SOURCES OF LAW AND THEIR EVOLUTION
The Norwegian Act on Product Liability was enacted in 1988. The history of product liability within Norwegian law started, however, in the decades before. Several theorists had discussed the problem in Norwegian and Scandinavian literature. The doctrine accepted that damage that resulted from the dangerous properties of a thing should fall under the doctrine of strict liability for dangerous objects. The doctrine is based on Supreme Court practice and the content is that an owner may be liable for damage caused by a risk that is deemed to be ‘typical, continuous and extraordinary’ stemming from an activity or the use of a thing or property. The doctrine was developed in the decades before 1900. Liability for dangerous things might also be regarded as liability based on the Act on the Sale of Movable Goods 1907. In the literature there was a debate on this question, partly generated by the fact that the preparatory works of the Sales Act was unclear on the relevant point. The view that §43 third section of the Sales Act provided a legal basis for liability for dangerous things prevailed and was supported by a majority of commentators. There was, however, some disagreement regarding the extent of liability and rules of adequacy in this respect.
Typically for Norwegian tort law, the fact that one legal basis is available does not preclude other legal bases from being applied. The liability was in the last part of the 20th century perceived to be based on two legal instruments: firstly the aforementioned provision in the Sales Act, and secondly the uncodified rule on strict liability for dangerous objects or activity.
In 1975 a committee was appointed with a mandate to investigate the liability of producers and distributors of dangerous objects produced and/or sold. The government was informed of and referred to the international investigations on the same matters. Otherwise, the initiative was, however, independent of the international discussions on the subject.