General information

The Child Welfare Tribunal was established in January 1993. Until 2022, it was called the County Social Welfare Board. There are twelve tribunals: The Child Welfare Tribunal in Oslo and Environ (Oslo), Innlandet (Lillehammer), Buskerud and Environ (Drammen), Vestfold og Telemark (Skien), Agder (Kristiansand), Rogaland (Stavanger), Vestland (Bergen), Møre og Romsdal (Molde), Trøndelag (Trondheim), Nordland (Bodø), Troms og Finnmark (Tromsø), and Østfold (Moss). In administrative matters, the tribunals are subordinate to the Central Office for the Child Welfare Tribunal, which reports to the Ministry of Children and Families.

Each tribunal has its own administration and several permanent tribunal chairs, who possess legal qualifications and are qualified to serve as judges in a court of law. Each tribunal also has a committee of experts and a committee of ordinary members that are appointed by the Central Office for a term of four years. The committee of ordinary members consists of people who are on the courts of law's lay assessor committee and have agreed to serve on the tribunals. The expert committees are divided into the areas of child welfare, substance addition care, and coercive measures in relation to persons with mental disabilities.

Child Welfare Tribunal procedure

Cases involving applications for measures pursuant to the Child Welfare Act or the Health and Care Services Act are brought before the tribunals by the municipalities. The municipal authorities are also responsible for examining the case and preparing for its consideration by the tribunal.

The parties to the case

The parties to a case are the municipality and the private party directly affected by the measure applied for. The parties have the right to be heard, and they also have the right to familiarise themselves with, and respond to, all of the information on which the tribunal will base its decision. Strict impartiality requirements apply at all times to the people considering a case.

Children’s participation

As a rule, children aged 15 years or older are parties to the case. As a party to the case, children will get their own lawyer, the right to access the case documents, and the right to attend the tribunal. Younger children who are capable of forming their own opinions must be informed about the case and given the opportunity to express their opinion before the tribunal makes any decisions that affect them. Children can choose whether they want a spokesperson appointed to convey their opinion to the tribunal, or whether they want to speak directly to the persons who will decide the case.


Tribunal hearings

Most cases are considered at a tribunal hearing and are decided by a tribunal consisting of a tribunal chair, an expert member and an ordinary member. The tribunal chair chairs the hearing. At a tribunal hearing, the parties make statements, call witnesses and present relevant documentation to the tribunal. Each of the parties are represented by a lawyer. The members of the tribunal must pay close attention to what emerges during the hearing. Each individual member is responsible for clearing up misunderstandings and ambiguities and ensuring that matters of importance are adequately elucidated. The case is to be decided based solely on the information that emerges during the tribunal hearing.
Once a tribunal hearing has ended, the members of the tribunal deliberate and make a decision in the case by majority vote. If the tribunal’s decision is not unanimous, this must be stated in the decision. A decision is valid once all members of the tribunal have signed it. A valid decision can only be reviewed by a court of law. To ease the case processing, the tribunal chair may decide that a decision can be signed electronically. It is helpful if the members of the committee of ordinary members set up a digital mailbox so that we can send you decisions in a secure manner. The tribunal chair may decide to use a combination of oral proceedings and written proceedings in some cases, for example by the tribunal reading the documentation in advance and the parties then being given the opportunity to make oral statements at a short tribunal hearing. Some cases can also be decided through written proceedings by the tribunal chair alone.


The dialogue process

As an alternative to traditional proceedings, the tribunal may offer the parties the opportunity to use a dialogue process in the case. This means that the parties meet for discussions led by a tribunal chair to explore the possibilities for arriving at a wholly or partly voluntary solution to the case. The parties can agree to try out temporary arrangements, but they can also use the dialogue meeting as a way of gaining a better understanding of each other’s point of view and achieving better cooperation between the parties. The tribunal chair will usually appoint an expert to provide assistance during the dialogue meeting. The dialogue process is voluntary, and the parties can withdraw their consent at any stage of the process. Dialogue meetings generally last for three hours. Experts can be asked to participate in cases where the dialogue process is used.