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State to appeal ruling against it over Registered Partnership Act

Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu (IRL).
Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu (IRL). Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

The Estonian state will appeal Tuesday's ruling by Tallinn Administrative Court which called for the state to pay damages after failing to adopt the implementing provisions of the gender-neutral Registered Partnership Act that went into effect more than one year ago.

"I have reviewed the administrative court's decision," said Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu. "As respondent, I do not agree with the arguments cited in the justification of this decision." He confimed that he has issued an order to appeal the decision to the administrative court in the name of the Estonian state.

"As Minister of Justice I am unequivocally of the view that nobody can acquire subjective rights from a law which does not exist and which is pending in the Riigikogu as a bill," Reinsalu commented. "The mere fact that some act with a specific name does not exist cannot violate a person's rights."

Reinsalu stressed that in Estonia, the Riigikogu is the legislator which does or does not adopt laws. "A separation of powers exists in the Estonian state," he noted. "The judiciary cannot replace the legislative power in its policy choices on whether or not to regulate any issues." The minister added that several judicial decisions have already been made expanding the essence of existing legislation on similar issues.

By not adopting the implementing provisions of the Registered Partnership Act, the Estonian state has caused damage to interested parties and must pay damages, Tallinn Administrative Court ruled on Tuesday regarding the complaint of lawyer Reimo Mets.

The administrative court partially satisfied Mets' complaint, ordering the ministry to pay Mets €1,500 in non-patrimonial damages. The court found that the complainant had indeed suffered non-patrimonialdamage due to the legislators' failure to act, that he had suffered damage to his dignity and inviolability of private life and that there was causation between legislators' failure to act and damage suffered by the complainant.

The court found that a prolonged vagueness in legislation resulting in a group of people in society lacking security regarding how a life situation will work out and which interpretation of the law would be cited by an official in resolving a situation regarding them infringes upon the inviolability of the private life of an individual and may result in damage to a person's dignity. In this case, the group of people referred to by the court were those who had entered into a registered partnership, including same-sex civil partnerships.

"The infringement constantly influenced the complainant, causing him to constantly feel fear, stress and uncertainty rather than degrading through concrete incidents," the court added.

Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla

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