The court or the prosecutor summons the parties involved the case to the trial. The summons should be read carefully, as it indicates whether the parties must attend themselves or whether an attorney may be sent on their behalf. The summons also indicates whether the case can be decided despite the absence of the party. Absence without a lawful excuse usually incurs a penalty of a considerable conditional fine.
The use of trial counsel is not compulsory in Finland. If the case seems unclear, it is a good idea to get a lawyer. This should be done well in advance of the trial date. Legal aid is provided by state legal aid offices to persons whose lack of means prevent them from covering the costs of the trial themselves. Advocates and other lawyers provide legal aid as well, and act as trial counsel.
Those persons who are authorised to act as a representative and as an attorney and the duties and supervision of a licensed attorney are specified in the Act on Licensed Attorneys (715/2011). The Act entered into force on 1 January 2013.
The main hearing is conducted orally. The court will only take into account points that have been submitted to it during the trial. The procedure progresses in stages, which are explained at the beginning of the trial.
After the conclusion of the trial, the court deliberates; at this time, the parties − the prosecutor included − may not remain in the room. The judgment is pronounced immediately after the deliberations or handed down later from the registry of the court.