Is there specific professional background such as previous work record in the administration or general legal training included?
A person who has undergone judge’s preparatory service or is exempted therefrom and has passed a judge’s examination may be appointed as an administrative court judge. Judge’s preparatory service is not necessary for a sworn advocate, prosecutors and persosn who have worked as judges earlier. A person who is an experienced and recognised lawyer and who has passed a judge’s examination may be appointed as a judge of a circuit court. A person who worked as a judge directly before appointment shall be exempted from the judge’s examination. A person who is an experienced and recognised lawyer may be appointed as a justice of the Supreme Court.
What are the possible contents examined during this procedure?
The suitability of the personal characteristics of a candidate for judicial office is assessed on the basis of an interview. The judge’s examination committee may also consider other information concerning the candidate for judicial office which is important for the performance of the duties of a judge. They also have the right to make inquiries and ask for the opinion of the candidate’s supervisor. A candidate for judicial office must pass a security check before being appointed judge, for which he or she shall apply for an access permit to state secrets classified as top secret. The Security Police Board shall forward the information obtained as a result of the security check carried out pursuant to the State Secrets Act together with an opinion to the judge’s examination committee.
Who meets the decisions in the course of the selection/appointment procedure and who selects and appoints the aforementioned decision –makers?
The judge’s examination committee and the Supreme Court do. The judge’s examination committee has ten members and is formed for five years. The judge’s examination committee is comprised of two judges of the court of first instance, two circuit court judges, two justices of the Supreme Court, one jurist designated by the Law Faculty of the University of Tartu, a representative of the Ministry of Justice, a sworn advocate designated by the Bar Association and a public prosecutor designated by the Chief Public Prosecutor. In order to hold the examination, the chairman of the committee forms a panel comprising of at least five members, three of whom are judges. The committee approves the rules of procedure in the committee. The Supreme Court organises the clerical support to the judge’s examination committee.
Does the law provide for judicial remedies against decisions concerning appointment/selection?
Yes. The Courts Act stipulates that the Supreme Court en banc shall resolve appeals filed against the decisions of the judge’s examination committee.
Does there exist any difference in the way the selection/appointment of judges of the civil/penal courts takes place? The selection and appointment do not differ in form.
However it is possible to concentrate more on specific areas of law in the verbal round of the selection process.
Is it possible for “external candidates” to be appointed as judges at different court levels and instances?
A person who has been employed as a judge or who, for at least two years immediately before running as a candidate, has worked as a sworn advocate or prosecutor may be exempted from preparatory service or the person’s term of service may be reduced by a reasoned decision of the judge’s examination committee. The judge’s examination committee may reduce the preparatory service of a person if the person has been employed for at least two years as a senior clerk or clerk of a sworn advocate, assistant prosecutor or in any other position which requires high qualification in law.
Are those legal provisions concerning the ways of selection/appointment of judges constitutionally entrenched?
Yes, the Constitution stipulates that judges shall be appointed for life. The grounds and procedure for the release of judges from office shall be provided by law. Judges may be removed from office only by a court judgment. The legal status of judges and guarantees for their independence shall be provided by law.
Describe in brief the conditions of service and tenure (security of tenure, suspension and removal, transfers etc.) of the judges:
Is the term of judicial appointment for life? Yes.
Is it possible to extent the term of service of judges beyond retirement age? In this case who has the power to take the decision? No. The maximum age of a judge is 67 years; extension of the term of service is not possible.
Is it possible to appoint temporary judges? No.
Is it possible for the judge to be removed or transferred and under what specific terms?
A person may be released from the office of judge due to unsuitability for office only within three years after appointment to office if the judge has been declared unsuitable for office by a decision of the Supreme Court en banc. The number of judges in each administrative court shall be determined by the Minister of Justice after having considered the opinions of the chairman of the administrative court and the chairman of the circuit court in whose territorial jurisdiction the administrative court is located. Thus, if the work load is too big in one area or some special circumstances occur, rearrangements in the number or placement of judges are possible.
Where does the power of removing or transferring judges from one office to another lie?
The Courts Act gives the Supreme Court en banc the right to appoint a judge to office to another court of the same or a lower level with the consent of the judge and on the proposal of the Minister of Justice.
Is it possible to transfer between the different divisions and types of courts? Yes.
Is it possible to transfer to government administration and back?
A judge may be transferred to the service of the Supreme Court or the Ministry of Justice at his or her request and with the consent of the chairman of the court. During service in the Supreme Court or the Ministry of Justice, the authority of the judge shall be suspended. He or she shall however retain the judge’s salary and other guarantees during service in the Supreme Court or the Ministry of Justice.
Does a transfer to the administration have a career-promoting effect? No.
Is incompetence a ground for removal of a judge from the bench?
A judge shall be released from office due to unsuitability for office only within three years after appointment to office.
Financial security (salaries, remunerations, pensions etc.)
Who decides about judges’ salaries?
A judge’s salary is provided by the Salaries of State Public Servants Appointed by the Riigikogu or President of the Republic Act.
In what way and under what conditions are the salaries of judges increased? Are they accompanied by annual cost-of-living adjustments?
The salaries of judges are connected with the average income of the Country. Judges earn from 4 to 6 average incomes, the salaries are corrected in the beginning of each calendar year.
Is there a need for executive approval or executive decision to initiate the increase?
The increase is provided by law but formally, an order of the Minister of Justice is needed to initiate the change in the case of judges of first and second instance.
Is it possible for the judges to initiate judicial proceedings against the State with regard to their remuneration and which are the competent courts in this case?
Yes, Administrative Courts have such competence.
Is there a uniform salary scheme for all courts, divisions and types? Yes.
Career prospects (promotions etc.)
Describe briefly the ways in which the promotions of judges are made. What kind of procedures are to be applied in this context?
There are no special rules for promotion; it takes place in the same way as the judges are appointed.
Indicate the competent body for the promotions and the criteria applied thereto. There is no special competent body. See 4.1.
Are judges of the administrative courts promoted to the Supreme Administrative Court and under what conditions (seniority etc.)?
Yes, when the judge is a person who is an experienced and recognised lawyer, he/she may be appointed as a justice of the Supreme Court (Supreme Court justice).
Can judges accept any government assignment after retirement?
Yes. The following are judge’s pensions: judge’s old-age pension; judge’s superannuated pension; judge’s pension for incapacity for work; survivor’s pension for judge’s family members. A judge’s pension shall not be paid during employment as a judge. If a retired judge is employed elsewhere, he or she shall receive the judge’s pension in full regardless of the amount of the earnings. A judge’s pension shall not be granted to a person who has been removed from office for a disciplinary offence or who has been convicted of an intentionally committed criminal offence. A judge’s pension shall be withdrawn from a person who is convicted of a criminal offence directed against the administration of justice. A person who has been employed as a judge for at least fifteen years has the right to receive a judge’s old-age pension when he or she attains the pensionable age. The amount of a judge’s old-age pension shall be 75 per cent of his or her last salary, which is increased in the same way as judges salaries every year. A judge’s pension shall be recalculated upon a change in the amount of the salary payable for the position according to which the judge’s pension has been calculated.
Standards of conduct (professional and service Code, public activities, law-related activities etc.)
Can a judge be involved in law-related activities (arbitration, law practice, writing books)?
Judges shall not be employed other than in the office of judge, except for teaching or research. A judge shall not be an arbitrator chosen by the parties to a dispute.
Can a judge be involved in business activities?
A judge shall not be a founder, managing partner, member of the management board or supervisory board of a company, or director of a branch of a foreign company.
Is the judge entitled to sideline employment?
A judge shall not be a trustee in bankruptcy, member of a bankruptcy committee or compulsory administrator of immovable. It’s allowed for the judge to work as a teacher or a researcher.
Is there a Code of conduct of judicial behaviour? Yes.
Is there a Commission on Judicial Conduct or any other body to supervise the behaviour of a judge?
For the adjudication of disciplinary matters of judges, the Supreme Court shall comprise the Disciplinary Chamber which is comprised of five justices of the Supreme Court, five circuit court judges and five judges of courts of the first instance.
Describe the restrictions - if there are any - on judges’ right to express their views?
The right of judges to belong to political parties is under debate at the moment. Currently it is prohibited but a change has already been made to the law. This change will come into effect 01.01.2008 and as of that time it should only be prohibited to be a member of a management, control or revision organ of a political party.
Inspection of judges and disciplinary proceedings
Who is in charge of the inspection of judges and in what way is this inspection conducted?
No one has the right to interfere with the administration of justice. The chairman of a court is responsible for administration of justice in the court pursuant to the established procedure.Supervisory control over the administration of justice pursuant to the requirements and over the performance of duties by judges shall be exercised by the chairman of the court. The chairman of a court has the right to demand explanations from judges, inspect compliance with the operations procedure and collect other necessary information. Chairmen of circuit courts shall also exercise supervisory control over judges of the courts of the first instance. The Minister of Justice shall exercise supervisory control over the performance of the duties by the chairmen of courts of first instance and chairmen of courts of appeal. The Minister of Justice may demand explanations from the chairman of a court concerning the administration of justice in a court pursuant to the requirements.
Are there specific criteria for the evaluation of the performance of judges?
There are no criteria provided by law.
Who holds the legal power to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the judge?
The following have the right to commence disciplinary proceedings: the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, against all judges; the Chancellor of Justice, against all judges; the chairman of a circuit court, against judges of courts of first instance in his territorial jurisdiction; the chairman of a court, against the judges of the same court; the Supreme Court en banc against the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Who decides the disciplinary tribunal and its composition? Is it permanent or ad hoc?
For the adjudication of disciplinary matters of judges, the Supreme Court shall comprise the Disciplinary Chamber which is comprised of five justices of the Supreme Court, five circuit court judges and five judges of courts of the first instance. The Supreme Court en banc shall appoint, for the term of three years, the chairman of the Disciplinary Chamber and other members of the Disciplinary Chamber who are justices of the Supreme Court. The internal rules of the Supreme Court shall prescribe the procedure for the substitution of members of the Disciplinary Chamber who are justices of the Supreme Court. Pursuant to the internal rules, the Supreme Court shall involve judges of courts of the first instance and judges of courts of appeal who are elected in the adjudication of disciplinary matters. For the adjudication of a disciplinary matter of a judge, the chairman of the Disciplinary Chamber shall form a five-member panel consisting of three members of the Disciplinary Chamber who are justices of the Supreme Court, one judge of a circuit court and one judge of a court of first instance.
Is there a legal remedy against the decisions of the disciplinary body provided for by law?
A judge on whom a disciplinary punishment is imposed may file an appeal to the Supreme Court en banc within thirty days after the decision is pronounced.
Is there a special procedure for investigating and prosecuting a judge?
Yes. Disciplinary proceedings shall be commenced if elements of a disciplinary offence become evident. Disciplinary proceedings are commenced by preparation of disciplinary charges.A disciplinary charge is a written document, which sets out: the name and position of the accused; the description and time of commission of the offence; the evidence proving commission of the offence; the name of the person who commences a disciplinary proceeding, and the date and place of the preparation of the charge. The person who commences a disciplinary procedure shall forward the disciplinary charges and the related material to the Disciplinary Chamber, which shall immediately notify the judge against whom the disciplinary proceeding is commenced thereof. A judge against whom a disciplinary proceeding is commenced shall be served the disciplinary charges at least ten days before the session of the Disciplinary Chamber. The judge or his or her representative has the right to examine the materials of the disciplinary charge. The Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court shall hear matters of disciplinary offences of judges and impose disciplinary punishments to judges. A five-member panel of the Disciplinary Chamber shall hear a disciplinary matter at a court session. Upon hearing of a disciplinary matter, the chairman of the Disciplinary Chamber is the presiding judge. If the chairman of the Disciplinary Chamber does not participate in the hearing of a matter, he or she shall appoint a member of the Chamber as the presiding judge. The judge whose disciplinary offence is heard shall be summoned to the session of the Disciplinary Chamber. The judge may have a representative. If necessary, witnesses and other persons may be summoned to the session. At the session of the Disciplinary Chamber, the presiding judge shall make a report on the offence in which he or she introduces the disciplinary charge. The judge, against whom the disciplinary charge is brought, shall give statements with regard to the matter, and the statements from witnesses and other persons present at the session shall be heard. Members of the Disciplinary Chamber may question the judge against whom the charge is brought, the witnesses and other persons summoned to the session. After examination of the evidence, the judge whose disciplinary matter is heard has the right to express his or her opinion with regard to the matter. Minutes shall be taken of sessions of the Disciplinary Chamber. If the culpability of a judge is proved, the Disciplinary Chamber shall make a decision by which the judge is convicted of the commission of a disciplinary offence and a disciplinary punishment is imposed on the judge. If the judge has not committed a disciplinary offence, the Disciplinary Chamber shall make a decision by which the judge is acquitted of the disciplinary charge. A judge on whom a disciplinary punishment is imposed may file an appeal to the Supreme Court en banc within thirty days after the decision is pronounced. If the judge has not filed an appeal to the Supreme Court en banc, the decision of the Disciplinary Chamber shall enter into force after the expiry of thirty days. If an appeal is filed, the decision of the Disciplinary Chamber shall enter into force after the decision of the Supreme Court en banc is pronounced.
Indicate who is responsible for the central administration of administrative jurisdiction
The Minister of Justice and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court are responsible for the central administration. Courts of the first instance and courts of appeal are administered in co-operation between the Council for Administration of Courts and the Ministry of Justice. Courts shall perform court administration duties if so provided by law. The Minister of Justice may transfer the court administration duties which fall within his or her competence to a court. The Minister of Justice has no right of command or disciplinary authority over the judges.
Individual and collective independence of the judiciary
The courts shall be independent in their activities and shall administer justice in accordance with the Constitution and the laws. Judges shall be appointed for life. Judges may be removed from office only by a court judgment. Justice shall be administered solely by the courts. No one has the right to interfere with the administration of justice. Acts which are directed at disturbing the administration of justice are prohibited in courts and in the vicinity thereof. Judges may be removed from office only by a court judgment. Criminal charges against a judge of a court of the first instance and a court of appeal may be brought during their term of office only on the proposal of the Supreme Court en banc with the consent of the President of the Republic. Criminal charges against a justice of the Supreme Court may be brought during his or her term of office only on the proposal of the Chancellor of Justice with the consent of the majority of the membership of the Riigikogu.
Is it possible for sanctions (of any kind) to be imposed on a judge based upon the content of his/her decision? Only if the decision made was knowingly wrong.
Can a judge face disciplinary charges solely on the basis of the substance of his/her ruling? Is this the case when a judge declines to follow a supreme court’s decision?
Disciplinary charges in this case are questionable but in principle, the possibility cannot be excluded.
Do you think that accountability of judges threatens judicial independence? No.
Can a judge be held liable in civil actions for his/her judicial acts (e.g. be sued for damages for actions taken in his/her judicial capacity)?
No. A person may claim compensation from Government for damage caused in the course of judicial proceedings caused by a court decision only if a judge committed a criminal offence in the course of these proceedings.
Are judges immune from prosecution in other courts for their judicial acts? Yes.
Can criminal charges be brought against a judge for actions on his/her duties?
A judge who knowingly makes an unlawful court judgment or ruling shall be punished by 5 to 10 years’ imprisonment.
Do judges face sanctions for “decisional conducts”? No.
Judicial administration at the Court level (division of work among judges and assignment of cases etc.)
Is the division of work among judges and the assignment of cases to each judge or panel done according to a predetermined rigid plan or is it flexible and may be changed easily?
Every court shall comprise a full court which is comprised of all the judges of the court. A full court shall approve the division of tasks plan of judges; make recommendations to the chairman of the court concerning organisation of work; perform other duties arising from law and the internal rules of the court. The aim of the system is to guarantee the randomness of the assignment. Some flexibility is possible but of secondary importance.
Who is in charge of case assignment?
The division of tasks between judges of courts of the first instance and courts of appeal shall be prescribed in the division of tasks plan. Tasks shall be divided between judges on the basis of the following principles: each matter received by the court for hearing shall be divided between judges according to the division of tasks plan; matters shall be divided between judges at random and on bases determined in the division of tasks plan. The division of tasks plan shall prescribe the procedure for formation of court panels and for the substitution of judges. The division of tasks plan shall be approved for one calendar year. During a working year, the full court may amend the division of tasks plan only with good reason. Everyone can access the division of tasks plan in the court office.
Self - administration of justice
Is judicial administration effected through independent judicial self-governance? No. the courts of the first and second instance are administered by the Minister of Justice. The Council for Administration of Courts has only restricted functions.
Describe briefly how the governing body/committee is elected?
The Council for Administration of Courts is comprised of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, five judges elected by the Court en banc for three years, two members of the Riigikogu, a sworn advocate appointed by the Board of the Bar Association, the Chief Public Prosecutor or a public prosecutor appointed by him or her, and the Chancellor of Justice or a representative appointed by him or her. The Minister of Justice or a representative appointed by him or her shall participate in the Council with the right to speak. Council sessions shall be convened by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or by the Minister of Justice. The person who convenes a session shall also determine the agenda thereof. The Council shall be chaired by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Is there any restriction for the members of the above body to participate in other syndicalistic bodies? No
Human, financial and material resources necessary for the performance of judicial functions
Who is responsible for the administrative staff employed in the courts?
The director of administration is responsible for the administrative staff.
Who is competent to make available the necessary funds for the performance of justice?
The director of administration shall prepare, with the approval of the chairman of the court, the draft budget of the judicial institution and submit the draft budget to the Minister of Justice.
Who has the power to execute and spend the budgetary allocations?
The director of administration shall control the budgetary funds of the judicial institution.
Have there been cases of executive pressure on judges in any form? No.
Can judges be members of the Government? No.
Is it allowed for judges to participate in administrative bodies having decisive or consultative competences?
In limited cases, for example judges can be members of the Election Commission for electing the Riigikogu and the President of the Republic.
Do the administrative courts have the power to challenge administrative acts of general character (presidential decrees etc.)? No, this belongs to the competence of the Constitutional Review Chamber. But, the court shall not apply any legislation, including administrative act of general character which is in conflict with the Constitution.
Relations with the legislature (retroactive legislative reversals of cases etc.)
Can the legislature override a decision of a court if they disagree with the way the latter has applied or interpreted a law? In principle no.
Have there been retroactive legislative reversals of court decisions? There is no such example, but there is case, where the Riigikogu has passed a law declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court once again. In the second procedure the Supreme Court decided, that the law is in accordance with the Constitution, because the parliament has showed a strong public interest supporting the law.
Has there been legislation abolishing courts with results of statutory removal of judges and if so, how was it received? In 2000-2001the reform of administrative courts took place which partially had such effects.
Pending cases? No.
Can judges be members of the legislature?
No. The judiciary is independent from the legislative power. The activities of the Riigikogu, the President, the Government, and the courts shall be organised on the principle of separation and balance of powers. The interaction between the legislative power and the judiciary can however be noticed in the following aspects: The legislator adopts acts related to the court administration, court procedure and substantial law; The parliament fixes, in the framework of adopting the state budget, the expenses available for the judiciary; The parliament appoints justices of the Supreme Court. Justices of the Supreme Court take the oath of office before the Riigikogu; the Riigikogu also releases the justices of the Supreme Court from office; Criminal charges may be brought against the Chief Justice and justices of the Supreme Court only with the consent of the majority of the membership of the Riigikogu; Two members of the parliament are represented in the Council for Administration of Courts; Once a year, at the spring session of the Riigikogu, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presents a review to the Riigikogu concerning courts administration, administration of justice and the uniform application of law.
Do the administrative courts have the power to challenge laws?
Upon adjudication of a matter, an administrative court shall not apply any Act or other legislation of general application which is in conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia. If an administrative act which is declared unlawful by a court judgment was issued on the basis of an Act or other legislation of general application which is in conflict with the Constitution and which an administrative court refused to apply, the administrative court shall communicate its judgment to the Supreme Court and the Chancellor of Justice, whereby constitutional review proceedings shall be commenced in the Supreme Court.
Interest representation of administrative judges
Are judges organised in associations for furthering their rights and interests?
Yes, judges are organised in the Estonian Association of Judges, which is a non-profit voluntary association of the judges of the Republic of Estonia.
Are there separate professional representations for administrative judges, or a joint association of judges?
There is only a joint association of judges.
What are the specific activities of the aforesaid association? Describe them in brief.
The objectives of the Association are to associate judges into a professional organisation;
protect the independence of courts and judges; protect the individual, work-related and socio-economic rights and legal interests of judges; shape and maintain the high level of professional ethics of judges; study the history of the courts which have functioned on the Estonian territory. For the attainment of its objectives the Association is entitled to organise meetings, seminars, conferences and convene judges to deliberations concerning matters of importance for the courts and the judiciary; organise professional and social gatherings for the members of the Association; monitor the taking of decisions concerning administration of justice and the judicial system by national and local government bodies and to give opinions on draft Acts pertaining to court system and, if need be, on other draft Acts, to national and local government authorities and other organisations; monitor the application of law upon administration of justice and, if need be, make proposals to subjects entitled to propose draft laws to amend or repeal laws; issue periodicals and other publications, to disseminate information on administration of justice; co-operate with other organisations.
Do judges have the right to strike or to hold a demonstration? No.
Is criticism of judges, judicial decisions and judicial conduct in the press existent, frequent, rare? It is rare. What are the relevant grounds for this? Could you give major examples?Conflict between public opinion and judicial decisions.
Are trials open to T.V.?. A court session may be photographed or filmed, and audio recordings, radio, television or other broadcasts may be made in a court session only with the prior consent of the court. Normally, the court permits to film the opening part of the session, if such permission is asked.
Do you think that press reporting and commenting on judges, courts, judicial decisions and matters pending before the courts poses a challenge to judicial independence? No.
The administrative judge and the public opinion
Do you think that a judge’s engagement in politics or speaking his/her mind in favour of a political party compromises the public confidence in the judiciary? Yes.
Are there institutions that favour strong public opinion in defence of the idependence of the judiciary? No.
Judges and politics
Is it allowed for judges to become member of political parties?
According to law currently in effect a judge shall not be a member of a political party. A change of the law will enter into force in 01.01.2008.
Are there any major restrictions for judges with regard to their political activities?
Today, a judge shall not be a member of a political party.
What are the consequences in case of breach?
A judge shall be released from office if facts become evident which according to law preclude the appointment of the person as a judge.
Are there any other restrictions for judges as far as their public activity is concerned? No.
Have there been cases where political leaders attacked the judges and criticised their decisions? Several decisions have been criticised by politicians, but not in aggressive way.
1) Access by the public or the parties to the information held by administrative courts
1.1. Yes, all Estonian courts have their own press speaker or a joint speaker with some other court (e.g. Tallinn Administrative Court and Tallinn Court of Appeal have a joint press speaker).
1.2. The courts prepare annually only a statistical report for the Ministry of Justice. The statistical report of the whole court system is accessible in the internet (http://www.kohus.ee/10925).
1.3. Yes, all judgements of administrative courts taken in force are accessible by internet unless access is restricted for privacy reasons (http://www.kohus.ee/kohtulahendid/index.aspx), the judgements of the Supreme Court are accessible on the web-page of the Supreme Court too, some of them in English (http://www.riigikohus.ee/). Other documents in the courts information system are not public. Judgments not yet in force are accessible for public only on reasoned requests.
1.4. Yes, parties can get information about the procedure by e-mail. In fact, many practical questions relating to the organisation of the procedure (coordinating the term and sessions etc) are solved by simple e-mail, but important procedural documents must have a digital signature. Parties have a right to be informed about the approximate time of making the decision.
1.5. Yes. In Estonia, the administrative courts exchange information in joint seminars and in judicial training sessions. The Estonian Legal Centre Foundation disseminates information about the practice of different courts and analyzes the judgements. Of course, it’s possible to exchange information with courts of other countries and with international courts, but in fact such exchange is not very common.
2) Control of the activities of the administrative courts
2.1. Yes. The Estonian administrative courts are preparing statistics every year about the number of pending cases, about the number of solved and unsolved cases.
2.2. Yes, in Court Information System it’s possible to follow-up the pending affairs.
2.3. In Estonia, today, only young judges during the first three years of their career are periodically supervised in evaluation procedure by Judges Examination Committee. Other judges are supervised by chairman of the court where the judge works and by chairmen of the higher courts.
2.4. In cases of misbehaviour or undue delay, a disciplinary procedure can be initiated. For disciplinary offence following punishments can by ordered: a reprimand, a fine, a reduction in salary, removal from office.
2.5. Compensations of judicial errors are possible only if a judge has committed a criminal offence. The compensation is regulated in the State Liability Law.
2.6. Yes, the parties can appeal the court decisions or orders, if they don’t agree with them. Also, everybody can file an application to the chairman of the same or a higher court or to the Chancellor of Justice, asking to decide, if there is need for a supervisory or a disciplinary procedure.
2.7. Yes. In last years, some studies about the image of the courts in Estonia have been carried out; there have been several conferences about the relationships between the media and the courts. Some conclusions: people are not well informed about the work on courts, people say that they do trust the courts, but only a quarter of the populations thinks that it’s reasonable to go to the court against an authority; according the public opinion the main problem of the courts is the delay of the procedure. There is no special study known about the administrative courts.
The causes of malfunction according to our opinion might be:
– rapidly changing legal system;
– lack of experience and knowledge in new legal fields;
– some gaps in procedural rules.
Possible remedies could be:
– functional independence and self-administration of the courts;
– better databases for court judgements;
– specializing and better training of the judges;
– more legal assistants for judges;
– more strict rules ensuring the qualification of legal representatives of the parties;
– more possibilities to solve cases in written procedure.
Recent measures (2005–2006):
– new procedural code;
– organisational reform of the courts in first instance;
– specializing of judges in Tallinn Court of Appeal;
– creating the Court Information System.