The judges

All court cases in the common courts are judged by a professional judge. In the common courts, (District Courts, Courts of Appeals and Supreme Court) the judge is always a lawyer. 

In Norway, it has been a fundamental principle in the recruitment of judges that the judiciary should reflect the broadest possible professional legal background, so that they represent a broad and varied background of experience. For this reason, Norwegian judges - as opposed to judges in some other countries - are not recruited to an internal career in the courts as soon as they qualify. Nor are they recruited exclusively from one particular occupational category

The judges are usually appointed as presiding judges, but can be temporarily appointed in certain cases as a deputy judge. A deputy judge has a degree in law and is appointed for a limited period in the District Courts. They can sit with certain limitations in all types of cases, in common with judges.

The common citizen is strongly represented in court cases by the participation of jurors. Read more about the juror scheme

Criteria applicable to judges

The Courts of Justice Act lays down certain criteria that judges must satisfy: They must be Norwegian citizens and not be barred from voting. A minimum age also applies to judges: 30 years old for Supreme Court judges, senior presiding Court of Appeal judges and presiding judges. The minimum age is 25 for judges sitting in the Courts of Appeal and District Courts (21 for deputy judges). According to the Courts of Justice Act, a judge cannot concurrently be a Conciliation Board member or practising lawyer.

Presiding judges are appointed by the King in the Council of State. They have the status of senior public servants and are protected by the constitution against dismissal or transfer. A presiding judge can only be dismissed by trial and judgement. These rights are intended to protect the impartiality of judges. Retirement age for presiding judges is 70.

Other types of judges

The judge in a court case can also be a ‘provisional judge’.

They are also lawyers with the same protection as civil servants for the period their appointment lasts. Provisional judges are used to cover short-term needs.

Extraordinary and specially appointed judges.

These are appointed for a single case. Extraordinary judges are usually retired judges who will serve for individual cases until they reach the age of 73. Specially appointed judges are appointed for a short period to serve at another court than their own.

Ethical principles applicable to judges

There is a general perception that a judge's conduct both in and out of the court must inspire public confidence in the judge and the courts in general. The conditions for dismissing a judge comply with the Civil Servants Act. Judges have strong protection against dismissal, and can only be removed from their post by trial and judgement. In practice, judges are rarely sanctioned, dismissed or suspended. 

Read more about ethical principles applicable to the conduct of judges

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