Court finds Tartu University had right to end Hallik employment contract

Martin Hallik on ETV's
Martin Hallik on ETV's "Ringvaate" current affairs show on 27 November. Source: ERR

Tartu Circuit Court annulled the County Court's former decision about the labor dispute between the University of Tartu and former director of the University of Tartu Library Martin Hallik saying that the university had enough basis to terminate the contract with Hallik, due to loss of trust.

On September 4 last year, Tartu County Court accepted Hallik's action against the university. Hallik stood accused of sexual assault. The county court ordered the University to pay Hallik compensation of €90,568. Regarding the annulled part, the circuit court now made a new decision dismissing the action against the University of Tartu in its entirety.

The circuit court found that the University of Tartu had enough basis to terminate the contract with Hallik due to a loss of trust. The university checked the factual circumstances brought to Hallik's attention according to its best abilities and enough, the circuit court found.

The circuit court brings out from the decision that according to the Employment Contracts Act, an employer can generally terminate the contract when the employee has breached their job obligations provided before termination, the employer has made a warning. However, a prior warning is not required as a premise for termination of the contract when the employee can't reasonably expect that from the employer in the case of serious misconduct.

The three-member collegium at the circuit courtgave a decision that in the given labor dispute both the seriousness and nature of Hallik's misconduct and the fact that among other things, he violated contracutal obligations of the University of Tartu structural and the Library's Statute.

According to the circuit court, the serious violation of Hallik's obligations is also illustrated by the fact that the situation offended many library staff and resulted in the resignation of an employee. According to the court, the University of Tartu has reasonably taken the position that continuing the relationship with the plaintiff is not possible anymore.

Resulting from the above decision, Tartu Circuit Court found that the termination of the contract is valid, therefore, all claims, including claims for financial compensation, will remain overruled.

Costs of proceedings in the county and circuit court will be born by Hallik; the amount of the costs for the proceedings will be assigned by the country court when the judgment is enforced. ERR wrote in September that the University of Tartu had spent €63,345 on legal aid costs during the trials.

The circuit court upheld the orders of the county court regarding the disclosure of the judgment by the latter. Both courts dealt with the matter via closed proceedings.

This is a judgment that has not yet entered into force. The appeal can be filed with the Supreme Court within 30 days.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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