TALLINN – On Thursday, a high-level conference was held at the Estonian embassy in Berlin on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution, with the President of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany Stephan Harbarth and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Estonia Villu Kove taking part, among others.
The event primarily focused on the issue of how the spread of the internet and new technological possibilities affect the protection of fundamental rights and the work of the courts.
Other topics discussed included risks of digitizing court proceedings, such as a decrease in public participation in the administration of justice or the fact that in civil disputes it is more difficult to reconcile the parties over a long distance. The issue whether the public broadcasting of court hearings on the internet may violate the right of the participants in the proceedings to the protection of their privacy or their procedural rights was also touched upon.
In his presentation, Harbarth focused on the protection of fundamental rights in the current world, mainly dealing with cases related to social media and data protection.
Kove first gave the German guests a small overview of the Estonian Constitution, paying attention to its stability -- only minor changes have been made so far. Speaking about the use of the internet as a possible fundamental right, he considered that it is rather a tool for exercising other fundamental rights.
Kove also spoke about the digitization of court proceedings in Estonia and its problems, citing as an example a case in which the Supreme Court en banc recognized as unconstitutional a situation where the state fee was lower when turning to the court online than when contacting the court in other ways.
The discussion following the presentations was led by Tartu Circuit Court judge Madis Ernits.