What matters are dealt with by the Administrative Court?

The Constitution requires that all public activities comply strictly with the law. In the administration, the principle is the general right of appeal, i.e. an appeal may usually be lodged against a decision of the authority which definitively decides the matter or leaves it inadmissible. The authority refers to all parties carrying out a public administrative function.


An appeal is a means of appealing against a decision of an authority that has not become final. The right of appeal is usually exercised by the person concerned by the decision in question. Municipal matters may exceptionally be appealed by municipal residents or those who own the property in the municipality.

In connection with the decision, the authority shall indicate how and to whom the decision may be appealed against. Some of the decisions must first be appealed to the authority that made the decision itself, and only then can those who are still dissatisfied with this decision appeal to the administrative court.

The administrative court deals with appeals from private individuals and communities concerning decisions taken by public authorities in administrative matters. You may appeal to the administrative courts, for example, in following matters:

  • decisions on social and health care issues, such as social assistance, disability services, child welfare and mental health issues,
  • decisions within the autonomy of municipalities and churches,
  • decisions on environmental, construction and land use issues, such as land use planning, environmental and building permits,
  • tax matters,
  • decisions on migration matters, such as international protection and residence permits
  • decisions related to state law and general administration, such as public access to documents, citizenship issues

The Supreme Administrative Court, the regional administrative courts and the Åland Administrative Court have a common diary formula with nearly 300 titles of matters.


Certain decisions of the authorities require that the administrative court affirm them in order to enter into force. In such cases, the authority submits its decision to the administrative court on its own initiative and requests affirmation of its decision. Such matters include decisions relating to involuntary care and matters relating to the child's involuntary taking into custody.

Administrative disputes

An administrative dispute is a matter concerning an obligation or right governed by public law that cannot be imposed by a unilateral decision of an authority. An administrative dispute is initiated by an application. An administrative dispute may concern, for example, the recovery of a grant or the organisation of health services or their costs.

This is how matters are decided

As a rule, the matter is decided by the administrative court on the basis of written material. In addition, the administrative court may arrange oral preparations, oral hearings, reviews and inspections.

On the basis of the appeal, the administrative court shall decide whether the decision of the authority under appeal is lawful.

The section on the handling of administrative matters can be found in the section Appeals against a decision of the authorities .

Composition of the administrative court

Matters shall be decided on the presentation in the composition of the decision, normally composed of three members. In the composition session, the case may be presented by the administrative judge, the junior judge or the notary.

In certain matters, such as mental health and child custody, consideration and decision-making are also attended by a member of the composition who is an expert. In addition to the legally trained members, judges in the field of natural sciences or technology participate in the consideration of matters under the Environmental Protection and Water Act.

It is possible for administrative courts to resolve certain appeals laid down in the law in smaller formations than usual. Such matters include certain appeals relating to income tax, property tax, car tax and building permits. If the judges disagree with the decision in a two-member composition, the matter shall be referred to the normal composition of three members.

One judge may, among other things, decide on appeals concerning parking error fee, vehicle transfer, driving licence issues and public transport inspection fee. In addition, one judge may decide on any enforcement prohibition to be classified as interim measures and prohibit or suspend the enforcement of taxes and charges.


Once all the material necessary for resolving the matter has been compiled, the administrative court shall take a decision on the matter. The administrative court shall always issue its decision in writing.

The decision of the administrative court shall state the decision and the reasons for it. The explanatory memorandum shows the points of law applied and the factors and reports that have influenced the decision and the legal reasoning on which the decision is based. The decision will be sent to the parties at the address indicated by them (process address). The administrative court shall issue instructions on appeals in connection with its decision. For more information on the notification of a decision, see the Service of documents section.

What's the cost of the trial?

Administrative court decisions are subject to a legal fee. The amount of the legal charge shall be fixed by decree of the Ministry of Justice. In all cases, the fee shall not be charged. More information about the fees is available here.

A party to a trial may incur costs such as travelling to an oral hearing and paying a fee for an attorney and a witness. As a rule, each party to the proceedings pays the costs of the trial him/herself. A party to the proceedings may also be ordered to pay all or part of the costs incurred by the other party. A private person may be ordered to pay the costs of a public authority only in exceptional cases, mainly when the court considers that he or she has abused his or her right to appeal. In order to be eligible for reimbursement of costs, a claim must be made. The costs may be ordered to be reimbursed in full or in part.

Where can legal aid be obtained?

If the appellant so wishes, he or she may deal with his or her case in the administrative court himself or herself with-out legal assistance. If necessary, legal assistance can be obtained from lawyers, public legal counsel working in state legal aid offices or licensed legal counsel. Their activities as assistants are supervised.

Decision on the granting of legal aid paid for with public funds shall be made on the application by the State Legal Aid Office. More information on legal aid's website.

Published 21.1.2021