Center challenges part of administrative court decision

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Center Party office. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Even though Tallinn Administrative Court annulled a prescript for over a million euros the Political Parties Financing Surveillance Committee (ERJK) had issued against the Center Party in late January, the board of the party has decided to challenge the ruling's statement of reasons as concerns ERJK's approach in the interests of future legal clarity.

The party's Secretary General Andre Hanimägi said via a press release that while the ruling is favorable for Center as it annuls the precept, the party is seeking clarity for the future in what is a complicated dispute.

"Even though the precept was overturned in court, we feel it is necessary to further analyze the methodology of calculating the profits of the party's contractual partners, which is why we will appeal the ruling as concerns its statement of reasons," Hanimägi explained. Center will not be challenging the part of the ruling that annuls the precept.

The secretary general added that it was decided regarding election campaigns from roughly a decade ago that PR firm Midfield's profit from working for Center was too low and missed profits were therefore classified as illicit donations. The party does not agree.

"We find that the ERJK has not been critical enough in its analysis of Midfield's claims. The committee basing its decision on subpar profits is incomprehensible in a situation where all bills have been paid for work commissioned by the Center Party over the years and the entrepreneur has made a profit offering the party services," Hanimägi said.

The party furthermore finds that the law does not nor possibly could obligate political parties to guarantee profitability of contractual partners.

"A purveyor of services cannot be expected to interfere with the price formation of service providers in free market competition," the secretary general said, adding that share of profit is a business secret that is not shared with the purveyor of services at the time the contract is signed or during its performance.

Tallinn Administrative Court satisfied the complaint of NGO Estonian Center Party and annulled the ERJK precept from April 8, 2019 that ordered the party to pay OÜ Midfield an additional ca €1 million for services offered in 2009-2015.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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