“Service” means notification which is made to a specific person, certifiably, and in accordance with the form prescribed by law. The purpose of the rules regarding service is to ensure that service to the relevant person has reliably taken place and that it is verifiable.
These documents are as a general rule documents which relate to legal proceedings, such as summonses and requests for testimony. The requirement for formal service may also apply to documents other than trial documents, such as wills.
In a legal dispute, service is generally the responsibility of the court. At the request of an interested party, the court may entrust responsibility for the service to that party, if the court takes the view that there is justified cause for this.
In other cases, service is the responsibility of the party in whose interest the service is.
When the court takes responsibility for service in a legal dispute, service takes place primarily by post. The letter may arrive either with advice of receipt to the post office or direct to the home, in which case the certificate of receipt on the envelope must be returned to the court. The service of a trial document other than a summons may also be carried out by sending the document as a normal letter to the address notified to the court by the interested party. If it is likely that service by post will not be successful, or if responsibility for service is given to an interested party, service will be performed by a bailiff (“haastemies”).
Services of documents other than trial documents are performed by a bailiff at the request of an authority or a private individual.
In a civil case a summons can be served by acceptance of the documents by a person authorised for that task. If the case involves service of a document (other than a summons) in the course of a trial, and the person to whom the document is addressed is represented by an agent, then the service can be made to the agent. A document in which someone is personally ordered to attend court or otherwise ordered to perform something in person must, however, always be served to the person concerned.
If a person whose place of residence in Finland is known is evading service, then the bailiff may perform the service in the form of a so-called “substitute service”. In this case the documents will be handed to someone over 15 years of age who is a member of the same household, or – if the recipient of the service is engaged in business – to someone employed by his business. If no such persons are available, then the documents can be delivered to the police authority. The bailiff must send notification of this to the recipient by post.
If no information is obtained regarding the whereabouts of the recipient, the court will be responsible for delivery of service by public notice. In this case a notification of the matter will be published in an official journal and – at the discretion of the court – also in a newspaper. In addition, the documents will be placed for viewing on the court’s notice board.
The bailiff will issue a certificate of the service which he has performed. A certificate is also given in the case of a service by post.
If the service has been performed incorrectly and the party concerned does not turn up at court or does not provide the written reply required, the service must be performed again. A new service does not however need to be performed if the error is minor.
If the party concerned makes a claim that the service has been performed incorrectly, the processing of the case must be postponed unless this is regarded as unnecessary due to the minor nature of the error which has taken place.
Service carried out by a bailiff costs 25 euro.
However, no charge will be levied when the court attends to the service. Nor is a charge levied for service which is carried out on a foreign authority by way of executive assistance. The law also lays down certain other exceptions to the payment obligation.
Last update: 03-05-2005