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Norway

Plain Legal Language (NO0027)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Norway Action Plan 2013-2015

Action Plan Cycle: 2013

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: The Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs (in cooperation with the Agency for Public Management and eGovernment (Difi) and the Language Council of Norway (Språkrådet).

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Capacity Building

IRM Review

IRM Report: Norway End-of-Term Report 2014-2015, Norway Second IRM Progress Report 2013-2014

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: No

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Norway has decided to look into the origin of unclear language through a separate
project called “Plain Legal language”.
In this project, we will examine some Acts and reformulate them in plain language.
Preference will be given to Acts that are important to citizens and Acts that affect many
citizens. The aim of this work is to devise a general method that can be used in the �3
future, both when drafting new Acts and amending or revising existing Acts. We aim to
begin examining the first two Acts before 1 July 2014.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

16. Plain legal language

Commitment Text:

A survey (telephone interviews) in 2009 revealed that two out of three Norwegian citizens thought that the public sector does not write in plain language and found public forms difficult to fill in.

The Norwegian Plain Language project was formally launched in March 2009 with the aim of stimulating public agencies to adopt good and user-friendly language.[…]

COMMITMENT DESCRIPTION
Norway has decided to look into the origin of unclear language through a separate project called “Plain Legal language”.

In this project, we will examine some Acts and reformulate them in plain language. Preference will be given to Acts that are important to citizens and Acts that affect many citizens. The aim of this work is to devise a general method that can be used in the future, both when drafting new Acts and amending or revising existing Acts. We aim to begin examining the first two Acts before 1 July 2014.

Key Impact Benchmark:
We will begin examining the first two Acts before 1 July 2014

Responsible institution: Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs

Supporting institution(s): Agency for Public Management and eGovernment (Difi) and the Language Council of Norway (Språkrådet)

Start date: Ongoing           End date: 1 July, 2014

Editorial note: The text of the commitments was abridged for formatting reasons. For the full text of the commitment, please see http://bit.ly/1QlVIja.

Policy Aim

This initiative aims to make the language used in legal documents more accessible to the general public.

Status

Mid-term: Complete
This commitment was complete at the mid-term. The government identified four laws whose language will be clarified and held a conference on clear legal language, with the participation of relevant government actors, academics and civil society groups. Since the commitment language committed the government to “begin examining” acts, this commitment was deemed complete. For more information, please see IRM Progress Report 2013-2014.

Did it open government?

Access to information: Marginal

Work under this commitment has included courses and seminars on clear legal language to government officials and staff, surveys to understand what kind of clarity is desirable in legal language, and the initiation of the process to reformulate four specific pieces of legislation (i.e., the Education Act, Inheritance Act, Adoption Act and Defence Personnel Act) though the specific acts subjected to revision appears to have changed during the course of the project.[Note 97: ”Lovarbeid i Norge: nye arbeidsformer,”Språkrådet, accessed September 4, 2016, http://www.sprakradet.no/Klarsprak/juridisk-sprak/sprak-i-lover-og-forskrifter/lovarbeid-i-norge/.] A piece of draft legislation for the first of these acts has been produced and submitted to the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation (KMD), the responsible ministry. The draft text was welcomed by the Minister of Local Government and Modernisation as more clear and generally more accessible.[Note 98: ”En ny kommunelov for et sterkere lokaldemokrati,” Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation, accessed September 4, 2016, https://www.regjeringen.no/no/aktuelt/en-ny-kommunelov-for-et-sterkere-lokaldemokrati/id2479155/.  ] The IRM researcher has not identified any media or civil society commentary that indicates satisfaction or awareness of this output. If this is indicative of future revisions to other legal texts, this can be considered a marginal contribution to access to information in Norway.  

Carried forward?

This commitment has not been carried forward in the Norwegian government’s third national action plan, which is available on the OGP website.[Note 99: ”Norway’s third action plan Open Government Partnership (OGP),” Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation, accessed September 4, 2016, http://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/Norway_2016-17_NAP.pdf.]


Commitments

Open Government Partnership