The following is a guest post by Elin Hofverberg, a foreign law research consultant who covers Scandinavian countries at the Law Library of Congress. Elin has previously written about the bicentenary of Norway’s constitution and a boarding school scandal in Sweden for In Custodia Legis.
When I conduct research on Scandinavian jurisdictions here at the Law Library of Congress I am often amazed by how easy it is to access a lot of the material. The country that has really gone above and beyond to make researching its laws easier is Norway.
In 2001, Norway was the first country in Europe to make the online publication of its laws an official version. Now the National Library of Norway is bringing the country’s whole history into the 21st century by working towards digitizing its entire collection, providing free access to any person with a computer and a Norwegian IP address. Soon people in Norway will be able to read these materials on their smartphones while riding the bus to work or drinking their morning coffee!
For the rest of us located outside of Norway, we are still able to access the main sources of Norwegian law for free. All current legislation is available at www.lovdata.no. Of course, it helps to be able to read Norwegian, but thankfully the University of Oslo makes (unofficial) translations of legislation available on its website. You can search in English and, if you just want to browse, clicking search without entering any information will give you a long list of translated acts to go through. Be careful to check that the act you are looking at contains all the amendments – Scandinavian laws are amended quite frequently. It is also great that English summaries and translations of recent Supreme Court cases can be found on the Court’s website.
Another useful source is the Norwegian Parliament (Storting) website, which has recently made parliamentary material from 1814 to 2001 available online (in Norwegian only). The Norwegian government homepage is also a good starting point for researching laws and regulations and their broader context.
There are also a number of physical resources here at the Law Library that can help you get a better feel for the context of Norwegian legislation. Reading the 1814 independence material online is efficient and handy but the fact that the text has survived 200 years becomes very real when turning the frail pages of a 19th century book. Although I would never dare read it while drinking my morning coffee!
The Library of Congress has several books on the history of the 1814 events:
- Erik Vullum, Hvorledes Norge Blev Frit [How Norway Became Independent] (1914)
- KONG Christian Frederiks VIII Dagbok 1814 Fra Hans Ophold i Norge i 1814 [King Christian Frederiks VIII Diary 1814 from his Visit to Norway in 1814] (1918)
- Nils Höjer, Norska Grundlagen och dess Källor [The Norwegian Constitution and its Sources] (1882)
Resources about the legal relationship between the Scandinavian countries in general include:
- Danske og Norske Lov i 300 år, Festskriftet er Udgivet i Anledning af 300året of Udstedelsen af Christian V’s Danske Lov [Danish and Norwegian Law for 300 years] (1983)
- Kong Christian den Femtes Norske Lov [King Christian the Fifths Norwegian Law] (1800)
- Erik Lönnroth, Sverige och Kalmar-Unionen, 1397-1457 [Sweden and the Kalmar Union] (1934)
- Valdemars Sonner og Unionen [Valdemars Sons and the Union] (1960)
Another interesting historic title is: Snorre Sturlasson, Heimskringla; or, the Lives of the Norse Kings (1932). In addition, some of the earliest laws of Norway have been translated into English in a 1935 book that was recently republished in 2008.
In terms of primary legal resources, the Law Library has both current and historic versions of Norway’s legislation: Norges Lover. Copies of the laws from the official gazette, Norsk Lovtidend, are also available to researchers. Digitized copies of the gazette published after 2001 are provided on the Lovdata website.
There is a guide to online resources for Norwegian legal research on the Law Library’s website as part of the Guide to Law Online. The Law Library has also published a report that discusses the laws related to the massacre that took place in Norway in 2011.
For select Norwegian legal news see the Law Library’s Global Legal Monitor.
Please stop by to use our collection and let us know if you need help finding anything related to Norwegian law.