Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have experienced a reduction in their workload and have had to temporarily lay off employees. However, it can be difficult for employers and employees to stay up to date with the rules on temporary lay-offs. This article highlights the key terms and procedural rules relating to temporary lay-offs, providing an overview of the current rules and proposed changes.
The government has made several changes to the regulations concerning the reporting and taxation of benefits in kind. The changes aim to simplify how employers apply the regulations in practice. Previously, gifts from employers were tax free only when they were part of the company's general scheme; however, this requirement has been repealed. The government has also decided that influenza and COVID-19 vaccines covered by employers will be tax free from 2021.
As part of the COVID-19 crisis package, the government has proposed to extend the schemes for sickness benefits, the jobseekers' work assessment allowance, unemployment benefits and employers' expenses relating to foreign nationals' entry quarantine and employees' quarantine hotel stays.
The government has proposed to extend until 1 July 2021 both the period in which the increased daily unemployment benefit rate applies and the temporary lay-off period. The government stated that the extended measures aim to give employees and employers more predictability during a difficult time.
The Supreme Court recently pronounced a judgment in which a female employee was awarded damages for non-economic loss after being subjected to sexual harassment by customers. The verdict provides useful clarifications regarding the conditions, and especially the lower limit, for sexual harassment. For employers, the various aspects of the matter are a reminder of the importance of complying with their duty to actively prevent and seek to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
Equinor's pioneering Hywind Tampen project – set to become the biggest floating wind farm in the world – marks the first foray into offshore wind production in Norway. There are high hopes for the potential of this industry in a country with a long coastline and considerable offshore energy production expertise. However, a number of issues must be resolved in order for offshore wind production to become a commercially viable industry in Norway.
Following a public hearing, the government has abandoned its plan to finalise and approve a national framework for land-based wind power. According to Prime Minister Erna Solberg, the framework's purpose was to reduce the conflict that land-based wind power has experienced in recent years. However, the public hearing showed that the framework may have had the opposite effect.
Equinor's Hywind Tampen project – set to become the biggest floating wind farm in the world – marks the first foray into offshore wind production in Norway. There are high hopes for the potential of this industry in Norway, which has a vast continental shelf and territorial waters and considerable expertise in traditional offshore energy production. That said, a number of issues must be resolved in order for offshore wind production to become a commercially viable industry in Norway.
The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate recently announced restrictions on its practice of extending commissioning deadlines for wind power farms. The purpose of extending commissioning deadlines was to meet the political goal of promoting and supporting investments in new wind power farms. However, according to a recent report, concessions for wind power may prevent the positive alternative development of the relevant land and prolong local conflicts.
The first wind turbines in one of Europe's largest land-based wind farms recently commenced operation. The Kvitfjell and Raudfjell onshore wind farm (known as 'Project Northern Lights') is located near the city of Tromsø in northern Norway and comprises 67 turbines with an individual installed effect of 4.2MW and an aggregate installed effect of 281.4MW. The turbines use the latest technology, including direct drive and de-icing technology.
The Supreme Court is currently considering whether it will, for the third time, grant leave to appeal in respect of a procedural dispute in the wake of the 2015 collision between two vessels. Jurisdiction in Norway was originally sought on the basis that one of the vessel's protection and indemnity insurers was Norwegian. The previous decisions concerned the interpretation of the Lugano Convention and the question of whether the Norwegian courts are competent to assume jurisdiction in this matter.
The Norwegian Supreme Court recently issued a ruling on the insolvency exception in the Lugano Convention and other jurisdictional issues in cross-border insolvencies in a case concerning Danish insurer Alpha Insurance A/S. The Norwegian claimant believed that Section 3 of the Lugano Convention applied, which allows insureds, in matters relating to insurance, to bring actions against insurers before the courts in the insured's domicile state.
The Supreme Court recently confirmed several important starting points relevant to the periodisation of an insurance event for the assessment of cover. The ruling addressed issues relating to both defining insurance periods and determining when insurance events occur. The Supreme Court also addressed the question of what is required to revise an insurance agreement pursuant to Section 36 of the Contract Act on unreasonable contract terms.
In marine insurance, business interruption is covered by loss of hire (LoH) insurance. LoH is a separate insurance for loss of time caused by a casualty and linked to the hull and machinery insurance for the insured vessel or unit when it covers repair costs. The COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions imposed will not be considered a 'casualty' for an insured vessel or unit. However, for marine casualties caused by other perils, it is clear that COVID-19 has led and will lead to significant prolongations of repair periods.
Health, safety and environmental regulations are not a major consideration for most producers of counterfeit toys, vehicle parts, clothing, electronics and medicines. Despite this, Norwegian consumers seem happy to buy fake goods instead of genuine products. However, the latest legislative amendments are important steps towards strengthening the enforcement of IP and related rights.
The Court of Appeal recently ruled that the removal of barcodes on goods that are legitimately parallel imported did not qualify as a 'legitimate interest' which a rights holder could assert. The court concluded that barcodes are an effective weapon in the fight against counterfeiting; however, in this particular case, the barcodes included information that could be used to prevent parallel imports.
The limitation fund established following the grounding of the Full City near Langesund in 2009 was recently distributed. The limitation fund proceedings, which ran parallel to the proceedings concerning the limitation fund established following the Server casualty in 2007, have helped to clarify several procedural aspects of limitation funds. This article examines the key takeaways from the limitation fund proceedings now that they have come to an end.
The regulatory framework that exists within the shipping and offshore industries is long established. The general principle is that maritime assets above a certain size must be registered in a national ship registry, and vessel registration plays an important role in the financing of maritime and offshore assets. While the existing framework effectively extends to the offshore floating wind sector in Norway, the same cannot be said for deep-water fish farms.
In a recent administrative appeal decision, the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) Head Office reversed the wreck removal order issued by the NCA Emergency Response Centre in respect of a cargo ship which sank in northern Norway in 2017. The decision confirms that the pollution authorities will consider the proportionality of the measures ordered when exercising their administrative discretion.
The 75th session of the International Maritime Organisation Marine Environment Protection Committee recently approved a ban on the use and carriage of so-called 'heavy fuel oil' in the Arctic. The proposed amendments are expected to be formally adopted in June 2021. However, more stringent standards have already been proposed by the Norwegian government for the area surrounding Svalbard.
As noted in the white paper on Norway's Arctic policy, maritime activities in the High North are expected to increase due to improved accessibility resulting from melting sea ice, the high potential for increased commercial exploitation of marine and offshore resources and the successful marketing of the Arctic as a tourist destination. With increased activities comes an increased risk of accidents, and these additional risks must be taken into account by those operating in the area.