The court administration believes the process will cost the community up to NOK 75 million. The government’s plans have met with great opposition from the professional communities.
In May last year, the number of district courts was reduced from 60 to 23. With the judicial reform, the Solberg government wanted to strengthen the professional communities in the districts.
But when the Labor Party and the Socialist People’s Party came to power in October, they decided to reverse the reform. They want to bring the legal services closer to the people. Minister of Justice Emilie Enger Mehl has announced a rapid reversal of the reform.
The Court Administration (DA) now estimates that a reversal will cost the community between NOK 70 and 75 million.
DA’s head of communications, Yngve Brox, says Advokatbladet that the job of reversing is twice as big as the merger:
– If we are to re-establish all the old courts, there are suddenly many positions to be advertised. Then we get costs with advertising, with the re-establishment of computer systems and a number of other things. It will be an insane job, simply put, says communications manager at DA, Yngve Brox Advokatbladet.
He also believes that there are many benefits to fewer district courts:
- Working in a small court becomes more attractive because you become part of a larger professional environment.
- Cases can be reallocated in case of illness
- Minor backlog of items
More stability in the system
The court administration is not alone in being critical of the reform being rejected.
The judges’ association wants an evaluation before a possible reversal.
23 magistrates, or judges’ leaders, have asked the government to keep the current structure. They believe that the Solberg government’s intervention has made the professional communities larger, and that children and vulnerable groups have better legal security. Opportunities for mediation in court and conciliation instead of judgment have also improved. Increasing the number of district courts will therefore go beyond people’s legal offer, they believe.
Sp wants to bring the legal services close to the people and cuts Solberg’s reform plan. But now the judges are protesting themselves.
Even Trude Marie Wold, who was one of the court reform’s fiercest opponents, asks the Social Democrats and the Labor Party to drop the reversal plans. She says to Rett24 that they experience more stability after the courts in Vesterålen, Ofoten and Trondenes became Midtre Hålogaland District Court:
– The district court manages to utilize the resources across the three merged courts. It was not done at all before. We see that it works. We have a new court leader who works well, and we see that the Court Administration says we will get new premises in Sortland. Now we must have confidence in the system. What the new government must ensure is that the courts get money to equip the local courts, Wold says.
– Should not take so much time
Before Christmas, justice policy spokeswoman in Sp Jenny Klinge said that the party has received clear feedback that reversal is important for many court employees in the districts.
She argued that the arguments against reversal are exaggerated and believes it should not take long to return to the old structure:
– It is not many months since this change was made, one should therefore think that it is not so difficult to go back to a structure you have had for a long time.