Legal expert: Fining for not wearing a mask has no legal grounds ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Former justice chancellor Allar Jõks.
Former justice chancellor Allar Jõks. Source: ERR

Lawyer and former justice chancellor Allar Jõks says that in his opinion, fining individuals for not wearing a face-mask in public areas is not feasible, though added that he would don such a covering in any case.

This, Jõks says, negates the effectiveness of the recent restrictions which from Monday make it obligatory to wear a mask or face-covering in public indoor spaces and on public transport.

Jõks said: "Considering its a matter as simple as the introduction of masks, [there are] more shortcomings than the news on the cohabitation act," referring to the Registered Partnership Act which would grant same-sex couples legal recognition but has foundered on implementing acts needed to bring it fully into effect.

Jõks: Scope for public to take matter to courts

Jõks added that that the most relevant legislation, the Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Act does not explicitly oblige the public to wear masks.

Jõks also said that those who feel their rights have been infringed may take the matter to court within a month of being reprimanded for not wearing a mask.

Fining is also not viable, Jõks said, because an individual would need to be issued with a precept, together with terms, and only if this was then adhered to could they be fined.

Health Board cannot overrule legislation

The Health Board (Terviseamet) additionally cannot constitutionally implement the measure without a legal basis, Jõks said, referring to a Supreme Court precedent which ruled that the legislature's obligations and rights cannot be subjugated to the executive, including state bodies like the Health Board and including even for a temporary period.

ERR's online news in Estonian also approached incumbent justice chancellor Ülle Madise, whose office said it was not appropriate for the chancellor to comment on government orders.

Jõks, who works for law firm Sorainen and sits on various boards, including that of private water supplier Tallinna Vesi, said that despite the shortcomings, he planned to wear a mask in public as a personal decision.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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