There is a special law on judicial appointments. An independent Judicial Appointments Board makes reasoned proposals on appointments. The proposals are presented to the President of the Republic by the minister of justice. The President then formally nominates the judges.
What are the qualifications and terms of this kind of nomination?
The requirements for being appointed a judge are legal degree, Finnish citizenship, an upright character, and previous work in a court or in another function that has shown that the applicant is familiar with the duties of the position and has the personal characteristics needed for successfully attending to the position. The mandate of judges is given for an undetermined period.
Is there specific professional background such as previous work record in the administration or general legal training included?
Yes, there is.
What are the possible contents examined during this procedure?
Who decides and who selects and appoints the aforementioned decision –makers?
The term of the Judicial Appointments Board is five years at time. The Board is chaired by the member nominated by the Supreme Court and the vice-chair is the member nominated by the Supreme Administrative Court. Otherwise the Board have as members one president of a Court of Appeal, one chief judge of an Administrative Court, one chief judge of a District Court, one senior judge or judge of a Court of Appeal, one District Court judge, one Administrative Court judge, another Administrative Court judge or a judge from one of the special courts, one advocate, one prosecutor and one person representing the research and teaching law. Each member of the Board has a personal deputy member.
Does the law provide for judicial remedies against such decisions?
Does there exist any difference in the way the selection/appointment of judges of the civil/penal courts takes place?
Is it possible for “external candidates” to be appointed as judges at different court levels and instances?
Yes. The Board has been expected to promote the recruitment of judges from all walks of legal life, that is, from among court referendaries, the civil service, academia and the legal profession. In practice, most judges are former court referendaries.
Are those legal provisions concerning the ways of selection/appointment of judges constitutionally entrenched?
Yes. The article number 102 in the Constitution of Finland.
Describe in brief the conditions of service and tenure (security of tenure, suspension and removal, transfers etc.) of the judges:
Is the term of judicial appointment for life?
Is it possible to extent the term of service of judges beyond retirement age? In this case who has the power to take the decision?
Is it possible to appoint temporary judges?
Yes. At times there is a need to appoint a judge for fixed period; this is a task for the Supreme Court and Supreme Administrative Court. These instances appoint judges to temporary positions for a year or longer. Shorter appointments are normally a matter for the chief of the court in question.
Is it possible for the judge to be removed or transfered and under what specific terms?
Yes. However, a judge shall not be transferred to another office without his or her consent, except where the transfer is a result of a reorganisation of the judiciary.
Where does the power of removing or transfering judges from one office to another lie?
In the Constitution, article 103.
Is it possible to transfer between the different divisions and types of courts?
Is it possible to transfer to government administration and back?
Does a transfer to the administration have a career-promoting effect?
Probably. In any case, a judge has not normally been transferred but he/she has applied for an temporary office in the administration him/herself.
Is incompetence a ground for removal of a judge from the bench?
Financial security (salaries, remunerations, pensions etc.)
Who determines judicial salaries?
The salaries of the highest courts justices are determined by law. The salaries of other judges are determined in a uniform salary scheme as a result of a normally two-year settlement negotiated by trade unions.
In what way and under what conditions are the salaries of judges increased? Are they accompanied by annual cost-of-living adjustments?
Is there a need for executive approval or executive decision to initiate the increase?
Is it possible for the judges to initiate judicial proceedings against the State with regard to their remuneration and which are the competent courts in this case?
Is there a uniform salary scheme for all courts, divisions and types?
Yes (besides the justices of the highest courts).
Career prospects (promotions etc.)
Describe briefly the ways in which the promotions of judges are made. What kind of procedures apply in this case?
Normal appointment procedure.
Indicate the competent body for the promotions and the criteria applied thereto.
See above 1.1.
Are judges of the administrative courts promoted to the Supreme Administrative Court and under what conditions (seniority etc.)?
Sometimes, yes. Seniority, doctor’s degree, special field of expertise like taxation or environment.
Can judges accept any government assignment after retirement?
Yes. For instance a membership in a working group.
Standards of conduct (professional and service Code, public activities, law-related activities etc.)
All judges give an oath in the beginning of their career. The judge’s oath bans all sorts of misconduct. There are also some ethical rules for a judge in the preface of Finnish law book, but these rules are not an official code of ethics.
According to law a judge has to inform his/her employer of the secondary occupation and in certain situation a judge needs a permission of the employer to be able to accept a secondary occupation. Sideline activities can also be the reason for disqualification in certain case. For instance membership in the management of a limited-liability company or another corporation disqualifies a judge from considering the affairs of the company or corporation.
Can a judge be involved in law-related activities (arbitration, law practice, writing books)?
Can a judge be involved in business activities?
Is the judge entitled to sideline employment?
Is there a Code of conduct of judicial behaviour?
Is there a Commission on Judicial Conduct or any other body to supervise the behaviour of a judge?
Describe the restrictions –if there are any- on judge’s right to express his/her views?
No, there aren’t any. The constitutional rights belong to judges like they belong to everybody else.
Inspection of judges and disciplinary proceedings
A judge in Finland can only be deprived of his right to office on the basis of a court decision. This means that there is not any special disciplinary procedures or sanctions for judges. Instead, offences committed by civil servants (and judges among them) are covered so comprehensively in the Finnish criminal code, that nearly all inappropriate behaviour, negligence or dereliction of duty on the part of a judge constitutes a criminal offence punishable under the code of criminal procedure like the crimes of other civil servants. Therefore, penal responsibility in Finland partly fulfils those objectives which other nations strive to attain through disciplinary sanctions.
The prosecutions against judges are heard in different courts depending on the court, in which the accused judge is working. The competent court is normally a higher court than the court, in which the accused judge works.
Above said is the answer to all questions under the section 6.
Who is in charge of the inspection of judges and in what way is this inspection conducted?
Are there spesific criteria for the evaluation of the performance of judges?
Who holds the legal power to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the judge?
Who decides the disciplinary tribunal and its composition? Is it permanent or ad hoc?
Is there a legal remedy against the decisions of the disciplinary body provided for by law?
Is there a special procedure for investigating and prosecuting a judge?
According to article 3 of the Constitution of Finland there is the separation of powers in Finland. The judicial powers are exercised by independent courts.
Indicate where the responsibility for the central court administration lie?
The central administration of the courts in Finland is a task for the Ministry of Justice.
Individual and collective independence of the judiciary
Is it possible for sanctions (of any kind) to be imposed on a judge based upon the content of his/her decision?
Can a judge face disciplinary charges solely on the basis of the substance of his/her ruling? Is this a case when a judge declines to follow a supreme court’s decision?
No. The decisions of supreme courts are not binding as such.
Do you think that accountability of judges threatens judicial independence?
No, as far as the basic principle of the separation of powers is in force and a judge can freely deliberate and make his/her own decision (based only on law) in every single case.
Can a judge be held liable in civil actions for his/her judicial acts (e.g. be sued for damages for actions taken in his/her judicial capacity)?
Are judges immune from prosecution in other courts for their judicial acts?
Can criminal charges be brought against a judge for actions on his/her duties?
Do judges face sanctions for “decisional conducts”?
Judicial administration at the Court level (division of work among judges and assignment of cases etc.)
Is the division of work among judges and the assignment of cases to each judge or panel done according to a predetermined rigid plan or is it flexible and may be changed easily?
There is a predetermined monthly plan in each and every court. However, plans are always to certain extent flexible.
Who is in charge of case assignment?
The chief judge of each division.
In Finland the central administration of the courts is a task for the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Judicial Administration. the main duty of the Department is to ensure that the preconditions for a functioning judicial system exist in Finland. The judges are also to some extent directly involved in the field of judicial administration as well. This is the case especially as to the recruitment of judges and the development of the quality of judicial work and adjudication. Also answer to the sections 4.1 – 4.3.
Is judicial administration effected through independent judicial self-governance?
Describe briefly how the governing body/committee is elected?
Is there any restriction for the members of the above body to participate in other syndicalistic bodies?
Human, financial and material resources necessary for the performance of judicial functions
The Department of Judicial Administration negotiates face to face on annual basis with court entities in order to set targets and objectives for the next calendar year. Among other issues permanent staff numbers and possible additional judges or other staff for a temporary period are decided upon though negotiation. Finally the appropriation to cover the cost of court operations is agreed through negotiation. This answer covers the sections 5.1. – 5.3.
Who is responsible for the administrative staff employed in the courts?
Who is competent to make available the necessary funds for the performance of justice?
Who has the power to execute and spend the budgetary allocations?
Have there been cases of executive pressure on judges in any form?
Can judges be members of the Government?
It is not forbidden. Normally the members of the Government are also members of the Parliament, cf. the answer in the section 2.5.
Is it allowed for judges to participate in administrative bodies having decisive or consultory competences?
It is not forbidden.
Do the administrative courts have the power to challenge administrative acts of general character (presidential decrees etc.)?
relations with the legislature (retroactive legislative reversals of cases etc.)
Can the legislature override a decision of a court if they disagree with the way the latter has applied or interpreted a law?
Have there been retroactive legislative reversals of court decisions?
Has there been legislation abolishing courts with results of statutory removal of judges and if so, how was it received?
Can judges be members of the legislature?
Yes, but they don’t perform both official duties at the same time.
Do the administrative courts have the power to challenge laws?
No. Yet, the highest courts have the right to submit proposals to the Government for the initiation of legislative action.
Interest representation of administrative judges
Are judges organised in associations for furthering their rights and interests?
Yes, they are.
Are there separate professional representation for administrative judges, or a joint association of judges?
There is a joint association.
What are the specific activities of the aforesaid association? Describe them in brief.
Do judges have the right to strike or to hold a demonstration?
Yes, they have.
Is criticism of judges, judicial decisions and judicial conduct in the press existent, frequent, rare? What are the relevant grounds for this? Could you give major examples?
There is sometimes criticism, mostly of judicial decisions and the length of their proceedings.
Are trials open to T.V?
Trials are basically open to public. However, some groups of administrative matters are confidential by law, e.g. taxation or alien cases. The trials in such cases are heard in camera.
1.3. Do you think that press reporting and commenting on judges, courts, judicial decisions and matters pending before the courts poses a challenge to judicial independence?
It is a challenge to the judge who is considering the pending
case, not so much to judicial independence as a system. In Finland there have not been any cases in which a court would have yielded to the demands of the press.
The administrative judge and the public opinion
Do you think that a judge’s engagement in politics or speaking his/her mind in favour of a political party compromises the public confidence in the judiciary?
Yes, it does.
Are there institutions that favour strong public opinion in defence of the independence of the judiciary?
No, there aren’t any.
Judges and politics
Is it allowed for judges to become member of political parties?
Yes, it is allowed.
Are there any major restrictions for judges with regard to their political activities? What are the consequences in case of breach?
Are there any other restrictions for judges as far as their public activity is concerned?
Have there been cases where political leaders attacked the judges and criticised their decisions?
Some criticism has sometimes occurred, no actual attacks.
The judge and his work
Describe briefly the kind of the initial training and the qualifications of an administrative judge prescribed by law and his further education and/or formation, inter alia in European law, emphasizing more particularly the aspects which might help the judge to improve the efficiency of administrative justice. Administrative judge as well as other judges has to have a degree of science of law. Judges have usually long experience working in an administrative court as a referendary.
Do you think that a higher salary paid to the judge and, more specifically, other (material) advantages which may be granted to him in consideration of the output might help to improve the efficiency of administrative justice? Perhaps by making the work as a judge more appreciated.
Please indicate the number of administrative judges in your country and compare it to the population being under their jurisdiction (an average number can be indicated per country). In regional administrative courts works about 150 judges and the population of Finland is about 5,2 million. That makes 1 judge per 35 000 inhabitant.
Please indicate the number of legal or other assistants (including clerks, secretaries …) working for the administrative jurisdictions, indicating more particularly the average number per judge working at an administrative court. In regional administrative courts there are about 130 referendaries. That makes little more than one referendary per judge.
Describe briefly the working conditions of an administrative judge in your country, emphasizing more particularly the technical means which are at his/her disposal, as well as legal or other assistants helping him/her in his/her duties, his/her access to libraries and data bases, access to internet and so on…Every judge and referendary has in his or her room a computer and a writer. Libraries, internet and data bases are in use.
Describe briefly the internal working regulations of an administrative court and more particularly the way in which the work is distributed among the judges, the person in charge of the distribution of the work to be done by the respective judge and of the control of his/her work, indicating inter alia the criteria according to which the way of distribution is decided as well as the criteria according to which the work of the administrative judge is controlled, as well as the possible sanctions which may be taken against the judge who does not fulfil the legal or internal requirements concerning the quality of his/her work. Describe in this context internal control procedures (if there are any). A chair of a chamber distributes the works for judges and referendaries. A chair controls the work in a chamber. There are no special sanctions for judges.
The jurisdictional procedures
Describe briefly the access to administrative justice, indicating more particularly whether the complaint or file has to be introduced by a lawyer or any other professional and the conditions under which the plaintiffs may have access to legal assistance. Can you also indicate whether the procedures are accomplished only on a written basis or whether also oral hearings take place, indicating in which cases such oral hearings are organised and the persons who, at these occasions, are allowed to make oral submissions to the court. Everyone can make complaint himself and no legal assistance is needed. The procedure is mainly writtten. An oral hearing is conducted if a party so requests. The rôle of the oral hearing is only complementary one compared to written material, and hearing mainly conducted to give plaintiff to state his case orally or to hear wittnesses.
Describe briefly the different types of procedures which can be introduced at an administrative court, insisting inter alia on the differences existing between those procedures. Appeals against decisions by state authorities are called adminis-trative appeals and most appeals against decisions by local authorities municipal appeals. Only a party, that is, a person whose rights, interests or obligations are affected by the decision, has standing to file an administrative appeal. Everyone domiciled in a municipality has standing to file a municipal appeal, regardless of whether the decision affects him or her.
Describe briefly the different steps of the procedures to be followed at an administrative court of your country, starting with the date the file is introduced until the date the judgment is pronounced, insisting more particularly on the deadlines which may have to be respected by the parties in order to introduce written notices, briefs, pleadings, statements as well as on the deadlines to be respected by the judge to pronounce the judgment. There is no fixed deadlines for different stages of procedure. Written notices etc can be introduced until the judgement is given.
Describe briefly the internal organisation of an administrative court, and indicate whether the judges are working in chambers or if they are acting as individual judges, as well as the criteria according to which a case is dealt with either by a chamber or by an individual judge. In administrative courts judges and other personnel is divided to sections (chambers) and cases are dealt by panels of three in administrative court of first instance and by panel of five in supreme administrative court. Certain types of cases can be dealt by an individual judge such as cases concerning manifestly illfounded asylumapplications.
Which kind of procedures do apply in case an urgent matter of any kind is introduced with an administrative court? Indicate also what kind of decisions may be taken by the judge dealing with this kind of urgent matters. No special procedure is created fo urgent matters.
Indicate the types of control the administrative court may exercise over the activities of the administration or over the decisions taken by it: is it a control only of the legality of its decisions or can the judge also control whether the discretion was used by the authority in the spirit of the law? Is the judge allowed to take a decision instead of the administrative authority? Do there exist other types of control procedures? Administrative courts control only legality of the decisionmaking of administrative bodies. Legality is understood widely so it covers also the guestion whether discretion is used properly that is discretion doesn’t infringe basic and human rights or general principles of admintration. On the otherhand it is accepted that administrative bodies especially in municipalities have wide discretionary powers. Decision of a judge cannot replace the decision of administrative body. In certain cases an administrative court have exclusive power to make decision instead of administration, that concerns for instance repayment of social benefits.
Indicate the delays of the procedures introduced with an administrative court, starting from the date of introduction of a complaint until the date the judgment is pronounced (average delays). Mediate time of the proceedings is 8 months. There is no remendy against the undue length of proceedings.
Which kind of means are at the disposal of the administrative judge (or the parties) in order to provide for a correct execution (enforcement) of the judgment. Does the judge have the possibility to give injunctions to the administration? Do there exist specific procedures which the parties may use in case the administration does not voluntarily execute the judgments?No means to provide a correct execution of the judgement are at the the disposal of a adminstrative judge or parties. Execution belongs entirely to administration.
Which kind of new technologies are at the disposal of the administrative judge and do the procedures to be followed at the administrative court provide for the possibility to use standard forms or electronic transmittal techniques (for example, are the parties allowed to introduce the briefs by way of mail or other electronic transmittal systems) ? Briefs by email are accepted.
Do the administrative courts in your country possess central computer systems to which all judges are linked, and comprising inter alia data bases, general information, laws, procedural acts, access to electronic files and so on Computer systems are in use.
Indicate whether you think that the facilities used by the administrative courts and the means put at the disposal of these courts by the State are appropriate and, if this is not the case, indicate the problems you have noted in this context and the possibilities to remedy. Facilities are appropriate.
Indicate the total amount of money spent by the State to ensure the functioning of administrative justice, compared to the total amount of the State budget. The total amount of money spent by the State in the costs of administrative courts was in 2006 appr. 44 000 000 euros, which is about 0,1 % of the total amount of the State budget.
Do there exist alternatives to the contentious proceedings, for example mediation, arbitration procedure and so on in your country? Internal review by administrative bodies is in wide use.
Which kind of effective legal remedies can be used against a judgment of an administrative court of first instance? An appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court.
Access by the public or the parties to the information held by the administrative courts
Do the administrative courts in your country have a person in charge of the relations with the press (press speaker)? Supreme Administrative Court has a press secretary.
Do the administrative courts in your country prepare annual reports about their activities? Is this report available to the public? To whom/ or to which body this report is it addressed?Administrative courts prepare annual reports which are addressed to the public.
Does there exist a possibility to access by internet or by any other means the judgments pronounced by the administrative courts and other documents which might be relevant for the public/parties? There is not such possibility. The electronic systems of case management are closed from public and parties.
Do the parties of the case pending at an administrative court have the possibility to get information, by electronic or other means, about their file and the state of the proceedings Parties have right to have knowlegde of state of the pro¬ceedings and materials relevant to their case and comment on that ma¬terial.
Do the administrative courts of your country have the possibility to exchange information or experience with other national or international courts or with courts situated in other countries and, if this is the case, could you give more information about this kind of exchanges? There is exchange of information between adminis¬trative courts of first instance mainly throug email. Main topic in this exchange is whether certain types of cases are solved and what kind of interpretations are adopted.
Control of the activities of the administrative courts
2.1 Do the administrative courts prepare statistics about affairs settled during the judicial year, about the stock of affairs pending and about the number of affairs dealt with by individual judges? Yes, they do.
2.2 Do the administrative courts possess electronic systems to ensure the follow-up of the affairs pending (e.g. electronic file system…)? Yes, they do.
2.3 In your country, are there mutual or internal evaluations (on periodical basis) of the quantity and quality of the work to be done by the court? Which is the body which is competent to prepare this kind of evaluations, are they done by the court itself or by any other bodies, authorities or courts? Do there exist control procedures of the judicial work done by the administrative judges and, if this is the case, by which kind of authorities (national or international) are these procedures accomplished? No, any institutions or arragements for eva¬luation of judicial work is not established.
2.4 Which kind of sanctions may be taken against individual judges in case of misbehaviour or in case the work to be done by judges has not been delivered in certain delaysParliamentary ombudsman can give an official admo¬nition.
2.5 Do there exist compensation procedures in case of errors committed by the court or individual judges or in case of delays in the proceedings? If this is the case, could you briefly describe the kind of compensation procedures which may be used by the victims of such errors or delays. No procedures for compensation exists. An proposal is made for establishing a procedure, in which a board would make a decision on compensation.
2.6 Do there exist possibilities for the public or the parties to introduce complaints against the way the administrative courts work. An complaint to par¬liamentary ombudsman or chancellor of justice is possible to introduce
2.7 Do there exist studies about the feed-back of “customers” (in a broad sense of meaning) of administrative justice, on the bases of inquiries made among the public, the parties or their lawyers, about the functioning of the court? Some inquiries have been made.
Could you indicate which, in your opinion, might be possible remedies? Improving the procedure.
Have you noted whether effective measures have been introduced in recent times to improve the system in your country? Not very much. There are some plans for improvement of the procedure.