No. 32




Criminal Procedure Reform in Estonia in 2000–2003: Subsequent Audit of Legislation

14 December 2015


RiTo No. 32, 2015

The correlation between the quantitative and qualitative indicators of legislation has been in the focus of attention of Estonian politicians for a long time. Quantitative indicators were considered a priority in legislative activities during the period when Estonia was preparing for the membership of the European Union.

The reason for this was the need to realise the principle of acquis communautaire. After the accession, the quality of legislation, or transition from the conveyor method of legislation to impact assessment and measuring the social feedback of legislation, has been emphasised as a priority at various levels of high authority.

Priorities aimed at the quality of legislation require the implementation of a relevant mechanism in the organisation of work of the legislative body. Generally speaking, there is no such mechanism. The attention of the legislator is still focused on new legislative initiatives, and not on assessing the impact of what has been done.

In order to illustrate the need for the audit of legislative impacts, the author discusses in retrospect a specifi reforming Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure, which was passed several years ago. The academic debates before and after the reform, dissenting opinions on the effectiveness of the reform during the legislative proceedings stage of the Bill, the expected purposes of the Bill, social feedback after a decade had passed from the implementation of the reforms, and assessment of achieving the aims that were set have been touched upon.

The author is of the opinion that the purposes that were expected from the reform Act have not been realised. The reform has not brought about the increase of legal certainty or optimisation of the burden of judicial system. Transition from the continental European inquisitorial model of criminal procedure to the American competitive model has resulted in the domination of subjectivity and decline of objective evidence in court practice. The solutions of criminal procedures are losing their credibility and are not guarantees for legal peace.

As a former member of the Riigikogu who knows the organisation of work of the Parliament, the author is of the opinion that it is possible to raise the quality of legislation by making legislative audit a part of the practice of the legislator. Auditing activity does not require changing the existing organisational structure of the Riigikogu. Defiing of this function in the Riigikogu Rules of Procedure and Internal Rules Act would provide relevant organisational framework.

Full article in Estonian