At today’s plenary sitting, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Villu Kõve gave to the Riigikogu an overview of courts administration, administration of justice and uniform application of Acts. In his overview, Kõve focused on the uneven workload of courts and the court personnel issue.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court stated that, as population had concentrated to Harju County, the number of cases in Harju County Court had grown so big that judges had sometimes difficulties with coping with their workload. In other regions of Estonia, the number of cases had indeed fallen but the cases were increasingly more complicated, Kõve said. He stated that it was also increasingly more difficult to find judges and court personnel to courts in counties. Kõve pointed out as an example that a large share of judges of Narva lived in Tallinn. Also, in South Estonia, many judges do not live where they administer justice. Kõve said that the video conference solution was being used more and more, but there were cases where direct contact with the person was necessary. “Looking from Tallinn or Tartu, it may seem surprising but there are people in Estonia who do not use e-mail, who do not have an ID-card or who need to go to the nearest library to use a computer. And the number of such people is not as small as it may seem when looking from Tallinn or Tartu. However, administration of justice should be kept available to all of us in Estonia,” the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court said.
Kõve pointed out that, in the European Union comparison, Estonia ranked the second after Denmark with its judicial system in terms of the speed, quality, independence and efficiency of proceedings. At present, in his words, the question is how many judges and court officials the judicial system will need in five or ten years’ time and what their qualifications should be, and to what extent digital solutions could reduce the need for personnel. He said that the Council for Administration of Courts and the Ministry of Justice were working to find solutions. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court said that there should be no rapid changes there. “Judges are used to the current system and that has ensured quick resolution of matters, and therefore every change must be considered seriously here,” Kõve noted.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court also called on the Riigikogu to notify early of changes concerning the court system so that courts could have time to prepare themselves. “We need stability in legislative drafting, better justification, well-considered implementation rules, and comprehensive Acts that have been worked out at a calm pace rather than small ‘flashes’ somewhere that may upset the whole system,” Kõve noted.
In the debate, Hanno Pevkur took the floor on behalf of the Reform Party Faction and said that one of the more serious challenges of the judicial system was the efficiency of proceedings. In his words, the Riigikogu also has to understand that the legal space must not become more complicated. Pevkur noted that, in the judgments of the Supreme Court, greater emphasis could be placed on legibility and referencing, so that the legal space would be more clearly understandable to the people.
The Riigikogu passed a Resolution
Under the Resolution of the Riigikogu “Removal of Members and Appointment of New Members of the Supervisory Board of the Foundation Environmental Investment Centre” (23 OE), submitted by the Environment Committee, Valeri Korb, Andres Metsoja, Meelis Mälberg and Rainer Vakra were removed from the Supervisory Board of the foundation, and members of the Riigikogu Merry Aart, Igor Kravtšenko, Kalvi Kõva and Priit Sibul were appointed as new members of the Supervisory Board.
The amendment is connected with the end of the term of the previous Riigikogu. According to subsection 56 (1) of the Environmental Charges Act, four members of the Supervisory Board of the Environmental Investment Centre are appointed by a decision of the Riigikogu on a proposal of the Environmental Committee.
80 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Resolution, and there was one abstention.
A Bill passed the first reading
The aim of the Bill on the Acceptance of the Protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty on the Accession of the Republic of North Macedonia (26 SE), initiated by the Government, is to approve the protocol to the treaty on the accession of the Republic of North Macedonia to NATO.
North Macedonia’s accession to NATO will strengthen the organisation, and the security of its member states, as well as the foreign policy situation because it will increase security and stability in Europe. In addition, it will confirm that the open doors policy as one of the greatest success stories of NATO continues to be viable and fulfils its main task, expansion of the zone of security and stability in Europe, based on the principle of democracy and the rule of law.
The explanatory memorandum points out that, according to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, an armed attack against a Party to the Treaty is considered an armed attack against all Parties, including Estonia, which must be countered with collective defence. When the protocol enters into force, therefore, Estonia undertakes to defend North Macedonia, and North Macedonia undertakes to defend Estonia.
North Macedonia will become the 30th member of NATO after all current member states will have accepted the protocol according to their national law. Considering the earlier practice, the acceptance process may take up to one and a half years.
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu
(The recording will be uploaded with a delay).
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