Small claims process
The small claims process is a simple, quick and cheap method of dealing with disputes. This page provides details of which cases can be heard according to the rules and what happens in small claims cases.
Which cases are classed as small claims?
Small claims are cases in which the amount disputed (the value in dispute) is less than NOK 250,000.
Cases in which the amount disputed is higher than NOK 250,000 can also be heard as small claims. In such instances, both parties must be in agreement and the court must deem it to be reasonable. The parties cannot agree the opposite - to waive the small claims process in favour of common process (ordinary hearing of civil cases) when the disputed amount is less than NOK 250,000.
Cases that do not concern money or financial assets can also be heard as small claims. This is contingent on the parties agreeing and that the court deems the procedure to be reasonable.
Which cases are irrelevant?
Some cases cannot be heard as small claims, even though the conditions above are fulfilled. For example: group litigation and parental custody cases. Cases that are heard according to acts other than the Dispute Act are also excepted. This applies to cases tried according to the Land Consolidation Act, the Enforcement Act and the Surveying Act. Cases that apply to questions of principle that can set a precedent for similar cases in the future are also excepted.
How to proceed
The size of the dispute must be in relation to the resources expended on resolving it in small claims cases. For example: you can conduct the case yourself without legal counsel.
How to proceed:
The case must first be heard by the Conciliation Board. There is a Conciliation Board in every local authority. Read more on cases in the Conciliation Board.
A ruling made by the Conciliation Board can be brought before the District Courts by issuing a pleading within one month. A pleading is a document filed with the court because a claimant wants to start civil proceedings. Both parties to a dispute can file a pleading.
Parties with no legal counsel can file a pleading, submit their defence and reply and other pleas verbally by attending the court. The court will then set out pleas in a written document, see section 12-1 of the Dispute Act at lovdata.no.
Section 12 of the Dispute Act applies certain criteria to filing a pleading. The pleading must provide the grounds for a reasonable hearing of the case. The actual or legal grounds for the pleading must be formulated such that the defendant can understand them and prepare for the case. The pleading must contain the exact details of the claim the claimant seeks judgement for. ‘The claim’ is defined as the result a party wants the court to arrive at to conclude the case. Link to section 9-2 of the Dispute Act at lovdata.no.
Self-represented parties can use a form for pleading and defence and reply in the case. ‘Self-represented’ parties are those who want to represent themselves without the use of a lawyer. Go to the template for pleading and defence and reply (page with a list of forms).
Once the pleading has arrived at the court, the judge will check whether it fulfils the criteria of the act. If not, the case will be rejected. If it does, it will be forwarded to the defendant. The defendant will be given a date by which to respond, usually three weeks. If the defendant rejects the claim the claimant has made, he/she must say so when replying. This is called defence and reply. If the defendant has no lawyer, he/she can make a verbal defence and reply by attending the court in person. In common with the pleading, the defence and reply should be concluded with a claim (counterclaim). If the defendant does not submit a defence and reply before the deadline given, the claimant can ask the court to rule in compliance with his/her claim. This is called judgement in absentia.
The next step in the case is for the court to prepare the case. This is usually without the parties attending a court session. The court has to provide the necessary guidance on what should be done during preparation, and decide whether there can be grounds for an amicable resolution (the parties can resolve the dispute themselves with a little good will, without the involvement of the court).
The final hearing in the case is conducted verbally in a court session. The parties are allowed to justify their claims, explain the evidence and introduce witnesses. The court session for final hearing in the small claims process follows the same model as the main hearing in a civil case, but the court has more options to simplify the process. Read more about the main hearing in a civil case.
The court session can also be held as a remote session - i.e. both parties can take part by telephone or video conference. Usually, the court session will not last more than one day and will often not exceed a half day. The parties undertake to provide notice of evidence and submit documentary evidence which have not been previously notified or submitted no later than one week before the court session. Read more about court session for final hearing in a case in section 10-3 of the Dispute Act at lovdata.no.
If an amicable solution cannot be reached, the case must be concluded by judgement within three months of the indictment being filed. In the event of verbal proceedings, judgement can be passed at the end of the session or within one week after the court being adjourned to consider judgement. The judgement will briefly summarise what the case concerns, represent the claims and their grounds and explain the factors that the court considers important. If judgement is passed at the end of the court session, the judge will summarise the main points of his/her reasoning verbally. Judgement will be reported to the parties within one week of the court session.
To limit the size of case costs, each party can only claim 20% of the disputed amount in case costs (minimum NOK 2,500 and maximum NOK 50,000). Actual costs incurred can be claimed for groundless cases. See section 10-5 of the Dispute Act for all details. The claimant has to pay court fees before the court will consider the case. See info on court fees.
Small claims cases have the same rights of appeal as civil cases with main hearing (court cases). However, small claim appeals cannot be referred to the Court of Appeal. That means that appeals will be treated as an ordinary case according to common process, including scope and expenses incurred. Appeals against judgement cannot be allowed without leave from the Courts of Appeal. See section 29-13 of the Dispute Act. What the Courts of Appeal look at are the nature of the case, the need the parties have for review of the case and whether there are weaknesses in judgement or proceedings in the District Courts.