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Rule change: Can I get free legal aid in Norway in 2023?

The Norwegian government is taking steps to ensure that the country's entire population can access the court system. Here are the updates on free legal aid rules.

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The Norwegian government has decided to raise the income limits for being eligible to receive free legal services. Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm / Unsplash

The government has decided to increase the income limits for being granted free legal aid in Norway.

In the last fifteen years, it has become increasingly expensive to take a case to court in the country, and the income limit for getting free legal aid has not been adjusted since 2009.

However, from January 1st, 2023, the income limits for being granted free legal aid will be raised to 350,000 kroner for single persons and 540,000 kroner for spouses/couples.

As the government points out on its official website, this change is important as it ensures the necessary legal assistance for those who do not have the financial means to cover these expenses themselves.

“The income limits for being granted free legal aid were raised by around 30 percent from January 1st, 2022. Now we are raising the income limits further, by around 10 percent.

“Many people are experiencing a demanding increase in costs. Taking a case to court can be a big burden on your finances. Therefore, the government wants to ensure that more of those who have the least receive legal aid,” Minister of Justice and Emergency Emilie Enger Mehl said in late December 2022.

In addition, the asset limit is being increased by a full 50 percent to 150,000 kroner for both singles and spouses/couples.

What can you get legal aid for?

Free legal aid is a support measure for legal assistance given in matters of great personal and welfare importance to the individual, such as parental disputes, dismissal from employment, and appeals in social security matters.

The Minister of Justice and Emergency Preparedness wants everyone who requires such support to have the opportunity to go to the courts to resolve conflicts.

“Free legal aid is provided after a needs evaluation, which means that if you have income and assets below certain limits, you will receive financial support for legal aid. By raising the limits, more people will now be able to take care of their need for legal aid,” Enger Mehl explained.

In some cases, you can get free legal aid without the evaluation, regardless of your income or assets. This applies, among other things, to child protection cases and immigration cases.

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Why it might be worth doing a big shop in Norway before the end of January

Over the next week, it might work out cheaper for consumers in Norway to stock up ahead of price rises expected in supermarkets from February 1st.

Why it might be worth doing a big shop in Norway before the end of January

Supermarkets in Norway typically adjust their prices twice a year, once in February and once in July. In typical years this price adjustment isn’t always immediately noticeable.

However, since last year supermarket chains have told consumers to expect increases of up to 10 percent on some products due to rising costs.

Professor Øystein Foros at the Norwegian Business School has told the Norwegian newspaper VG that it is probably worthwhile for consumers to stock up on products with a long shelf life before prices go up to save money in the longer run.

“Anything that has a long shelf life, you can save a lot of money by buying before February 1st. You should get to the store and buy what you need for Easter,” he told VG.

It may also pay to be earlier if you do plan on stocking up, as prices may typically start going up shortly before February 1st.

Although, Foros did say that he was curious whether shops would hike prices before February 1st as there was so much scrutiny over shopping bills recently.

“Because they (supermarkets) know this is coming. I’m guessing they might not do it this year because there is so much attention on food prices, but it will be very exciting (to see),” he said.

He did add that this increased scrutiny may prevent supermarkets from increasing prices more than is necessary as they will be afraid of losing customers.

“When people follow the prices, the chains will be particularly careful with price increases where customers have alternatives. People are unlikely to stop buying coffee if prices go up, but for entrecôte (rib eye) prices, it doesn’t take much before you jump on neck chops,” he explained.

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