Pelagia win Norwegian Supreme Court against Ministry of Trade and Industry over validity of decisions on revocation of catch settlement
On Tuesday, 23 November, the Norwegian Supreme Court ruled in the case Pelagia had taken against the Ministry of Trade and Industry in the case where the Ministry stopped the fishing and trading in sandeel with the subsequent confiscation of a sandeel catch in 2017.
CEO Paul Oma of Norwegian Herring Sales Association said, “The herring team takes note of the ruling in the Supreme Court. We will study the ruling carefully and return to the consequences this may have for the Norges Sildesalgslag in the future.”
The validity of decisions on revocation of catch settlement
Supreme Court judgment 23 November 2021, HR-2021-2275-A, (case no. 21-049535SIV-HRET), civil case, appeal against judgment.
Pelagia AS, Sjømat Norge (party assistant) (lawyer Ivar Skauge Strandenes)
v Staten v / Nærings- og fiskeridepartementet (Regjeringsadvokaten v / lawyer Karen Mellingen)
Judges: Skoghøy, Matheson, Noer, Thyness, Sæther
As a result of slow turnover, the Norwegian Herring Sales Association adopted a regulation on a temporary halt in fishing and the sale of the sandeel fish species. During the prohibition period, no trading permits were granted. A Danish fishing vessel nevertheless sold its catch, and the Herring Sales Association withdrew the settlement pursuant to section 21 of the Fish Sales Sales Act. The decision on confiscation was upheld by the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Pelagia AS, which had acquired the claim for catch settlement, believed the confiscation was invalid because it lacked legal authority.
The Supreme Court concluded that section 13 of the Fish Sales Act does not provide authority to stop fishing and the sale of catches when disagreement about the price level leads to a slow and confusing turnover situation. Both the wording of the law and the preparatory work indicate that the condition in section 13, that measures must be “necessary for consideration of the catch”, is only fulfilled if the fish receptions are not able to take away the catches that are delivered. That was not the case here. However, the state was upheld in that section 13 provides authority not only to stop fishing, but also turnover, provided that consideration of the reduction makes it necessary.
The decision to stop fishing was therefore invalid, and turnover in violation of it could not justify confiscation. Nor could the fact that the catch was traded without a trading permit had been granted by the Herring Battle Team provide a basis for revoking the catch settlement, since the rejection of the trading application was based on the invalid regulations on fishing stops.
The decision to withdraw the catch settlement was subsequently declared invalid.
The judgment provides guidance on when the fish sales teams can decide to stop fishing pursuant to section 13 of the Fish Sales Act and revoke catch settlements pursuant to section 21 of the Act.