Research group for civil procedure

Comparative seminar on orality in civil proceedings

On December 2. esteemed researchers from across Europe met – both physically and digitally – with the Research Group for Civil Procedure and Dispute Resolution for a comparative discussion on elements of orality in different European legal systems.

Whereas orality is seen as a fundamental principle in Norway, it is given less weight in other European countries.

Main content

In the first half of the full day seminar, the focus was on orality in 1st instance courts. In this section, the participants earned insights about the varying degree of orality as an element in Norwegian, German, French, Spanish, Finish and Swedish istinstance courts. For example, whereas orality is seen as a fundamental principle in Norway, it is given less weight in France, where courts during the first Covid lockdown were permitted to conduct fully written procedures, without the consent of the parties.

In the second half of the seminar, the focus was on orality in appellate proceedings. As expected, the differences between the countries were substantial. Norway has oral hearings resembling those of the 1st instance, and which are sometimes more extensive. And Germany, which has been an important influence on Norwegian civil procedure, also has a substantial element of orality in appellate proceedings. In the other countries represented at the seminar, the written elements are far more prominent. 

The variation between the different legal systems lead to several interesting discussions on the concept of orality. Can digital hearings be regarded as oral hearings, or are there some fundamental elements to orality that are not present in digital hearings? Is the principle of immediacy a necessary element in orality? Is orality the same in all stages of the proceedings?

Full program:

9.00-12.00: Orality in 1st instance courts

Chair: Professor Camilla Bernt, University of Bergen

  • Welcome and opening remarks by professor Camilla Bernt
  • Norway: Professor Maria Astrup Hjort, University of Oslo
  • Germany: Professor Philipp Reuss, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
  • France: Professor Emmanuel Jeuland, University of Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne
  • Spain: Professor Fernando Gascón Inchausti, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
  • Finland and Sweden: Professor Anna Nylund, University of Bergen
  • Questions, comments and discussion

13.00-16.00: Orality in appellate proceedings

Chair: Professor Halvard Haukeland Fredriksen, University of Bergen

  • Norway: Professor Magne Strandberg, University of Bergen
  • Germany: Professor Philipp Reuss
  • France: Professor Emmanuel Jeuland
  • Spain: Professor Fernando Gascón Inchausti
  • Finland and Sweden: Professor Anna Nylund
  • Questions, comments and discussion