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This is similar to this question but applies to a specific scenario.

In the Norwegian allotment garden community I belong to, a young child recently lost her mother to cancer. The statutes say that a “spouse, child or grandchild” can inherit the parcel, but also that a member of the community must have reached age of majority. To a layman such as myself, this may be interpreted as a potential conflict, quoting Wikipedia:

Legally, the term child may refer to anyone below the age of majority or some other age limit. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child defines child as "a human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier".

The paragraph saying that the “spouse, child or grandchild” can inherit was modified most recently. Previously, it said “spouse, child, grandchild or parent. Thus, when a minor lost her parent, a grandparent could assume ownership until the child reached age of majority. However, parents were barred from inheriting because this facilitated transition between adult siblings, which was seen as undesirable.

I assume the child must move if either of the following are true:

  • A «child» can, in legal terms, refer to an adult son or daughter.
  • The most recent change in the statutes has precedence.

However, the Convention on the Rights of the Child state that “The best interests of children must be the primary concern in making decisions that may affect them (…)”, so again to a layman, that could indicate that if there are indeed conflicting terms, the favour should go in to the child.

The board of the allotment garden community has decided that the child must sell her parcel. Given the wording in the statutes, especially the legal definition of a «child», and the order in which the paragraphs were written, is the case clearly in favour of a forced sale?

  • Can you clarify your question a bit? – Putvi Apr 29 at 19:05
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    Since neither spouse nor grandchild have any particular definition which takes age into account, it doesn't seem reasonable to try to pull in a definition of child which does. It seems to me that the intent of the wording is pretty clear and only refers to the relationship, and not the age, so there is no conflict. – brhans Apr 29 at 19:13
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    What is the jurisdiction here? none is stated. – David Siegel Apr 29 at 20:19
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    In English, "child" means offspring, and depending on the context, can include adult offspring. The WP article you cite also says "Child may also describe a relationship with a parent (such as sons and daughters of any age)". But you seem to be asking about a Norwegian word, rather than the English one. – Acccumulation Apr 29 at 22:08
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I presume that the document refers to "barn" and "barnebarn". Norway has forced heirship laws, which refers to offspring as "barn", not limited to those under the age of majority. Interpreted in the context of Norwegian law, there is no assertion in using the word that it grants a right to minors. When you add the additional condition that the recipient must have reached the age of majority, there is no conflict. In this kolonihage bylaws document, which is probably similar to the one you are looking at, §11.2.1 requires that a tranferee fulfill the criteria required for the allocation of parcels, and §11.2.2 addresses the non-necessity of paying the transfer fee in the case of death of the member, and does not create a special inheritance right. It also says that the new contract must be established. But a minor cannot establish a contract, and in general cannot be forced to fulfill the obligations of a member as spelled out in §9. You should check with a lawyer to be certain, of course.

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As a general principle of law interpretation, words that appear in a list will be given the explanation consistent with other words in that list. Since the list here is “spouse, child or grandchild”, all words in the list refer to biological relations regardless of age. Hence “child” takes the biological meaning of “son or daughter”.

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