Strasbourg, 29 April 2002
CCJE (2003) 20
Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE)
Questionnaire on judges’ training: reply submitted by the delegation of Finland
Questionnaire on Judges, Training
a. Initial training for prospective judges
1. (Are the prospective judges given any initial training? If so, how long does this last?)
For lawyers, usually recently graduated, who want the possibility to opt for a career at courts, there is a traditional training programme lasting one year, where the trainee works in a local district court. The training is formally supervised by a Court of appeal. The system is presently being under reconsideration, please see p. 4.
2. (Is the right to or requirement to undergo training stipulated in any law or regulation?)
The requirement to undergo training in order to qualify for a judge's office is not mandatory. The qualifications for judges are laid down in an Act on judicial appointments (205/2000). According to Section 11 of that Act a person may be appointed as a judge, if he or she is a righteous Finnish citizen, who has earned a master’s degree in law and with his or her previous work in court or in another assignment has proved that he or she has such knowledge of the area of work that is required for a successful handling of the office in question and also possesses the personal qualifications for this.
3. (Is training run and financed by the state or by other means? Is it free of charge for the prospective judges and are the latter paid?)
The training is run by the courts and the trainees will get a monthly salary for their work at district courts from the courts’ budget.
4 - 5. (Is there a judge's training institution? If so, is it a permanent public body etc.?)
No, not at this stage. There is, however, a proposal by a governmental committee, suggesting a board, which would choose those applicants who are to be taken in a new kind of training programme for a judge’s bench. The training would be considerably more thorough than the present training programme. The proposal is, after an extensive hearing, where more than sixty courts, organisations and governmental bodies were heard, to be finalised by a governmental working group, which by its mandate 26.2.2002 is supposed to give its report not later than by the end of October 2002. Before this date it is not possible to anticipate the contents of the new training programme and the role of the suggested supervising board.
6. (What subjects does judge's initial training cover?)
At the moment the training covers, in principle, all those legal subjects being part of the daily work at a district court. Emphasis is laid on the one hand on civil law, like family law and real estate law, and on the other hand on criminal and procedural law. The trainee has to act as a judge in a certain amount of court sessions dealing with cases of an uncomplicated nature. One might note that the present training system is run within the framework of general courts and thus does not cover any training in the courts dealing with administrative law. The whole training system is, as already noted, under reconsideration.
7. (Is there an end-of -training examination to access ability to perform the duties of judge?)
No, if the trainee has concluded his training period successfully, the Court of appeal will render him or her a specific title (varatuomari/vicehäradshövdning = vice judge) indicating that he or she has the formal qualifications to act as a judge.
b. In-service training
1. (Is there an in-service judges’ training scheme? If so, how is it organised and what subjects are covered?)
There is no special training scheme for judges in Finland. Occasional training is organised on areas, which have caused a demand for some training.
2. (Is in-training optional or compulsory?)
As a result of the independence of the judiciary all training is optional. A judge is, however, supposed to improve his or her professional skills also by attending courses etc. at his or her choice during working hours.
3. (Who runs such training?)
The in-service training of judges is the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice. The ministry organises continuously, often in co-operation with the law faculties, courses and information days especially on new legislation. The judges may also as a part of their job attend courses organised by commercial bodies or by lawyers associations. The costs are then born by the court within the means appointed for training.
4. (What approaches are adopted to impress upon judges the need to improve their professional skills?)
Merely information. Diplomas from lengthy or specialised courses might be considered special merits when applying for a judges’ office.
5. (Is there a specific training scheme for judges at the beginning of their careers?)
No. Most of the coming judges start their career after the court training as legal secretaries in a Court of appeal.