European Commission > EJN > Jurisdiction of the courts > Finland

Last update: 03-08-2007
Printable version Bookmark this page

Jurisdiction of the courts - Finland

EJN logo

This page is now obsolete. The original language version has been updated and moved to the European e-Justice Portal.


The reader is reminded that the presentation below is of a general nature, and that before instituting an action it is always advisable to check the jurisdiction of the court, for example by contacting that court in which it is intended to bring the action. International regulations may give rise to exceptions to what is stated below (see for example Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001).



 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. Should I apply to an ordinary civil court or to a specialised court? A.
B. Where the ordinary civil courts have jurisdiction how can I find out which one I should apply to? B.
I. Is there a distinction between lower and higher ordinary civil courts and if so which one is competent for my case? I.
II. Competent court II.
1. Basic rule of territorial jurisdiction 1.
2. Exceptions to the basic rule 2.
a) When can I choose between the court in the place where the defendant lives and another court? a)
b) When do I have to choose a court other than that in the place where the defendant lives? b)
c) Can the parties themselves attribute jurisdiction to a court which would not be competent otherwise? c)
C. Where specialised courts have jurisdiction how can I find out which one I have to address? C.

 

A. Should I apply to an ordinary civil court or to a specialised court?

In Finland civil actions are processed in general courts. Special courts are either appeal stages or else they process actions other than those brought by private citizens.

B. Where the ordinary civil courts have jurisdiction how can I find out which one I should apply to?

I. Is there a distinction between lower and higher ordinary civil courts and if so which one is competent for my case?

No such division exists in Finland.

II. Competent court

1. Basic rule of territorial jurisdiction

The main rule is that the action is brought at the general lower court of the defendant’s place of residence. This applies also to a situation where the defendant is a legal person. Only a small minority of actions are processed elsewhere.

2. Exceptions to the basic rule
a) When can I choose between the court in the place where the defendant lives and another court?

Cases where this is possible include the following:

  • A petition regarding divorce and actions relating to divorce can, as a general rule, be brought at the court of the place of residence of either of the interested parties. The same court is also competent when the care of a child is also involved in this connection.
  • In certain cases involving contract law an action may be brought in a way which differs from the main rule: for example, an action brought against a tradesman or businessman when the case concerns a business contract. In such a case the action may be brought at the court of the locality where the business is carried out. Similarly, an action based on a contract of employment can be brought at the place where the contract was made or the work carried out, in addition to the court of the defendant’s place of residence.
  • A consumer may bring an action against a trader also at the court of the consumer’s own place of residence.
  • An action regarding establishment of paternity is brought in the court whose judicial district includes the municipality of the child welfare officer who has been responsible for the determination of paternity. An action can however also be brought at the court of that locality where the mother, child or child’s trustee have their place of residence, or where the child was conceived. An action for refutation of paternity, however, falls solely within the jurisdiction of the court of the child’s place of residence.
  • An action concerning a civil law claim which is based on a crime can also be processed in that court which would have jurisdiction to impose punishment for the crime in question.
b) When do I have to choose a court other than that in the place where the defendant lives?

A separate action concerning maintenance payable for a minor child must be brought at the court of the municipality of residence of the child’s custodian or of the trustee appointed for the child.

TopTop

In cases concerning such matters as real property, distraint and inheritance, the competent court will not always be the court of the respondent’s place of residence. Instead (for example):

  • in property cases, it will be the court of the place of location of the property;
  • in distraint cases, it will be the court in whose judicial district the distraint has been executed;
  • in cases involving a dispute over inheritance, it will be the court of the last place of residence of the deceased.
c) Can the parties themselves attribute jurisdiction to a court which would not be competent otherwise?

In a civil action (but not in a non-contentious civil case) the parties concerned can select a court other than the normally competent court (the lower court). This does not however apply in cases which concern matters relating to real property, distraint, bankruptcy, inheritance or guardianship.

A condition for this is that the interested parties have agreed in writing on the competent court (for example, in a standard contract). Besides the provision regarding a specific court, the contract must also specify the matter itself or the legal relationship which the contract concerns.

If the plaintiff brings an action elsewhere than in the competent court, the court may nevertheless process the case, unless the defendant opposes this procedure before he or she has responded to the actual matter of substance.

C. Where specialised courts have jurisdiction how can I find out which one I have to address?

A special court system is not in use in Finland for litigation cases, other than in exceptional circumstances.

Further information

« Jurisdiction of the courts - General information | Finland - General information »

TopTop

Last update: 03-08-2007

 
  • Community law
  • International law

  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Estonia
  • Ireland
  • Greece
  • Spain
  • France
  • Italy
  • Cyprus
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Hungary
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Austria
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovenia
  • Slovakia
  • Finland
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom