Court of Appeal (Norway) - History


The court system in Norway dates back to about 950, when the things were created as assembly of the great farmers to set laws and convict people of breaching them. These main things were Borgarting, Eidsivating, Gulating and Frostating, but many smaller ones existed, and courts could be raised in any, or even multiple things, creating a fog of legal doubt in cases of disagreements. From about 1300 King Håkon V allowed cases to be appealed directly to the king, for final decision. District courts were establish transitionally from the old things to bygdeting, consisting of six or twelve lay judges (lagrettemann) appointed by the king. In 1539, with the removal of the Norwegian Riksråd, a system of herredag was introduced each ten, later three, years. It acted as court of appeal for peasants, and first instance for the nobility. These things met in Oslo, Skien, Stavanger, Bergen and Trondheim; from 1625 only in Oslo and Bergen.

A system of courts with instances, so a case could be appealed, was introduced in 1607. At first there were fourt levels of court. The district courts remained, but cases could be appealed to appeal judges (lagmann). Further they could be appealed to the herredag, and at last to the king. In 1661, with the introduction of the absolute monarchy, a supreme court was created in Copenhagen, allowing a single and final decision to be made by one court. The following year the district courts were supplemented with the city courts, creating another level under the courts of appeal. The courts of appeal lated until 1797, when they were removed.

In 1797 four high courts (overrett) were created, replacing the courts of appeal. These were located in Christiania (Oslo), Bergen, Kristiansand and Throndhjem. In 1890 they were reorganized and reduced to only three courts, with Kristiansand losing its seat. The courts of appeal lated until 1797, when they were removed. At the same time the courts of appeal were reintroduced, and divided into five constitutions.

The high courts remained until 1936, but were limited to only written procedure, while only oral procedure was permitted in the courts of appeal. In addition, the two levels had non-compatible jurisdictions, creating confusion and an unnecessary complexity. With the new system, the court of appeal became the second level for all civil cases, and lesser criminal cases, while they became the first level for serious criminal charges. This was changed in 1995 when all matters were to be handled by the district courts first. At the same time, the Eidsivating Court of Appeal was split in two, with Oppland, Hedmark and northern Akershus being administrated from Hamar and taking the name, while the Oslo office took the new name Borgarting.

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