Norway updates

Employment & Benefits

Contributed by Homble Olsby Advokatfirma AS
Government discussion document targets zero-hour contracts
  • Norway
  • December 13 2017

Zero-hour contracts are particularly controversial in Norway, which is generally known for its high level of employee protection. For example, in early 2017 a district court held that a formal arrangement under which a staffing agency's full-time employees had not received salary payments between assignments was illegal. Further, the government recently issued a discussion document outlining its proposal to amend the Working Environment Act, which is intended to target zero-hour contracts.

Supreme Court clarifies Labour Court's role
  • Norway
  • July 12 2017

The Labour Court rules on matters concerning the establishment, termination and interpretation of collective agreements, as well as on the individual consequences of a breach of a contractual obligation agreed in such agreements. A recent Supreme Court case questioned the Labour Court's jurisdiction to declare an employee's termination invalid, as the collective agreement did not explicitly mention the consequences of a breach of contractual obligations.

Employee or independent contractor?
  • Norway
  • September 21 2016

The High Court recently confirmed the general criteria that must be considered when evaluating the distinction between an employee and an independent contractor. This distinction is subject to a concrete overall evaluation of the facts in the individual case, including whether the contract imposes a personal work commitment, where the work is conducted and who bears responsibility for the result.

Employee selection in workforce reductions
  • Norway
  • May 04 2016

The High Court recently ruled in a case regarding a workforce reduction following the closure of a department store, in which the employer had limited the selection of employees to be made redundant to those at the affected store. The court confirmed the general rule that an employer must consider all employees when reducing its workforce, but held that this rule may be deviated from if there are justifiable grounds to do so.

New law on restrictive covenants
  • Norway
  • February 17 2016

New rules on restrictive covenants in the labour market entered into force on January 1 2016. The rules are included in the Working Environment Act and include restrictions on clauses governing non-compete and non-solicitation of customers and employees. Employers may still protect their business secrets and know-how through non-compete and non-solicitation clauses, subject to certain restrictive conditions.


Energy & Natural Resources

Contributed by Simonsen Vogt Wiig Advokatfirma
Parent company guarantee requirement for future decommissioning cost in corporate transfers on NCS
  • Norway
  • December 18 2017

In 2016 the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy announced that in all future corporate transfers subject to ministry approval it would consider requiring security from the seller establishing a secondary liability for future decommissioning costs. The ministry will require any seller of a licensee or of a licensee's parent company to provide an unlimited parent company guarantee. However, questions have been raised about the robustness of the security achieved by the guarantee.

Norwegian Continental Shelf – a new dawn for EPC alliance contracts?
  • Norway
  • October 09 2017

Following the recovery and stabilisation of oil prices, an increasing number of oil companies on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) are looking for new ways to advance developments by cooperating with contractors. Some companies are looking for a stronger commitment from their suppliers and have introduced a cooperation scheme whereby the parties share a greater portion of risk for profit or loss. However, a number of challenges may arise from such contractual structures with regard to NCS projects.

Court of appeal's judgment could have fundamental impact on Europe's bedrock gas supplier
  • Norway
  • September 11 2017

The Borgarting Court of Appeal recently rendered its judgment in a case of major importance for the upstream Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) industry, natural gas buyers in Europe and the Norwegian government. If the judgment becomes final and binding, it will benefit the European gas supply. However, it may be a rude awakening for institutional investors in NCS infrastructure.

Non-operating partners' role in Norwegian Continental Shelf procurement
  • Norway
  • February 06 2017

An inexperienced operator on the Norwegian Continental Shelf with a relatively small organisation may invoke a need for non-operators to direct particular attention to the operator's contract award procedure; while reduced capacity of non-operators may affect their ability to contribute to joint venture operations and to exercise the required control. Consequently, it is essential that non-operators have sufficient available resources to fulfil their commitments.

E&P transaction market on Norwegian Continental Shelf
  • Norway
  • November 21 2016

In the early 2000s the Norwegian authorities introduced several measures to stimulate exploration and production activities on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS). The number of applicants in the 2016 NCS licensing round in pre-defined (mature) areas dropped to 33 from 47 in 2014 and 43 in 2015. In light of this, it is useful to examine the existing NCS market and some of the fundamental drivers and trends looking ahead.


Intellectual Property

Contributed by Zacco
KFIR four years on: is it fulfilling its obligations?
  • Norway
  • September 18 2017

Appeals of Norwegian Patent Office (NIPO) decisions used to be handled by a separate NIPO appeals division. However, in 2013 the Board of Appeal for Industrial Property Rights (KFIR) replaced this division. The motivation for this change was to increase legal certainty through independent review and efficient, trustworthy and user-friendly prosecution of appeals. Now that the KFIR has been active for four years, it is timely to take a closer look at the extent to which these purposes are being fulfilled.

Fighting for freedom to operate
  • Norway
  • March 20 2017

One risk of doing business, particularly for innovative technology companies, is the possible existence of conflicting third-party rights. At the very least, a patent infringement lawsuit can create uncertainty with respect to a company's ability to perform, while the worst case scenario includes injunctions, damages and possible bankruptcy. While numerous options for handling a threat of this kind exist in Norway, going directly to the courts may be particularly advantageous.

Patents and information security: what's the connection?
  • Norway
  • December 19 2016

Patents and information security have always been connected and, as such, a company cannot have a well-implemented IP rights strategy if it does not consider information security. By approaching information security as a tool to protect intellectual property, companies are better placed to implement the correct measures and contingency plans and secure and extract value from their intellectual property more efficiently.

Guide to the Patent Prosecution Highway
  • Norway
  • September 26 2016

While fast-track prosecution is available only at the initiative and discretion of the Norwegian Industrial Property Office, a patent applicant can opt to avail of the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH). The available statistics suggest that filing a PPH request in Norway will likely result in a significantly higher chance of faster prosecution, a favourable first office action and a reduced number of office actions.

Oral presentations as prior art
  • Norway
  • July 04 2016

Under the Patents Act, the state of the art is held to comprise everything made available to the public by means of written or oral description, by use or in any other way. However, until recently, the extent to which an oral presentation can be considered prior art was unclear. A decision of the Norwegian Industrial Property Office has provided welcome guidance on this issue.


Shipping & Transport

Contributed by Wikborg Rein
Landmark Supreme Court judgment on wreck removal
  • Norway
  • June 21 2017

The Supreme Court recently clarified a number of unsettled issues that will have an impact on other wreck removal cases, including whether vessel owners can use their right to limit liability as a defence against a wreck removal order. Among other things, the decision has clarified the highly disputed interpretation of the relationship between owners' duty to take action and their right to limit liability.

Considered ratification of Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks
  • Norway
  • February 15 2017

A year and a half after the entry into force of the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, the Ministry of Transport has completed a consultation process on a proposal to ratify the convention and implement it into Norwegian law. The ministry has suggested that the convention be implemented on a dual basis, alongside existing legislation.

Arbitration clauses and third parties in bills of lading and other agreements
  • Norway
  • February 01 2017

Since arbitration requires agreement between the parties, a third party is not normally bound by, or enti­tled to invoke, an arbitration clause. However, there are exceptions to the rule. It is recommended, when drafting arbitration clauses, to take into account not only the position of the contractual parties, but also the position of possi­ble third parties, since this may reduce or avoid the risk of difficult procedural questions that may arise if claims are later made by or against a third party.

Norway and Brazil cooperate on maritime transport
  • Norway
  • August 03 2016

Norway and Brazil signed a memorandum of understanding in November 2015 to enhance cooperation within the area of maritime transport. The memorandum is in line with the Norwegian government's long-term cooperation strategy for Brazil and is intended to increase both public and private sector cooperation and awareness to create mutual economic opportunities and promote investment.

Force majeure clauses under Norwegian law
  • Norway
  • January 06 2016

The civil law concept of force majeure is well established in Norwegian law, covering scenarios such as natural disasters, severe weather and war. It is recognised as both a statutory and contract term. However, although there is extensive practice and doctrine on force majeure clauses, a lack of clarity remains regarding what constitutes force majeure and what the effects of such situations are.