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Introducing the Commission

The Norwegian Criminal Cases Review Commission is an independent body which considers whether a convicted person should have his/her case retried in court. If it is decided that the case should be reviewed the conviction/sentence will be retried by another court. Under the previous system, it was the court that imposed the final conviction/sentence in a case which had the responsibility for deciding whether a criminal case in which final judgment had been handed down should be reopened. The same court was also responsible for retrying the case if it came to that. The Norwegian Criminal Cases Review Commission was established by a revision of the Criminal Procedure Act Chapter 27. The amendment came into force 1 January 2004.

Objective assessment

The Norwegian Criminal Cases Review Commission is a broadly composed, independent body. Where a petition to review a conviction/sentence in a criminal case has been received, the Commission must make an objective assessment about whether the conditions for a review are present.

The most important grounds for a review of the conviction/sentence in a criminal case are:

  • New evidence or new circumstances that may lead to acquittal or a considerably lighter sentence. 

  • In a case against Norway, an international court or the UN Commission on Human Rights has concluded that the decision or the proceedings of the convicted person’s case, is in contravention of international law and there are grounds to suppose that a new examination of the criminal case will lead to a different conclusion. 

  • If someone who has had crucial dealings with the case (prosecuting counsel, judge, expert, defence counsel, witness) has committed a criminal offence that may have affected the conviction/sentence to the disadvantage of the convicted person.

The Norwegian Criminal Cases Review Commission decides its own methods of work and may not be given directions in regard to exercising the authority it has been given. The members shall not participate in the processing of a case if they are incompetent or disqualified under the provisions of the Courts of Justice Act.

 

Thorough clarification

The Norwegian Criminal Cases Review Commission is responsible for the conduct of a thorough clarification of the legal and factual aspects of the case and may collect information in whatever way it considers appropriate.

The Commission may summon the convicted person and witnesses to informal discussions or questioning. It may conduct oral hearings and apply for evidence to be heard in court. Furthermore, application may be made to the court for a personal background report, mental observation and the use of coercive measures. The Commission may order the surrender of evidence, nominate experts and hold inquiries. In special circumstances it may request the prosecuting authority to undertake criminal investigation. A special staff of permanently employed investigators is to assist in investigating cases. The Commission may reject cases which by their nature cannot be reviewed or petitions which clearly will not succeed.

Active guidance

A petition for review must be submitted in writing. There is no time limit for petitioning review. It is the Commission’s duty to provide guidance to anyone seeking reopening of his/her case. Direct contact and a dialogue will be established with the individual concerned.

The Commission is itself responsible for ensuring that all relevant information on the case emerges. Only when there are special reasons for doing so will the review applicant have a defence counsel appointed at public expense.

Reopening

If the Commission decides to review a conviction/sentence, the case will be referred for retrial before a court other than that which imposed the conviction/ sentence.

The new court will be of equal standing to that which imposed the conviction/sentence. This means:

  • If a District Court (formerly rural district court or city court) imposed the conviction/ sentence, the Commission will send the case to a Court of Appeal, which will nominate a District Court. 

  • If a Court of Appeal imposed the conviction/ sentence, the case will be sent to the Interlocutory Appeals Committee of the Supreme Court, which will nominate a Court of Appeal. 

  • If the Supreme Court passed the sentence, the case will be reopened in the Supreme Court.

 


The Norwegian
CriminalCases Review Commission
Post address:
Postboks 2097 Vika
0125 Oslo
Visiting address:
Tordenskioldsgate 6
0160 Oslo
Phone and fax:
Phone: 22 40 44 00
Fax: 22 40 44 01
E-mail:
post@gjenopptakelse.no