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Concepts and definitions


Mode of appeal against a decision of a court or an administrative authority that is not yet final.

Application for re-trial

Application for re-trial is a mode of appeal against a judgment by default. A defendant against whom a judgment by default has been issued has the right to appeal against the decision within 30 days of being served with it. In this event, the matter is taken up for a hearing, so that it can be dealt with in detail and all evidence can be admitted.

Case processing time

Case processing time refers to the time elapsed until the case has been decided. The time is counted from the day the case was filed to the day of the decision.

Civil matter

Civil matters are disputes between private persons or enterprises which are settled impartially in a court of justice. Civil matters may deal with compensation for damages, annulment of purchase or validity of contracts. District Courts also decide on undisputed demands for payment and evictions.

Commencement of proceedings

Proceedings in a civil matter or a criminal matter commence and the case becomes pending in a general court when the application for a summons is filed with the registry of the court. In administrative judicial matters, the proceedings commence and the case becomes pending when e.g. the appeal document is filed with the registry of the administrative court.


The party against whom a case is brought. The Finnish term "vastaaja" (defendant) was earlier used only in civil matters and in criminal matters concerning minor offences, but it can now be used in all civil and criminal matters.

Judgment by default

A judgment by default, or a biased judgment, must be issued in a case in which settlement is allowed if the defendant is absent from the hearing or has not provided the requested written response detailing his/her response to the demands.

Judgment phase

The court procedure in civil law cases is divided into two phases, preparation and main hearing. Preparation is further divided into written preparation and oral preparation during a preparatory session.

Petitionary matter

A petitionary matter is a matter in which a court's authorisation is requested for some action or the listing of some action into a public register. A petitionary matter is instituted by way of petition or notification. Petitionary matters are resolved at the office of a district court if no-one opposes the petition or, if the parties disagree, in a district court hearing.


A party who brings a civil matter to court. The term may also be used for an injured party who institutes the private prosecution of a criminal matter in court.

Work account

The work account refers to cases pending during the year. It shows cases transferred from the previous year, cases which have arrived during the year, solved cases, and cases transferred to the following year. Cases transferred from the previous year have been instituted before the statistical year. Cases transferred to the following year have arrived during the statistical year or earlier and have not been decided yet.

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Decisions by district courts in civil cases [e-publication].
ISSN=2342-2408. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 3.12.2023].
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