President's external legal advice bill comes to just over €3,000

President Kersti Kaljulaid.
President Kersti Kaljulaid. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The fee paid to a law firm which acted on behalf of the Office of President Kersti Kaljulaid in preparations for a Supreme Court case which pits her office against the Riigikogu, came to €3,174.

The president's public relations adviser, Taavi Linnamäe, said the work done, by law firm Sorianen, was analysis leading up to a legal challenge to the amendments to the Estonian Defence Forces Organisation Act 2014, which the president vetoed earlier this year. Linnamäe was unable to say whether Sorainen would represent the president at the Supreme Court, since the time and format (written or oral) of the hearing has not been set yet.

The materials sent to Sorainen are also covered by Public Information Act 2000,  §35 (1) 3, as: "information the disclosure of which would damage the foreign relations of the state," it is reported.

The amendments to the 2014 act would give the Estonian Defence Force (EDF) and other defense bodies greater rights over intelligence information. The president has opposed the amends, after they were passed by the XIII Riigikogu in February. The XIV Riigkogu, elected in March, reenacted the act unchanged in May, and in June President Kaljulaid said she would be taking the matter to the Supreme Court.

The legal analysis, drafted by several Sorainen experts, followed standard procedure, the firm told ERR last week, also expressing its willingness to represent the president in court.

The president's office has been without legal counsel of its own for over a year; the office defended the practice of using an external law firm, primairly on the issue of expertise, though former Supreme Court Justice Rait Maruste has said that seeking external counsel should be an exception, not a rule.

Proclaiming or rejecting legislation passed by the Riigikogu is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the president and involves no other Constitutional institution. The president also has the right to veto legislation by not proclaiming, instead sending it back to the Riigikogu anew, which is what happened in this case.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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