Sami reindeer herders’ right of ownership to parts of Stjernøya in outer Finnmark

Supreme Court order and judgment of 28 September 2016, HR-2016-2030-A
2015/2370, civil case, appeal against order and
2015/2155, civil case, appeal against judgment

Stjernøy reindeer district Per Mikkelsen Bals Per Mikkelsen Buljo Aslak Henrik Henriksen Buljo Anders Mikkelsen Buljo Mikkel Klemetsen Gaino Klemet Anders Mikkelsen Bals (Counsel Geir Haugen and Counsel Andreas Brønner) v. Finnmarkseiendommen (Counsel Knut Helge Hurum and Counsel Kristin Bjella)

2015/2369, civil case, appeal against order and 2015/2153, civil case, appeal against judgment Johan Johansen Sara Jørgen Johansen Sara Per Olav Johansen Sara Mikkel Johansen Sara Anne Britt Sara Johan Mathis Johansen Sara Klemet Johansen Sara (Counsel Andreas Larsen and Counsel Anja Jonassen) v. Finnmarkseiendommen (Counsel Knut Helge Hurum and Counsel Kristin Bjella)

Justices: Arntzen, Indreberg, Bergsjø, Bergh, Stabel

A reindeer grazing district and a herder family, that for a years had used Stjernøya outside Altafjorden as summer grazing area, were unsuccessful with their claim that they were owners of parts of the island. The Supreme Court stated initially that the claimed rights could not be based directly on ILO Convention no. 169, but that principles of property law shall be applied on Sami terms. It was pointed out that the state had exercised rights of possession as owner to Stjernøya since the 1700s. Permanent settlers had also used the island’s uncultivated land resources. Hence, there were no sufficient grounds to establish a right of ownership on the basis of occupation. The usage had also not been sufficiently intensive and dominant to establish a right of ownership on the basis of immemorial usage. Deciding a money claim deriving from the alleged right of ownership fell outside the jurisdiction of the Uncultivated Land Tribunal for Finnmark.

Read the order and judgment