District courts

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

The registries of district courts are open during the regular office hours of state agencies between 8.00 and 16.15. At the registry, customers can receive information and technical advice in procedural questions. The courts do not provide legal advice; there are legal aid offices, attorney’s offices and other offices that provide legal services.

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

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

Petitionary matters include, for example, divorce, child custody and debt adjustment matters.

This website contains general information about the activities of the district courts. Information about special cases and exceptions has been omitted. You will not necessarily be able to have your judicial problems dealt with in a district court merely based on the information provided on this website, without turning to a competent legal counsel.

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