For many years, the coverage level under the Norwegian deposit guarantee scheme has been significantly higher than the target that was introduced by the EU Deposit Guarantee Schemes Directive to achieve a fully harmonised coverage level. However, recent amendments to the Act on Financial Institutions and Financial Groups have reduced the coverage level for customers in the European Union that have deposits in Norwegian banks which offer services in their country on a cross-border basis.
In 2017 the Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway (FSAN) published guidelines on prudent consumer lending practices. However, in order to strengthen the FSAN's ability to ensure that the 2017 guidelines are actually implemented, it has now proposed that they be converted into a regulation. This would make it easier for the FSAN to impose penalties on institutions that fail to comply with the rules.
The Oslo District Court recently ruled in favour of Netfonds Bank AS/Netfonds Livsforsikring AS and ordered the state to pay NKr55 million in damages for failing to comply with its obligations under the EEA Agreement. The case concerned the government's practice of denying licensing to financial institutions which have ownership positions that exceed 25% of their share capital. If it stands, the ruling should result in changes to both administrative practice and the new Financial Institutions Act 2015.
A recent Supreme Court ruling states that the principle of length of service affects companies' possibility to limit the scope for workforce reductions. This applies to companies bound by a collective bargaining agreement that contains a provision concerning the use of length of service in workforce reductions.
From 1 January 2020 the Equality and Anti-discrimination Act has been amended, imposing further duties on employers regarding equality and discrimination. Companies in the public sector and companies with more than 50 employees in the private sector must now carry out a mapping of pay with regard to gender and the uptake of part-time work every two years.
A recent district court ruling demonstrates that an employer can be liable for a customer's sexual harassment towards an employee. The ruling shows that, as a minimum, employers should perform a risk analysis of and have a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment, have guidelines on sexual harassment matters and immediately address sexual harassment situations if they occur.
Norway's labour legislation has undergone a number of amendments in recent months. For example, Parliament recently adopted a proposal to further strengthen the position of whistleblowers and amendments enhancing the rights of seafarers are set to enter into force in August 2019. In addition, in order to lower the threshold for processing sexual harassment disputes, the Anti-discrimination Tribunal has been authorised to enforce the prohibition on sexual harassment in the workplace.
The Supreme Court recently ruled in a case concerning the validity of an amendment termination. In its decision, the court commented on the difference between the threshold for amendment terminations and that for ordinary complete terminations of employment. Although the matter at hand was regulated by the Ship Employee Act, the Supreme Court's judgment is relevant for amendment terminations under the Working Environment Act.
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.
For the first time, the Norwegian courts have ruled in a case regarding the scope of the parent company guarantee (PCG) for licensees on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. The Borgarting Court of Appeal recently overturned a district court judgment and largely accepted the Norwegian government's interpretation of the PCG's scope of applicability. Although the ruling, which is likely to be appealed, provides some clarity, the question of whether tax claims are covered was not resolved.
The Supreme Court recently deemed that a municipality's termination of its agreement with a general practitioner (GP) after she refused to insert an intrauterine device for a patient for reasons of conscience relating to her religion was invalid. The GP claimed that her termination was invalid because, among other things, it contravened Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (freedom of thought, conscience and religion).
Norway is introducing new rules on customs seizures of goods that infringe IP rights. The new rules are likely to take effect from January 2021 and are more aligned with the comparable EU rules than the current Norwegian regulations. Nonetheless, Norway will not become part of the EU-wide system for submitting and handling applications for border seizures.