Direct action against insurer after ship collision

Supreme Court order 9 May 2018, HR-2018-869-A (case no. 2017/1119), civil case, appeal against judgment, Assuranceforeningen Gard – gjensidig – Stolt Commitment B.V. Stolt Tankers B.V. Stolt-Nielsen B.V. (Counsel Herman Steen, advokat Kaare Andreas Shetelig) v. A Line Corporation Trust Company, Complex, Marship MPP GmbH Co. KG, (Counsel Kristian Lindhartsen and Andreas Stang Lund)

Justices: Normann, Bull, Sverdrup, Bergsjø, Tønder

Following a collision in foreign waters between two ships registered abroad with foreign proprietors and managing owners, the prioprietor and managing owner of one of the ships brought an action in Norway against the Norwegian insurer of the other ship. The court of appeal had allowed the case. Regarding the question whether Norwegian courts have jurisdiction, the Supreme Court found that there was no legal basis in Article 2(1) of the Lugano Convention for bringing an action directly to the courts of the insurer's domicile state. A majority of four justices concluded that Section 3 of the Convention provided a self-contained regulation of jurisdiction in insurance matters except for the express reservations in Article 8. The conditions for asserting Norwegian jurisdiction under Article 11(2), cf. Article 9(1), of the Lugano Convention were also not met. The choice of law issue had to be resolved under international private law. Section 7-6 subsection 5 of the Insurance Contracts Act did not contain a provision on choice of law, as assumed by the court of appeal, and it fell outside the Supreme Court's authority to assess whether the court of appeal's result could be upheld on any other grounds. The order of the court of appeal was set aside. Dissenting opinions 4-1.

Read the whole order