When the Viking Turns into a Banker:
The Changes in Icelandic Banking Law
Following the Crisis in 2008

In 2008, the financial crisis broke out in Iceland and caused, after years of uncontrolled
expansion, the collapse of its three biggest banks. The Icelandic state
was forced to make a drastic intervention in their banking law in order to save the
national economy. The Althing passed Act No. 125/2008, the so called Emergency
Act, which enabled the state to take control over collapsed financial institutions.
Domestic assets and obligations were transferred to the newly established
state-owned banks whilst foreign liabilities stayed with old banks. This caused
a long legal and diplomatic dispute between Iceland and the creditors of banks.
Over time, when the economic situation stabilized, some of the harshest regulations
of the Emergency Act were replaced by amendments made in November and
April. Furthermore, the act on the Special Investigation Commission, the act on
the Special Prosecutor Office and post-crisis attempts to change the Icelandic
constitution are briefly described. Eventually, the severe legal measures taken
by Iceland proved successful, although the crisis shows that law and reality still
occasionally go their separate ways.

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