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Research at the Faculty of Law

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.

T​he 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

Adaptation of rights in rem in cross-border succession within EU (EU_ADAPT)

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

Algorithmic Agencies and Law (AALAW)

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

Artificial Intelligence Governance and Auditing (AIGA)

A cross-disciplinary co-innovation project on AI governance and auditing.

Additional information in the project's blog.

Project leader: Mika Viljanen

 

Digital Disruption of Industry (DDI)

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

Ethical AI for the Governance of the Society (ETAIROS)

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.

Additional information in the project's web site.

Project leader: Mika Viljanen

Intimacy in data-driven culture (IDA)

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

Additional information in the project's web site.

LAKITUTKA

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

Web page of the service

Law for Secure Supply: Internalizing the Crisis Exceptions (LEXSECURE)

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

Additional information in the project's web site.

Follow us on Twitter: @lexsecure

Legal Literacy in Finland ca. 1750-1920: A Case of Popular Legal Learning in Premodern Europe (LegalLiFin)

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:

  1. Who were the non-professional “legal literates” of Finnish rural and urban society?
  2. What legal knowledge and skills and how much had they learned?
  3. How had they acquired their legal literacy? What law books or popular legal manuals did they have and use?
  4. 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?
  5. 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

Sea4Value / Fairway

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

Silent agents affected by legislation – from an insufficient knowledge base to inclusive solutions (SILE)

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 societal and governance challenges posed by Blockchain technology

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

VOLUNTARY SECTOR ORGANIZATIONS IN THE FINNISH PENAL SYSTEM: Exploring cooperation between voluntary sector organizations, prisons and probation offices in Finland (PENVOL)

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.

More information on the research project website.

The principal investigator of the project: Maija Helminen

Queer Asylum Decision-Making (QADM)

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
 

sitaatti law Acquah
I do not only have internationally respected academics and researchers as colleagues, but also, a free and collegial atmosphere, state-of-the-art facilities and resources to work with. The Faculty also has an excellent student-teacher ratio."
Daniel Acquah, researcher

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