Main hearing

A main hearing in a court of appeal is much like one in a district court. The public has usually access to main hearings also in a court of appeal. More detailed descriptions of main hearings in civil and criminal matters can be found on the district court websites.

At first, one of the judges summarises the decision of the district court and the results of the preparation of the case. Then he or she asks whether the points made by the appellant and the respondent during the preparation still correspond to their views. Thereafter, the appellant and the respondent, in turn, justify their positions and comment on each other's submissions.

All circumstances that are to be referred to must be submitted orally in the main hearing, because only such items are taken into account in the decision. Thus, the material presented in the district court is not automatically taken into account. However, in certain exceptional cases the decision can be made despite the absence of the respondent, and in these situations the material presented by the respondent earlier may be taken into account as trial material.

The parties present their documentary evidence, and witnesses are heard. This way the judges of the court of appeal have the opportunity themselves to assess the credibility of the witnesses. A witness may also be heard by phone or by a video conference if it is possible to reliably assess the credibility of the testimony through this method. In certain cases the court of appeal may, in the main hearing, listen to testimonies recorded in the district court.

The main hearing ends with closing statements. At this stage, the parties evaluate the evidence that has been submitted and present their view as to how the decision of the district court should be amended or whether it should be amended. An itemised and justified claim for compensation for legal costs must be made no later than during the closing statements.

Published 8.8.2018