Court confesses state inability to arrange father meet child

Isa ja poeg.

PHOTO: SCANPIX

On Friday, Tallinn Administrative Court enforced State Liability Act to sue justice ministry for €7,500 to compensate a man as for three years the state has proven unable to enforce the fulfilment of a court decision – enabling the father to meet his son.

The court declared Republic of Estonia financially responsible for the lack of effective laws to ensure fast enforcement of court decision. According to the court, failure of the state to act has led to a situation where implementation of court rulings is not guaranteed by coercive measures and is up to good will alone. The court found that the father, during the three years, exhausted all his legal options to meet his child and the forced separation from his child has caused non-patrimonial damage.

In his complaint to the court, the father noted his bond to the child has thus irreparably been destroyed. The court deemed the damage as remarkable and ordered the ministry of justice to pay €7,500 while the father had asked for much more – €20,000.

Though the court established the order for the father and the child in September 2011, the mother of the child has not let them meet and a bailiff was not able to see the law honoured – as the mother sued to alter the rules.

While the mother resisted father’s attempts to meet the child, in February 2012 the court punished mother by forced payment of €192 which the mother contested to the highest instances of Estonian Supreme Court. Eventually, the decision bounced back and was rejected. Likewise, the mother’s appeal to have communication rules altered also went all the way to very Supreme Court.

As noted by Tallinn Administrative Court, the bailiff is unable to fulfil the ruling related to communication between father and son, the situation thus requiring a new court proceeding possibly lasting for years.

Last December, the father addressed Harju County Court to have a guardian appointed to arrange the communication and, if needed, to apply force. This January, the court ordained a Tallinn child protection worker as guardian for three months, but never proceeded the enforcement part. Sadly, the guardian thing never worked due to overly general wording of the law. The guardian institution never attempted to cooperate and the father lacked leverage to affect them.

Justice minister Andres Anvelt agrees the law is deficient and the ministry will not contest the ruling.

«We will rather use our hands and our time to seek a solution, rather than to dispute the issue, seeing the father has been through the entire legal pallet of options. As a ministry, we will works towards such regrettable cases never to be repeated,» said Mr Anvelt.

According to the minister, a revision of the issue is on their agenda and in weeks ahead he will be handed the initial analysis. «Alas, to the father this is not much of a good news as it brings no swift solution,» noted Mr Anvelt.

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