Civil disputes are normally brought before an ordinary court. The case must be brought before a court that is competent to hear it, see B below.
Ordinary courts comprise district courts, the High Courts and the Supreme Court. There are also three specialised courts which deal with civil cases: the Maritime and Commercial Court, the Industrial Tribunal and the Rent Tribunal. These courts' jurisdictions are described in greater detail under point C.
The ordinary courts are organised at three levels. The lowest level is made up of district courts, followed by the High Courts, with the Supreme Court at the highest level.
All civil cases must be brought before district courts. However, certain cases relating to business can be brought before the Maritime and Commercial Court.
The basic rule is that the case must be brought before the defendant's competent court. The competent court for natural persons is the district court whose jurisdiction covers their place of residence. The competent court for legal persons such as companies and associations is the district court whose jurisdiction covers the place where the head office is located.
There are a number of situations in which a case can be brought before a Danish court even if the defendant is not resident in Denmark. Certain civil cases can be brought before a Danish court even if the defendant's competent court is in a foreign country. Examples include cases relating to immovable property in Denmark or cases concerning contracts to be executed in this country. If the defendant is not resident here, the case can be brought in the place where the party concerned is currently located or, where appropriate, where that party was last resident or located.
As far as international cases are concerned, Denmark has acceded to the Brussels Convention and the Lugano Convention. Moreover, the European Community and Denmark have entered into a parallel agreement under which the rules set out in the Brussels I Regulation with effect from 1 July 2007 are applicable between Denmark and the other Member States.
There are a number of rules on jurisdiction under which cases can also be brought before a court other than the defendant's competent court. In addition, there are rules on alternative judicial venues in a number of international conventions and agreements to which Denmark is a party, namely the Brussels Convention, the Lugano Convention and the Brussels I Regulation (cf. the parallel agreement on the subject).
The main rules on alternative legal venues that are applicable in Denmark are listed below:
Danish law contains a number of rules on exclusive jurisdiction which stipulate that certain civil cases must be brought before a particular court. There are also rules on exclusive jurisdiction in a number of international conventions and agreements to which Denmark has acceded, namely the Brussels Convention, the Lugano Convention and the Brussels I Regulation (cf. the parallel agreement on the subject). If a case is brought before a court other than that which has exclusive jurisdiction under the above rules, that court cannot deal with the case. The court will either refer the case to the appropriate court or reject it, if referral is impossible.
The principal rules on exclusive jurisdiction in Denmark are listed below:
The parties can enter into an agreement (an agreement on a judicial venue) to the effect that a case can or must be brought before a court (district court) other than the one dictated by the ordinary rules on jurisdiction. There are no formal requirements as regards agreements on judicial venues, such as that they must be in writing. However, previous agreements on judicial venues – that is, agreements entered into before the dispute arose – are not binding on consumers in cases concerning consumer agreements. It is possible to enter into a tacit agreement on the judicial venue, if, for instance, the defendant does not contest the court's jurisdiction in his statement of defence.
The court ensures, on its own initiative, that the case has not been brought in contravention of national or international rules on exclusive jurisdiction. However, it will not check on its own initiative whether the case has been brought in contravention of the general rule concerning the defendant's competent court, the rules on an alternative judicial venue or an agreement on the judicial venue. Objections to the court's jurisdiction must be set out in the defendant's statement of defence.
There are three specialised courts which deal with civil cases:
Last update: 16-12-2008