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Strasbourg, 27 January 2011

CCJE-GT(2011)1

CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL OF EUROPEAN JUDGES
(CCJE)

Questionnaire with a view of the preparation of Opinion No. 14 on the non-materialisation of the judicial process and the use of IT by judges and court staff

Questionnaire

Finlande

Questionnaire with a view of the preparation of Opinion No. 14 on the non-materialisation of the judicial process and the use of IT by judges/court staff

1. Access to courts

2. Procedure within courts

No, it does not

With parties who use electronic means themselves:

With other parties:

by traditional means?

x by traditional means?

by using electronic communication?

by using electronic communication?

x both?

both?

Judges

Court staff

x to all court files?

    to all court files?

only to files within their jurisdiction?

    x only to files within their jurisdiction?

   

3. Oral hearing

4. Information services for judges

Database run by State

Database run by a private institution

☐ national legislation

x national legislation

☐ European legislation

☐ European legislation

☐ national case-law

x national case-law

☐ international case-law

x international case-law

☐ law review articles

x law review articles

5. Practical court work

6. Internet

7. Use of private personal computers/laptops by judges and court staff

8. Use of data

9. Data security

10. Participation of judges

Who decides about the electronic infrastructure of a court? Are judges implicated in the relevant decisions concerning the implementation of IT in courts?

The strategic decisions are made on Ministry level. Preparatory work is often made by working groups in which judges are represented. The voice of judges is also heard during the implementation.

11. Conclusion

Please give your opinion on the advantages and disadvantages of the development of IT in courts?

Easy access to all material and speediness are valuable advantages, but we still have a long way to go. Lack of financial resources and competent personnel are slowing down the process. I am not sure that feasible results are at hand as planned 2014-15.

APPENDIX

NB: Unofficial translation
Ministry of Justice, Finland

Act on the Publicity of Court Proceedings in General Courts (370/2007)

Chapter 1 – General provisions
Section 1 – The principle of publicity
Court proceedings and trial documents are public unless provided otherwise in
this or another Act.
Section 2 – Scope of application of the Act
(1) This Act provides for the publicity of court proceedings and trial documents
in the High Court of Impeachment, the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal,
the District Court, the Labour Court and the Military Court.
(2) This Act also applies to those cases considered by the Market Court to
which the Administrative Judicial Procedure Act (586/1996) does not apply.
(3) The provisions of the Act on the Openness of Government Activities
(621/1999) apply in court to the extent not provided otherwise in the present
Act.
Section 3 - Definitions
(1) As used in the present Act:
(1) court proceedings refers to oral and written proceedings and to
deliberations by the court;
(2) oral proceedings refers to the main hearing, the preparatory session,
judicial review or other court proceedings where a party has the right to be
present or where someone is heard in person;
(3) written proceedings refers to written presentation or another stage of
court proceedings that is based solely on written trial documentation;
(4) deliberations by the court refers to the deliberations by the members of
the court and the referendary for the purpose of reaching a decision;
(5) trial document refers to a document referred to in section 5, subsections
1 and 2 of the Act on the Openness of Government Activities, which has
been submitted to the court or prepared in court for court proceedings;
however, notes or drafts prepared in court or other documents which the
draftsperson has not yet given for written presentation or other
consideration of a case are not trial documents.
(2) What is provided in this Act regarding a trial document applies
correspondingly to the publicity of an object.
Chapter 2 – Information regarding court proceedings
Section 4 – Publicity of basic information regarding court proceedings
Information regarding the court considering a case, the specific nature of a
case, the stages of the consideration of a case, and the time and place of oral
proceedings as well as the information necessary for identifying a party is
public. However, in the situations referred to in section 6 the court may order
that information regarding the identity of an injured party or an asylum seeker
shall be kept secret.
Section 5 – The time at which basic information regarding court
proceedings become public
(1) The basic information referred to above in section 4 regarding court
proceedings become public immediately, unless provided otherwise in
subsection 2.
(2) In a case concerning coercive measures referred to in chapter 5(a) of the
Coercive Measures Act (450/1987), a police measure referred to in section
32(b) of the Police Act (493/1995) or a customs measure referred to in section
20(f) of the Customs Act (1466/1994), where the person who is the subject of
the coercive measure or other measure need not be heard when considering the
claim, basic information does not become public until the latest time at which
the suspect in the offence or the subject of the coercive measure or other
measure is to be notified of the use of the coercive measure or other measure,
unless the court decides that the basic information becomes public at an
earlier stage.
Section 6 – Ordering that identity be kept secret
(1) The court may order that the following be kept secret:
(1) the identity of the injured party in a criminal case that concerns a
particularly sensitive aspect of his or her private life; or
(2) the identity of an asylum seeker in a case concerning taking into
custody, unless it is apparent that releasing the information would not
endanger the safety of the asylum seeker or of a person close to him or
her.
(2) However, on the request of the party in question the information referred to
in section 1 concerning his or her identity is public.
Chapter 3 – Trial documents
Section 7 – Publicity of trial documents
(1) A trial document is public after the time referred to in section 8, unless it is
to be kept secret in accordance with section 9 or unless the court orders it to
be kept secret in accordance with section 10.
(2) Every person has the right to receive information from a public trial
document.
Section 8 – The time at which a trial document becomes public
(1) Unless the secrecy of a trial document is provided for in or on the basis of
this Act, a trial document becomes public as follows:
(1) for a case being considered in the first court instance, a trial document
submitted to court other than in a criminal case referred to in paragraph
(2) becomes public when the case has been considered in oral proceedings
or, if no oral proceedings are to be held in the case, when a decision is
issued on the principal claim;
(2) a trial document submitted to court in the written proceedings referred
to in chapter 5(a) of the Criminal Procedure Act (689/1997) becomes
public when the consent of the defendant to consideration of the case in
such proceedings has arrived at the District Court;
(3) a trial document submitted to court in cases other than those referred
to in paragraph (1) becomes public when the court considering the case
has received it;
(4) a trial document containing the decision of the court becomes public
when it has been issued or it is made available to the parties;
(5) a presentation memorandum prepared in court for the members of the
court and a comparable other trial document drafted for the preparation of
a case becomes public when consideration of the case has been concluded
in the court in question;
(6) another trial document drafted in court becomes public when it has
been signed or confirmed in a corresponding manner.
(2) The court may order that a trial document referred to in subsection 1,
paragraph (1) or (2) becomes public at an earlier stage if it is apparent that
making the document public shall not cause detriment or suffering to
participants in the case or if there is a weighty reason for making the document
public.
(3) The court may order that a trial document referred to in subsection 1,
paragraph (3) or (6) becomes public at a stage later than provided, however, at
the latest during the oral proceedings in the case or, if no oral proceedings are
held in the case, at the latest when a decision is issued on the principal claim.
A condition for this is that making the trial document public earlier than
ordered by the court
(1) would probably cause detriment or suffering to a participant and there
is no weighty reason for making it public earlier than ordered by the court;
or
(2) would prevent the court from exercising its right to order on the secrecy
of the trial document.
Section 9 – Trial document that is to be kept secret
(1) A trial document shall be kept secret to the extent that it contains
(1) information which if made public would probably endanger the
external security of the State or cause significant damage or detriment to
the international relations of Finland or Finland’s ability to engage in
international cooperation;
(2) sensitive information regarding matters relating to the private life,
health, disability or social welfare of a person;
(3) information regarding the victim of an offence if providing the
information would violate the victim’s rights or offend his or her memory
or persons close to him or her;
(4) information regarding a forensic psychiatric examination of the mental
health of a person charged with an offence, a social inquiry report
regarding a young offender, a plan for the enforcement of juvenile
punishment, assessment of the suitability of community service as a
replacement for a sentence of imprisonment, a statement issued for the
purpose of the release proceedings of long-term prisoners or a criminal
record;
(5) contact information referred to in section 11(2)(7) or section 24(1)(31) of
the Act on the Openness of Government Activities; or
(6) information regarding the deliberations of the court.
(2) On the basis of a weighty public or private interest connected with the case
or on the request of the person whom the information concerns, the court may
decide that trial documents which are to be kept secret in accordance with the
provisions of subsection 1(2)-(5) are public in part or in full.
(3) The information referred to above in subsection 1(2) shall not however be
kept secret in a criminal case to the extent that it is essentially connected with
the act referred to in the charges or to its assessment under criminal law,
unless the court orders on the basis of section 10 that this is to be kept secret.
Section 10 – Order regarding secrecy
The court may, on the request of a party or also for a special reason, decide
that a trial document shall be kept secret to the extent necessary if it contains
information which is to be kept secret on the basis of the provisions of another
Act and revealing this information would probably cause significant detriment
or harm to the interests that said secrecy obligation provisions are to protect.
Section 11 – Period of secrecy
(1) The period of secrecy of a trial document to be kept secret as provided in
section 9(1)(2) and 9(1)(4) above is 60 years, and the period of secrecy of a trial
document to be kept secret as provided in section 9(1)(6) above is 80 years. The
period of secrecy of another trial document to be kept secret as provided in
section 9 is 25 years.
(2) The period of secrecy of the trial document ordered secret under section 10
above and of the decision ordered secret under section 24 is at most 60 years
when the order has been given in order to protect private life and at most 25
years when the order has been given on the basis of another reason.
(3) The period of secrecy is determined from the time that the case became
pending in court.
(4) If even after the end of the secrecy obligation, making a trial document
public would probably cause significant detriment to those interests which are
to be protected by the provisions or the order on the secrecy obligation, the
court that has last considered the principal claim may extend the period of
secrecy by at most 60 years on the basis of an application from the person
concerned by the information.
Section 12 – Right of a party to be informed
(1) Subject to the provisions of subsection 2, a party has the right to be
informed about the contents of trial documents other than public trial
documents.
(2) A party does not have the right referred to in subsection 1
(1) to contact information referred to in section 11(2)(7) of the Act on the
Openness of Government Activities;
(2) to trial documents prepared in the court, before the date referred to in
section 8;
(3) in a case concerning coercive measures referred to in chapter 5(a) of the
Coercive Measures Act, a police measure referred to in section 32(b) of the
Police Act or a customs measure referred to in section 20(f) of the Customs
Act, where the person who is the subject of the coercive measure or other
measure need not be heard when considering the claim,
(4) to trial documents to the extent that they contain information on the
deliberations of the court.
Section 13 – Methods of issuing a document
(1) The provisions of section 16 of the Act on the Openness of Government
Activities apply to the methods of issuing a trial document.
(2) However, information from a video recording or other comparable picture or
sound recording can be given only by providing the recording for inspection in
court if, considering the contents of the recording, there is cause to assume
that provision of the information in another manner could result in violation of
the privacy of the persons appearing in the recording.
Chapter 4 – Oral proceedings
Section 14 – Publicity of oral proceedings
(1) Oral proceedings in a case are public unless the court orders on the basis of
section 15 that the oral proceedings shall be held without the presence of the
public.
(2) Everyone has the right to be present at public proceedings in a case unless
provided otherwise in this or another Act.
(3) The court shall give notice of oral proceedings at the place where the court
session is held, at the latest when the proceedings begin, by a docket that
indicates the names of the parties with the exception of the name of the injured
party in a criminal case brought by the public prosecutor, the specified nature
of the case, the stage of the proceedings in the case, the time at which the oral
proceedings begin, the place of the proceedings and the composition of the
court when making a decision.
Section 15 – Closed proceedings
The court may, on the request of a participant in the case or also for a special
reason, decide that oral proceedings shall be held in full or to the necessary
extent without the presence of the public if:
1) public proceedings in the case would probably endanger the external
security of the State or cause significant damage or detriment to the
international relations of Finland or Finland’s ability to engage in
international cooperation;
(2) sensitive information regarding matters relating to the private life,
health, disability or social welfare of a person are presented in the case;
(3) a trial document that is to be kept secret on the basis of section 9 or
ordered to be kept secret on the basis of section 10 is presented in the
case or information that is to be kept secret on the basis of another Act is
to be revealed and its consideration in public would probably cause
significant detriment or harm to the interests that the provisions of the Act
are designed to protect;
(4) public proceedings could endanger the safety of an asylum seeker or of
someone close to him or her;
(5) a person below the age of 18 years is charged with an offence and
closed proceedings would not be in violation of an exceptionally important
public interest;
(6) a person below the age of 15 years or a person whose legal capacity is
limited is heard in the case; or
(7) in the case
(a) a person is called upon to express a matter or bring for review an
object or trial document, and the law provides the right to refuse to
express the matter or bring the object or trial document for review;
(b) a person is called upon to answer a question, and the person could
otherwise refuse to answer it; or
(c) the trial document to be presented contains a communication
between the defendant and a person who is related to him or her in
the manner referred to in chapter 17, section 20 of the Code of
Judicial Procedure or something on which the person referred to in
section 23 of said chapter may not testify in court proceedings or on
which the person referred to in section 24 may refuse to testify.
Section 16 – Publicity of coercive measures cases
(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, the provisions of this Act apply to
the publicity of court proceedings and trial documents in coercive measure
cases.
(2) The court may decide that oral proceedings concerning remand for trial, a
travel ban and the presentation of evidence before the first consideration of the
charges shall be held without the presence of the public, if the person
presenting the request for coercive measures requests this for reasons related
to the investigation, the suspect himself or herself requests this or the court
otherwise deems there to be reason for this. The case may be considered
against the request of the suspect in the presence of the public only for a
weighty reason.
(3) For the reasons mentioned in subsection 2, the trial documents that have
accumulated in the consideration of coercive measures or the receipt of
evidence before the first consideration of the charges may, with the exception of
the trial document containing the decision, be ordered to be kept secret at most
until the charges are considered or until the case is dismissed without
considering the merits.
(4) A case concerning coercive measures referred to in chapter 5(a) of the
Coercive Measures Act, a police measure referred to in section 32(b) of the
Police Act, or a customs measure referred to in section 20(f) of the Customs
Act, where the person who is the subject of the coercive measure or other
measure need not be heard when considering the claim, is considered and the
decision thereon is pronounced without the presence of the public. A trial
document containing a decision and other trial documents become public at
the latest time when the person suspected of the offence or the subject of the
coercive measure or other measure must be informed of the use of the coercive
measure or other measure, unless the court decides for a special reason that
the trial document becomes public at an earlier time.
Section 17 – Presence in closed proceedings
(1) In addition to the parties and their representatives and counsel, those
persons whose presence the court deems necessary may be present at closed
proceedings.
(2) When proceedings are ordered to be held without the presence of the public,
the presence of the public may be restricted only to the extent that this is
necessary in order to safeguard the interests to be protected.
Section 18 – Secrecy obligation
What is provided in section 23 of the Act on the Openness of Government
Activities applies to the secrecy and use of information revealed in closed
proceedings that is to be kept secret on the basis of this Act or on the basis of a
secrecy order issued on the basis of this Act. The secrecy obligation and the
prohibition against use apply to everyone present in the closed proceedings.
Section 19 – Presentation of classified information during open
proceedings
(1) Information that is to be kept secret on the basis of the provisions of section
9 or on the basis of a secrecy order issued on the basis of section 10 may be
presented orally or with auxiliary means in public proceedings to the extent
that this is necessary for the consideration of the case.
(2) The information referred to above in section 9(1)(5) may not be considered in
public unless there is a particularly weighty reason for this.
Section 20 – Restriction of the presence of the public
(1) The court may restrict the presence of the public during open proceedings if
this is necessary to protect a witness, another person to be heard or a party or
a person related to such person in the manner referred to in chapter 15,
section 10(2) of the Criminal Code (39/1889), against a threat to his or her life
or health. The chairperson may restrict the presence of the public in open
proceedings if this is necessary to avoid crowding.
(2) The court may prohibit the presence of a person below the age of 15 years in
open proceedings if his or her presence may be detrimental to him or her.
Section 21 – Recording of the oral proceedings
(1) In open proceedings, someone other than the court may take a photograph,
tape record and in another manner record and transfer video and audio signals
by technical means only with the permission of the chairperson and in
accordance with his or her instructions.
(2) Permission for recording before the beginning of consideration of the case or
when the decision of the court is pronounced may be granted if
(1) the recording does not cause significant detriment to the protection of
the privacy of a party or another person and it does not endanger his or
her safety; and
(2) there are no other weighty reasons comparable to those in paragraph 1
for refusing permission.
(3) Permission to record other parts of court proceedings may be granted if the
conditions provided in subsection 2 have been met and in addition the
recording causes no detriment to the undisturbed progress of the oral
proceedings and the participants in the court proceedings consent to the
recording.
Chapter 5 – The court decision
Section 22 – Publicity of the court decision
(1) The court decision is public unless the court orders on the basis of section
24 that it be kept secret.
(2) The parties and the public have the right to be present when the decision is
pronounced. The trial document containing the decision is public.
Section 23 – Secrecy of deliberations of the court
The deliberations and vote of the court shall be held without the presence of
the parties and the public. The contents of the deliberations shall be kept
secret.
Section 24 – Ordering that a decision be kept secret
(1) The court may order that the decision be kept secret to the necessary extent
if the decision contains
(1) information which is to be kept secret in accordance with section 9;
(2) information which has been ordered kept secret in accordance with
section 10; or
(3) information the secrecy of which was protected by the holding of oral
proceedings without the presence of the public.
(2) Also in such a case the conclusions of the decision and the legal provisions
applied are public. Unless the party in question requests otherwise, the court
may nonetheless order that the following be kept secret:
(1) the identity of the injured party in a criminal case if said case concerns
a particularly sensitive aspect of his or her private life; or
(2) the identity of an asylum seeker in a case concerning taking into
custody unless it is apparent that giving the information does not
endanger the safety of the asylum seeker or of someone close to him or
her.
Section 25 – Public report
A public report shall be prepared regarding the decision to be kept secret on
the basis of section 24(1), if the case has social significance or it has caused
considerable interest in public. The public report contains a general account of
the case and of the reasons for the decision. In addition, a public report of a
particularly sensitive offence involving the private life of a person shall be
published in a manner that does not reveal the identity of the injured party.
Section 26 – Information to be kept secret in a public decision
(1) Information referred to above in section 24(1) may be taken into the public
decision to the extent necessary to justify the decision.
(2) Information referred to above in section 9(1)(5) may not be taken into the
public decision unless there is a particularly weighty reason for this.
Section 27 – Informing a party of the decision
If the case has social significance or it has caused considerable interest in
public, and if necessary also otherwise, the court shall as far as it is able
ensure that the party is informed of the contents of the decision before the
public is informed of the document containing the decision.
Chapter 6 – Procedural provisions
Section 28 – Decision on the publicity of court proceedings
(1) A decision on the basis of this Act is made on request or when the court
deems that the making of a decision is necessary or if a third party requests
information regarding the contents of a trial document. A decision on the
publicity of a trial document other than one containing the decision of the
court may be made also after the court proceedings are no longer pending.
(2) After the court proceedings are no longer pending the court may decide, on
the request of a party or of the person concerned in the case, on the secrecy of
a trial document or a part thereof, only if said person could not have made the
request when the case was pending or there had been another justified reason
for failure to make the request.
(3) If so requested by the person requesting a trial document or basic
information regarding court proceedings, or by a person heard in connection
with such a request, the decision shall be made in writing in the composition
provided in section 29.
(4) The decision on the publicity of court proceedings shall be justified. A
written decision on the publicity of court proceedings shall be entered into the
records or a separate document shall be drafted on it.
Section 29 – Quorum
The court may make a decision on the basis of this Act in a composition of one
judge or in the composition which constitutes a quorum when the court
considers the principal claim. However, the court may decide on a decision to
be made in oral proceedings or on the publicity of oral proceedings only in the
composition in which the oral proceedings are held.
Section 30 – Hearing of a participant
(1) Before the court or its chairperson makes a decision on the basis of this
Act, the court or the chairperson shall reserve the person whose right is
affected by the matter an opportunity to be heard. However, no hearing need be
arranged if the hearing would cause unnecessary delay, taking into
consideration the nature of the case, and failure to hear the person would
probably not cause significant detriment or harm. In making the decision after
the court proceedings are no longer pending, a separate hearing is no longer
necessary unless there is a particular reason for this.
(2) A participant in the case need not be heard when the decision referred to in
section 8(3) is made.
Section 31 – Interim order
(1) The court may in pending court proceedings decide on the interim
restriction of the publicity of a trial document or oral proceedings without
hearing participants in the case, if it is necessary to make the decision at once
and publicity would prevent the court from exercising its right to decide on the
secrecy of a trial document or on the holding of oral proceedings without the
presence of the public.
(2) The final decision shall be made at the latest in the oral proceedings or, if
such proceedings are not held, when a decision is being made on the principal
claim.
Section 32 – Rehearing
(1) When court proceedings are pending or thereafter on the request of a party
or also for a special reason, the court may decide again on the publicity of
court proceedings or of a trial document not containing the decision of the
court, if the circumstances have changed after the court had previously
decided on the matter or there are otherwise weighty reasons for this.
(2) After court proceedings are no longer pending, the question of the publicity
of a trial document not containing the decision of the court may be considered
anew, if this is requested by a third party who is affected by the information
contained in the trial document, and he or she had not been able to give a
statement on the matter during the court proceedings.
(3) The competent court in a rehearing of a case is the court that is considering
or was the last to consider the principal claim.
Section 33 – Appeal
(1) A decision made by a court on the basis of this Act is subject to separate
ordinary appeal following the procedure for the decision of the court on the
principal claim. A decision on the publicity of oral proceedings is subject to
appeal only by a participant in the case.
(2) The court decision shall be followed regardless of appeal. If the seeking of
appeal would otherwise be frustrated, the court may when making its decision
order that the decision shall not be enforced before it has become legally final,
unless the appellate court orders otherwise.
(3) An interim order and the decision referred to in section 8(3) are not subject
to ordinary appeal.
Chapter 7 – Miscellaneous provisions
Section 34 – Penal provisions
Violation of the obligation provided in section 9 to keep a document secret or
the obligation ordered on the basis of section 10 or 24 to keep a document
secret, and violation of the secrecy obligation provided in section 18 and 23, is
punishable in accordance with chapter 38, section 1 or 2 of the Criminal Code,
unless the act is punishable in accordance with chapter 40, section 5 of the
Criminal Code.
Section 35 – Entry into force
This Act enters into force on 1 October 2007.