Lawyers & Legal Representation in Finland
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- Legal Representation in Finland: Introduction
- When Should You Contact a Lawyer?
- Civil Proceedings
- How to Find a Lawyer
- Lawyers in Specialist Fields
- Legal Aid
- Related Links
This is a guide only and does not constitute legal advice
Lawyers have many names in English; solicitor, barrister, attorney, advocate to name a few. In Finland the general name for a lawyer is lakimies (law-man). A fully qualified member of the Finnish Bar Association (FBA) is entitled to use the Finnish title asianajaja (in English advocate). It is not necessary to be a member of the FBA to give legal advice. Non-members of the Bar are referred to as jurists.
Finland is not, comparatively, a litigious country. People are expected to be responsible and settle personal matters between themselves in a civilised manner. "You'll be hearing from my lawyer!" is not frequently heard. In cases of divorce for example, parents usually share custody of the kids on a 50/50 basis in an amicable manner, and battles over "Who owns what?" are minimal; if it was yours it's still yours, if you bought it together you split it. If you smoked from the age of 12 and get cancer you probably won't find much joy suing a tobacco company; you knew the risks and it's your fault.
Employment disputes are usually settled by arbitration, and most workers are covered by clear terms and conditions of employment delineated in collective agreements.
In this environment of 'reasonableness', solutions are usually reached by negotiation and arbitration rather than court proceedings. Lawyers are therefore often employed in an advisory or mediating capacity rather than engaged in prosecutions. Common areas of expertise for Finnish lawyers include
- Tax matters
- Labour law
- Contract Law
- Corporate law
- Mergers & Acquisitions
- Dispute resolution
- Real estate and environmental law
- Family and inheritance law
Private law firms offer their services for a fee. In court proceedings, the court can order the losing party to pay the opposing party’s legal costs in full or in part.
Business: In most cases in Finland you will probably want to contact a lawyer for advice on business matters. A wealth of information can be found online but it is wise to seek local legal counsel when making any important business decision. As in all legal systems, the laws and regulations in Finland and the EU are constantly changing and businesses should not rely on online guides as their sole source of legal guidance.
Other matters: To avoid disputes eventuating in any kind of significant agreement between parties, it's good to contact a lawyer early for preparation of 'preventive legal assignments'; documents such as, for example, marital agreements. The cost of a document is insignificant compared to the costs of a protracted legal dispute about property rights later on, unlikely as that event may seem. Cross-border situations such as multicultural marriages, social security matters and employment matters are best arranged properly at the outset. If they are not, settlement of potential issues can be problematic, complicated, and expensive.
If you find yourself in a dispute situation I would not recommend contacting a lawyer as your first course of action in attempting settlement. If you have a problem with your employer, for example, first try to negotiate directly with them. If you have no luck, contact your union representative if you have one; see Employment Law & Disputes for more. In a Dispute with a Financial Organisation you can contact the Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau. In consumer matters the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority offers plenty of advice on your rights and obligations. In cases of ethnic discrimination you can contact the Ombudsman for Minorities for advice (site in 29 languages - choose at bottom of page). In Finland issues can usually be settled before recourse to lawyers or court proceedings becomes necessary.
It is unusual to "take someone to court" in Finland. Try to work things out one-on-one. If that's impossible, the firm van Setten Kuusniemi & Partner Asianajotoimisto Oy have published a useful English-language article about what to expect when facing court proceedings:
A Guide to Civil Court Procedures in Finland Archive
Legal firms, lawyers and attorneys in Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Hämeenlinna, Joensuu, Jyväskylä, Kajaani, Kotka, Kuopio, Lahti, Lappeenranta, Mikkeli, Oulu, Pori, Rauma, Riihimäki, Rovaniemi, Savonlinna, Seinäjoki, Tampere, Turku, Vaasa
The Finnish Bar Association provides information about its Members, the Judicial System in Finland, Legal Fees, and Legal Services. Additionally it includes a search facility for Finding a Lawyer. You can search by:
- Legal services for corporate clients
- Legal services or private persons
- Language skills
- Native language
- See www.asianajajaliitto.fi/en En, Fi, Sw
Field of Law: Business / Commercial / Corporate
- Lexia Attorneys: Lexia is a Finnish business law firm with extensive international experience in matters such as mergers and acquisitions, funding and investment, international agreements, actions for damages and dispute resolution. Lexia's mission is to provide legal solutions which generate measurable commercial advantage and added value. Lexia is a member of the Trans European Law Firm Alliance, TELFA, which works closely with USLAW. Effective execution of international assignments is thus enabled in partnership with a network of recognised business law firms.
References and further information: Lexia in English, Russian, Finnish
In Brief: f you require legal assistance in court proceedings or other legal matters, legal aid may be available. In general everyone should pay for their own legal assistance, but if they cannot afford the necessary assistance it may be provided to them partially or fully at the expense of the state. The ability to pay is assessed on the basis of means-testing.
For purposes of legal aid the state has a network of legal aid offices. In these offices legal aid is provided by public legal aid attorneys. Legal aid can also be provided by advocates and by other private lawyers.
The Ministry of Justice provides information on legal aid paid for by the state; available in six languages. Their web pages include:
- What kinds of matter can you get legal aid for
- What does legal aid cover
- How to apply for legal aid
- Cost of legal aid
- How to appeal against a legal aid decision
- Public defender for the suspect of a criminal offence
- Attorney and support person for a victim of a crime
- Information on Legal Aid: www.oikeus.fi/en/index/esitteet/oikeusapu.html
- Legal Aid Offices : Contact information. Search by agency, local office or municipality www.oikeus.fi/oikeusapu/en/index/yhteystiedot.html
- Suomi.fi: Search Legal aid application form for document in English. Also available in Finnish and Swedish
- Ministry of Justice: Answers to common legal questions, Information on the Finnish judicial system, Links to other sources of information En, Fi, Sá, Sw +
- Refugee Advice Centre: NGO providing legal aid and advice to asylum seekers, refugees and other foreigners in Finland. Site includes asylum procedure, EU asylum policy and more. En, Fi, Sw
- Finlex Data Bank: Legislative and other judicial information of Finland, from the Ministry of Justice. Most databases are available in Finnish and Swedish only. Some translations of Finnish acts and decrees are available in English and other languages.
- Legal Framework for Doing Business in Finland: PDF Information about the legal and business infrastructure in Finland. Booklet prepared 2012 by Roschier Attorneys Ltd. for the series 'Lex Mundi Guides to Doing Business'. Archive