Chancellor of Justice: Rae Rural Municipality infringed Good Administrative Behaviour

The Chancellor of Justice is of the position that the decision of Rae Rural Municipality Government to suspend the payment of 120 euros in support to a resident of the municipality for the reason that she owed the municipality 2 euros and 50 cents is unconstitutional.

The parent addressed the Chancellor of Justice as Rae Rural Municipality failed to pay her 120 euros in support for a toddler who does not attend nursery school. The reason behind the failure to pay the support was that the applicant had not paid 2 euros and 50 cents by the due date for a study journal of her child who attends school. The arrears had arisen because the sales offer for the study journal was made to the mother and the invoice was submitted to the father’s e-mail address, which he no longer used. The municipality did not remind the parent of the arrears, but instead suspended the payment of the support.

The Chancellor of Justice is of the opinion that the suspension of payment of the support was unconstitutional. “It’s simply tactless to deprive a person, due to a debt of 2 euros and 50 cents, of support which is approximately 50 times higher – all the more so that support for toddlers who don’t attend nursery school is paid for the reason that the municipality can’t fulfil its obligation before residents to ensure a place in nursery school,” said Nele Parrest, the Adviser and Deputy to the Chancellor of Justice.

The Chancellor of Justice is of the position that Rae Municipal Government did not adhere to several principles of administrative proceedings in the settlement of the case. For example, the municipality did not notify the applicant of the initiation of proceedings conducted in respect of her; the applicant was not heard; and the decision to suspend the support was not delivered properly to the applicant. “Notifying someone about proceedings being conducted in respect to them is one of the most fundamental principles of good administration, so Rae Municipality should have involved the applicant in the proceedings regarding the suspension of the support and should have listened to her opinion and objections,” Parrest said.

To the knowledge of the Chancellor of Justice, there have been other similar cases in Rae Rural Municipality where due to relatively small arrears a person has been deprived of a significantly higher amount of support. The Chancellor of Justice made a proposal to Rae Rural Municipality to apologise to the applicant and pay out the unreceived support for a toddler who does not attend school. As the Administrative Procedure Act has been in force for more than ten years, but despite this Rae Rural Municipality violated the basics of administrative proceedings, the Chancellor of Justice also recommended that Rae Rural Municipality consider testing the knowledge of its officials and provide them with relevant training.