Supervision of authorities
The Chancellor of Justice endeavours to ensure that the courts of law, other authorities and other persons or bodies assigned to perform public tasks comply with the law and fulfil their assigned obligations.
The Chancellor of Justice supervises the authorities by handling any written complaints arising from their actions. A complaint may be filed with the Chancellor of Justice if the complainant believes that an authority, civil servant or public official or other person or body assigned to perform public tasks has acted in an unlawful manner, otherwise wrongfully or failed to fulfil their responsibilities. The Chancellor of Justice can also open an investigation on an issue on his own inititative, such as matters brought forth in the media.
The Chancellor of Justice is entitled to perform inspections of those authorities, institutions, offices and other units that fall within the scope of his supervisory authority. In practice, the Deputy Chancellor of Justice performs any necessary inspections. Over recent years, he has performed around thirty inspections of different authorities each year.
The Chancellor of Justice is entitled to receive any necessary information from authorities and other public bodies for the purpose of ensuring the legality of their actions. The Chancellor of Justice can order the initiation of a police or preliminary investigation for the purposes of clarifying a particular matter.
Procedure for filing a complaint
Anyone has the right to turn to the Chancellor of Justice. A complaint can be filed with the Chancellor of Justice as concerns one’s own issue or otherwise, if the complainant believes that an authority, civil servant or public official has acted in an unlawful manner or has failed to fulfil his or her responsibilities
The Chancellor of Justice does not handle complaints that concern a matter that is more than two years old unless there are special grounds to do so (until 31 May 2011, the period of limitation was five years). The complainant will be notified without delay if a matter will not be handled for this reason. Furthermore, the complainant will be notified if a particular matter falls beyond the scope of the authority of the Chancellor of Justice. The complainant will also be notified if a matter will not be handled by the Office of the Chancellor of Justice due to the fact that the matter is currently under consideration by another competent authority or is currently open for appeal.
The Chancellor of Justice may forward the handling of a complaint to a competent authority, if there are grounds for such an action based on the nature of the matter. In such cases, the complainant will be notified about the transfer.
The division of the duties of the Chancellor of Justice and the Parliamentary Ombudsman is prescribed by law. For this reason, the Chancellor of Justice does not generally handle complaints that concern the Defence Forces. The Chancellor of Justice does not either handle complaints that concern deprivation of freedom or institutions to which a person has been taken against his or her will. The Chancellor of Justice transfers these types of cases to the Parliamentary Ombudsman for resolution.
A complaint must be filed in writing. More information about the process for filing a complaint and the complaint form can be found online under the heading Complaint. The processing of a complaint is free of charge for the complainant.
Procedures following a complaint
On the basis of a filed complaint, the Chancellor of Justice initiates procedures that he deems relevant and justified. Any clarifying report or survey that the Chancellor of Justice deems necessary will be acquired.
The Chancellor of Justice can issue a reprimand concerning an unlawful or wrongful action of the relevant party. In more serious cases, the Chancellor of Justice can decide to initiate legal proceedings. The decision to initiate proceedings against a judge on the grounds of an unlawful action in a judicial office can only be made by the Chancellor of Justice or the Parliamentary Ombudsman.
The Chancellor of Justice can bring to an authority’s attention the requirements of the law or practices related to good governance. If necessary, the Chancellor of Justice can also make a proposal concerning the amendment of provisions or stipulations, or the reversal of a court decision. The Chancellor of Justice can present a competent authority with a proposal to resolve a dispute, or recommend that the authority provide compensation for relevant damages.