Legal Environment

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In this page: Business Contract | Intellectual Property | Legal Framework of Business | International Dispute Resolution


Business Contract

General Observation
Obligations of the vendor and the methods of quality control must be stated clearly.
Law Applicable to the Contract
Finland is a signatory to the Vienna Convention on International Contracts. Click here to visualize the list of signatory countries.
Advisable Incoterms
FINNTERMS are the terms often used in domestic trade. Preferred and the most used general terms in are CIF, FOB and DDU.
Language of Domestic Contract
Finnish, Swedish, English
Other Laws Which Can Be Used in Domestic Contracts
The laws and courts of the United States, The Great Britain and Switzerland provide fair justice and are understandable in English, which is likely to be accepted by the Finnish supplier.

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Intellectual Property

National Organisations
Ministry of Education and Culture
National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland (NBPR)
Regional Organisations
For the protection of patents: the European Patent Office (EPO). To control trademarks, designs and models: the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
International Membership
Member of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)
Signatory to the Paris Convention For the Protection of Intellectual Property
Membership to the TRIPS agreement - Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

National Regulation and International Agreements

Type of property and law Validity International Agreements Signed
Patents act
20 years Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
Trademarks act
10 years Trademark Law Treaty
Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks
Registered designs act
5 years, renewable  
Copyright act
Berne convention For the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms
Rome ConventionFor the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations
WIPO Copyright Treaty
WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty
Industrial Models
Act on utility model rights
4 years, renewable (maximum 10 years total)  

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Legal Framework of Business

Equity of Judgments

Equal Treatment of Nationals and Foreigners
The Language of Justice
Finnish and Swedish
Recourse to an Interpreter
In connection with certain matters involving the fundamental rights of an individual, the party concerned is - according to the Language Act - always entitled to use his or her own language regardless of the language of the municipality. If necessary, interpreters can be used.
Legal Similarities
Finland has a parliamentary system, with the main source of the law the constitution of March 2000. The legal system is based on a civil law system that originates from the Swedish law. European Community law is directly applicable and takes precedence over national legislation. The country accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction but with reservations.

The Different Legal Codes

Foundation of the state, rights of individuals The Constitution
Civil law, right of possession, consumer rights The Civil Code
Company law The Business Code
Taxation law The Taxation Code
Work and social affairs law The Work and Social Affairs Code
Environment law The Environment Code
Criminal law The Penal Code
State law, law on education, safety law The Public Code
Checking National Laws Online
Constitution of Finland
Legislation in Finland
Other Useful Resources
Judicial system in Finland
Country Guides
Jurist World Law

The Jurisdictions

61 District courts District courts that operate on a local level deal with criminal cases, civil cases and petitions matters, such as divorce, the custody of children or debt adjustment.
6 Courts of Appeal Most of the cases are dealt with by the Courts of Appeal. In addition, Courts of Appeal decide, as the first instance, matters of treason and high treason, as well as certain offences in public office. The Helsinki Court of Appeal has special responsibilities, such as decisions of pardoning felons serving a life sentence.
 The Supreme Court The most important function of the Supreme Court is to establish judicial precedents in leading cases thus ensuring uniformity in the administration of justice by the lower courts (District courts and Courts of appeal).
8 Regional administrative courts A person or a corporation that believes a decision of a state or local authority relating to them is illegal is entitled to appeal against the decision. The administrative acts are recognized from the hallmark that they become binding without the consent of the other involved parties. The contracts between authorities and private persons fall usually to the jurisdiction of the general court system.
The Supreme Administrative Court The court has three chambers that focus on different cases and deal with appeals against decisions of the Regional Administrative courts.
Special Courts Market Court, Labor Court and Insurance Court deal cases on the field indicated in the name of the court.

Court Officials

District Court judges
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 notaries training at the court and by trained office staff.
Courts of Appeal judges
The head of a Court of Appeal is the chief justice. The other judges of the court are called senior justices or justices. All the judges of the Courts of Appeal are appointed by the President, on the basis of a draft decision presented by the government.
Supreme Court judges
The president and other judges called justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President of the Republic. According to the law, the Supreme Court shall have a President and at least 15 members. At present the Court consists of 18 members. The average age of a justice is 48 when he/she is appointed
The Supreme Administrative Court judges
The judges of the Supreme Administrative Court include the President and twenty Justices, as well as a few temporary Justices.

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International Dispute Resolution

Arbitration proceedings are used especially in the business community. The procedure can be applied only to disputes which can be settled between the parties. More information can be found on the Finnish Arbitration Institute website.
Arbitration Law
Finnish arbitration laws are in substance identical to those of the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration.
Conformity to International Commercial Arbitration Rules
Party to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Party to the Geneva Protocol on Arbitration Clauses.
Party to the Geneva Convention of the Execution of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Appointment of Arbitrators
Free determination of the number (minimum three) and the method of appointment by the parties.
Arbitration Procedure
After hearing the parties, the arbitrator makes an award which is enforced by the regional court. No appeal is allowed against an award except if it has been made on false evidence. In this case, it can be annulled by the law.
Permanent Arbitration Bodies
The Arbitration Institute of the Central Chamber of Commerce of Finland (Sectors Covered: Domestic and international arbitration proceedings)
Court of Arbitration for Sport (Sectors Covered: Sports, especially doping disputes)

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Latest Update: June 2024