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 website.

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 statement made by the appellant and the respondent on appeal 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 invoked must be presented orally in the main hearing, because only such items are taken into account in the decision. In other words, 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 on appeal, and in these situations the material presented by the respondent earlier may be taken into account as trial material.

The parties present their written evidence, and witnesses are heard. This way, the judges of the court of appeal themselves have an opportunity to assess the credibility of the accounts of the witnesses. A witness may also be heard without him or her having to be present in person, in other words by phone or by using video conference, if it is possible to reliably assess the credibility of the testimony through this method. The court of appeal decides on the method of hearing. In certain cases, the court of appeal may listen to testimonies recorded in the district court in the main hearing.

The main hearing ends with closing statements. At this stage, the parties evaluate the evidence that has been submitted and present their views as to whether the decision of the district court should be amended or how it should be amended. A claim for compensation for legal costs must be made before the hearing ends. The claim must specify the amount and grounds for the legal costs.

Published 1.8.2019