No. 39



How Strict Should the Administrative Court Be?

05 June 2019


RiTo No. 39, 2019

  • Ivo Pilving

    Ivo Pilving

    Chairman of the Administrative Chamber, Supreme Court

In Estonia, judicial control has been applied to administrative rulings for the past one hundred years. The 1992 Constitution ensures the protection of the individual rights in separate administrative courts.

The control of administrative rulings by independent courts is the litmus test of the rule of law. Specialised administrative courts ensure efficient and expert legal protection. Administrative courts may check the decisions of the authorities only on the basis of the law. This limits the access to courts as well as the intensity of the judicial control. The court does not decide on purely political issues or, as a rule, on court actions that do not concern the rights of the complainant. Court practice in Estonia can be divided into three categories of intensity: strict control, test of rationality, and test of obviousness. The frequency and restraint of the control are subject to two dimensions: the scope of the administrative discretion and the intensity of the interference with rights. A wide scope of discretion can also result from the scientific uncertainty of the disputed issue. In the near future, Estonia is likely to see increasing numbers of administrative rulings based on machine learning. However, the use of algorithms in itself must not cause the judicial control to subside.