Case Negotiation Meeting
In most instances, the municipality submits a claim. In certain instances, other persons or the County Governor (In Norwegian Fylkesmannen) may submit a claim, but this rarely happens. The most common requirements in child welfare cases are requirements for the issue of a care takeover (In Norwegian omsorgsovertakelse), placement of youth with serious behavioural problems (In Norwegian - atferdsplassering), and adoption (In Norwegian adopsjon). The boards receive many cases concerning amendments to decisions, and measures that a board has passed. This includes a request to increase visits, or that the child must be returned to parental care.
In cases pertaining to the Act Relating to the Municipal Health and Care Services, it is only the municipality who can take the initiative to lodge a case. In cases pertaining to the Act Relating to the Control of Communicable Diseases, it is the Municipal Practitioner (In Norwegian Kommunelegen), or the National Health Directorate (In Norwegian Helsedirektoratet) who can lodge a case before the Contagious Diseases Protection Authority (In Norwegian Smittevernnemnda).
If parents, children or other private persons (with rights as party in the case) submit a claim which must be treated by the board, they must contact the child welfare services in their municipality in order to submit their claim. The child welfare service must bring the case before the board within 3 months. In special cases, the deadline can be extended to six months.
A case negotiation meeting is initiated once the board receives the corresponding writ from a child welfare service attorney. These writs are called “Measures Requirement” (In Norwegian begjæring om tiltak). The child welfare service describes the case, justifies its views, and proposes measures for board consideration. The child welfare service will state the proof they will present, the witnesses they will summon to the case negotiation meeting, and the documents they will present to the board.
When the board has received the measures requirements from the child welfare service, the board will ensure that the parent(s) and the child (with rights as party) have access to an attorney if they do not already have one. The cost of the attorney will be paid by the State. Thereafter, the said Attorney will send a reply writ to the board within 10 days. This reply (In Norwegian tilsvar) from the attorney states the client's views about the case and the measures the board should consider. The reply must include the evidence which will be presented, the witnesses they will summon to the negotiation meeting, as well as the documents the party will present before the board.
For the children who do not have the right to their own attorney, but who are old enough to express their own opinion about the case, the board will nominate a special spokesperson (In Norwegian talspersonen). The spokesperson will speak with the child and convey to the board and parties, what the child thinks about the case.
Once the board receives the measures requirement, the board will decide when the negotiation meeting will take place, and summon the parties to the meeting. Negotiation meetings concerning care orders usually takes 2-3 days. In some instances, these meetings may last longer. A sufficient amount of time must be reserved so the parties in the case are ensured the opportunity to explain themselves, present their own proof and witnesses, and question the counterpart’s witnesses through their counsel. A sufficient amount of information must be provided in the negotiation meeting in order for the board to make a decision.
When a negotiation meeting is held, the composition of the board will usually consist of 3 persons, and include one board chair (In Norwegian Fylkesnemndsleder) qualified to act as a judge, a professional expert (In Norwegian fagkyndig medlem), and an ordinary member (In Noregian alminnelig medlem). The board chair is a lawyer qualified to act as a judge. The professional expert is a psychologist with experience working with children, youth and families. This expert is a medical practitioner with supplementary education within child and youth psychiatrics, and/or has other relevant education and experience. In most cases, the professional expert is a psychologist.
After the negotiation meeting has been conducted, the board will review the case. Decisions after the negotiation meeting will be made on the basis of the proceedings of the meeting. If the board members disagree, the measures are adopted by simple majority. The decisions adopted by the board are presented in a formal ruling (In Norwegian vedtak). The ruling must be justified in the same way as a court ruling (or judgement). The ruling must be ready as soon as possible, and at the latest within two weeks after the negotiation meeting was held. The ruling is sent to the parties’ counsels.
2. Preparation and summons
The board prepares the case and summons for a formal negotiation meeting.