Other Legal Assistance in Civil Matters

Information on foreign law

It is sometimes necessary to acquire information on the legislation of a foreign country in a matter pending in a court or before another judicial authority. In such a case, the authority may submit a request for information to a foreign country under the European Convention on Information on Foreign Law (Treaty Series 58/1990).

The Ministry of Justice functions as the Central Authority in Finland as defined in the Convention.

Furthermore, EU legal acts and international treaties in different special fields may contain provisions under which information on the legislation and judicial system of a foreign country may be requested.

Information on the national, international and EU legislation in civil and commercial fields, grouped according to topic, is also available on the website of the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters, accessible through the European e-Justice Portal . The Member States are responsible for providing the information contained on the website and keeping it up to date.

Legal aid in a case considered abroad

In general, legal aid granted in Finland is limited to cover cases considered in Finland. In cases considered abroad, Finnish legal aid covers the provision of general legal advice, and the decision to grant legal aid is made by a legal aid office. For particularly serious reasons, the Ministry of Justice may grant more extensive legal aid than legal advice for a case to be considered abroad. Expenses for a case considered abroad are paid only when there are special humane reasons to do so. Matters where this may be necessary include child abduction cases and criminal cases where a person residing in Finland has become the victim of a sex offence abroad.

Between the EU Member States, the Legal Aid Directive is applied (Council Directive 2002/8/EC to improve access to justice in cross-border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid for such disputes). The purpose of the Directive is to establish minimum common rules for the availability of legal aid in disputes between the Member States.

Legal aid is granted or refused by the competent authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting.

Under the Legal Aid Directive, all Finnish legal aid offices are competent to submit legal aid applications to the competent authority of another Member State. Helsinki Legal Aid Office functions as the receiving authority that accepts legal aid applications from abroad in Finland (section 28a of the Legal Aid Act (972/2004) and section 19 of the Government Decree on Legal Aid (997/2004)).

Within the Council of Europe, the European Convention on the Transmission of Applications for Legal Aid (Treaty Series 42/1980, ETS 092) is applied.

For the purposes of the Convention, the Ministry of Justice is the Central Authority in Finland.

International access to justice

The Convention on International Access to Justice (Treaty Series 47/1988) of the Hague Conference on Private International Law includes provisions on legal aid, security for costs and enforceability of orders for costs, right to receive copies of entries and decisions, and physical detention and safe-conduct.