OREANDA-NEWS. August 27, 2013. SORAINEN Estonia successfully advised the Estonian Association of Mining Enterprises, the Association of Estonian Construction Material Producers, the Estonian Peat Association and the Federation of Estonian Chemical Industries on their application to the Estonian Chancellor of Justice.

In 2009, the Estonian Government fixed the natural resources exploitation fee at a set amount for a five-year period. Although this meant that the government had committed to not changing the fee until 2015, the Regulation was suddenly changed in 2011 and the fee was increased. According to an explanatory report by the Estonian Government, the fee increase would have raised national income by approx EUR 5 million in 2013, EUR 12 million in 2014 and EUR 17 million in 2015. SORAINEN assisted the clients in applying to the Chancellor of Justice to declare the fee increase unconstitutional, relying on breach of constitutional rights such as freedom to conduct a business and constitutional principles such as principles of legal certainty and legitimate expectation.

The Chancellor of Justice agreed that the Estonian Government had violated the principles of legitimate expectation and prohibition of retroactive effect, as the fees were changed before the end of the five-year period and the time of entry into force was not long enough for the enterprises to make necessary changes.

As a result of the application the Chancellor of Justice proposed that the Estonian Government should bring the Regulation into conformity with the Constitution. However, the Estonian Government did not agree with the Chancellor’s proposal and did not change the Regulation. Therefore, the Chancellor of Justice filed a request to the Supreme Court to declare the Regulation unconstitutional. The case is still pending before the Supreme Court. This case is remarkable since this is the first time that the Chancellor of Justice has filed a request to the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional or invalid a regulation with significant fiscal effect on the state budget.

The clients are advised by partner Allar Joks and associate Anu Maria Kutimaa.