District courts

The Finnish district courts deal with criminal cases, civil cases and petitionary matters. There are 20 (1 January, 2019) district courts in Finland. A district court is headed by the Chief Judge and the other judges have the title District Judge. In certain cases, the district court may also have Lay Judges. The cases are handled and resolved either in a session, where the parties are summoned to, or in chambers, where the decision is based solely on documents. In simple cases decisions can be made by trainee district judge and by trained office staff.

The registries of the district courts are open during the regular business hours of state agencies, that is, between 8 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. From the registry customers can receive information and technical advice in procedural questions. The courts will not provide legal advice; there are legal aid offices, attorney’s offices and other legal services offices for this purpose.

In a civil case, a dispute between private individuals or corporations is decided impartially by the court. The matter may pertain e.g. to tort liability, inheritance disputes, the cancellation of a transaction or the rent for an appartment.

In a criminal case, the district court hears charges against a person e.g. for theft, driving while intoxicated, assault or some other punishable act. Normally, also the victim’s (injured party’s) claim for compensation is decided in connection with the criminal case.

Petitionary matters include e.g. divorce and the custody of children or a debt adjustment matter.

This website contains general information on the activities of the district courts. Special cases and exceptions have been omitted. You will not necessarily be able to take care of your judicial problems in a district court without a competent legal counsel merely by reference to this website.

The Ministry of Justice assumes no responsibility for possible errors in the contents of this website.