Time limit for a hearing in Norway: 3 days

Erik Strand, 15.10.2022

On Tuesday 11.10.22 the Norwegian government presented a hearing on its website. As usual, the hearing comes with a time limit for those who want to deliver an reply to the hearing. What is remarkable in this case is that the time limit was extraordinarily short – three days! An organisation which wants to state their opinion, gets wery short time to debate the issue internally before answer the hearing.

There is nothing that indicates that the government had any reasonable excuse for being in a hurry. The hearing is about the proposal for a law on access to information for a committee which shall evaluate the Norwegian covid 19 measures. From the government’s website:

“The Ministry of Justice and Public Security hereby sends a proposal for law on access to information etc. for the committee which shall evaluate the authorities’s handling of the covid 19 pandemic as a whole, and additionally evaluate the omicron handling in the period from November 1st 2021 to May 2022 (Corona committee).

Hearings constitute an important political tradition in Norway. When the government presents a new law which the parliament shall decide upon, it is published online with a time limit for remarks to the proposal. The most relevant organisations which might have an opinion on the law (for example organisations with the stated goal of furthering some interests that are affected by the proposed law) are notified about the hearing and the time limit. Everyone can reply to the hearing, and the replies are published online.

Hearings are also mandatory, as stated in the law on administration (forvaltningsloven) § 37 sub 1-2:

Ҥ 37. (obligation to investigate, advance notification and statements from interested parties).

The administrative body must ensure that the matter is as well informed as possible before a decision is made.

Public and private institutions and organizations for the professions, professions or interest groups to which the regulations shall apply or apply to or whose interests are particularly affected, shall be given the opportunity to comment before the regulations are issued, amended or repealed. As far as it is necessary to get the matter fully informed, statements must also be sought from others.”

A three day time limit for providing answers to an hearing is ridiculous and against the intention of the law quoted above. As far as I know it is also totally unprecedented. A government that were both reasonably competent and at the same time honestly interested in a truthful evaluation of the Norwegian covid 19 measures, would hardly come up with a three days time limit.