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Reimbursement of Legal Fees and Costs in Civil Litigation

in Finland

The reimbursement of legal fees and costs in civil litigation is governed by the Finnish Court Proceedings Act ("Oikeudenkäymiskaari"). The general principle is that the losing party shall reimburse the winning party for that party's "reasonable" legal fees and costs of the proceedings. In the case the case is decided partly in favor of the other party a partial reimbursement takes place, and in the event there isn't any clear loser each party bears its own costs.

Further, the court has the possibility to adjust the amount to be reimbursed to an amount the court considers reasonable in light of the circumstances of the case.

Attention needs to be paid to the fact that legal provisions on the amount or on how to calculate legal fees do not exist. As a consequence thereof legal counsel is provided and assessed on the amount of work done and the difficulty of the case. In practice this means that legal counsel is provided on the time spent and mostly invoiced by the hour varying from approximately 150 - 350€/hour. This is applicable irrespective on the interest in dispute; thus, in cases with smaller financial interest the cost can easily exceed the amount in dispute.

The above does not apply in the cases where the claimant obtains a judgment in default because the defendant does not respond. In these cases the costs are determined by a separate decree limiting the reimbursement to about three hundred euros.

It should be noted that the Finnish courts itself do not charge but nominal administrative charges of less than two hundred euros for the whole instance.