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Classification of Law

Civil Law

Norway's legal system is a mixture of Roman civil law and Anglo-American common law systems.  Civil law operates in areas such as family relations, property, succession, contract, and criminal law, while statutes and principles of common law origin are evident in such areas as constitutional law, procedure, corporations law, taxation, insurance, labour relations, banking and currency.

Civil law systems are based on concepts derived from old Roman law, distinguishable by their reliance on having a comprehensive set of rules and principles codified and easily accessible to both citizens and legal professionals. Codified laws are regularly revised to reflect the current environment, and have stronger emphasis in civil law countries than any precedent set by earlier court cases. Civil law countries cover more than 65% of world’s legal system, including the majority of continental Europe, Central and South America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

eSignature Legality Summary

Under Norwegian law, a written signature is not necessarily required for a valid contract - contracts are generally valid if legally competent parties reach an agreement, whether they agree verbally, electronically or in a physical paper document. This principle has not been enacted in any legislation, but follows from the general contract law principle that the formation of contract is not subject to any formalities, and can be done in any way the parties chooses. The application of this general principle also to agreements signed electronically has been confirmed by the Ministry of Justice in a statement made on 5 May 1999. This statement specifically confirms that contracts cannot be denied enforceability merely because they are concluded electronically. To prove a valid contract, parties sometimes have to present evidence in court. Leading digital transaction management solutions can provide electronic records that are admissible in evidence under the Civil Procedure Act chapter 26, to support the existence, authenticity and valid acceptance of a contract.

Use Cases for Standard Electronic Signature (SES)

Use cases where an SES is typically appropriate include:

  • HR documents, such as employment contracts, benefits paperwork and other new employee onboarding processes
  • commercial agreements between corporate entities, including NDAs, procurement documents, sales agreements
  • consumer agreements, including new retail account opening documents
  • most real estate documents, including lease agreements, purchase and sales contracts, and other related documentation for residential and commercial real estate, including to some extent documents for registration in the Propery/Land Register
  • licenses of intellectual property
  • intangible property transfers
  • procedural communication with the courts (writs of summons, pleadings, etc.)

Use Cases That Are Not Typically Appropriate for Electronic Signatures or Digital Transaction Management

Use cases that are specifically barred from digital or electronic processes or that include explicit requirements, such as handwritten (e.g. wet ink) signatures or formal notarial process that are not usually compatible with electronic signatures or digital transaction management.

  • marriage settlements and pre-marital agreements
  • loan and security agreements that are the basis for enforcement requests to the Enforcement Authorities
  • corporate documents such as minutes of meetings from Board Meetings and Shareholder meetings, Articles of Incorporation (unless electronically signed with solution provided by the Registry of Business Enterprises)
  • notice of termination of employment by the employer

[1] A QES is a specific digital signature implementation that has met the particular specifications of a government, including using a secure signature creation device, and been certified as ‘qualified’ by either that government or a party contracted by that government.

Local Technology Standards

As a Tiered eSignature Legal Model country, Norway supports the concept of a QES (Qualified Electronic Signature), requiring independent accreditation for those signatures by an approved certification body. While QES is only legally required for limited types of transactions, as previously discussed, Norway, although not an EU member country, generally follows ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) standards to define the technical requirements for a QES, however officially has any qualified certificate requirements set by the Norwegian king.

DISCLAIMER: The information on this site is for general information purposes only and is not intended to serve as legal advice. Laws governing electronic signature may change quickly, so DocuSign cannot guarantee that all the information on this site is current or correct. Should you have specific legal questions about any of the information on this site, you should consult with a licensed attorney in your area.

Last updated: November 01, 2019

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