Riigikogu
Riigikogu
Skip navigation

Riigikogu

This morning at the plenary sitting, the Riigikogu approved the proposals of the Chancellor of Justice on bringing the Nature Conservation Act, Code of Civil Procedure, and Work Ability Allowance Act into conformity with the Constitution. The second reading of the Motor Insurance Act was also completed.

Proposal of the Chancellor of Justice to bring the regulation on building exclusion zones in the Nature Conservation Act into conformity with the Constitution

At the plenary assembly today, the Riigikogu discussed the 6 May proposal of the Chancellor of Justice to bring the provisions on building exclusion zones in the Nature Conservation Act into conformity with the Constitution.

The proposal was presented by the Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise, who agreed that although the existing provisions of the Nature Conservation Act that prohibit new buildings or constructions in the waterside building exclusion zones are largely constitutional, they do create disproportionate property restrictions in certain cases.

The Chancellor referred to a list of exceptions to the building exclusion zone set out in the Nature Conservation Act; these are, however, lacking.

“Consequently, let’s say that a museum wants to install a sewage pipe, or a landowner wants to install a culvert over a land improvement ditch, and a bridge over that, they need to initiate a detailed spatial plan and reduce the building exclusion zone. We have heard from local governments that these proceedings over one sewage pipe, minor driveway, or a culvert and bridge can take up to 18 months, plus the working time of the officials,” Madise said in her presentation to the members of the Riigikogu. The Chancellor of Justice proposed amending or complementing the Nature Conservation Act with an extended list of permitted constructions, and to provide simpler and less burdening proceedings that would allow the Environmental Board to decide on allowing the construction.

The Chancellor was asked whether the amendment would not give people with malicious intent a loophole that could be used to bypass the restrictions of a building exclusion zone. Madise replied that the Environmental Board would remain authorised to assess whether the specific action compromised the protection of waterside areas. However, the amendment would considerably accelerate the process.

The proposal found support, with 43 members of the Riigikogu voting in favour and one against it. Consequently, the Environment Committee received the task of initiating a Bill on bringing the Nature Conservation Act into conformity with the Constitution.

Proposal of the Chancellor of Justice to bring the Code of Civil Procedure into conformity with the Constitution

The Chancellor of Justice made a proposal to the Riigikogu on 3 May on bringing the Code of Civil Procedure into conformity with the Constitution.

The Chancellor of Justice recommends amending the Code of Civil Procedure in a way that would allow to take into account the person’s expenses on food, medicines, communication means, and products of hygiene when providing them procedural assistance, at least during a non-contentious procedure. The Chancellor also asked that a similar option would be at least considered for contentious procedure as well.

Procedural assistance is provided to enable a person to take part in a civil procedure. Procedural assistance means that a person is completely or partially released from covering the expenses of the court proceedings (such as state fees, translation expenses, or legal fees of an attorney). The assistance is calculated based on the average monthly income of the applicant, with expenses set out in the law deducted; today, these include only taxes, mandatory insurance fees, statutory maintenance obligation payments, and reasonable housing and transport costs. However, the provision excludes the deduction of the expenses on food, medicines, communication, and hygiene products.

The Chancellor of Justice referred to the most vulnerable members of the society (such as underprivileged individuals or people with limited active legal capacity or special needs) who come into contact with non-contentious proceedings and who would be particularly hard hit if the expenses for their basic needs would not be taken into account in the decision to provide procedural assistance. Such persons may find it particularly difficult to defend their rights in different non-contentious proceedings and they have unreasonably lesser chances of defending their rights compared to other social groups. This goes against the general equality principle enshrined in the Constitution.

45 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the proposal, one was against it, and one abstained. This means that the proposal of the Chancellor of Justice was approved, and the Legal Affairs Committee was given the task of initiating a Bill to bring the Code of Civil Procedure into conformity with the Constitution.

Proposal of the Chancellor of Justice to bring the Work Ability Allowance Act into conformity with the Constitution

The Riigikogu discussed the proposal of the Chancellor of Justice from 9 May on amending the Work Ability Allowance Act with the goal of bringing it into conformity with the Constitution.

Madise explained that she had been contacted by a person with no capacity for work who had lost their work ability allowance after the termination of their employment relationship because they had been paid during one calendar month not only their pay for the previous month but also the payments to be paid at the termination of the employment relationship, including the pay for the current month and the holiday pay.

The aim of the work ability allowance is to support the working and employment of people with a reduced capacity for work, and to ensure them an income. If a person with reduced capacity for work is working and their gross monthly income exceeds EUR 1,851.30, their work ability allowance is reduced.

Occasionally, an employer might make a single payment in one month covering several months’ pay, which can lead to the reduction of the work ability allowance. The Work Ability Allowance Act provides exceptions in situations where the income in a month exceeds this limit because of the payment of holiday pay, sickness benefit, or benefit for temporary incapacity for work, or a change in the payment schedule. However, these exceptions do not cover a situation where a person receives several months’ pay in one month because their employment relationship ended during the current month and they received both the pay for the previous month and all the payments to be made at the termination of the employment relationship.

The Chancellor of Justice felt that there was no reasonable justification to the different treatment of people with a reduced capacity for work, and that this was not in conformity with the Constitution. She therefore made a proposal to the Riigikogu to bring the Act into conformity with the Constitution so that the work ability allowance was not reduced in a situation where a person receives several months’ pay in one month as well as their holiday pay because their employment relationship terminated that month.

The proposal of the Chancellor of Justice was supported with 48 votes in favour. The Social Affairs Committee was given the task to initiate a Bill on bringing the Work Ability Allowance Act into conformity with the Constitution.

One Bill passed the second reading

The Bill on Amendments to the Motor Insurance Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (400 SE), initiated by the Government, will transpose into Estonian law the amendments to the European Union Motor Insurance Directive.

According to the Bill, personal light electric vehicles with a maximum design speed of over 25 km/h or a maximum net weight of more than 25 kg and a maximum design speed of more than 14 km/h will have to be insured. Any vehicle moving on land and propelled solely by an engine will have to be insured. A derogation will be made for motorised wheelchairs and vehicles used only in confined areas, such as lawn tractors. In order to make it easier to understand whether compulsory motor insurance cover extends to a vehicle or not, the Estonian Motor Insurance Bureau is planning to publish information material online.

In addition to the requirement to insure personal light electric vehicles, Estonian law will transpose the principle that in the event of the bankruptcy of an insurance company, each Member State must have a guarantee fund to compensate damages instead of the insolvent company. In Estonia, this task is given to the Estonian Motor Insurance Bureau, which will collect funds from insurance companies to cover the risk of insolvency.

The Bill will also raise the limits of maximum insurance payouts: from EUR 1.2 million to 1.3 million in the event of damage to property and from EUR 5.6 million to EUR 6.45 million in the event of personal injury. According to the explanatory memorandum, the average damage to property in Estonia is around EUR 2,200 and personal injury EUR 4,200. The greatest motor insurance damage ever in Estonia occurred in 2018, amounting to EUR 5.6 million, EUR 5.4 million of which was for personal injury.

One of the amendments made in the Bill during the second reading allows victims of traffic accidents to also have access to information regarding the previously paid compensation payouts for non-patrimonial damage. Today, insurance providers have access to the relevant comparative statistics, but victims do not, which sets the victim in an unfair information monopoly situation.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian)

Video recording will be available to watch later on the Riigikogu YouTube channel.

Riigikogu Press Service
Maiki Vaikla
+372 631 6456, +372 5666 9508
[email protected]
Questions: [email protected]

Feedback