The position of Chancellor of Justice was established in late 18th century, when Finland was still part of the Swedish kingdom. Charles XII of Sweden established the public office of the King’s Supreme Ombudsman in 1713. The title was renamed the Chancellor of Justice in 1719. The Chancellor of Justice was accountable to the King and was responsible for ensuring that the law was observed and that the authorities fulfilled their obligations. The Chancellor of Justice also dealt with complaints made by citizens.

In 1809, Finland was annexed to the Russian Empire as an autonomous Grand Duchy. At that time, Finland’s legal order continued to be based on the constitutional provisions and other legislation of the Swedish period. The duties of the Chancellor of Justice were assigned to the new office of the Procurator, who assisted the Governor-General in supervising compliance with the law.

When Finland became independent in 1917, the title of Procurator was reverted to that of Chancellor of Justice and the Deputy Procurator became the Deputy Chancellor of Justice. At the same time, the independence and powers of the Chancellor of Justice to supervise the Government’s actions were also strengthened in accordance with the constitution valid during the Swedish rule. After Finland gained independence, the country’s first Chancellor of Justice was Pehr Evind Svinhufvud, who later became the third President of the Republic of Finland and served as the State Regent of Finland in 1918, i.e. the temporary head of state (holder of the highest authority).

The basic provisions concerning the Chancellor of Justice were incorporated into the Constitution Act of Finland in 1919. In the same year, the position of Parliamentary Ombudsman was established. Since then, Finland has had two supreme guardians of the law: the Chancellor of Justice in the Government and the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

Today, the basic provisions on the duties of the Chancellor of Justice, the Deputy Chancellor of Justice and the substitute for the Deputy Chancellor of Justice are a part of the Finnish Constitution, which came into force in 2000.

An old black and white drawing of procurator Matthias Calonius.