No. 17




The role of the Chancellor of Justice in defending the Constitution

  • Allar Jõks

    Advisor under a UN mandate to the office of Ombudsman of Georgia

The model of the Estonian Chancellor of Justice is unique. No other country combines the function of constitutional supervision and ombudsman.

In this article, the writer shares some of his ideas from his seven years in the post of Chancellor of Justice regarding the role of the Chancellor of Justice qua constitutional institution, focusing on the aspect of the activity of the Legal Chancellor pertaining to constitutional supervision. Among other issues, the article touches on the question of how active the Chancellor of Justice should be allowed to be. Insofar as the power of the Riigikogu cannot be absolute, someone must make sure that a parliamentary majority does not abuse its majority over a minority. The smaller the number of people who hold majority power, the more dangerous it is to the constitutional rule of law. If a democratic system functions impeccably, lawyers ordinarily have no need to start “prodding” at it from the side. Estonia’s political culture, partly due to its young age, has too much wheeling and dealing and is too clannish, and there is the illusion of the omnipotence of the political agreement. For this reason, both the Supreme Court and the Chancellor of Justice must interpret the Constitution and legislation, and shape practices, in a manner that ensures the best possible protection of fundamental rights and liberties and the basic principles of the Constitution.

Full article in Estonian