The number of criminal cases and extensive civil cases pending in district courts, as well as their processing times, remained at a higher level than before the pandemic. The number of cases pending in appellate courts has also increased slightly in recent years, while the number of cases pending in administrative courts has decreased.
"The key challenge for the judicial system is still the long-term resource shortage due to inadequate basic funding,
which has led to generally unreasonable processing times," said Riku Jaakkola, Director General of the Court Administration.
According to the Court Administration's calculations, as the largest actor in the Ministry of Justice's administration, the judiciary needs a permanent additional funding of approximately 30 million euros annually for personnel expenses. In addition, to alleviate the backlog and speed up processing times, the judiciary requires approximately 8 million euros in annual additional funding for the years 2023-2026.
"It is also important to remember to take care of the training and well-being of the staff working in the judiciary. Development is only possible with skilled, professional, and well-being personnel," added Director General Jaakkola.
Average processing times are increasing in general courts
In 2022, a total of 511,715 cases (2021: 545,327) were brought to district courts. There were 375,039 cases brought with a summary application, or 32,000 (-8%) fewer cases than the previous year. The number of cases decreased by a total of 33,612 cases, which is almost entirely explained by the change in the number of summary cases. In 2022, there were 51,566 criminal cases brought to district courts. The average processing time for criminal cases was 6.0 months (2021: 5.8 months). Until 2012, the processing times for criminal cases were under 4 months, and in recent years, the processing time has increased slightly almost annually. At the end of 2022, there were 5,532 criminal cases pending for over 12 months (2021: 4,658). The proportion of cases pending for a long time was 21% of all pending criminal cases (2021: 20%).
In appellate courts, 7,899 cases (2021: 8,226) were brought in. The average processing time was 6.5 months. Processing times have increased slightly every year over the past five years. The processing time was 5.5 months in 2017. The number of pending cases increased by about 50 cases from the previous year.
Long processing times also in administrative courts
There were 17,365 cases (2021: 17,479 cases) brought to administrative courts, which is about 100 cases less than in 2021. Of these cases, 24% were immigration cases (2021: 24%), which also include asylum cases. In 2022, there were a total of 1,218 asylum cases brought to administrative courts, which is only slightly less (-2%) than the previous year (2021: 1,248 cases).
In administrative courts, processing times for environmental and construction cases are particularly worrying. However, the situation should improve with additional funding for the so-called green transition.
The average processing time in administrative courts was 9.9 months (2021: 9.6 months). The longest delays were in complaints related to the environment (19.3 months), construction (13.2 months), self-government (13.1 months), and taxation (12.5 months). The average processing time for social and health care cases was 6.4 months. The average processing time for child protection cases was 9.2 months.