European Commission > EJN > Taking of evidence and mode of proof > Finland

Last update: 09-05-2005
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Taking of evidence and mode of proof - Finland

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. The burden of proof I.
1.
a) What are the rules concerning the burden of proof? a)
b) Are there rules which exempt certain facts from the burden of proof? In which cases? Is it possible to rebut these presumptions by producing evidence? b)
2. To what extent must the court be convinced of a fact in order to base its judgement on the existence of that fact? 2.
II. The taking of evidence II.
3. Does the taking of evidence always require the application of a party, or can the judge in certain cases also take evidence on his own motion? 3.
4.
a) If the application of a party concerning the taking of evidence is approved, what steps follow? a)
b) In which cases can the court reject an application of a party to obtain evidence? b)
5. What different means of proof are there? 5.
a) What are the methods of obtaining evidence from witnesses and do these differ from the means employed to obtain evidence from expert witnesses? What are the rules in relation to the submission of written evidence and expert reports/opinions? a)
b)
c) Are certain methods of proof stronger than others? c)
d) In order to prove certain facts, are certain methods of proof obligatory? d)
6.
a) Are witnesses obliged by law to testify? a)
b) In which cases can they refuse to give evidence? b)
c) Can a person who refuses to testify be sanctioned or forced to give evidence? c)
d) Are there persons from whom evidence cannot be obtained? d)
7. What is the role of the judge and the parties in the hearing of a witness? Under what conditions can a witness be heard via new technology such as television or videoconferencing? 7.
III. The evaluation of evidence III.
8. Where evidence has not been obtained legally by a party, are there restrictions placed on the court in reaching its judgment? 8.
9. As a party to the case, will my own statement count as evidence? 9.

 

I. The burden of proof

1.

a) What are the rules concerning the burden of proof?

The plaintiff must prove those matters which support the action, while the defendant must in turn prove those matters to which he or she refers. The party who fails to present evidence carries the risk that the matters which he or she presents will remain unproven.

b) Are there rules which exempt certain facts from the burden of proof? In which cases? Is it possible to rebut these presumptions by producing evidence?

An admitted fact does not need to be proven. In addition, a generally acknowledged fact, or one which is ex officio known to the court, need not be proven. Naturally, the presentation of counterevidence is permitted.

2. To what extent must the court be convinced of a fact in order to base its judgement on the existence of that fact?

In this respect the law merely contains a provision whereby the court must, after having carefully considered all the facts which have arisen, decide what is to be regarded as the truth in the case. Finland applies the so-called “theory of free evaluation of evidence”, and so it is a matter of presenting adequate evidence to the court.

II. The taking of evidence

3. Does the taking of evidence always require the application of a party, or can the judge in certain cases also take evidence on his own motion?

In practice the interested parties must themselves obtain the evidence to which they wish to refer. The law in fact also permits the court to decide to obtain items of evidence on its own initiative. It may not however order a new witness to be examined or a document to be presented on its own initiative and against the joint will of both parties concerned, if the case in question is one which is amenable to out-of-court settlement.

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In certain cases, such as paternity cases, it is also the obligation of the court to ensure that all necessary reports are obtained.

4.

a) If the application of a party concerning the taking of evidence is approved, what steps follow?

The taking of evidence takes place at the main hearing.

b) In which cases can the court reject an application of a party to obtain evidence?

The court may deny such a request inter alia when the evidence is irrelevant or the case has in this respect already been proven, as well as where the interested party makes the request for presentation of evidence at too late a stage.

5. What different means of proof are there?

a) What are the methods of obtaining evidence from witnesses and do these differ from the means employed to obtain evidence from expert witnesses? What are the rules in relation to the submission of written evidence and expert reports/opinions?

The modes of proof consist of the hearing of interested parties, witnesses and experts; the presentation of written evidence and expert statements; and inspection.

b)

There is no difference between the evaluation of the oral hearing of a witness or expert and that of the written statement of an expert. A witness on the other hand may not give a written statement.

c) Are certain methods of proof stronger than others?

No. The court has free discretion when evaluating evidence.

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d) In order to prove certain facts, are certain methods of proof obligatory?

No.

6.

a) Are witnesses obliged by law to testify?

As a rule, a witness may not refuse to give evidence.

b) In which cases can they refuse to give evidence?

For example, the spouse, fiancé(e) and direct ascending or descending relatives of an interested party have the right to refuse to give evidence. In addition, the law includes various other situations where a witness has the right or the obligation to refuse to give evidence.

c) Can a person who refuses to testify be sanctioned or forced to give evidence?

A witness who without lawful cause refuses to give evidence may be obliged under threat of a fine to fulfil his or her obligation. If despite this the witness does not consent to give evidence, the court may order him or her to be detained until he or she consents to give evidence.

d) Are there persons from whom evidence cannot be obtained?

It is up to the discretion of the court whether (for example) a person under 15 years of age or a mentally disturbed person can be heard as a witness.

Certain groups of persons may not give evidence in matters relating to their position of trust; these include doctors and attorneys.

7. What is the role of the judge and the parties in the hearing of a witness? Under what conditions can a witness be heard via new technology such as television or videoconferencing?

As a general rule, the examination of a witness is started by the party who named him or her. Following this, the opposing party has the right to examine the witness. Subsequently, the court and the interested parties may put questions to the witness.

A witness can be heard using videoconferencing or other suitable applicable technical data communication method providing an audiovisual link between those taking part in the session, if the court considers this to be appropriate. It is possible to follow this procedure when for example a witness has been prevented from arriving at the court, or if his or her attendance would incur unreasonable costs, or if the witness is aged under 15. In certain situations a witness can also be examined over the phone.

III. The evaluation of evidence

8. Where evidence has not been obtained legally by a party, are there restrictions placed on the court in reaching its judgment?

The law does not contain direct instructions for such a case. The court must, using its discretion, decide what significance such evidence will have.

9. As a party to the case, will my own statement count as evidence?

Yes. Interested parties may be freely heard in the intention to present evidence, and in a civil case they may be heard under oath regarding facts which are of special significance in resolving the case. A statement of an interested party given in evidence will be evaluated on the same criteria as a statement issued by a witness.



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Last update: 09-05-2005

 
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