The long-waited survival trial for “Norwegian Gannet” starts next week

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Next Monday, the trial between Hav Line and the Norwegian government in Bergen district court will start. Now the parties have made their final submissions.

Last year, Hav Line filed a lawsuit against the Norwegian state after the shipping company complaint regarding domestic sorting of farmed fish according to the fish quality regulations was denied.

Trond Hatland of the law firm Thommessen represents the Hav Line Group in the case. In his closing remarks, he has demanded judgement on the nullity of the Royal Decree of June 21, 2019.

“In the opinion of Hav Line, the resolution involves a politically motivated intervention in Hav Line’s legal activities…,” Hatland writes.

Trond Hatland. Photo: Advokatfirmaet Thommessen

According to Hatland, Hav Line believes that the resolution has several errors, which both collectively and in isolation make it invalid. Subsequently, a number of things are stated, among other things, that the resolution is based on a legal interpretation that, in Hav Line’s view, places restrictions on freedom of service and establishment contrary to the EEA agreement. The Danish Seafood Association has also complained about this in the past.

EUR 62.7 million in damages
If the court finds that the resolution is valid, this will, according to Hatland, mean that Hav Line’s investments in the Hav Line method and “Norwegian Gannet” of EUR 62.7 million will be lost.

“In that case, Hav Line will – again in the alternative – demand that the state be liable for damages as the state, on the basis of the prior approvals granted by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, cf. Rt-1992-1235 did not intervene before the investments were made,” the final statement states.

Hav Line’s lawyer has called former fisheries ministers Harald Tom Nesvik and Per Sandberg among the witnesses. Bård Sekkingstad, owner of Hav Line and Carl-Erik Arnesen, chairman of Hav Line, will also testify.

Rejects
The Attorney General, Torje Sunde, rejects Hav Line’s claims and demands that the state be acquitted. Regarding the case Attorney General Sunde states:

Goverment attorney Torje Sunde. Photo: Regjeringsadvokat

“Hav Line runs a business where they harvest farmed salmon aboard “Norwegian Gannet”, and takes it to Denmark. It is not disputed that the salmon parties contain a certain proportion of production fish, and that the plaintiff takes the salmon parties to Denmark without sorting or correction in Norway. Thus, there is no error of law when the Royal Decree assumes that such an activity violates Section 17 of the Fish Quality Regulations.”

Sunde also emphasizes that Hav Line’s business was in violation of the fish quality regulations before the regulations were introduced.