The Faculty of Law at the University of Turku is a progressive research community. Enhancing traditional approaches while also developing new ones through research is one of the Faculty's top priorities.
The Faculty carries out cutting-edge research in all fields of law, and in a variety of areas spanning from law and gender, sociology of law, information and technology to algorithms and artificial intelligence. Our community benefits from an international environment, including researchers from various nationalities. We aim at contributing to the social and legal development in Finland through national and international publications and by providing research-based teaching. The Faculty of Law has also been successful in the subject rankings of the QS World University Rankings and several members of the staff hold domestic and international scientific positions of trust and act as scientific assessors. Our researchers also participate in drafting of legislation and the ongoing legal and societal discussion in Finland.
The research projects at the Faculty have received national and international funding. Some projects focus on purely legal issues, while others are interdisciplinary. Several research projects are involved in collaboration with other faculties, universities or partners.
Research projects and environments
The purpose of the project is to simplify cross-border succession whenever the applicable law to the whole of the succession grants a right in rem on immoveable property which is unknown to the law of the Member State in which such right is invoked. In these circumstances, article 31 of European Succession Regulation establishes adaptation “to the closest equivalent right in rem under the law of that State, taking into account the aims and the interests pursued by the specific right in rem and the effects attached to it”. This is a difficult task, since legal professionals must have knowledge of rights in rem of two different applicable laws, in order to decide its conversion, which may be unforeseen by the parties. The project will analyse and develop tools granting legal certainty on the adaptation of rights in rem within cross-border successions. The Project aims to establish a system of equivalence between the rights in rem, so that the correspondent right in rem of lex situs to the right provided for by lex successionis can be anticipated. This equivalence shall be provided through the use of an e-justice platform, which can advise authorities dealing with the succession to find the correspondent right in rem granted by the law applicable to the succession. In order to achieve it, the Project will analyse rights in rem of Member States, retrieving a characterisation of each right in rem through unified criteria supporting the indication (not biding) of the equivalent right in rem. Additionally, it shall provide an explanation, in English, of its aims and purposes, helping the authorities dealing with the succession to find the closest equivalent to the right entitled by lex succesionis. The Project aims to include such e-justice platform in the existent networks of cooperation between the authorities of Member States dealing with the succession — specially Land Registry authorities — creating a cooperation method between authorities of different Member States.
Project leader: Tuulikki Mikkola
Algoritmic Agencies and Law (AALAW) is a research project funded by the Academy of Finland. The project started in September 2018 and will run until August 2022.
The AALAW research horizon builds on a hypothesis of profound discontinuity. Algorithms will introduce non-human agency onto the regulatory playing field. As legal imaginations are inherently humanist offshoots of Cartesian thought, the traditional regulatory modalities seem bound to lose their grip.
We aim to make sense of what happens when these new agents and law collide, interact and interfere with each.
The project moves in three domains. It addresses criminal law, private law and legal theory impact of algorithmic agents, seeking to anticipate the transformation the introduction of algorithmic agencies will trigger in each of the domains.
Project leader: Mika Viljanen
Additional information in the project's blog
The Faculty of Law is involved in a Pan-European BIGPICTURE project, which aims to create a large database of digitized tissue sample glass slides for the development of artificial intelligence-based diagnostics and for scientific research. The project will create the necessary information system infrastructure and address legal and ethical challenges and solutions to ensure patient privacy. The project involves both public and private research institutions and companies.
The total budget of the project is almost 70 million euros. Only a small part of this will be received in Turku, EUR 57,000, but we will play a key role in investigating the legal challenges of this significant initiative. The ELSI (ethical, legal and societal issues) section is coordinated by the European research infrastructure consortium BBMRI ERIC and carried out in collaboration with the University of Milan-Bicocca in Italy and KU Leuven in Belgium. From Finland, the project also involves the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District, CSC.
More information: Tom Southerington
Critical Inquiry into Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) working for Sustainability (CIDS) project investigates whether DAOs as new digital beings are like virtual states, global cooperatives or non-governmental organisations. We ask whether those DAOs that advocate public goods, such as refugee assistance, saving of whales, equal finance etc are really up to the job. We study what they do, how they do it and whether they add value to global and local grassroots activism for sustainable development. We all need maps to orient in the digital world or 'cyberspace'. The project informs decision-making, encounters and governance of the DAOs that may support grassroots interest, democratic engagement and add to the available funding towards achieving SDGs; the SDG-oriented DAOs may offer avenues to boost local communities in the pandemic era.The project supports understanding of the virtual reality and enables us to approach it with understanding instead of fear of the unknown.
Project leader: Outi Korhonen
The Digital Disruption of Industry (DDI) -research consortitum (2015-2020) is funded by the Strategic Research Council (SRC) at the Academy of Finland. The multi-disciplinary consortium consists of ten research groups from Aalto University, ETLA, Lappeenranta University of Technology, VTT Technical Research Center of Finland and University of Turku. The consortium is led by Professor Martti Mäntylä from Aalto University.
The research group from the Faculty of Law at the University of Turku is led by Tuomas Mylly.
Additional information on the consortium's web site
Ever-increasing availability of digital technologies, from smart cars to various applications under the umbrella of Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, is shaping today’s society. The digital technologies produce huge amount of data, which could be used in myriad of ways. EU has recognised the potential of economic growth related to data-driven economy. In this scenario data is esteemed as a new currency or oil. Yet, to benefit from the potentials of data-driven economy there is a need to provide access to data. EU’s principles for fair data establish the access to data as a default rule as access is the driver of value. Likewise, in the stakeholder dialogues related to European data space it was ascertained that industry is not in favour of creating new ownership or exclusive rights over data but consider contractual freedom and access to information a good foundation for creation of new data-based business models and innovation. At present, competition and innovation boosting justifications seem to direct towards availability and openness of information.
In contrast to openness is the EU’s recent implementation of the Trade Secret Directive (TSD). When drafting the TSD, the scenarios related to data-driven economy were not explicitly considered. However, the provisions of the TSD can be interpreted from the perspectives related to the competition and innovation, as these also form justifications for the trade secret regime. Open concepts in the TSD can be applied in a manner which take into account developments in the society, including technological developments. This flexibility enables interpretations that are fit to the needs of today’s data-driven society.
The aim of this research is to analyse the ambivalent nature of European trade secret protection between the intellectual property and unfair competition paradigms from the perspective of data-driven economy. Previous research recognises that justifications for trade secret protection do not lie on one common ground. Conceptually, these elements, based on diverging justification grounds, can be understood as divergent parts of the trade secret chimera. This research aims at dissecting these elements and analyse ways to interpret the provisions of the TSD in a manner that would be most suitable for the data-driven economy and to the needs for competition and innovation. Research utilises comparative materials from US and Japan. Within Europe the analysis covers UK and Finland.
Project leader: Ulla-Maija Mylly
The aim of the ETAIROS project is to study and develop practical processes and frameworks that help public, private and third-sector organizations enhance the ethical sustainability of applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) and associated technologies.
The project will contribute to concrete ethical design and assessment frameworks and tools as well as general governance principles, which will support public, private and third-sector actors’ ethical self-regulation and governance.
Project leader: Mika Viljanen
IDA examines the tension between digitalization, data-driven media, the possibilities of, and the rights to intimacy. As work practices and personal connections are increasingly organized through digital devices, applications, and services that both generate and leak data, considerations of intimacy then need to extend to the infrastructural roles that digital technologies play in the functionality of private, social, occupational, and collective lives. It is further crucial to analyze how vulnerabilities connected to digitalization – from the difficulties of privacy management to sexual grooming, harassment, and abuse – impact people differently according to their age, gender, ethnicity, and occupational status, and what tactics of resilience and protection they necessitate.
Bringing together scholars from media and communication studies, computer science, law, design research, game studies, and gender studies, and combining qualitative inquiry with computational and doctrinal analysis, IDA produces new knowledge and public understanding on the impact of data-driven culture and develops ethical and socially sustainable data practices together with stakeholders ranging from public institutions to NGOs, civic, professional organizations, and communication agencies. IDA critically examines datafication in current digital economy, asking how it is experienced, made sense of, and resisted, and what socially sustainable solutions remain available.
The multidisciplinary consortium first analyses the impact of data-driven culture for people’s different social roles and relations as citizens, immigrants, family members, parents, adolescents, caretakers, employees, entrepreneurs, creators, friends, and sexual partners, and the intimacies and vulnerabilities that this gives rise to. Second, it explores and develops democratic ways of regulating, managing, protecting, sharing, and using personal data. Third, IDA inquires how intimacy functions as a contested resource in data-driven creative labour, public careers, and social connections. In legal research, IDA focuses on themes such as intimacy, privacy, data protection, data, digitization, media, information society democracy, freedom of speech or hate speech. Our researchers investigate, inter alia, privacy aspects of wearable technology, data protection in health and wellness applications, legal framework of artificial intelligence and privacy related vulnerabilities occurring in our IP system.
Project leader: Anne Alvesalo-Kuusi
Project researchers: Heidi Härkönen
The research consortium JuRe explores the ways in which the political, legal and administrative systems in Finland, and possibly elsewhere, can guarantee that the post-pandemic recovery happens in a fair and justified manner. The consortium consists of five WPs, bringing together research on international relations, political science, political history, public administration and law, constitutional law in particular, as well as the country’s three leading universities, Helsinki, Tampere and Turku. JuRe’s research enables a distinct consultative role in the political, legislative and administrative processes that can enhance a sense of just recovery among the country’s citizens.
Consortium PI: Janne Salminen
The Academy of Finland PostDoc project JuDiCe paves the way for a new framework of justice combining the data and the spatial/urban dimension.
The hypothesis of JuDiCe is that we often remain unaware of technologies’ silent working and of the data that start living an independent life (the “data-double”), after being seamlessly collected via personal devices and/or recording apparatuses on the streets. Still, technology’s silent working and the “data-double” do affect people’s identities, behaviours and movements in the urban space in a way that requires ethical attention and commitment. Specifically, JuDiCe asks how (in)justice occurs in blended (physical/digital) urban spaces.
In terms of impact, JuDiCe’s ambition is to respond to the future problems of justice generated in the blended (physical/digital) urban environments.
JuDiCe is developed across science of space (geography) and justice (law) and brings together in a novel way the human, the spatio-legal, and the technological dimensions.
Project leader: Postdoctoral Researcher Miriam Tedeschi
Lakitutka is an open access research infrastructure that pools together all official documents produced during the legislative process of individual bills, from the preliminary preparation phase to enactment. Lakitutka will revolutionize the use of legislative data in research, as it contains state-of-the-art tools to manage, organize, and analyze legislative data. The infrastructure is suitable for utilization in countless different types of studies conducted in multiple scientific fields, as well as multidisciplinary research.
Lakitutka promotes the understanding of the legislative process by facilitating the use of legislative documents. Lakitutka makes legislative documents truly accessible for both researchers and citizens alike, aiming to democratize information that impacts everyone.
The infrastructure is currently in the beta-testing phase. The beta-version was developed with university funding and Lakitutka is currently being developed as a part of the Silent agents affected by legislation (SILE) -project, funded by the Strategic Research Council, established within the Academy of Finland.
Project leader: Anne Alvesalo-Kuusi
Law, space and justice is a social justice-oriented multidisciplinary research environment at the Turku Law Faculty. Gathering researchers from a variety of backgrounds such as law and society, legal geography, feminist and queer theory, we host discussions, workshops, seminars and other events. We strive to push disciplinary boundaries and to create a caring academic space where multiple perspectives and experiences are welcome.
More information: Miriam Tedeschi
The LEXSECURE project studies the legal foundations of global supply chains and what could be done to ensure secure supply of critical goods, such as medical supplies, in times of global crises. Today's system of transnational trade is based on the belief that state interference should be avoided to allow free and efficient trade. Nonetheless, several exceptions are built into the system to allow states and private actors to derogate from this starting point in case of internal crises. If global trade is instead struck by a system-wide crisis, such as global refugee streams, climate change, or a pandemic like COVID-19, then there is a danger that each state's uncoordinated and indiscriminate use of available exceptions disrupts the system more than is reasonable and prevents critical supplies from reaching those most in need. LEXSECURE maps the system of exceptions in transnational trade and evaluates possibilities for developing secure supply chains to counter future crises.
Project leader: Jaakko Salminen
This pioneering project investigates legal literacy, here defined as knowledge of and skills in law and legal procedure, among ordinary people (men, women and children) in Finland in the long nineteenth century.
The main research questions are:
- Who were the non-professional “legal literates” of Finnish rural and urban society?
- What legal knowledge and skills and how much had they learned?
- How had they acquired their legal literacy? What law books or popular legal manuals did they have and use?
- What kind of role did the legal literates have in their community? How did legal literacy contribute to their social mobility and personal economy? Did it create tensions?
- What changes can be discerned during the period and why? How are they linked to societal change?
The project investigates and analyses ordinary people with a sliding scale of practical legal knowledge and skills. These people acted as intermediaries and interpreters in their communities between the learned world and the daily rural or urban life of the common people.
The research focuses mainly on the countryside, but also towns and certain special groups, such as midwives, will be investigated. The research period is ca. 1750-1920, roughly from the latter part of the eighteenth century, the last decades of the Swedish rule, until Finnish independence.
Project leader: Mia Korpiola
Additional information on the project's web site
Mobile Futures is an interdisciplinary, action-oriented research consortium that strives to promote a fair and inclusive society through focusing on integration as a trust-based, two-way process. The consortium’s guiding principle is that a fair and inclusive society is more resilient when facing the challenges of demographic changes.
The primary goals of the consortium are to foster good demographic relations, to promote a more diverse cultural and working life, and to identify and combat structural discrimination and racism in different societal spheres. Mobile Futures highlights the importance of social and institutional trust in developing good demographic relations. We draw from critical integration research that challenges existing integration models for portraying society as neutral and integration as a responsibility – and often a problem - of migrants alone. Mobile Futures emphasises the need to approach integration as a trust-based process that affects the society as a whole.
To achieve these goals, Mobile Futures employs the Living Lab methodology. In the Living Labs, the project researchers and partners jointly develop solutions to identified problems. The project focuses on building trust through four Work Packages (WPs): Trust in Law (WP2), Trust in Information (WP3), Trust in the Labour Market (WP4), and Trust in Everyday Encounters (WP5).
The consortium is led by Professor Magdalena Kmak at Åbo Akademi University (ÅA), Professor of International Law. The deputy director and director of WP5 is Johanna Leinonen, Academy Research Fellow at the University of Oulu. The other work package leaders are Senior Researcher Daniela Alaattinoğlu (WP2, University of Turku), Professor Gunilla Widén (WP3, ÅA), and Research Director Elli Heikkilä (WP4, Migration Institute, SI). Saara Pellander (SI), Director of the Migration Institute of Finland, acts as Interaction Coordinator and Yasmin Samaletdin (ÅA) as Project Coordinator of the consortium.
The principal collaboration partners of the project are the Center for Expertise on Immigrant Integration (Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment), the Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations (ETNO Secretariat), Moniheli ry, and the Multicultural Centre Villa Victor, the City of Oulu.
Mobile Futures - Diversity, Trust, and Two-Way Integration is a six-year research project, funded by the Strategic Research Council (SRC) established within the Academy of Finland. Mobile Futures is part of the SRC program Demographic Changes – Causes, Consequences and Solutions, DEMOGRAPHY, 2021–2027.
More information: Daniela Alaattinoglu
Maintaining the quality of education in Finland is critical for thwarting the worrying signs of decreasing innovation capacity, lower economic productivity and signs of increasing inequality and polarization in our society. However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools have been partly closed and principals, teachers and parents are confronting high levels of stress as students’ transition to distance learning while also ensuring students’ basic and psychological needs for example to social interactions are met. As schools rely on online remote teaching, equitable access to learning opportunities is a high concern. Schools have undertaken steps to ensure that all students have technological resources necessary to participate. However, the success of distance learning depends not only on technological resources and abilities of principals, teachers and parents to address the needs of the students but also resources, and the policy reconditions and law of education. Consequently, RESCUE will work to support educational sector, decision making and other stakeholders to protect educational staff and students and their families for further exhaustion informing how to optimize resources and time and how the society and law of education is supporting the flexibility of education in pandemics and afterwards for ensuring future success. RESCUE contains six interacting work packages.
The expected concrete contribution to Finnish society are the following.
- Creating a national vision and plan of action for developing Finnish system of education in formal and informal environments.
- preventing marginalization and creating conditions for active, innovative and participatory citizenship by intervention models for formal and informal education by developing innovative adaptive online tools such as Youth Compass,
- RESCUE will focus on the challenges facing Finnish teacher and principal education and system of education today and increasingly in the future involving parents to support child's education by tailoring evidence-based, low-threshold practices to cooperate with families of various forms and backgrounds a special emphasis will be placed on parents with lack of economic and social resources.
- Creating a hybrid teaching-learning model for developing interactive distance learning environments and practices through research-based interventions in educational institutions and collaborating with them in order to develop the institution's culture by adoption of new pedagogical approaches, by training teachers and by developing collaborative educational leadership.
Project leader: Tuulikki Mikkola
Digitalisation and increased levels of autonomy in transport are expected to take leaps forward in the coming years. This development can help in creating safer, more efficient, sustainable, and reliable service chains to meet the requirements for a better quality of life and global prosperity.
The Sea for Value – Fairway DIMECC program (S4VF) aims for wide societal influence by providing concrete research-based recommendations on regulation, business, data usage & sharing and for standardization. In particular, the program targets developments that represent important milestones on the journey towards smart and autonomous maritime transport system, such as 'smart fairway' navigation trials and ePilotage working environment (on shore) and remote pilotage tests.
The research undertaken by the Faculty of Law focuses on the legal challenges related to smart fairways and remote pilotage. It covers both private and public law aspects.
The Sea and Maritime Studies is one of the six thematic entities in the strategy of the University of Turku. It is based on a long-standing tradition in multidisciplinary maritime research at the University.
Project leader: Henrik Ringbom
SILE is a research project that addresses the need to broaden the knowledge base of legislative drafting to include the perspective of silent agents. Silent agents refer to those who scarcely have the means to participate in the knowledge production related to law drafting due to social, health-based, cognitive, legal or biological restrictions. Thus, others speak about them and for them. Laws may cause them unforeseen harm if their circumstances, or the mechanisms of impact formation are not sufficiently taken into account in the drafting. SILE focuses particularly on silent agents whose social position arouses morally charged tensions, such as minors in care, precarious residents, prisoners, those who have problems with mental health or harmful consumption and animals. They are therefore subject to specific legislative measures of protection and control.
The main data consists of legislative documents, interviews and documented encounters with interaction partners, as well as statistical data. Qualitative and quantitative methods are applied as well as legal analysis.
Project is implemented in collaboration between the Universities of Helsinki, Turku and Lapland, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare and Friski Anjoy Oy and it is funded by Strategic Research Council of Academy of Finland.
Project leader: Anne Alvesalo-Kuusi
The project investigates the risks and opportunities that emanate from the creation and advance of blockchain technology. We inquire into the role that legislation may have in supporting the positive aspects and curtailing risks. There is a need of research to combat regulatory and governance obscurity. Most blockchain phenomena, such as cryptocurrencies, fall through the cracks of traditional governance structures. Therefore, many remain overly cautious of blockchain technologies, favouring restrictive and extremely risk-averse models. In order to harness the positive potential of blockchain development whilst conscious of averting as many risks as possible, we study governance models and legal tools that support the progressive features of the emerging technologies and their transforming digital ecosystem.
Project leader: Outi Korhonen
PENVOL research project examines cooperation between the Finnish Criminal Sanctions Agency and third sector. In particular, the project explores the volume and content of cooperation in different parts of Finland and the possible benefits, challenges and effects associated with the cooperation.
The principal investigator of the project: Maija Helminen
Queer asylum decision-making in the Finnish context remains largely overlooked by empirical research. Empirical research on asylum decision-making in Finland to date has largely focused on asylum claims in general or asylum applications based on other grounds.
Bringing together scholars from law and psychology at the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University, and combining quantitative and qualitative methods, Queer Asylum Decision-Making (QADM) will investigate how asylum cases based on sexual orientation are adjudicated in Finland. The research examines written initial-level asylum decision-making documents pertaining to sexual orientation, collected from the register of the Finnish Immigration Service. The empirical data consists of 218 case files from the time period of 2016-2019.
The overall objectives of this project are to expand the knowledge base on asylum decision-making in cases based on sexual orientation, and to support the Finnish Immigration Service in improving the quality of these determinations, in line with international standards.
The research project will seek to answer the following questions: What are the approaches used to assess asylum claims based on sexual orientation, and how could the current approaches be improved? The expected contribution of the project is an improvement of queer asylum decision-making standards and a more robust protection framework for this category of asylum-seekers.
Contact person: Johanna Vanto