Review of penalty judgments

The review of penalty judgments is a special duty that only the Chancellor of Justice carries out in Finland. Penalty judgments imposed by the district courts are checked by random sampling. The review process concerns judgments to imprisonment.

The review of penalty judgments is based on a sample pre-determined by the Deputy Chancellor of Justice and made in the Ritu criminal sentencing software maintained by the Legal Register Centre, to which the Office of the Chancellor of Justice has user rights. The review is done manually by the Office of the Chancellor of Justice. The review is focused on information corresponding to the operative part of the judgment and enables detecting any errors in individual judgments.

It is not possible to detect all individual errors made by the courts in a system based on random sampling. However, the system effectively highlights any recurring and general errors and, in some cases, serious one-off errors.

As a consequence of an observed error, the Chancellor of Justice may issue a reprimand, a statement or, in more serious cases, an order to initiate actions against the relevant official.  In practice, issuing a statement is the most usual consequence. In addition, an error may in some cases lead to submitting a proposal for the revision of the judgment to the Supreme Court. Such a proposal is usually made when the error is considered to have caused harm or damage to the defendant.