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 application maintained by the Legal Register Centre, to which the Office of the Chancellor of Justice has user rights. The review process is manual and concerns the information of the operative part of the judgment at the initial phase. The review may detect errors in individual judgments. The Office of the Chancellor Justice does not have access to systems or technical tools that would automatically detect errors.

It is not possible to detect all errors made in enforcing the law 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.

Penalty judgments are selected for the review process based on random sampling from a dataset consisting of the operative parts of judgments submitted to the Legal Register Centre. The judgments are reviewed to ensure that certain, absolute requirements laid down in law are met. The dataset influences on a case-by-case basis what kinds of errors are ultimately detected in the judgments.