Chancellor: Disputes reaching Supreme Court show constitution works well

Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise.
Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise. Source: ERR

Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise says that disputes reaching the Supreme Court is a normal part of national policy matters, noting that many "smaller" legal amends, in addition to higher profile cases such as the controversial pension reform bill, go unnoticed by the public as a whole.

Addressing the Riigikogu, Madise noted with pleasure that the country's constitutional review system is economic, efficient and swift, as befits a smaller country.

"Some disputes reaching the Supreme Court is also a normal part of national policy matters," she said in her overview, which covered ombudsman activities for 2019 and 2020.

She also commended the parliament for swiftly introducing numerous legal amendments.

Madise says she gets a lot of complaints about politicians and public officials allegedly failing in their mandate to serve the people, noting this was not wholly fair and saying that many public officers have seemed ready to remedy errors and make working changes.

One concrete example of this was a December 2019 Supreme Court decision, which declared disorganization in local government social services unconstitutional in that it meant that the public often did not get the required help due to them, though the issue was a complex one, Madise – who requested the court decision – says.

This was also a key point for next year's local government elections, she said.

"The issue is how to factor ensuring assistance in 79 rural municipalities and towns within budget planning, and where to find people who could support those in need well and in a human way."

"It would be excellent if this became one of the key issues in the next local government elections," she said.

Madise thanked the Riigikogu for the many amendments that may not have received public attention but nonetheless resolved many problems, and noted she had multi-faceted roles as national ombudsman, overseer of the prevention of cruelty to children and other vulnerable societal sectors, supervision of state surveillance agencies, and other areas – all of which have seen a rise in workloads – in addition to her more familiar task of constitutional review.

Madise also faced questions from MPs; leading members from four of the Riigikogu's five elected parties also addressed the meeting.

Higher profile cases to have reached the Supreme Court, based in Tartu, in recent years include the pension reform bill, whose cases is yet to be heard, and a bill slashing alcohol excise duties. Bills often end up at the Supreme Court if the president declines to sign them into assent, which is exactly what happened with the pensions bill.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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