Foreigners set for piece of Norway’s law firms

A Government-appointed committee has taken the first crucial step towards opening ownership of Norway’s law firms to foreigners.

The move would pave the way for DLA to step up its merger plans with pan-Nordic ally Lindh Stabell Horten, and would allow other firms with a strong interest in the oil industry to establish closer links.

The committee recommended that a law firm should be able to own shares in other law firms and that, with certain conditions, this should also apply to foreign law firms.

Despite this general recommendation, opinion is split on proposed ownership rules, with a minority of committee members suggesting that foreign ownership should be limited to just 50 per cent.

Norwegian Bar Association chairman Helge Aarseth has been hostile towards the committee and its findings. He believes that foreign ownership interferes with lawyers’ independence and that the issue should be resolved by discussion between the Bar Association and the Ministry of Justice.

The committee consists of members of the Norwegian Bar Association, a senior official from the Norwegian Competition Authority, a member of parliament, a judge, an auditor and a representative of the consumers’ council.