The validity of an administrative decision not to award costs under section 36 of the Public Administration Act where the party had had his legal fees covered by his trade union

Supreme Court judgment 22 September 2020, HR-2020-1824-A, (case no. 19-188949SIV-HRET), civil case, appeal against judgment. 

A (Counsel Jan Arild Vikan), Fellesforbundet (third-party intervener), Landsorganisasjonen i Norge (third-party intervener) (advokat Rune Lium), Arbeidstakerorganisasjonen Parat (third-party intervener) (advokat Sigurd Øyvind Kambestad)


The State represented by the Directorate of Labour and Welfare (The Office of the Attorney General represented by Marius Stub)

Dommere: Webster, Normann, Bergh, Høgetveit Berg, Thyness

A member of a trade union had received legal advice from the organisation in connection with a complaint in a social security case. His membership implied that he himself would not be charged for the advice, and that any costs compensated by the counterparty would be paid to the organisation in their entirety. The Supreme Court found, as opposed to the lower instances, that section 36 of the Public Administration Act had to be interpreted to mean that the party in the complaint may demand compensation for costs incurred by a third party for having a decision changed in the interest of the party, although the party itself had not incurred any costs. Decisive importance was attached to statements from the legal department of the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court's judgment in Rt-2015-289 and policy considerations, despite indications to the contrary in the wording of the provision and in the preparatory works. The dismissal of the claim for costs was declared invalid.  

Read the whole judgment (Norwegian only)

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