Frequently asked questions
Against whom can I file a complaint with the Chancellor of Justice?
A complaint may be filed against any Finnish authority, civil servant or other persons/bodies assigned to carry out public duties.
Such authorities include, among others:
- State agencies and offices
- Municipal bodies, such as local governments, boards and committees
Civil servants include, for example:
- Distraint officers
- Municipal managers
- Building inspectors
- Comprehensive school teachers
- Public health care physicians
Other persons/bodies assigned to carry out public duties include, for example, unemployment funds and insurance companies when managing statutory compensations, support benefits and pensions, or private companies from which municipalities purchase health care services.
Supervision of parliamentary proceedings or the actions of the Members of Parliament is not within the scope of the authority of the Chancellor of Justice.
Can I file a complaint by myself or do I need the help of a lawyer?
You can file your complaint by yourself, written in free form. There is no need for assistance from a lawyer or legal advisor. More information concerning the process for filing a complaint can be found online under the heading Filing a complaint.
Can I write up my complaint by hand?
A complaint may be written by hand. The only stipulation is that the handwriting must be legible.
Does the investigation of a complaint cost something?
The investigation of a complaint is free of charge for the complainant.
How old can a matter be that I am filing a complaint about?
Without a weighty reason, the Chancellor of Justice will not investigate matters that are over two years old.
Will my complaint be made public?
The process for handling a complaint is bound by the laws governing the publicity of actions by the authorities. Generally speaking, matters of complaint are made public, at the latest, once a decision has been made on the matter. According to law, the rule of confidentiality always concerns, for example, information about the complainant’s health status or social benefits. The name of the complainant will become available to the subject of the complaint when the subject is heard in response to the complaint.
The complainant's name may be kept secret if providing that information could jeopardize conducting the supervision of legality in the matter. The complainant's name may also be kept secret from the subject of the complaint on a case-by-case basis, if a very important public or private interest so requires.
Prior to issuing a decision on any matter, the publicity of the complaint documentation will be considered separately for each case. Decisions are published on the website in anonymised form.
How long does it take to process a complaint?
The duration of the process depends on the nature of the complaint in question. If the subject of the complaint is not within the scope of the authority of the Chancellor of Justice, the complainant shall be informed of this as soon as possible. The average time for processing a complaint is slightly over two months.
What documentation should I include with my letter of complaint?
The complaint will be handled faster if all relevant documents are filed along with the letter of complaint. If you are filing a complaint on behalf of another person/body, you should include a power of attorney.
How can I find out what phase of the handling process my complaint is in?
You can enquire about the handling phase concerning your complaint from the registry at the Office of the Chancellor of Justice (tel. +358 (0)2951 62902) or from the presenting officer handling your complaint.
Can I withdraw my complaint?
A complaint may be withdrawn, but it must be done in writing.
In which languages can I file a complaint?
The Office of the Chancellor of Justice serves its customers in both Finnish and Swedish. Complainants may also file a complaint in the Sámi language.
With whom do I file my complaint, the Chancellor of Justice or the Parliamentary Ombudsman?
You can file your complaint with either the Chancellor of Justice or the Parliamentary Ombudsman, since their duties and authority are primarily the same.
The division of the duties of the Chancellor of Justice and the Parliamentary Ombudsman is prescribed by law. For this reason, the Chancellor of Justice does not generally handle complaints that concern the Defence Forces. The Chancellor of Justice does not either handle complaints that concern deprivation of freedom or institutions to which a person has been taken against his/her will. The Chancellor of Justice transfers these types of cases to the Parliamentary Ombudsman for resolution.
Can I file concurrent complaints with both the Chancellor of Justice and the Parliamentary Ombudsman?
The Chancellor of Justice and Parliamentary Ombudsman will not simultaneously investigate the same matter. The complaint will generally be investigated by the office that first received the complaint.
Can I file a complaint with the Chancellor of Justice about a matter that is open for appeal under another authority?
The Chancellor of Justice does not generally investigate a complaint concerning a matter that is presently being handled by a court of law or other authority, nor regarding any matter for which an appeal has been sought or which is still open for appeal.
Can the Chancellor of Justice reverse the decision of an authority or a court ruling?
No, he cannot.
Can the Chancellor of Justice change the decision of another authority?
No, he cannot.
The Deputy Chancellor of Justice has issued a decision concerning my complaint. Can I still write about the same matter to the Chancellor of Justice?
The Chancellor of Justice will not reprocess any matter that has been decided upon by the Deputy Chancellor of Justice. In practice, the Deputy Chancellor of Justice makes the decisions regarding the majority of the complaints. He independently makes decisions on matters over which he has authority.
Can I file a complaint to the Chancellor of Justice about the same matter if I am dissatisfied with the decision of the Parliamentary Ombudsman?
The supervisory authorities do not supervise the activities of one another. If the Parliamentary Ombudsman has investigated the complaint, a complaint concerning the same matter will no longer be reinvestigated by the Chancellor of Justice without an especially weighty reason.
Do I have to be a Finnish citizen to file a complaint?
The right to file a complaint is not bound by citizenship.