conciliation council jurisdiction. According to the publication "Administration of Justice in Norway" edited by the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Justice,1 there were in 1957 about 750 conciliation councils. Professional members of the Bar and certain State officials were not eligible as conciliators. Conciliators were normally always non-lawyers.
They were paid a petty small fee for handling of each individual case; otherwise,they received no salary. There is no mediation by the conciliation council in matrimonial cases, descent cases, cases brought against the. State or municipal authorities or institutions. The procedure adopted by the conciliation council has been described as under:
"It is up to the one who intends to bring the action to request mediation by filing a summons with the Conciliation Council, usually at the place where the other party is domiciled. The summons must state the subject matter of the dispute. The Chairman of the Conciliation Council will then summon the parties to a sitting of the council, where they, as a rule, must appear in person. They are not allowed in any case to let professional barristers appear in lieu of them or to appear accompanied by barristers.
If the Conciliation Council succeeds in bringing about a settlement between the parties, a formal agreement is entered into and is recorded in the official records of the Conciliation Council. Such a formal agreement will, in the main, have the same effect as a final judgment. If the parties fail to agree, the dispute will usually be referred to the Court for trial. The Conciliation Council may, however, pronounce judgment in any case, provided both the parties appear and request the Council to settle the dispute.
On the request of one of the parties only, the Conciliation Council may deliver judgment in cases concerning the boundaries of bounds of estates or grounds, in cases concerning established partial rights in immovable property as well as in cases involving claims for compensation for damage inflicted on such property, provided the value or the matter in dispute does not in any such case exceed Kr. 4,000 (i.e. about £ 200), and in cases involving other claims of an economic nature if the value of the matter in dispute does not exceed Kr. 1,000 (i.e. about £ 50).
On the request of that plaintiff the Conciliation Council may moreover deliver judgment in debt cases, provided the value of the matter in dispute does not exceed Kr. 10,000 (i.e. £ 500), if the defendant fails to appear, or if he appears and acknowledges his obligation to pay the principal debt.
In practice the privilege of delivery of judgment by the Conciliation Council is only exercised to a small extent, apart from cases where the defendant fails to appear. In such cases judgment is delivered on the basis of the plaintiff's representation of the case in so far as it does not conflict with established facts.
1. Royal Norwegian Ministry of Justice, Administration of justice in Norway, (1957), pp. 9-30.