Announced boycott in conflict with the EEA Agreement

Supreme Court judgment 16 December 2016, HR-2016-2554-P, (case no. 2014/2089), civil case, appeal against judgment

Holship Norge AS (Counsel Nicolay Skarning) with interveners

v.

The state represented by The Ministry of Justice and Public Security (Attorney-General represented by Counsel Pål Wennerås and Ketil Bøe Moen

Justices: Skoghøy, Indreberg, Stabel, Tønder, Endresen, Webster, Noer, Arntzen, Matningsdal, Utgård, Bårdsen, Matheson, Normann, Bull, Bergsjø, Ringnes, Øie

The Norwegian Transport Workers’ Union had announced boycott to force a Danish user of the port of Drammen to enter into a collective agreement with provisions on preferential right to loading and unloading work for stevedores affiliated with the Administration Office in the Port of Drammen. The Supreme Court, which heard the case in plenary session, concluded that the boycott was unlawful, because it had an unlawful purpose, cf. section 2, letter a) of the Boycott Act. Although the overriding purpose of the boycott was to protect workers’ interests, it involved an unacceptable restriction on the right of establishment under Article 31 of the EEA Agreement. The preferential right that was claimed also did not satisfy the requirement of a fair balance between the right of establishment and any basic right to boycott. The Supreme Court stated that section 92 of the Constitution must be understood as an obligation of the courts and other authorities to enforce the human rights at the level these are incorporated in Norwegian law. It was also stated that the EFTA Court's interpretation of EEA law could not be derogated from without there being good and weighty reasons for this. Dissenting judgment 10-7.

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