The Proceedings of the Chancellor of Justice (Part Three)

The Right of the Chancellor of Justice to Speak at Hearings of the Riigikogu and the Government of the Republic
The constitution gives the Chancellor of Justice the right to speak at hearings of the Riigikogu and the government of the Republic. Proposals and other material that will be discussed at the hearings are sent to the Chancellor of Justice if he or she is required to know about them, beginning with the proceedings of laws and decrees and ending with the Chancellor's receiving them. The Chancellor of Justice examines the constitutionality of legislative acts and offers an opinion when necessary. In terms of the material that is presented to the government of the Republic, the Chancellor of Justice basically carries out the function of pre-examining through his or her right to speak. When the opinion that the Chancellor of Justice presents during the pre-examination is not accepted and a proposal that includes unconstitutional provisions is received, the Chancellor of Justice formally submits a motion to change the legislative act, so that it is in accordance with the constitution, and this motion has to be addressed in twenty days.

​A Proposal to Bring a Legislative Act into Accordance with the Constitution and Laws
When it comes to reviewing constitutionality, the Chancellor of Justice has the right and obligation to make a proposal to the organ that has formulated a law or a decree to bring into accordance with the constitution and established laws any legislative act that violates them. According to the constitution, in 20 days the organ that has passed an act must address the suggestion of the Chancellor of Justice. As a rule, the organ agrees with the suggestion and co-ordinates the legislative act with the constitution and laws. But if the organ doesn’t agree with it, the Chancellor of Justice may submit an application to the Supreme Court to invalidate the problematic provision of the law or decree.

The Presentation to the Riigikogu​
According to the constitution, the Chancellor of Justice has to analyze applications presented to him about changing laws, passing new laws and the work of governmental establishments and, when necessary, deliver a presentation to the Riigikogu. The presentation is mainly concerned with insufficient regulation and loopholes in valid laws, the need to elaborate on some term used in the law and to specify the rights and obligations stated in it. The presentation can be seen as a “softer way” to call attention to the shortcomings of a law, because the law sets no fixed deadline for meeting the suggestions presented in it. The form of such a presentation enables the Chancellor of Justice to provide more time to deal with the highlighted problems, when needed. When the suggestions and comments are not accepted, the Chancellor of Justice again has the right to present a specific suggestion to the Riigikogu, which must be addressed in twenty days.

​An Answer to an Inquiry by a Member of the Riigikogu
A member of the Riigikogu has the right to question the Chancellor of Justice. The latter has to respond to the inquiry at a meeting of the Riigikogu within 20 business days. At most, he or she receives about 10 questions a year from members of the Riigikogu. Written questions must be answered in 10 working days. The Chancellor of Justice answers up to 20 written questions a year. Members of the Riigikogu have asked the Chancellor of Justice a variety of questions. Sometimes they have doubts about whether some legislative act is in accordance with the constitution; other times, the dubious activities of state authorities and officials are questioned.

The Overview to the Riigikogu of the Activities of the Chancellor of Justice​
Once a year, on the third working week of the autumn session of the plenary of the Riigikogu, the Chancellor of Justice presents to the Riigikogu an overview of his or her activities. The overview includes a report on the conformance of the legislative and executive powers of the state and local governments to the constitution and laws, as well as a report on the work that the Chancellor of Justice has done in protecting basic rights and freedoms. The overview is published in an appendix of Riigi Teataja. In 2005 the Chancellor of Justice presented to the Riigikogu the 12th overview of his activities.

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