Melbourne Law School Investigates Legal Issues Around Icelandic Elves

We enjoyed this research post from the university of Melbourne… can anybody help them out


We are researching legal issues concerning the fascinating phenomenon of Icelandic elves / ‘hidden people’. In doing so, we have hit a brick wall in trying to locate an Icelandic Supreme Court decision and a piece of legislation. We have tried the Supreme Court of Iceland decisions database and the government legislation websites, to no avail. We have also contacted  the Law Library of the University of Iceland, an Icelandic academic specialising in this area, and the Supreme Court of Iceland – none are able to assist, or have not replied to our request. So we’re hoping someone out there may be able to point us in the right direction.

Our queries are based on a 2015 article in the UK Guardian Newspaper and a 2015 BBC News blog

The BBC News blog refers to a 2013 Icelandic Supreme Court decision. It states:

Work on the highway project on the Alftanes peninsula, near Reykjavik, was halted by Iceland’s Supreme Court in 2013 after campaigners said it would disturb a protected area of untouched lava and culturally important “elf habitat” .

We are unable to locate this decision. It may have been an injunction / order rather than a decision, but we can  find no additional information anywhere.

The Guardian article states that:

A conservation act was introduced in 1990 with a clause protecting sites traditionally deemed to have supernatural significance – on the proviso that they have been associated with such phenomena for at least 100 years.

We are unable to locate this 1990 Act. We have identified The Nature Conservation Act no. 44/1999  translated into English, but it does not mention sites of ‘supernatural significance’. We think that perhaps the Act referred to in the Guardian article may in fact be the Regulation establishing the Ministry for the Environment, 77/1990 – but this is not available in English from the Ministry’s website.

We also wonder (a bit cynically perhaps, but it wouldn’t be the first time) whether the media reports simply got it wrong, and that no such court decision or legislation exists.

If you can help out please contact

Robin Gardner LLB, Grad Dip Legal Practice, BA, Grad Dip Info Services MLS Academic Research Service Melbourne Law School The University of Melbourn Victoria 3010 Australia Street Address: 185 Pelham Street, Carlton Vic

E:   [email protected]