Finland


FI

Official (constitutional) name of the country: Republic of Finland

Organisation of the judicial system

 

Judicial Organization

 

The judicial administration consists of independent courts of law, prosecution service, enforcement authorities who see to the enforcement of judgments, the Criminal Sanctions Agency who sees to the enforcement of custodial sentences, and the Bar Association and the other avenues of legal aid.

 

The police, the customs and the border guard  lead the criminal investigation in the pre-trial stage of the criminal process in close cooperation with the prosecutor. When the pre-trial investigation is completed, the prosecutor performs the consideration of charges. If the prosecutor decides to prosecute for an offence, criminal proceedings are initiated in most cases in the district court.

 

The courts, prosecutors, enforcement authorities, legal aid authorities and the Criminal Sanctions Agency all function in the administrative field of the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for the guidance and supervision of the police and border guard and the Ministry of Finance of the customs authorities.

 

Court Organization

 

There are 27 district courts which all deal with both criminal and civil cases. The decision of the district court can normally be appealed to one of the five Courts of Appeal. The decisions of the courts of appeal, then, can be appealed in the Supreme Court, provided that the Supreme Court grants leave to appeal.

 

The courts are independent, bound only by the law in force. The independence of the courts is guaranteed by the Constitution.

 

There are also administrative courts the decisions of which can be appealed in the Supreme Administrative Court. In addition here are special courts  (the Market Court, the Labour Court, the Insurance Court and the High Court of Impeachment).

 

The prosecutors form an independent part of the Finnish judicial administration, and their decision powers are bound by law.

 

The prosecution service consists of the Office of the Prosecutor General and 13 local prosecution offices with 25 subsidiary offices. The Prosecutor General is independent in his/her task, also from the Government and the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Justice however decides on the financial resources of the prosecution service.  

 

Each prosecutor is independent in performing his/her duties. However, the Prosecutor General has the power to take over of a case of a subordinate prosecutor or to assign to a subordinate prosecutor a case where the Prosecutor General has ordered a charge to be brought.

 

The Office of the Prosecutor General maintains the operational conditions of the entire prosecution service as a central administration agency, and functions as the staff of the Prosecutor General.

 

There are 11 Police Departments in Finland.

 

For more details:

https://e-justice.europa.eu/content_judicial_systems_in_member_states-16-fi-en.do?member=1

http://www.oikeus.fi/en/index.html

Judicial Cooperation

General description of the national system for international judicial cooperation in criminal matters 

 

The basis of international judicial cooperation in Finland is to be found in the Act on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (1994 with several updates). The law is flexible and allows Finland to both  request and grant legal assistance even without the support of a convention, treaty etc. In this law Finland has adopted a decentralised model for international co-operation. Therefore, requests for assistance can be sent directly to the local competent authorities.

 

The Ministry of Justice acts as the Central Authority.

 

Incoming request

In MLA regime the requests are executed as a rule during the pre trial phase by the competent law enforcement authority (police or customs) and during the court proceedings by a district court. Regarding mutual legal assistance in the pre-trial phase there is one single point of contact which is the National Bureau of Investigation (police).  It can always be contacted in these matters. In most cases prosecutors do not have a role, unless the request is about transferring the proceedings to Finland or a request of dual criminality. In these cases the request can be sent either to the Office of the Prosecutor General where the decision about accepting a case is made or to the Ministry of Justice. Between the Nordic countries there is a special arrangement.

 

In MR regime the competent authorities are as follows:

  • EAW: the prosecutors of the prosecution office of Helsinki. Decision can be appealed to the Supreme Court if the Supreme Court grants leave to appeal. The same authorities are competent in NAW (Nordic Arrest Warrant). When the competent prosecutor can not be found, the foreign authorities should contact either the Sirene office in the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) or the Office of the Prosecutor General.
  • Freezing order: the prosecutors of the prosecution offices of Helsinki, Sisä-Suomi, Oulu and Itä-Suomi according to the place of the property to be frozen. The decision can be appealed to the district courts of Helsinki, Pirkanmaa, Oulu and Pohjois-Savo according to the place of the property to be frozen.
  • Confiscation order: the Legal Register Centre
  • Financial Penalties: the Legal Register Centre

 

Outgoing request

 In MLA regime the prosecutor handling the case is competent to issue a request for mutual legal assistance. Finland has declared that for the purposes of the 1959 Convention also the police authorities, the customs authorities and the frontier guard officers in their capacity of preliminary criminal investigations authorities are deemed to be judicial authorities. Therefore also the afore mentioned authorities are competent to issue a request for assistance. The authority usually to request a video or telephone conference is the district court or court of appeal handling the case.

 

In MR regime the competent authorities are as follows:

  • EAW (and NAW): the prosecutor handling the case for the prosecution purposes and Criminal Sanctions Agency for execution of prison sentences.
  • Freezing order: the prosecutor handling the case and also the District Court where the prosecution would/will take place.
  • Confiscation order: the Legal Register Centre
  • Financial Penalties: the Legal Register Centre

 

Text in original language, English and/or other available languages of the relevant national laws/provisions of the Criminal procedure codes  on judicial cooperation in criminal matters:

 Finland - Legislation

 Finland - Legislation (In English)

 

Webpage of Finnish legislative acts

Criminal Code

Criminal Investigation Act

 

Link to the EJN website’ section on the status of implementation in Finland of the EU legal instruments on judicial cooperation in criminal matters

 Link to the national Fiches belges                                                     

Links to the relevant sections of the Council of Europe and United Nations Treaties Offices websites containing information on the conventions to which Finland is party

Council of Europe Treaty Office

United Nations Treaty Collection

 

Information on the organisation of the EJN

EJN contact points for Finland have been established at the Ministry of Justice (2 + tools correspondent), Office of the Prosecutor General (1-2), local prosecution offices (4), district courts (2), the National Bureau of Investigation (2) and the Criminal Sanctions Agency (1).

 

Useful national links

National Bureau of Investigation

National Board of Customs

Ministry of Justice, Finland 

The Office of the Prosecutor General

The Finnish Border Guard

The District Courts

The Courts of Appeal

The Supreme Court

Municipalities list – helps you to find the right local judicial authority

Criminal Sanctions Agency  

Legal Register Centre

 

Recent national developments on judicial cooperation in criminal matters  

From the beginning of 2016 the prosecution office and district court of Helsinki are the only local authorities competent to execute a European (or Nordic) Arrest Warrant. In conjunction of EIO the same will happen to execution of freezing orders in Finland.

According to the new law on pretrial investigation, in most cases where the offence has been committed outside Finland, only the prosecutor is competent to decide whether to start an investigation or not.

Hearing witnesses anonymously is now possible in Finland, also by request of judicial authorities of another member state.

 

Other useful information

In the beginning of 2018 the organization of the Finnish Prosecution Service will change. There will be only one prosecution office comprising the whole country. No deterioration in the international judicial cooperation should occur.

  • ® 2017 EJN. All Rights Reserved