Friday, January 21

The SMB board gives a clear signal for mass lawsuits against the state after the liquor ban

Law professor welcomes a lawsuit. He believes there is a real chance of winning, at least if the case goes all the way to the human rights court.

NOT SATISFIED WITH ANSWER: CEO Jørund Rytman (left) and board chairman Karl-Anders Grønland will take the state to court.


At an extraordinary board meeting on Tuesday, the SMB Norway board gave the green light to proceed with the plans for mass lawsuits against the state.

Before Christmas, the interest organization for small and medium-sized companies called for a look at the government’s decision basis for introducing a national liquor ban.

Tuesday morning they received an answer. It was not good enough, according to SMB Norway.

– The board is surprised that the government has not been able to better explain the decision basis before the introduction of such an intrusive measure, it is stated in a statement from the organization.

In the six-page answer, which E24 has seen, Minister of Health Ingvild Kjerkol refers to royal resolutions from December last year.

– I think it was disappointing. No new assessments were documented, only reference was made to what was already known. Unfortunately, this was as I had feared, says chairman of the board Karl-Anders Grønland to E24.

The organization will now proceed with the work of assessing what kind of opportunities there are for suing the state for unjustified loss of income.

Chairman of the Board Karl-Anders Grønland in SMB Norway

Denies grounds for legal action

One of SMB Norway’s questions to the government was whether it can say what kind of decisions it can make, which entails financial risk for the business community, but which at the same time does not make the government financially responsible for the consequences.

It is not possible to give a general answer to this, Kjerkol writes, but she maintains that introducing “necessary and legal infection control measures in combination with reasonable compensation schemes does not provide a basis for such claims”.

Kjerkol also writes that if the measure on national drinking bans had not been introduced, it would have been necessary to supplement the package of measures with other measures with a corresponding infection control effect.

“Such measures would then have affected other businesses or other parts of the population,” she writes.

At the same time, FHI has stated that they do not know the exact effect of a full stop on drinking.

The authority has conducted a broad study based on figures from large databases, where the effect of complete and partial stop drinking as one of several measures was assessed against each other. In the survey it was no significant difference in infection decline.

Receives support from law professor

Law professor Hans Fredrik Marthinussen has recently been a strong critic of the government’s lack of transparency about internal assessments.

He believes that SMB Norway’s possible lawsuit “is clearly not unfounded”.

– We know too little about the proportionality assessments to say otherwise. There may be very thorough reviews we just do not get to see, but we know nothing about it. It’s a bit scandalous, he says.

Marthinussen says that it is important to get such lawsuits.

– I think it is healthy for the rule of law and democracy.

– Can SMB Norway win?

– I think it is a real possibility, at least if you take the case all the way to the human rights court. Because it is often a little extra concerned with regulations that are stricter in one place than in other European countries. And it focuses especially on the process leading up to the decision. But in that case we will not get that answer until maybe five years from now.

Changes are expected

The national liquor ban was introduced on 15 December as part of the new measures to curb the omicron infection.

The measures last until Friday. Within that time, the government will announce new assessments and any changes in the measures.

In an interview with Dagbladet this weekend, Minister of Finance Trygve Slagsvold Vedum said that “if there is no heavy professional advice that advises against it, then we must relax the bar stop this week”.

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said on Monday NRK that «if professional advice says so, then of course».

NTB wrote on Sunday that they have sent several questions to the Ministry of Health about whether they have received professional advice on stopping drinking. The answer they received was that the recommendations from the Norwegian Directorate of Health and NIPH are published in connection with the government making a decision.

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