European Commission

 

Enforcement fiche for Finland



I. ADMINISTRATIVE ENFORCEMENT
Which administrative mechanisms are available to enforce the UCP Directive?

In Finland, the Directive is implemented by the Finnish Law on Consumer Protection Act of 1978 ("Consumer Protection Act"). According to the Consumer Protection Act, Regional Administrative Offices may impose prohibitions under Section 16 of the Act in matters involving practices in violation of the provisions governing the disclosure of the price, if the illegality of the practice is manifest and the practice of compliance with said provisions has been established in similar cases. Decisions of the Regional Administrative Offices are not open to appeal. Traders may lodge appeals against prohibitions imposed under the first paragraph with the Market Court within fourteen days of being informed of the decision. After this time, the decision becomes final. The State Provincial Offices may reinforce prohibitions by a penalty. The level of penalties to be paid shall be determined by the Market Court. State Provincial Offices must reserve traders an opportunity to be heard before imposing prohibitions under the first paragraph. State Provincial Offices must issue written decisions of any prohibitions imposed under the first paragraph and ensure that the interested parties are informed of said decisions.

Who can file administrative complaints?

Administrative complaints can be filed by every natural or legal person.

Do any specific procedural requirements apply to filing administrative complaints?

A complaint shall be made in writing and submitted to the Regional Administrative Office.

Do the administrative authorities have an obligation to investigate the complaint?

Yes.

Are there any specific requirements regarding the provision of evidence to the competent authorities?

The Consumer Protection Act does not contain such requirement. In administrative proceedings, the procedure is conducted in writing and therefore no witnesses are usually heard.

II. ENFORCEMENT THROUGH COURT ACTION
Which court actions are available to enforce the UCP Directive?

The general enforcement of the Consumer Protection Act is handled by the Market Court as the first instance and by the Supreme Court as the second and highest instance in Finland. The Market Court handles any civil court actions concerning violations of the Consumer Protection Act. In addition, a general claim for civil damages can be filed before the competent civil courts.

Who can start a court action?

Court action can be initiated by a natural person or a legal entity such as a competitor. The Consumer Protection Act explicitly allows the Consumer Ombudsman to initiate a procedure even without individual interest in the case.

Can court actions be initiated by competitors?

Yes.

Can the case be handled through an accelerated procedure?

The Market Court may give an interim injunction in a short period of time but the definitive decision in the case is made in a regular procedure. There is no accelerated procedure available in the Market Court,

Are there any specific requirements regarding the provision of evidence to the court?

The Consumer Protection Act does not contain any provision on this matter. Consequently, the general rules on evidence as laid down in the Finnish Code of Judicial Conduct are applicable.

III. SANCTIONS
What are the possible civil sanctions and remedies for the infringement of the UCP provisions?

According to the Consumer Protection Act, a trader may be prohibited from continuing or repeating the use of any practice that violates the provisions of the Act or any decrees issued on the basis of the same, or a practice comparable to the same. Prohibitions shall be reinforced by a penalty of a fine. If a particular reason for this exists, prohibitions may also be imposed on a person employed by a trader as per the first paragraph or on an agent. In addition, a competent civil court can award damages in the framework of a claim for civil damages.

What are the possible criminal sanctions for the infringement of the UCP provisions?

Infringement of the UCP provisions adopted in the Consumer Protection Act may be regarded as a marketing offence or a consumer protection offence in accordance with the Consumer Protection Act and the Penal Code. The trader in violation of these provisions can be ordered to pay a fine (the amount varying between EUR 8,500 - 850,000).

What are the possible administrative sanctions for the infringement of the UCP provisions?

The Regional Administrative Offices may reinforce any prohibitions by a penalty. However, the level of penalties to be paid shall be determined by the Market Court.

What are the contractual consequences of an administrative order or a judgement relating to an unfair commercial practice on an individual transaction?

The Market Court may order the trader on whom the prohibition is imposed or the trader who commissioned or carried out the illegal marketing practice to rectify the violation by a set deadline if the practice is deemed to cause obvious harm to consumers. The order may be reinforced by a penalty. Otherwise an individual transaction is not affected by a decision, unless the consumer in question is a party to the procedure. If a consumer is a party to the procedure, his contract may be declared as null and void as a result of the decision declaring the violation of the Consumer Protection Act.

How can consumers get redress/compensation (e.g. through collective actions)?

In Finland, the Consumer Ombudsman is given the right to a class action on behalf of a certain group of consumers. Consumers may also initiate individual legal proceedings in a general court.

Can the administrative authorities or the courts require the publication of their decisions?

In Finland, the decisions of the Market Court and administrative courts are public by nature. They may also require that the trader in question publishes the decision and the rectifying act the trader is ordered to do.

IV. OTHER TYPES OF ENFORCEMENT
Are there any self-regulatory enforcement systems in your jurisdiction that deal with aspects of the UCP Directive?

No.

Are there any mediating services that deal with aspects of the UCP Directive (e.g., an ombudsman)?

In connection with the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority, there is a Consumer  Disputes Board that handles cases between consumers and traders. These proceedings are conducted in writing, they are free of charge and no legal assistance is required. However, the board is not authorized to give any binding decisions but recommendations only. However, as the names of the traders who refuse to comply with the board's recommendations are published, the decisions are mostly complied with.