International Legal Assistance

These pages contain information on international legal assistance in all its aspects, the relevant legislation and treaties and their ratification as well as links, addresses and instructions.

This is only a general introduction. The purpose of the website is to assist people interested in the subject to find national and international legal sources. In specific civil or criminal cases it is usually advisable to turn to a legal adviser or lawyer.

As the Finnish Central Authority the International Judicial Assistance Unit of the Ministry of Justice carries out several duties related to the international administration of justice. One of the most important duties is international legal assistance, which concerns both civil and criminal matters. Examples of such assistance are the service of documents and the taking of evidence.

International legal assistance is often based on multilateral conventions. It is also regulated through bilateral treaties. In addition, national legislation may allow legal assistance although no convention or treaty exists. This is the case e.g. in Finland. International legal assistance is also regulated through EU regulations.

There are several conventions on legal assistance. Conventions have been concluded both within the Hague Conference on Private International Law and within the Council of Europe. The members of the European Union and of the United Nations as well as the Nordic Countries have also entered into agreements on legal assistance. Additionally, Finland has concluded bilateral treaties.