Uenighet i Høyesterett om verdibetraktninger vipper Volstad saken i Statens favør

23 Oct 2013

Volstad AS gikk til sak for å prøve grunnlovsvernet mot tilbakevirkende kraft overfor den politiske snuoperasjonen i 2005 som rederiet ble ett av flere offer for. Høyesterett slo fast, med […]

Volstad AS gikk til sak for å prøve grunnlovsvernet mot tilbakevirkende kraft overfor den politiske snuoperasjonen i 2005 som rederiet ble ett av flere offer for. Høyesterett slo fast, med knappest mulig margin, at den “posisjonen” som Volstad fikk ved utstedelse av tidsubegrensede strukturkvoter har grunnlovsvern, men innholdet i det skadelidende omgjøringsvedtaket var ikke sterkt nok til at han fikk medhold. Det avgjørende for flertallet var at verdien av strukturkvotene ikke synes å være påvirket av tidsbegrensningen, mens mindretallet mente at det måtte være klart at tidsubegrensede kvoterettigheter uansett vil være mer verd enn de tidsbegrensede. Hvordan de oppfattet verdien ble med andre ord utslagsgivende.

Det er litt underlig at rikets øverste domstol kan se så ulikt på dette med verdi av rettighetene. Det er enighet om faktum. Strukturkvotene det her gjelder skal vare i 25 år og er gjenstand for skattemessig avskrivning i perioden. Det er selvsagt en økonomisk fordel ved å få avskrivninger, selv om den reelle størrelsen kan variere. Voldstad hadde underskudd og dommerne er uenig i hvilken betydning dette skulle få for utfallet. Skoghøy mente det måtte måles konkret for Volstad og ikke på generelle betraktninger. Førstevoterende dommer Tønder (flertallet) mente imidlertid at dette ville være en fordel uansett hvilken betraktning som ble lagt til grunn og han hadde fokus på Volstad AS som selskap – ikke konsernet.

Uansett hvem av dommerne som har rett i sin betraktning var de likevel rykende uenig i selve verdispørsmålet. Tønder viste til utredninger som isolert sett gir en relativt liten reell verdireduksjon etter 27 år. I tillegg kommer det faktum at det skal skje en tilbakeføring til grunnkvotene etter at denne perioden er ferdig. Når man ikke kan påvise noe verdifall ved omsetning av kvoterettighetene i 2005 og årene etterpå er det selvsagt betimelig av Tønder å påpeke dette. Om det har vært verdifall har ikke blitt bevist og Tønder viser faktisk til Fiskebåt sin årsmelding når han sannsynliggjør at det økonomiske argument ikke tilsier noen negativ betydning for Voldstad.

Her står hele saken og vipper. Er det virkelig slik at verdien ikke reduseres i noen særlig grad? Og det er vel ikke urimelig forståelse av faktum at skattemessig fradrag vil ha en viss verdi for rederiet på 27år?

Skoghøy har vurdert dette annerledes. Hadde en av de andre dommerne fulgt hans resonnement hadde saken fått et annet utfall. Skoghøy argumenterte med at selve tidsavgrensningen rent prinsipielt har en verdieffekt av begrensende art. Dermed blir hans votum et forsvar for grunnlovsvern mot tilbakevirkning under forutsetning av at verdiene ble tilstrekkelig begrenset. Svakheten ved dette votum er at han ikke argumenterer med hvorfor. Han slår bare fast en tese.

Dette med verdi og betydning er neppe ferdig debattert selv om dommen nå er avsagt. Hva om det nye Storting nå endrer spillereglene og gir alle strukturkvoter tidsubegrenset betydning på lik linje med grunnkvoter? Har da grunnkvotene mistet verdi? Spør Skoghøy! Og ikke minst blir det en rekke saker fremover dersom en ny regjering om 4 år vil endre dette igjen.

Uansett syn på tidsubegrensede rettigheter eller ikke vil dommen neppe ha annen betydning enn at kampen om fiskerettigheter dreier seg om et komplekst samspill mellom private aktører og en offentligrettslig regulering. Fiskeressursene tilhører i juridisk forstand fiskersamfunnet. Det skaper en rekke interessante problemstillinger. Nå er en av de løst.

For de som lurer på det: Utfallet i denne saken har ingen betydning for Lafjord-saken som fremdeles venter på å komme inn for Høyesterett. Dere vil bli oppdatert gjennom denne bloggen.027

 

 

 

 

 

 

Om forfatteren

Ulf Sørdal
Ulf Sørdal Ulf H. Sørdal har lang erfaring med fiskeri og oppdrett. Han har arbeidet med skatte- og selskapsrettslige spørsmål og vært involvert i en rekke prinsippsaker for næringene over de siste 20 år. Han har deltatt i en rekke transaksjoner og konsolidering av både oppdrett, industri og fiskeri gjennom både juridisk arbeid og praktisk forretningsutvikling. Han har og har hatt en rekke styreverv.

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