European Court of Justice preliminary decisions and their effect on Estonian judicial practice
In only over two and a half years, Estonia has had to get used to the fact that it is not only in the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg but also of the European Court of Justice, the judiciary institution of European Union.
Thus the application of Estonian law and knowledge of Supreme Court rulings is not enough when it comes to resolving Estonian court cases, especially in the administrative sphere where there is the most interconnections with European Union law. Analysis is necessary regarding whether the law of the European Union regulates a given field, and if it does, in what form. Without thorough analysis it would be hard to say how much the decisions of the European Court of Justice have affected Estonian judicial practice in concrete cases, especially considering the fact that as far as the writer knows, no Estonian court has requested a preliminary ruling from the European Court of Justice. Still, there are abundant examples of how European Court practice has been taken into account in Estonian judicial practice, especially the practice of Estonian courts of law. The first major rulings from the Supreme Court civil and administrative chambers attempt to provide a more general foundations and guidelines for judges for ruling on matters related to the law of the European Union. Judges ruling on a particular case will have to bone up on precedents in the field of European Union law. Once they are familiar with the case, the psychological obstacle is removed and it is much easier to rule on a case.