The Conciliation Board is the lowest level of the legal system for civil cases. It is a mediation service that has limited judicial powers. The Conciliation Board’s main task is to help the parties to a case to resolve it in a simple, swift, and inexpensive manner, either through mediation or by judgment. Most cases involving disputed values up to 200 000 NOK must first be brought before the Conciliation Board before it can be appealed to the District Courts. Most civil disputes start at the level of the Conciliation Board.
In some civil cases, mediation through the Norwegian Mediation Service (Konfliktrådet) can be used as an alternative to the ordinary courts.
In civil cases, that are not covered by the legal aid scheme, parties must pay for their own legal expenses. The winning party is often awarded lawyer’s fees, which must then be covered by the losing party. This means that the risk of exorbitant legal expenses can be higher in Norway than in other systems in which parties cover their own legal fees regardless of the outcome in court. You can read more about legal expenses in civil cases here.
A party may be entitled to public legal aid in certain types of cases. Many do not qualify for public legal aid because of the national income threshold and restrictions on the types of cases that fall within the scheme.
Individuals who do not qualify for the public legal aid scheme may be able to receive assistance from a number of non-profit organizations and student-run legal clinics that offer free legal aid. Through the Norwegian Bar Association’s “Lawyer Watch” (Advokatvakten), individuals can receive a free consultation of up to 30 minutes with a member of the Bar Association in several locations across the country.
In Norway liability for damages only extends to economic loss. In certain limited circumstances statutory provisions provide liability for non-economic damages.