Supreme Court agrees to hear former Põhja-Sakala council chair appeal

Priit Toobal .
Priit Toobal . Source: ERR

The Supreme Court has decided to hear an appeal from Center Party politician Priit Toobal wants the annulment of a decision by Põhja-Sakala Rural Municipality which led to a council sitting held last September, at which he was ousted from office following a vote of no-confidence.

This follows a decision both by the first-tier Tartu Administrative Court, and the second-tier Tartu District Court, to decline to hear Toobal's' appeal, finding that he did not have the right to appeal.

Speaking Wednesday, Toobal told ERR he was: "Glad that the Supreme Court decided to consider the matter by its merits. When the lower courts said that they would not look into this matter because I had no right to appeal, the Supreme Court said no - we will certainly look at the matter, based on its merits."

Toobal, who was Põhja-Sakala Rural Municipality Council Chair until September 22 last year, had appealed a council meeting convened without his knowledge, by the council's deputy chair, Taavi Umala.

After the first- and second-tier courts found he had no right to appeal, on October 25, Toobal appealed to the Supreme Court overturn these decisions.

After considering the matter for four months, the Supreme Court decided to process his appeal. The decision was made by judges Julia Laffranque, Viive Ligi and Ivo Pilving.

The regulatory appeal was entered into proceedings on the basis of Section 236¹ of the Code of Administrative Court Procedure, which states that a complaint will be processed if the views presented in that complaint give reasonable cause to believe that a circuit court had incorrectly applied substantive law or significantly violated the norms of judicial procedure, leading to, or potentially leading to, an incorrect court decision. 

This is also included in the proceedings if the resolution of the complaint has a fundamental meaning for ensuring legal certainty or for the formation of uniform judicial practice and if the decision of the Supreme Court in this matter is important from the point of view of the uniform application of the law or the further development of the law, Toobal explained.

The September 22 Põhja-Sakala municipal council meeting led to a no-confidence vote in Toobal, followed by the appointment of a new council chair, a new municipal mayor an a new municipal government.

Toobal said: "I understand that the admission of the appeal by the Supreme Court is not yet an assessment of what had happened, but it is still an important interim decision, one which creates the possibility that the administrative court would now have to start discussing the merits of the appeal I originally filed. The most positive decision that can come from this would relate to September 22, ie. recognizing the decisions adopted by the 2022 council as null and void."

At the same time, Toobal conceded to ERR, the annulment of that decision is no longer so important to him, though legal clarity is important, he said. "It is important that legal clarity is given on whether a session can be organized in this way and whether the sessions adopted in such an organized session are legally competent or not. I would like an assessment on this matter."


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mait Ots

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