Court overturns vote of no confidence in Viimsi Rural Municipality Council

31.01.2015 Court overturns vote of no confidence in Viimsi Rural Municipality Council

Senior Partner Paul Varul along with Vitali Šipilov advised political leaders of Viimsi on a dispute concerning a vote of no confidence.

In its judgment of 16 January, the Tallinn Administrative Court ruled that the resolution of the Viimsi Rural Municipality Council dated 13 May 2014 on the expression of no confidence in Märt Vooglaid, Alvar Ild, Oliver Liidemann, Margus Kruusmägi and Jaak Raie breached the statutory right of being heard as well as the Rural Municipality’s own legislation. The infringement of the right of being heard rendered the resolution on the expression of no confidence unlawful and the court overturned it.

The entry into force of the judgment will also invalidate the appointment of new persons in the stead of the persons against whom the motion of no confidence was passed, including the appointment of Jan Trei as Rural Municipality Mayor. Thus, the court essentially established the unlawfulness of the change of power effected in the Rural Municipality on 13 May 2014.

Paul Varul noted: “It is a precedent which indicates that even the adoption of resolutions that seemingly are of a political nature must be in compliance with all the provisions of law and subjected to legal scrutiny. A situation where some Rural Municipality Council members continue, at their own initiative, a council meeting that has been officially closed and adopt resolutions concerning other people – especially significant and negative resolutions such as expression of no confidence – without giving those other people a chance to defend themselves is contrary to the general principles of law and essentially amounts to arbitrary action. The Tallinn Administrative Court rightfully found this situation to be contrary to the law and overturned the expression of no confidence.”

Märt Vooglaid, former Deputy Chairman of the Viimsi Rural Municipality Council, stated: “Actually, power was illegally hijacked in the Viimsi Rural Municipality last May, and I’m glad that the court has expressed its disapproval of what happened. The Council members who passed the no-confidence motion acted arbitrarily behind the coalition’s back. In addition, they disputed our action without any grounds, thereby causing the Rural Municipality significant legal costs. This is a vivid example of how the current power does not care about the law or the interests of the rural municipality.”

Background

Litigation related to the unlawful removal of the then ruling coalition of the Reform Party, the Centre Party and the Social Democrats by the IRL coalition in the Viimsi Rural Municipality Council in spring 2014. Namely, after the meeting of the Viimsi Rural Municipality Council had been closed on 13 May 2014, some of the Rural Municipality Council members unlawfully continued the meeting and expressed no confidence in Märt Vooglaid, the Deputy Chairman of the Rural Municipality Council; Alvar Ild, the Rural Municipality Mayor; Oliver Liidemann and Margus Kruusmägi, Assistant Rural Municipality Mayors; and Jaak Raie, the Deputy Chairman of the Audit Committee. Along with the expression of no confidence, these persons were released from office. This was done without the knowledge of the persons, i.e. they were not given the opportunity to speak before the expression of no confidence in the Council meeting or to challenge the motion of no confidence in any way.

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