Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Second Edition
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Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Second Edition

Edited by Jan M. Smits

Written by leading authorities in their respective fields, the contributions in this accessible book cover and combine not only questions regarding the methodology of comparative law, but also specific areas of law (such as administrative law and criminal law) and specific topics (such as accident compensation and consideration). In addition, the Encyclopedia contains reports on a selected set of countries’ legal systems and, as a whole, presents an overview of the current state of affairs.
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Chapter 28: Finland

Pia Letto- Vanamo


Finland (Suomi) is one of the five Nordic countries. Until 1809 Finland was a part of the Swedish Kingdom. Since 1809 until independence (1917) the country was part of the Russian Empire with an autonomous position (the Grand Duchy of Finland), where Swedish laws were still in force. For historical reasons, the country has two national languages, Finnish and Swedish. Usually, the Finnish legal system is regarded as a civil law system – but with its own, Nordic peculiarities (see Zweigert and Kötz, 1998, pp. 277–85): a modern civil law codification is missing, while legal science (jurisprudence) emerged much later than in other Western European countries. Also missing is the early wave of Roman law influence (that of the ius commune). The first university was founded in Finland in the 17th century, and legal science is a phenomenon of the 19th century. But when national legal science emerged during the 19th century, it happened mostly by adapting German legal ideas, quite often also by translating texts by German legal authors. And these were also the channels for the influence of Roman law-based terminology and systematization.

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