Enforcement of Civil Judgments

 

This page contains general information on the enforcement of judgments in civil matters (such as judgments establishing a payment liability) in Finland. There are international treaties, EU legislation and national legislation that apply to the recognition and enforcement of these judgments. The treaties and legislation can be divided into general and field-specific instruments. This page does not contain information on the arrangements in any specific field, such as family law or transport law, or the relationship of the field-specific legislation to the general legislation and treaties.

As a rule, civil judgments issued in a foreign country are not recognised or enforced in Finland. A judgment is recognised and enforced only if this has separately been agreed upon in an international treaty binding on Finland or provided for in the national or EU legislation (see section 30(1) of the Act on international legal assistance and recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (426/2015)).

Primarily, the EU legislation in this field is applicable, as it is given priority over international treaties and national legislation in the relations between the EU Member States. Civil judgments are directly enforceable within the European Union. This means that a district court does not need to declare a judgment issued in another EU Member State enforceable before it may be enforced in Finland. The application for enforcement is made directly to the enforcement authorities.

The enforcement of judgments issued in other countries, in practice in Iceland, Norway or Switzerland, requires that a district court, upon application, first declares the judgment enforceable.

The creditor himself or herself must apply for the enforcement of a judgment. The creditor is responsible for obtaining all the documents and translations required for the enforcement and for submitting them to the enforcement authorities or court.

Relevant legislation and treaties binding on Finland

The enforcement of a foreign civil judgment may be based on EU law, an international treaty or a bilateral agreement depending on the country where the judgment has been given and what it concerns.

When it comes to the EU Member States, the key regulation governing the jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments is the recast Brussels I Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters). Judgments, court settlements and authentic instruments falling within the scope of application of the Regulation are directly enforceable in another EU Member State. The Regulation became fully applicable on 10 January 2015. The Regulation is nationally supplemented by the Act on the application of the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (817/2014). The Regulation is applied also in regard to Denmark.

The recast Brussels I Regulation replaced the earlier Brussels I Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 . When it comes to the recognition and enforcement of judgments, the recast Brussels I Regulation is, however, applied only to judgments that have been given in court proceedings instituted on 10 January 2015 or after that. If a civil matter has become pending on 9 January 2015, the judgment given in the matter is recognised and enforced in compliance with the Brussels I Regulation (EC) No 44/2001, even if the judgment is given on 10 January 2016. The enforcement of a judgment in the last mentioned case requires, thus, that the court in the state of enforcement first declares the judgment enforceable in accordance with the provisions of Brussels I Regulation (EC) No 44/2001. The Brussels I Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 is applied also in regard to Denmark.

There are also other European procedures in place between the EU Member States to facilitate the cross-border recognition and enforcement of judgments, especially those concerning monetary claims.

The European Enforcement Order (Regulation (EC) of the European Parliament and of the Council No 805/2004) may be applied in cross-border enforcement of uncontested debt collection judgments, court settlements and authentic instruments. The Regulation creating a European Enforcement Order became fully applicable on 21 October 2005. The Regulation is nationally supplemented by the Act on the European Enforcement Order for uncontested claims (825/2005). The Regulation is not applied in regard to Denmark.

The European order for payment procedure (Regulation (EU) No 1896/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council) is a European summary court procedure that can be applied in the judicial recovery of uncontested monetary claims. The procedure may be applied only in cross-border cases concerning payment obligations. For the purposes of the Regulation, a cross-border case is one in which at least one of the parties is domiciled or habitually resident in a Member State other than the Member State of the court seized. The Regulation creating a European order for payment procedure became fully applicable on 12 December 2008. The Regulation is nationally supplemented by the Act on the European order for payment procedure (754/2008). The Regulation is not applied in regard to Denmark.

The European Small Claims Procedure (Regulation (EC) No 861/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council) is a European court procedure that may be applied in cases where the value of the claim does not exceed EUR 2,000. The procedure may be applied also in cases concerning other than monetary claims. The procedure may be applied only in cross-border cases. The European Small Claims Procedure became fully applicable on 1 January 2009. The Regulation is nationally supplemented by the Act on the European Small Claims Procedure (753/2008). The Regulation is not applied in regard to Denmark.

The Regulation establishing a European Small Claims Procedure has been amended by the Regulation (EU) No 2015/2421 of the European Parliament and of the Council. The maximum value of a claim has been raised to EUR 5,000 through the amending Regulation. The amending Regulation will become fully applicable on 14 July 2017.

Through the European Account Preservation Order procedure (Regulation (EU) No 655/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council), a creditor may prevent the transfer or withdrawal of funds held by his or her debtor in a bank account maintained in any Member State. The Regulation contains provisions on the procedure for issuing a European Account Preservation Order and on the implementation of such an Order in the Member State in which the bank account is maintained. The procedure is an alternative to procedures established under national legislation. The Regulation became applicable on 18 January 2017. It is not applied in regard to Denmark and the United Kingdom.

Further information on the European legislation and the competent authorities as well as other practical information are available on the European e-Justice Portal. The necessary standard forms are also available on the e-Justice Portal .

Provisions on the recognition and enforcement of a civil judgment are also laid down in the Lugano Convention (the Lugano Convention of 2007 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters) and the preceding Lugano Convention of 1988.

The Lugano Convention is applied in relations with Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. The Lugano Convention of 2007 entered into force in relation to Norway on 1 January 2010, in relation to Switzerland on 1 January 2011, and in relation to Iceland on 1 May 2011. The website containing information on the Lugano Conventions is maintained by the Ministry of Justice of Switzerland. The website contains useful information on the Conventions.

Between the Nordic countries, the Convention on the recognition and enforcement of judgments concerning claims under private law (Treaty Series 56/1977) and the legislation based on it (588/1977) are still in force. However, the legislation based on the Nordic Convention is not usually applied in the enforcement of judgments, as the Brussels I Regulation and the Lugano Convention are given priority over the Nordic Convention.

Provisions governing the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards are laid down in the so-called New York Convention of 1958 (Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, Treaty Series 8/1962). The provisions of the Convention have been included in the Arbitration Act (957/1992).

Treaties and regulations on enforcement of judgments do not include provisions regarding designation of a Central Authority.

Related national legislation

The national provisions on the recognition and enforcement of foreign civil judgments in Finland are laid down in Chapter 8 of the Act on international legal assistance and recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (426/2015). This Act is, however, secondary in nature in relation to the EU law and the international agreements mentioned above.

The national legislation and the international agreements are available in Finlex Data Bank.