I INTRODUCTION TO THE DISPUTE RESOLUTION FRAMEWORK
In Finland, standard court litigation and commercial arbitration are the main methods for resolving commercial disputes. Arbitration and other forms of private dispute resolution are discussed further in Section VI, infra.
The Finnish general court system, comprising civil and criminal courts, is distinct from the administrative court system, which mainly administers cases concerning disputes regarding public interest between a public authority and a legal person, including private individuals and corporations. Different procedural laws and rules govern these two systems.
The general courts consist of 27 district courts constituting the courts of first instance, six courts of appeal and the Supreme Court. The court of appeal is the first appellate level for the decisions of the district courts, while the Supreme Court is the final judicial authority. Following the revision of the Code of Judicial Procedure in November 2014,2 leave to appeal is required before a decision of a district court can be appealed to the court of appeal. The court of appeal must nevertheless grant leave to appeal if the decision of the district court gives rise to doubts as to the correctness of the court’s decision. However, the Code of Judicial Procedure now enables a party to obtain leave to appeal a district court’s decision directly to the Supreme Court in circumstances where the legal issue in question has been repeated in several other similar cases, the absence of precedent in such cases is prolonging legal uncertainty and the opposing party consents to the appeal. If the Supreme Court refuses to grant leave to appeal, the decision of the district court becomes the final decision.
Moreover, a decision of a court of appeal can be appealed to the Supreme Court only with the Supreme Court’s leave. The Supreme Court grants leave to appeal on the following grounds: the hearing of the appeal is important in view of other similar cases or in the interest of securing uniformity of legal practice; there are special grounds for granting leave to appeal due to a procedural or other error; or the granting of leave to appeal is important for some other reasons. Thus, in practice, the court of appeal is the final authority in a vast majority of appeals from the decisions of the district courts.
Disputes regarding certain maritime, patent and trademark, insolvency and land registration matters are allocated to specific district courts designated for those particular matters. For instance, in patent and trademark matters, the district court is assisted by an expert, who does not participate in the decision-making, and in matters relating to the registration and formation of land plots, the quorum of the court includes a lay land engineer and two lay assessors. In addition to district courts, there are a limited number of specialised courts, including the Market Court, which hears commercial, competition and public procurement cases as a court of first instance, and the Labour Court, which hears mainly collective bargaining agreement-related labour disputes.
II THE YEAR IN REVIEW
In January 2016, the procedural rules pertaining to the production of evidence under the Code of Judicial Procedure were substantially amended. Unlike other aspects of the Code of Judicial Procedure, the evidence rules had not systematically been revised since 1948. The amendments include changes to the rules regarding the anonymity of a witness, an oath to be sworn by witnesses and legal privilege.
The court can now grant anonymity to a witness in criminal cases, where maximum punishment for the alleged crime varies from six to eight years and the concealment of the witness’s identity is necessary for the protection of their lives or the lives of their close relatives. The anonymity rules are meant to be applied only when no other means are sufficient for the protection of the witness.
The new evidence rules further extend the right to refuse to stand as a witness to the accused person’s common-law partners, doctors, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals such as dentists, psychotherapists and nurses.
In addition, under the new evidence rules, witnesses will no longer be required to swear a religious oath. Rather, the witnesses will now swear an oath to their conscience and honour.
The scope of the legal privilege rules in the Code of Judicial Procedure has further been amended to extend to any confidential information that an attorney has received from a client in the course of his or her duties in relation to litigation, legal advice in a pretrial phase or in contemplation of litigation. The legal privilege rules are discussed further in Section V, infra.
ii Case law
Finland has a civil law system and, thus, previous court decisions are not legally binding, either horizontally or vertically. Consequently, the lower court judges will not be guilty of misconduct in office if they decide against an earlier precedent. However, the Supreme Court, owing to its standing orders, will not decide against its earlier precedent, except on the basis of qualified procedure. In 2016, the Finnish Supreme Court rendered a handful of decisions regarding procedural matters. However, the following Supreme Court decision from August 2016 regarding the effect of an arbitral award that has not yet been enforced as a ground for insolvency under the Finnish Bankruptcy Act is of interest.
The Supreme Court in KKO 2016:513
In KKO 2016:51, the Supreme Court allowed an insolvency application to succeed on the basis that the applicant’s receivables based on an arbitral award were clear within the meaning of the Finnish Bankruptcy Act, irrespective of the fact that the validity of the award had been challenged in separate annulment proceedings and the award had, thus, not yet been enforced. The Supreme Court’s decision is noteworthy in that it takes a pro-arbitration stance in giving effect to the arbitral award that was subject to the annulment proceedings. The critical decisive factor in the Court’s decision was that it considered the annulment claim meritless.
On the facts of the case, Party X had obtained a favourable arbitral award against Party Y. X had subsequently initiated insolvency proceedings against Y under the Finnish Bankruptcy Act on the basis that Y was insolvent within the meaning of the Bankruptcy Act as it had been under a threat of insolvency and was unable to pay €600,000 damages that the arbitral tribunal had ordered it to pay to X. Y was seeking to resist the insolvency order by claiming that the award was not yet enforceable, as annulment proceedings with respect to the award were pending in a district court.
Y was seeking to annul the arbitral award in question in the annulment proceedings on the basis that the award was contrary to mandatory, fundamental principles of the Finnish legal system because Y had allegedly been compelled under a duress to agree to the financial services agreement, from which the arbitral proceedings had arisen between the parties, and that X had become party to the financial services agreement through assignment where the sole purpose was allegedly to evade tax payments. Y further claimed that the arbitration agreement had been invalid and, thus, the arbitrators had lacked jurisdiction to decide on the matter.
The Supreme Court held that X had clear receivables from Y within the meaning of the Bankruptcy Act, although the arbitral award had not yet been enforced, and, thus, the statutory grounds for declaring Y insolvent were satisfied. Irrespective of the fact that the annulment proceedings were ongoing in separate proceedings in the district court, the Supreme Court considered that the decision in the insolvency proceedings inherently necessitated it to also consider the merits of Y’s annulment claim. Whether Y’s receivables were clear under the Bankruptcy Act might depend on the determination of Y’s annulment claim. The Supreme Court was of the opinion that Y had failed to establish that the arbitral tribunal had not applied the mandatory principles of the Finnish legal system in rendering the arbitral award. The arbitral tribunal had exhaustively dealt with Y’s claims regarding the invalidity of the arbitration agreement and the nullity of the arbitral award. Y had not challenged the appointment of the arbitrators in the arbitration proceedings. The Court concluded that in its assessment of the matter it was clear that no grounds for the challenge of the validity of the arbitration award existed.
III COURT PROCEDURE
i Overview of court procedure
The Code of Judicial Procedure is the main statute that governs civil proceedings. The current version of the Code is available online in Finnish and Swedish.4 An unofficial English translation of the Code updated to January 2016 is also available online.5
ii Procedures and time frames
Pursuant to the Code of Judicial Procedure, civil proceedings are effectively divided into two phases: the preparatory stage and the main hearing. Civil proceedings commence by a claimant lodging a written application for summons at a district court. If the court grants summons on the basis of the application, the defendant is then invited to file a statement of defence. The court may, of its own motion or upon request, order further written submissions from the parties prior to the preparatory hearing.
In addition to the written submissions, the preparatory stage of the proceedings further entails an oral preparatory hearing, which aims to clarify the issues in dispute and identify the evidence to be presented at the main hearing. During and after the preparatory hearing, the court may request further written submissions. Thereafter, the parties are called to the main oral hearing, where the parties present their arguments and the supporting evidence, including oral witness evidence.
The length of the full proceedings varies greatly depending on the complexity of the case and the court’s caseload. The district court proceedings typically last between one and two years.
The district courts are empowered to grant interim measures at any time during or before the full trial and such measures can be of a compelling or prohibitory nature. Upon request, the court may also grant the interim relief ex parte, if the aim of the relief sought may otherwise be compromised and granting of the measure without hearing the opposing party is otherwise justified. If successful, the interim measure can usually be obtained and enforced within a couple of days from the filing of the application, the speed of the proceedings depending on the court’s timetable and resources as well as the complexity of the case.
If the interim measure is granted on completion of the inter partes stage, the applicant will be ordered to enforce the measure and initiate the main proceedings within a month from the court’s final inter partes order.
The applicant has strict liability for costs and damages caused to the opposing party by an interim remedy that has subsequently been found to be unnecessary and unfounded. To enforce an interim remedy, the applicant must provide security for possible costs and damages.
iii Class actions
The Act on Class Actions (444/2007)6 permits class actions to be commenced in disputes concerning the rights and interests of consumers, including, for instance, defective consumer goods or the interpretation of consumer contract terms. The Act also applies to disputes between consumers and undertakings concerning the selling and marketing of investment products and insurance. However, matters concerning the issuing of securities and public bidding procedures do not fall within the ambit of the legislation. Moreover, only the Consumer Ombudsman may file a class action.
The Act stipulates the following grounds for bringing a class action: several parties have a claim against the same defendant based on the same or similar circumstances; the class action will be an expedient means to proceed in view of the size of the class, the subject matter, the presented claims and the supporting evidence; and the class has been defined with adequate precision.
iv Representation in proceedings
The rules on court representation have recently undergone a reform in Finland. The Legal Representation Act (715/2011),7 which came into force on 1 January 2013, effectively introduced a new regulatory regime for legal representation in Finnish court proceedings and thus brought the Finnish legal representation system more in line with the ones in other EU countries. The Act provides that only qualified attorneys-at-law and other lawyers that fulfil certain criteria relating to their professional experience and have been granted a specific licence may act as party representatives in Finnish courts.
Previously, there were no restrictions on party representation in court proceedings in Finland: the parties were able to represent themselves or they could have been represented by a lawyer in possession of a higher law degree from a Finnish university or a lawyer qualified in another Member State of the European Economic Area (EEA), or in a country with which the EU and its Member States have made an agreement on mutual recognition of professional eligibility of attorneys; in certain cases, even a layperson was able to act as a party representative.
v Service out of the jurisdiction
The primary rule is that the court will serve the claim on the defendant out of the jurisdiction. Upon request a party may, on justified grounds, also be entrusted to effect service.
In most cases, the court serves the claim out of jurisdiction pursuant to one of the international instruments to which Finland is a party. The EU Service Regulation (Council Regulation No. 1393/2007/EC) applies to the service of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters in the EU Member States. Finland has also signed a separate Convention of 1974 with the other Nordic countries in relation to cross-border procedural assistance. In addition, Finland is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters of 1965. In circumstances where none of the above instruments apply, requests for service out of the jurisdiction are sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which refers the documents to the authorities in the receiving state.
vi Enforcement of foreign judgments
There are broadly two enforcement regimes for foreign judgments in Finland:
- a judgments rendered in other EU Member States are recognised and enforced pursuant to the Brussels I Regulation or, in the case of uncontested judgments, pursuant to the European Enforcement Order Regulation; and
- b judgments rendered in other Member States of the EEA are recognised and enforced pursuant to the Lugano Convention and, in the case of judgments rendered in Norway and Iceland, the Nordic countries that are not members of the EU, are also recognised and enforced pursuant to the Convention of 1977 between the Nordic countries.
Where the European Enforcement Order Regulation, and after 10 January 2015, the revised Brussels I Regulation applies, judgments rendered in other EU Member States are recognised and enforced in Finland in the same manner as judgments of domestic courts. Since 10 January 2015, when the Act ratifying the revised Brussels I Regulation came into force, there has no longer been the need to commence separate enforcement proceedings to obtain a declaration of enforcement from the Finnish district court. For all other foreign judgments, there is no simplified enforcement procedure and the case may, in principle, be retried on its merits, in which case the foreign judgment only serves as evidence in the retrial.
vii Assistance to foreign courts
The Finnish courts will assist foreign courts mainly in relation to service in the jurisdiction, taking of evidence and providing information on the Finnish legal system.
Under the EU Service Regulation, requests for service can be sent directly to the local district court either by the parties or the foreign transmitting authority. Under the Hague Convention, requests for service in Finland must be sent to the Ministry of Justice, which refers the matter to the regional authorities. Under the Nordic Convention, requests for service in Finland are sent directly or through the Ministry of Justice to the local district court. In all other cases, where none of the above instruments apply, the request must be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Under the Taking of Evidence Regulation (Council Regulation 1206/2001/EC), the courts of EU Member States may request the Finnish district courts to take evidence on their behalf or grant them permission to obtain the evidence in Finland directly. The courts of Nordic countries may similarly request the Finnish district courts to obtain evidence on their behalf under the Convention of 1974. Finland is also party to the HCCH Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil and Commercial Matters of 1970, under which the foreign courts can send their request for the collection of evidence to the Ministry of Justice.
viii Access to court files
As a general rule, court proceedings in Finland are public. The court may order private proceedings only in very limited circumstances, when it is deemed necessary to protect the privacy of a party.
In civil matters, pleadings and evidence submitted by parties become public when they are filed at court. The courts may, however, postpone the public access to the case documents in circumstances, where placing the documents into the public domain would be detrimental to a party and no weighty reasons exist against such postponement. In such situations, pleadings and evidence become public during the oral hearing, at the latest, or where there is no oral hearing, when the court renders its decision.
Upon request, the court may declare evidential documents and parts of pleadings confidential in certain circumstances prescribed by law; for example, where documents contain trade secrets, the publication of which would cause financial detriment to a party.
ix Litigation funding
In principle, there are no legal restrictions on third-party funding of litigation costs. However, this practice is currently not common in Finland. Thus, litigation of large commercial disputes is usually funded by the parties themselves. Conversely, individuals and small and medium-sized companies typically fund at least a part of the legal expenses through insurance.
IV LEGAL PRACTICE
i Conflicts of interest and inside information
The Code of Judicial Procedure contains the following provisions on conflicts of interest:
- a public officials may not act as counsel in a trial if it is contrary to their official duties;
- b judges (or other members of the court) may not serve as counsel in a trial unless they have an interest in the case or appear on behalf of a spouse or close relative;
- c a person closely related to a judge (or other member of the court) taking part in the hearing of the case may not serve as counsel to a party in the matter; and
- d a person who has participated in the hearing of a case as a judge (or other member of a court) or served as counsel to the opposite party may not serve as counsel to a party.
In addition, the Finnish Bar Association has its own Code of Conduct that is binding upon its members and all lawyers working for members of the Association. The Code of Conduct requires advocates to decline an assignment if the personal or financial interest of the advocate or his or her colleagues conflicts with the interests of a potential client. Unless the client consents, the assignment must also be declined if the advocate has previously acted as a counsel to the opposing party in the same matter or another matter, pursuant to which the advocate had obtained information that might be of significance when carrying out the assignment in question.
Advocates may, however, assist two or more persons in concluding an agreement or act as a mediator if all parties request their assistance. In such a case, the advocate must equally observe the interests of all the clients. If a dispute subsequently arises between the parties, the advocate may not assist any of them in the dispute.
Establishing information barriers (Chinese walls) within the law firm is not possible in Finland. Therefore, representation of competing parties in a suit is strictly forbidden.
ii Money laundering, proceeds of crime and funds related to terrorism
The Act on Preventing and Clearing Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (503/2008)8 imposes a broad information obligation on certain regulated persons, including advocates that provide legal advice in relation to matters listed in the Act, to identify and know their clients and their business, to detect and investigate the background of fraudulent business activities and to report any suspicions to the Money Laundering Clearing House. The Act does not, however, apply to legal professionals carrying out duties as a trial counsel or providing legal advice concerning a client’s legal position in the pre-trial investigation of an offence or other pre-trial handling of the case. The government of Finland has recently submitted a governmental Bill to the Finnish Parliament for the new Act on Preventing and Clearing Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing to implement the EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive (2015/849).9 The Act is expected to enter into force in January 2017 or soon thereafter.
iii Data protection
The legal framework governing the processing of personal data in Finland comprises the Personal Data Act (523/1999),10 which incorporates the EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC into Finnish law, and the Information Society Code (917/2014).11 The Finnish data protection laws affect Finnish court litigation and arbitration proceedings mainly by regulating the collection, access to and analysis of evidence and other case documentation.
For instance, under the Personal Data Act, legal representatives are prohibited from processing personal data concerning the opposing party, except where the party consents or the information can be acquired from public sources. The Personal Data Act also restricts the transfer of personal data outside of the EU. The Act on the Protection of Privacy in Electronic Communications renders all metadata information of documents strictly confidential; provides that, subject to certain limited exceptions, only the sender and the intended recipient are entitled to process and disclose messages and the associated identification data; and prohibits the processing and disclosure of documents marked confidential.
V DOCUMENTS AND THE PROTECTION OF PRIVILEGE
The scope of the legal privilege rules in the Code of Judicial Procedure has been amended to provide that an attorney, a counsel or an assistant thereof may not without permission disclose confidential information received from the client in the course of his or her duties relating to litigation, legal advice in a pre-trial phase or in contemplation of litigation. A breach of this obligation is punishable as a criminal offence. The amendments to the legal privilege rules came into force on 1 January 2016. Similarly, an attorney cannot testify as a witness in respect of confidential communications between client and attorney, nor can the attorney be ordered to present a document that contains confidential communication between client and attorney. The privilege rules do not, however, apply to in-house lawyers.
ii Production of documents
Finnish court proceedings do not entail a disclosure of all documents in a party’s possession; rather, each party presents and discloses the evidence that it is going to refer to in the proceedings. Upon request of a party, the court may, however, order the opposing party or a third party to disclose sufficiently specified documents, if the requested documents are sufficiently identifiable and the court considers the documents as relevant and material to the outcome of the case.
If a party does not produce the documents ordered by the court, the court may impose a threat of fine or order a bailiff to enforce the document production. When requested by the party during the preparatory hearing, the opposing party must also confirm whether or not a specific document is in its possession.
VI ALTERNATIVES TO LITIGATION
i Overview of alternatives to litigation
Arbitration is the main alternative to court proceedings and commonly resorted to in large commercial disputes. Recent years have witnessed a clear trend for the increased popularity of arbitration as well as a gradually growing interest in other forms of ADR in Finland.
Arbitration procedures in Finland are governed by the 1992 Arbitration Act (the Arbitration Act),12 which largely mirrors the provisions of the UNCITRAL Model Law. The Model Law as such has not, however, been implemented into Finnish law. Pursuant to the Arbitration Act, any dispute in a civil or commercial matter that can be settled by agreement between the parties may be referred for final decision by one or more arbitrators. Thus, in practice only disputes relating to public or criminal law, as well as disputes in which the dominant issue concerns a public interest matter, such as a family law matter, cannot be submitted to arbitration in Finland.
Finland has a long tradition of institutional arbitration: the Arbitration Institute of the Finland Chamber of Commerce (FAI), established in 1911, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2011. The statistics published by the FAI indicate a considerable level of arbitration activity in Finland and show that the number of commercial arbitration cases conducted under the auspices of the FAI has been steadily increasing in the past few years. These figures do not, however, capture most of the ad hoc arbitrations, which are also very common. In fact, the FAI has estimated that approximately half of all the arbitration cases conducted in Finland are ad hoc arbitrations. The FAI also acts as an appointing authority in a considerable number of these ad hoc arbitrations.
On 1 June 2013 the FAI launched a revised set of Arbitration Rules. The new Arbitration Rules constitute a substantial reformation and modernisation of the previous Rules, dated 1 January 1993. The new Rules embody international arbitration best practices and take into account the recent amendments to the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules and the leading institutional rules. The key amendments to the Rules include provisions for multiparty and multi-contract arbitrations, confidentiality, arbitrator-ordered interim measures, the appointment of emergency arbitrators and provisions designed to reduce the time and cost of the proceedings.
The Arbitration Act does not permit an appeal to a court on the merits of the arbitral award. The parties are, however, entitled to appeal to a local district court against the decision on the arbitrators’ fees.
The Arbitration Act provides that the award rendered by the arbitral tribunal is a final award and will be recognised as binding and enforceable, whether rendered in Finland or in a foreign state. The Arbitration Act stipulates, however, that a court may refuse an application for the enforcement of an arbitral award on the basis that it is null and void within the meaning of the Arbitration Act or if the award has been set aside by a court, or if a court, because of an action for declaring an award null and void or for setting it aside, has ordered that any enforcement of the award is to be interrupted or suspended. Under the Arbitration Act, an award is considered null and void only on certain specific grounds, including an obscure and incomplete award, and public policy.
The Arbitration Act further provides that an arbitral award may be set aside by the court upon request by a party if the arbitral tribunal has exceeded its authority, an arbitrator has not been properly appointed, an arbitrator could have been challenged or the arbitral tribunal has not given a party a sufficient opportunity to present its case. The parties must, however, bring an action for setting aside an arbitral award within three months of the date on which they received a copy of the award.
Finland ratified and enacted the New York Convention in 1962. Finland has made no declarations or reservations to the New York Convention. Consequently, in parallel to the New York Convention, the Finnish courts will refuse to recognise and enforce a foreign award on its own motion (ex officio) only if:
- a the award is contrary to the public policy of Finland;
- b a party did not have the capacity to enter into the arbitration agreement;
- c a party was unable to present its case;
- d the composition of the arbitral tribunal substantially deviated from the agreement of the parties or the law of the arbitral seat;
- e the arbitral tribunal exceeded its authority; or
- f the arbitral award has not yet become binding on the parties, or has been declared null and void or set aside or suspended in the state in which the award was made.
The Finnish district courts are empowered to decide on the enforcement of arbitral awards. The application for enforcement must enclose the original arbitration agreement and either the original award or certified copies of it. In addition, a document that is in a language other than Finnish or Swedish must be accompanied by a certified translation into either of these languages, unless the district court grants an exemption. The district court will give the opposing party an opportunity to be heard, unless there is a justified reason not to do so. The district court will deal with the matter in chambers, provided that a witness or another person is not required to be heard in person.
The principal mechanisms for settling commercial disputes by mediation in Finland are: mediation pursuant to the procedure and mediation rules developed by the Finnish Bar Association, which also accredits mediators; and court mediation procedures pursuant to the Act on Mediation in Civil Matters and Confirmation of Settlements in General Courts (394/2011) (the Mediation Act).13 Both forms of mediation are voluntary in nature and aim at a situation where both parties mutually reach a satisfactory resolution to their conflict.
However, in comparison to mediation under the auspices of the Finnish Bar Association, the court mediation process entails a party or parties lodging a mediation application either before the commencement of court proceedings or during the preparatory stage of the proceedings, or attaching a request for mediation to an application for a court summons (a claim form) at a local district court having jurisdiction over the dispute, and the court subsequently appointing a district court judge to manage the mediation procedure. The advantages of the court mediation process over other forms of mediation are the independence and impartiality of the district judge and the public trust in the procedure that the district courts enjoy. The district judge appointed to manage the mediation cannot hear any subsequent court proceedings in the matter. The Mediation Act further enables a court mediation process on an informal basis; apart from the requirement to conduct the mediation ‘expeditiously as well as in compliance with equality and impartiality’, the legislation does not contain any detailed procedural provisions. However, court mediation procedures are in principle open to the public, unless a party has requested a private process and sufficient grounds exist for the granting of mediation in private. The public is not, however, permitted to attend any separate discussions that the mediator has with only one of the parties.
Moreover, the Mediation Act also governs the procedure for the enforcement of settlement agreements reached in a mediation conducted out of court, where the mediator has been educated to act as a mediator, the parties have entered into a written settlement agreement and the dispute governs a civil law or competition matter that can, legally, be settled between the parties. The Mediation Act provides that a settlement reached through court mediation will be affirmed by the relevant local district court upon a written request by the parties, after which it will immediately be legally enforceable. Similarly, the Mediation Act enables both parties or a party with the counterparty’s agreement to request a district court to affirm a settlement agreement reached in out-of-court mediation. The Mediation Act applies both to settlements reached in mediation conducted in Finland or in another EU Member State, except Denmark, and covers both domestic and cross-border disputes.
Further, on 1 June 2016 the FAI launched new Mediation Rules, which enable parties to resort to FAI mediation on the basis of the parties’ written agreement to refer their dispute to mediation under the FAI Mediation Rules or ‘any other type of understanding between the parties’ to resort to FAI mediation. The parties may agree to stay any judicial, arbitral or similar proceedings for the purposes of initiating FAI mediation, provided that the parties are not prevented from doing so by applicable laws, orders, regulations and rules of the competent judicial authorities, arbitral tribunals, arbitral institutions or similar authorities. In addition, mediation under the FAI Mediation Rules does not constitute a bar to any judicial, arbitral or similar proceedings.
iv Other forms of alternative dispute resolution
There are various institutions that give non-binding decisions in certain specialised matters. The Consumer Disputes Board is an independent expert body that issues recommendations on disputes concerning consumer and housing matters. The Data Protection Ombudsman controls the observance of the law and provides guidance on all issues related to the use of personal data. The Insurance Board deals with disputes concerning the interpretation of legislation or terms of policy related to voluntary insurance. A matter may be referred to the Insurance Complaints Board for recommendation by a policyholder, injured party, beneficiary or insurance company.
Furthermore, a specific long-standing ‘alternative’ dispute resolution mechanism exists for the conciliation of collective bargaining disputes. When a dispute arises between negotiating labour market organisations, they are assisted by national and district conciliators.
VII OUTLOOK AND CONCLUSIONS
The Finnish Arbitration Act has not been revised since 1992 and is, thus, arguably no longer fully in line with all the latest international norms and practices. Moreover, the Arbitration Act is not based on the UNCITRAL Model Law, though it is largely in line with its provisions. For these reasons, many leading arbitration practitioners in Finland and abroad have proposed that the Arbitration Act is revised to fully implement the UNCITRAL Model Law into Finnish law. In May 2016, the FAI announced that the Finland Chamber of Commerce has initiated informal preliminary discussions with the Ministry of Justice with respect to the revision of the Arbitration Act. However, it remains to be seen whether these discussions will lead to any legislative proposals.
1 Jussi Lehtinen is a partner and the head of the dispute resolution practice and Heidi Yildiz is a senior attorney at Dittmar & Indrenius.
2 Code of Judicial Procedure (4/1734).
3 KKO 2016:51.
4 Code of Judicial Procedure (4/1734), available at www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/ajantasa/1734/
5 Unofficial English translation of the Code of Judicial Procedure (4/1734), available at www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/kaannokset/1734/en17340004.pdf.
6 Act on Class Actions (444/2007), available in Finnish and Swedish at www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/alkup/2007/20070444 and in English (unofficial translation) at www.finlex.fi/en/laki/kaannokset/2007/en20070444.pdf.
7 Legal Representation Act (715/2011), available in Finnish and Swedish at www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/ajantasa/alkup/2011/20110715.
8 The Act on Preventing and Clearing Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (503/2008), available in Finnish and Swedish at www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/ajantasa/2008/20080503 and in English (unofficial translation) at www.finlex.fi/en/laki/kaannokset/2008/en20080503.pdf.
9 Governmental proposal for Act on Preventing and Clearing Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (228/2016) https://www.eduskunta.fi/FI/vaski/HallituksenEsitys/Documents/HE_228+2016.pdf.
10 The Personal Data Act (523/1999), available in Finnish and Swedish at www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/ajantasa/1999/19990523 and in English (unofficial translation) at www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/kaannokset/1999/en19990523.pdf.
11 The Information Society Code (917/2014), available in Finnish and Swedish at www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/ajantasa/2014/20140917 and in English (unofficial translation) at www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/kaannokset/2014/en20140917.pdf.
12 The Arbitration Act (967/1992), available in Finnish and Swedish at www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/ajantasa/1992/19920967 and in English (unofficial translation) at www.finlex.fi/en/laki/kaannokset/1992/en19920967.pdf.
13 Mediation Act (394/2011), available in Finnish and Swedish at www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/ajantasa/2011/20110394 and in English (unofficial translation) at www.finlex.fi/en/laki/kaannokset/2011/en20110394.pdf.