Skip to content


Basic Facts about the Country

Membership of the European Union

1 January 1995

Membership of the Council of Europe

5 May 1989

Entry into force of the European Convention on Human Rights

10 May 1990

Basic Facts about the Judiciary

Budget per inhabitant

Number of professional judges per 100,000 inhabitants


Tiers in the ordinary court system


District Courts


Courts of Appeal


Supreme Court


Regional Administrative Courts


Supreme Administrative Court


Market Court


Labor Court


Insurance Court


Constitutional Court

No, but courts and other authorities are under an obligation to interpret legislation in such a way as to adhere to the Constitution and to respect human rights. According to the Constitution, the courts should give preference to the Constitution when they decide a case if the application of an act would be in manifest conflict with the Constitution.

Public Prosecutor

Is an independent authority, led by a prosecutor general, who is appointed by the president on the proposal of the Ministry of Justice, and can be dismissed or suspended by the government.

Gender breakdown of judges

All instances


Supreme court

View source

Judicial Governance

Type of governance system

Court service model

National Court Administration

  • The agency operates in the administrative branch of the Ministry of Justice.
  • An eight-member Board of Directors exercises the highest decision-making power in the National Courts Administration.
  • The members of the Board of Directors that are judges come from the Supreme Court, the Supreme Administrative Court, a court of appeal, a district court, an administrative court, and a special court. The Board also has one member representing the non-judicial personnel of the courts and one member with special expertise in the management of public administration. Each member has a personal deputy.
  • The daily business of the Administration is managed by a director general.
  • The Administration has three departments, responsible for finance, development, and administration, respectively. It employs approximately 60 people.

Judicial Appointments Board

  • Has 12 members – nine judges from different levels of courts, proposed by the judiciary, and three non-judge members (one lawyer, one prosecutor, and one member representing legal research and education).
  • All members are appointed by the government for a five-year term.

Judicial Training Board

  • Members are appointed by the government for terms of five years.
  • The Board has ten members, six of whom represent the judicial system. The Finnish Prosecution Service, members of the Finnish Bar Association, the legal research and teaching profession, and the National Courts Administration are each represented by one Board member. The appointment procedure for the Board members largely corresponds to the appointment procedure of the Judicial Appointments Board.

Distribution of Responsibility

National Court Administration
Judicial Appointments Board
  • Prepares proposals for appointments of judges, and the reasoning behind them, for the minister of justice. The minister of justice then recommends candidates to the president of the republic, who formally appoints them.
  • The Board has no jurisdiction regarding the appointments of the Supreme and Supreme Administrative Courts. These courts make their own appointment proposals to the president of the republic.
Judicial Training Board
  • The purpose of the independent Judicial Training Board is to plan and coordinate, jointly with the National Courts Administration and the courts, the training of staff involved in applying the law at the courts of law, from court traineeships to supplementary training.
  • The Judicial Training Board implements the application procedure for the posts of junior judge candidates, and carries out the pre-selection. The Board grants the candidates who complete the training programme the title of junior judge.


Political (including parliamentary) appointments of (Supreme Court) judges

In Finland, politicisation of judicial appointments has emerged as an issue with regard to lay (non-professional) judges. There are about 1,500 such judges in Finland. They participate in disputes arising out of real estate transactions, as well as some criminal cases where the maximum penalty of an offence is more than two years of imprisonment (in a panel of one professional judge and two lay judges). There are no lay judges, however, in appeal courts, administrative courts, supreme courts, or specialised courts.


Political parties select lay judges, and the number of lay judges each party may select depends on how well that party has done in local elections. The parliamentary ombudsman has criticised the appointment method in the past, due to the fact that judiciary is not involved in the process.


Politicisation of appointments has been a subject of concern, with stakeholders in discussions highlighting the risks of political influence, as well as a lack of professionalisation (even though lay judges’ mistakes can be corrected at the appellate level). The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) examined the issue, and encouraged the Finnish authorities to find ways to involve the judiciary in the appointment of lay judges. The Government published a report in February 2023, examining various options for the appointment procedure of lay judges, and concluded that a broader assessment of the system should be made.


In October 2022, a working group of the Ministry of Justice proposed constitutional amendments, suggesting, among other changes, establishing a maximum number of Supreme Court judges, as well as a compulsory retirement age for judges.

Under-resourced judiciary

The Ministry of Justice’s Report on the Administration of Justice (prepared with the involvement of courts), submitted to the parliament in November 2022, touched upon a few issues, including the justice system being under-funded. While the courts and the prosecution service were given additional funding to clear the COVID-19 backlog, the structural shortages identified in the Ministry’s Report remain. According to the report, approximately EUR 90 million in permanent annual additional funding would be needed to ensure the appropriate operating conditions. Resources available to the district and appellate courts, as well as to the National Court Administration, are limited.

Positive Developments & Achievements

The level of perceived judicial independence in Finland continues to be very high among both the general public and companies. Overall, 86 per cent of the public and 88 per cent of companies perceived the level of independence of courts and judges to be “fairly or very good” in 2023. According to data from the 2023 EU Justice Scoreboard, the level has remained consistently very high for both the general public and companies since 2016.

The work of the National Courts Administration has also received a positive evaluation. In its 2022 Rule of Law Report, the European Commission recommended that Finland continue developing initiatives by the National Courts Administration to support the work of courts. In its 2023 Report, the Commission acknowledged the Administration’s activities to facilitate the work of the courts (developing case management systems for courts, organising training, etc.), and concluded that the recommendation had been “fully implemented”.

There is an ongoing debate about reinforcing guarantees of judicial independence. A working group set up by the Ministry of Justice published its report in October 2022, proposing constitutional amendments to introduce additional safeguards. As a measure to foster stronger independence, it proposed a revision of the Constitution to introduce safeguards against potential undue influence – such as establishing a maximum number of Supreme Court judges and a compulsory retirement age for judges.

Rankings and Surveys

Expert Recommendations

European Commission, EU Rule of Law Report, June 2023

Overall, concerning the recommendations in the 2022 Rule of Law Report, Finland has (made):

  • Fully implemented the recommendation to continue developing initiatives by the National Courts Administration to support the work of courts.


On this basis, and considering other developments that took place in the period of reference, it is recommended to Finland to

  • Continue to follow-up on the report on the assessment and future development trends of the court system, including the reform of the appointment of lay judges, taking into account European standards on judicial independence.

Compliance with European Courts' Judgements

Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)

State Performance


Number of unimplemented CJEU rulings related to the judiciary

European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)

State Performance


Implementation record


Number of leading judgments pending implementation Low

50 %

Percentage of leading judgements from the last 10 years still pending implementation High



Average time leading judgments have been pending implementation Very High
Non-Implementation of European Courts Judgments and the Rule of Law | EIN & DRI

Judgements with pending implementation

Selected on relevance to the judiciary / rule of law

Nykanen v Finland

This group of cases concerns violations of the right not to be punished twice as the applicants were convicted in both criminal and administrative taxation proceedings concerning partly or entirely the same facts between 2009 and 2013 (violations of Article 4, Protocol No. 7).

The authorities submitted a revised action plan on 5 September 2023, which is under assessment. Its main points are summarised below.

View case details



Eerikainen and others v Finland,

These cases concern violations of the applicants’ right to freedom of expression due to criminal or civil convictions between 2000 and 2011 for invading the privacy of others or for defamation. The Court found that the convictions lacked sufficient grounds to justify “a pressing social need” and/or that the consequences for the applicants (criminal sanctions and payment of damages) were too severe (violations of Article 10). Some of the cases concern also the excessive length of criminal proceedings (violation of Article 6 § 1).

The authorities submitted an action report on 11 August 2023, which is under assessment.

In 2013, the authorities changed the law concerning dissemination of information violating personal privacy and defamation to take into account the ECtHR case law. According to the new provisions, the regular dissemination of information violating personal privacy and defamation can only be punished by a fine. Furthermore, a new clause limiting the criminal liability was added.

Statistics show that in 2015-2021, a sentence has been passed for defamation in 148-169 cases yearly. In all of the cases the punishment has been a fine.

The authorities provide examples of recent Supreme Court case law showing that the domestic courts are now undertaking a proper balancing exercise of the relevant issues under Article 10 of the Convention

View case details



X v Finland

This case concerns the involuntary confinement of the applicant for care in a mental hospital between 17 February 2005 and 27 January 2006, without sufficient safeguards against arbitrariness as concerns the extensions of her confinement which were decided by the head of the hospital (violation of Article 5 § 1 (e)). The Court criticised in this respect the lack of possibility to benefit from a second independent psychiatric opinion and the fact that the initiative of periodic review belonged solely to the authorities.

The case concerns also the unlawful interference with the applicant’s physical integrity due to the recourse to forcible administration of medication without adequate legal safeguards (violation of Article 8). The Court observed that the decision to confine the applicant included an automatic authorisation to proceed to forcible administration of medication which was solely in the hands of the doctors treating the patient and was not subject to any kind of immediate judicial scrutiny.

The latest examination by the Committee of Ministers took place in March 2023. The Committee reflected on measures already taken, for example, to ensure that vulnerable patients could benefit from the right to request a second medical opinion in respect of a decision to extend involuntary confinement, and that judicial reviews of such decisions are timely, thorough and allow patients to be heard and thought they were capable of preventing similar violations in the future.

As regards the forcible administration of medication without adequate legal safeguards, the Committee noted with concern that such decisions still rested solely with the doctors and were not subject to judicial review. The Committee called upon the authorities to urgently take all available measures to prevent further delays in the adoption of the necessary legislative measures

The Committee urged the authorities to take all available measures to prevent further delays in adopting the necessary legislative measures to introduce procedures for judicial review of such decisions. The examination of the case might resume in March 2024.

View case details