This contribution reviews the case-law of the Finnish courts applying the doctrine of consistent interpretation. Consistent interpretation is recognised as the most important way in which European Union (EU) law appears and is given effect before the national courts. However, Finnish writing on the subject emphasises the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) to the almost complete exclusion of national law. A small exception to this involves articles reviewing the case-law of the first years of EU membership. Overall, the case-law shows that the national courts follow ECJ jurisprudence quite closely. There may be cases at the margins where national principles appear in the reasoning which counterbalance EU-mandated conforming interpretations, but these are relatively few in number. Nevertheless, the case-law which is accessible is almost exclusively that of the courts of last instance. A complete review of the cases in which the principle is pleaded at first instance may reveal a different picture.
NOTES ON THE DATA
This contribution reviews key textbooks, citations in the EDILEX database containing references to consistent interpretation, and a significant but nevertheless incomplete set of judgments which contain such references. The material seeks to identify the cases cited in legal writing and supplement this with original research based on key words (full-text searches based, for example, on variants of the word “ interpret “ and “ EU “). The primary sources are accessed and compiled through the online database Finlex, and where they involve very early judgments of the Finnish Supreme Administrative Court (FSAC) reported only in summary form, supplemented by longer judgments where they are available through the premium service EDILEX. In addition, the EDILEX portal was used to identify writings that touched upon the principle. The cited judgments are from the Finnish Supreme Court (FSC), FSAC and the Market Court.
In addition to the case-law of the FSC and FSAC, there are a handful of cases from lower general courts. None of these shed more light on the national court ‘ s appreciation of the concept of conforming interpretation as such, also because the electronically published summaries at best mention which provisions are used in arriving at a decision on conforming interpretation.