Oral hearing

An oral hearing is held based on the court's own motion, or at the request of a certain party.

The appellant or the respondent to an appeal may ask an administrative court to hold an oral hearing when an appeal is being examined. The request must be justified by stating why a written hearing is insufficient and what information would be presented during the oral hearing.

In most cases, the administrative court must hold an oral hearing if so requested by the party concerned. However, the court may decide not to hold an oral hearing if the request presented in the appeal cannot be examined at all, or if it is rejected immediately. The court may also decide not to hold an oral hearing if this is manifestly unnecessary.

If written evidence of a private nature is relied on in the matter, the witness shall be heard in person only if, in the opinion of the court, this is necessary in order to clarify the matter.

If necessary, an expert may be heard, in person, during the trial on a matter which requires special expertise.

The administrative court summons the parties, a representative of the authority that made the challenged decision and the other persons whose hearing is deemed necessary to the oral hearing. A party may use the services of an attorney or counsel.

At an oral hearing, the parties and authorities first present the members of the court with their views of the decision being appealed and of the appeal lodged to amend it. The members of the court may ask questions at that stage. After this, the court usually hears the witnesses called by the parties or the court. The parties must report the witnesses they have named to the court before the oral hearing. The court summons the witnesses, unless it has been agreed that the parties will see to this.

At an oral hearing, decisions can be made related to the handling of the matter, but the main case is not determined immediately after the end of the oral hearing.

An oral hearing does not supersede written trial materials, but supplements them. It is not therefore necessary to rehear any material at the oral hearing, other than that which the parties disagree on or of which they wish to present detailed information.

The administrative court may restrict the oral hearing by, for instance, only hearing part of the matter.

Many of the matters dealt with by the administrative courts are subject to a duty of secrecy. Such matters include social welfare matters, tax matters, mental health matters and asylum matters. In such cases, the oral hearing is held behind closed doors, that is, without public access to the hearing.

Published 12.4.2017