CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE IN FINLAND
This article will provide guidance on the Code of Civil Procedure in Finland. There is no difference in treatment between foreign and domestic parties in a Finnish dispute. Compared to the formal habits and detailed procedural rules in Germany, England, or France, the Finnish way of civil proceedings often has something in common with arbitration. Foreign parties are generally given a friendly understanding for not being familiar with the procedure at a Finnish court. However, involving process servers who know what they are doing is always preferable. A private Finland process service agency like Undisputed Legal can assure you of the safety of your documents.
Finnish law is a branch of the civil or Roman-Germanic legal tradition, specifically Nordic. Generally speaking, civil trials must adhere to the Code of Judicial Procedure.
The Procedural Act (Oikeuden-käymiskaari), enacted in 1734 and updated and reenacted in 1993, is Finland's primary legal basis for judicial proceedings. Legal assistance, procedures for non-contentious situations, arbitration, and enforcement are all covered in other legislation and decisions. Statutory law governs the civil process, and international and European Union treaties on the civil procedure are widely applied, with significant precedent from the Supreme Court of Finland and the European Union Court of Justice.
The District Court (käräjäoikeus) hears cases as a court of first instance. We have the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal (Hovioikeus) for appeals (Korkein Oikeus). Finland is a multilingual country with distinct Finnish, Swedish, and Finnish and Swedish-speaking areas. However, Finnish and Swedish have been recognized as official languages; thus, any required translations into the other will be supplied.
The Hague Service Convention was enacted on November 15, 1965, at the Hague, Netherlands, by the member states of the Hague Conference on Private International Law and is the basis upon which process servers in Finland service civil and commercial cases. It was created to provide plaintiffs a secure and efficient way to serve papers on foreign-based defendants or defendants operating in another nation. Our process servers in Finland are up to date on the licensing requirements of the nation and are qualified to conduct service according to Finland's legal and treaty requirements.
ORGANISATION OF THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM IN FINLAND
There are three tiers of the regular civil and criminal court system, which operates independently from the administrative system in Finland. The Supreme Court sits above the other six appellate and twenty-seven district courts. District courts have specialized court sections for marital, patent, trademark, and property plot disputes.
Finland is a member of the European Union (EU); hence EU legislation governing jurisdiction provisions applies to any disputes that arise inside the EU's jurisdictional or subject matter boundaries. The general rule is that jurisdiction provisions that do not violate obligatory or exclusive forum criteria are admissible for matters beyond the geographical or subject matter scope of the relevant EU legislation or international agreements binding Finland.
Certain legal disputes, such as those involving family members or a person's legal ability or the appointment of a guardian, need special courts with exclusive jurisdiction. Furthermore, jurisdiction provisions cannot be legally binding until introduced after a specific issue has developed. Undisputed Legal serves all legal documents upon the individual in accordance with the requirements of the Hague Service Convention and the jurisdiction of the court governing said process.
STARTING CIVIL PROCEEDINGS IN FINLAND
The plaintiff will make a claim, and the defendant must respond with a statement of defense at the written stage of a civil case. Before the preliminary hearing, the court may, on its initiative or at the parties' request, require further written submissions from the parties. To better understand the issues at stake and the evidence presented at the main hearing, the court will summon the parties to a preliminary hearing after receiving all relevant written submissions. The court can request further written submissions during and after the pretrial hearing. The main hearing is where both sides present their evidence and arguments. In addition, all witnesses and specialists are given a chance to speak. After then, the verdict is read.
In addition to the application itself, applicants must provide supporting documentation in either the original language or a translated version. A comprehensive translation should be provided if the defendant contests the case or meaning of the document. In reality, it is sufficient to translate just the phrases or provisions relevant to the case.
If a foreign authority submits a Hague Convention service of process request, the Central Authority will transmit it to the Finnish district court in the region where the addressee resides. A process server from the District Court will deliver the documents. Typically, our process servers will deliver the paperwork to the defendant in person.
If the court finds that the application must be modified or incomplete, it will direct the plaintiff to do so. The application might be thrown out if the plaintiff does not do so. There are no court fees associated with the summons application. This is why it is necessary to involve a qualified process service agency like Undisputed Legal to ensure that the documents are served in accordance with court timelines and as efficiently as possible.
PRE-ACTION PROCEEDINGS IN FINLAND
The court will personally deliver the summons to the defendant. Typically, the bailiff or registered mail is used to deliver the summons. The court may allow the plaintiff to handle the service of process in their case. Suppose the defendant is a corporation or other legal body. In that case, the court will often ask for a copy of the defendant's trade register entry to verify the defendant's legal representation. It is preferable to appoint a process service agency like Undisputed Legal since local law enforcement agencies are often overburdened with other judicial responsibilities, and your documents may inadvertently be delayed.
The defendant is also notified of their right to reply to the summons, the nature and scope of that response's responsibility, and the time frame within which that response must be filed. A certified translation of the summons is required if the defendant is a foreign national, resident of, or registered outside of the United States. Typically, a party will have thirty days to answer, but you may request more time if necessary.
The language used in any court-related correspondence, including the answer to a summons, must be either Finnish or Swedish. The parties can exchange written statements until the court deems the issue prepared enough. The written preparation might take more than a year if the court is far away or if the issues are complex and hotly contested.
After the documents are prepared, the matter is discussed orally in a preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing explains the issues, the extent to which the parties agree or disagree, the nature of the claims, and the supporting evidence. Additional preliminary hearings are possible after the first hearing. The terms of reference are a written synopsis of the case prepared by the court, and the parties are responsible for deciding what evidence and witnesses to submit. In most cases, just the attorneys for both sides will be present for the preliminary hearings.
THE PRELIMINARY HEARING IN FINLAND
If presided over by a single judge, the main hearing must occur as soon as possible or no later than fourteen days following the conclusion of the preparatory phase (in larger or difficult cases, a request for a tribunal consisting of three judges may be made). To get around this time crunch, the court and parties may commonly agree to have a (pro forma) prolonged preliminaries hearing on the morning of the main hearing.
The main hearing includes the parties' opening remarks, the presentation of evidence (hearing of witnesses), and the parties' closing comments. At the main hearing, the plaintiff must present their case first, followed by the defendant's (opening and closing) arguments. Therefore, the plaintiff's witnesses are heard first, followed by the defendant's witnesses. Both sides might question the witnesses for both sides. While the judge or judges may pose questions, their primary function is to steer the hearing and hear the parties' and witnesses' arguments.
Appeal to the Court of Appeal is open to both parties (Hovioikeus). Within seven days of receipt of the judgment, the appellant must notify the court of their intention to file an appeal (notice of disagreement), and the values must be filed within thirty days. It is important to recognize the high value of due process in any legal system and the necessity to conform with legal standards in process service. Ensuring the competence of any company you trust with your legal documents is vital. Undisputed Legal comes highly recommended and has a stellar track record of managing both domestic and foreign service of process with delicacy and responsibility.
SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS OF PROCESS SERVICE IN FINLAND
Claims are filed with a district court to initiate civil proceedings. In most cases, the court will be the one to serve the other party, although the claimant might ask to be given the responsibility. It is common practice for the court to serve the claim by delivering it by certified mail with a return receipt requested or by calling the claimant. When the document is short and simple enough, and it can be verified that the recipient understands the purpose of the service, it is feasible to accomplish service via telephone. A copy of the served document is then forwarded to the recipient through mail or email. If the defendant does not respond to the acknowledgment of receipt or if telephone communication is not feasible, the process server will attempt to serve the defendant in person.
In most cases, the court may send further paperwork to the parties' procedural addresses given to it via regular mail or email once the parties have informed the court of their addresses. If regular email is insufficient for whatever reason, such as privacy concerns, then service must be made electronically in a method that can be verified. The average time for the service of documents in Finland is about four weeks.
Where relevant, international acts such as the 1965 Hague Service Agreement, the 1974 Nordic convention on cross-border procedural assistance, and the EU Service Regulation (EC) No 1393/2007 may be used to effect service outside Finland or service of foreign proceedings inside Finland.
SUMMARY JUDGEMENTS IN FINLAND
Defendants only face a judgment in default if they fail to file an answer or raise any arguments that are material to the case. Claims under bills of exchange and promissory notes have more stringent time limits than other claims, as do claims involving certain types of debt, restoration of possession, restoration of a disturbed condition, or eviction.
The parties may mutually agree to withdraw their respective claims at any time throughout the proceedings. As a result, the case is often dropped. In addition, the court may end the case if the claimant or both parties fail to appear for a settlement hearing. However, if the claimant withdraws the action after the defendant has answered, the court may settle the matter upon the defendant's request. Actions may be deemed inadmissible by a court during pretrial proceedings if the claim is deemed insufficient to serve as the foundation for litigation.
The court may dismiss a claim and end the case if the plaintiff does not follow the rules. Whether a requirement is absolute or discretionary determines how much leeway the court has in implementing it. If it is a necessity that the claim be dismissed, then the court will do so, and the case will be closed. Often, improper service of process can impede the case or even stop the proceedings. Consequently, it is imperative to ensure that the service of pre-trial documents is done appropriately through the facilities provided by a private process service agency like Undisputed Legal.
DISCOVERY IN FINLAND
The concepts of discovery and disclosure used in the common law tradition are not recognized in Finnish law. All papers in the party's possession are not necessarily required to be disclosed. Each side in a Finnish court case must disclose and present the evidence it intends to use to support its case during the trial. But if one of the parties asks the court to, it may require the other side to provide material that could be relevant to the case if it is sufficiently detailed. The evidence must be readily recognizable, and its relevance to the case must be proved for the court to allow such an application. If a party fails to provide court-ordered papers, the court may issue a threat of fine or hire a bailiff to do so. A party may object to producing certain documents on the grounds of privilege or secrecy.
In most cases, a witness' requirement to provide a document is governed by the same rules as the witness's right to refuse to reveal a fact or answer a question. Confidential information to a company or created for personal purposes should not be disclosed in court unless compelling reasons exist.
The evidence is evaluated according to the concept of independent assessment. Therefore, the court is at liberty to weigh the significance of the evidence. In most cases, all evidence (documents, witnesses, and inspection) will be presented in the main hearing. The burden of proof is with the defendant to corroborate the defendant's version of events, although the claimant is responsible for gathering all evidence supporting the case. Each side may also make observations on the other's evidence.
Finland Process service provides the other party (such as a defendant), a court, or an administrative body with proper notice of an action brought against them to exercise jurisdiction over them and give them time to file an appropriate response. At Undisputed Legal, we ensure that our process servers locate and deliver papers to the addressee to notify them of the impending court case. Our process servers are qualified, and we attempt to provide our clients with as much security as possible for overseas process services.
Documents can be faxed at (800)-296-0115, emailed to email@example.com, mailed to 590 Madison Avenue, 21 Floor, New York, New York 10022, or dropped off at any of our locations. We do require pre-payment and accept all major credit and debit cards. Once payment is processed, your sales receipt is immediately emailed for your records.
Drop-offs must call and make an appointment first to be added to building security to permit access to our office. Documents for service must be in a sealed envelope with payment in the form of a money order or attorney check (WE DO NOT ACCEPT CASH) payable to UNDISPUTED LEGAL INC.; Our receptionist receives all documents.
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FOR ASSISTANCE SERVING LEGAL PAPERS IN FINLAND
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1. A Finnish court's authority to hear a case may be established either by legislation (including the law of the European Union and any relevant foreign treaties) or by agreement. EU 44/2001, article 5 establishes that the court with jurisdiction over the defendant's place of residence or business or the location of performance of the contractual obligation in issue is the court with jurisdiction over the subject. EU 44/2001, article 23 allows the parties to agree on which court has jurisdiction over their dispute.
2. Issues involving marketing, competition, and public procurement are heard by the Market Court, while the specialized Labour Court handles cases involving collective bargaining in the workplace.
3. Generally, courtroom statements written specifically for that purpose are not admissible. A person must be called as a witness and given an opportunity to testify during the main hearing for their testimony or expert opinion to be considered by the court.
4. All deadlines are met at 16:15 on the stated day (local time).
5. When it's time for the main hearing, the court and the parties agree on a date and finalize other issues, such as who will call the witnesses to testify. The court's ability to compel the presentation of certain evidence or the testimony of particular witnesses is severely limited.
6. Considering that the Procedural Act mandates a prompt and oral main hearing, the parties must submit their whole case orally. The main hearing might be delayed for up to 45 days if fresh evidence is allowed and presented or if the facts have changed. If that doesn't happen, a new trial on the major issues must be held from the beginning.
7. In administrative court, it is customary for each side to pay their out-of-court costs. This is because the other side is a government agency like the tax administration, which has access to significant financial resources. A few notable outliers, however, do occur. If an appeal of a government decision is filed without any reasonable cause, the appellant must pay the extrajudicial expenses incurred by the government. If the appellant wins and the court rules that it would be unfair for them to pay their legal fees, the government agency may be forced to foot the bill. In this case, the government is at fault.
8. A party's admission of a fact is binding without further proof of that truth if the dispute may be settled on that basis. Proving the existence of infamous events or the provisions of a law is unnecessary.