Natisni vsebino

Estonia

The New Competences of the Legal Chancellor in Estonia

In Estonia the institution of the Legal Chancellor was created in 1938 in order to guarantee the legality of the exercise of the state power and to counsel the President of the Republic in juridical matters.

In 1993, the institution was reinstated and the main task of the Legal Chancellor became supervising constitutionality. The Legal Chancellor*s duties include the monitoring of the correspondence of the legislation of general application – the acts passed by the Riigikogu, government*s and minister*s regulations, local municipalities* regulations* correspondence to the Constitution and other legislative acts. Besides supervising constitutionality, the applications and inquiries not related to the supervision of constitutionality have been addressed to the Legal Chancellor.

In order to exercise his supervising duties the Legal Chancellor receives the duplicates of all legislative acts of general application passed by the legislative and executive powers and local municipalities, international agreements not entered into force and court judgements of the Supreme Court dealing with constitutional disputes. The Legal Chancellor reviews whether they are in correspondence with the Constitution and other legislative acts.

If the Legal Chancellor considers the legislative act issued by the state legislature or executive or by a local government to be in conflict with the Constitution or a law, he or she shall propose to the body which has adopted that act to bring the act into correspondence with the Constitution or law within twenty days.

If the act is not brought into correspondence with the Constitution or law within twenty days, the Legal Chancellor shall apply to the Supreme Court to declare the act null and void. Last year the Legal Chancellor initiated the change of the Local Municipality Council Election Act which resulted in a debate where the coalition parties did not allow forming the electoral pacts for the upcoming local elections and insisted on electors making their choice solely on the basis of party name lists. Eventually, after several weeks of disputes, the Supreme Court established the unconstitutionality of prohibiting the formation of the electoral pacts. For more information on that case, see http://www.nc.ee/english/const/2002/3-4-1-7-2002i.htm

The Legal Chancellor as Ombudsman

In 1999, the Legal Chancellor*s Act came into force which granted the institution the rights of the ombudsman. Therefore, a unique situation is established in Estonia: the norm control tasks are combined  with the ones of the ombudsman in the institution of the Legal Chancellor. For example, if an individual finds the state agencies* activities have violated his or her rights, he or she can apply to the Legal Chancellor.

In addition, the Legal Chancellor has since 2002 the right to initiate a disciplinary process against judges.

In 2004, the new Legal Chancellor Act will come into force and the competence of the Legal Chancellor will be expanded.

From January 1, 2004 the institution has the competence to solve discrimination issues and to process cases of reconciliation. From 2004 on the Legal Chancellor also has the right to assess whether the activities of the local municipalities, organizations subject to the public law and of the private sector organization performing public services are violating the constitutional rights and freedoms of the individual.

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