The hierarchy of the courts
The Norwegian court system has a three-tier structure:
- The Supreme Court (Høyesterett) (1),
- The courts of appeal (lagmannsrettene) (6) and
- The district courts (tingrettene) (currently about 75)
If the conciliation boards (forliksrådene) – which can pass judgement in simple disputes – and the Interlocutory Appeals Committee of the Supreme Court are included, we could in theory say that there were five tiers, but this is not customary. Supranational courts of law, primarily the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), also have practical significance for Norwegian citizens.
In addition to the Supreme Court, the six courts of appeal represent the regular appellate courts in Norway. Rulings from the district courts – as well as from the land consolidation courts – can be brought before the courts of appeal. In exceptional cases, the court of appeal hears cases in the first instance. This applies to civil action for judicial review of the National Insurance Court’s rulings.
There are certain restrictions on the access to have a ruling reviewed by the court of appeal, related (in civil cases) to the value of the subject matter in dispute and (in criminal cases) to the severity of the crime and the possibility that the appeal will succeed.
The National Courts Administration
In the Norwegian court system, it is natural to include the National Courts Administration (Domstoladministrasjonen), which is an independent service agency for common administration of the courts, as well as for the land consolidation courts.
The National Courts Administration however does not belong to the judiciary, and cannot instruct judges, set priorities or intervene in judicial affairs in other ways.