The beginning of June brought good news to the love story of Darja and Jana when the Harju county court ruled in favor of the partnership family. The court regulation obligates the notary, who in the winter refused entry into a registered partnership contract, to review their application.
Estonian citizen Jana and Russian citizen Darja are a family who among many other couples wish to be together and live a happy family life. This winter they set off to the notary to contract a registered partnership contract in order to ensure a united future. Unexpectedly however, the notary they chose refused to go through with the process.
The notary justified their refusal with the fact that the implementing legislation of the registered partnership act hasn’t been adopted in Estonia yet. In addition, they brought up that Darja has a Russian citizenship and according to their estimation Russian law doesn’t allow contracting a registered partnership. Darja and Jana concluded that they’ve met all the requirements for entry into a registered partnership contract and that the notary lacks the legal basis to refuse their request. Therefore, Darja and Jana contacted us, and the family went to court in cooperation with the human rights center and the law firm Sirel & Partners.
The court confirmed that Jana and Darja have met all the conditions for entry into the registered partnership contract and that the absence of implementation legislation doesn’t rightfully justify the notary’s refusal to proceed with the process. The absence of the implementation legislation for the registered partnership act has caused a legal loophole in the Estonian justice system but that doesn’t give the notary the authority to deny couples their constitutional right to a family and it’s protection. The legal loophole must be overcome by legal interpretation.
The court dealt separately with the notary’s claim of the fact that Darja lives in Russia and has a Russian citizenship which prevents the entry into a registered partnership contract. The court explained that according to § 1 subdivision 1 of the registered partnership act a registered partnership contract may be entered between two natural persons of whom at least one has residence in Estonia. Therefore, if one member of the partnership family lives in a foreign country, the possibility for entry into a registered partnership contract should not be affected.
In addition, the court didn’t agree with the notary’s position that if entry into a registered partnership contract isn’t possible in a foreign country, then the substantive conditions aren’t met to enter the contract in Estonia. The Estonian constitution also protects same-sex couples and their partnership is legally regulated.
The court estimates that Estonian law would be in contradiction with essential principles if the refusal to proceed with the entry into a registered partnership contract is based on the fact that Russian law doesn’t allow entry into the contract. The court admitted however that the Russian Federation might not recognize the partnership contract, but that doesn’t prevent entry into the contract in Estonia.
In conclusion, the court made the decision that the notary is required to review Darja and Jana’s application. The decision hasn’t come into effect yet and the notary has a right to appeal against the ruling.
We commend the court for a fair decision and once again thank the lawyers Tõnis Loortis and Kalle-Kaspar Sepper as well as all the donors with whose help we’ve been able to support Darja and Jana’s court path.
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