We successfully represented Küllike Namm, an esteemed attorney at law, also named attorney of the year by the Estonian Bar Association, in a pioneering criminal dispute. This is a fundamental dispute over the status of a public official.
The Prosecutor’s Office accused Namm, a former board member of the non-profit association wishing to build the Käsmu port, of directing the zoning procedure for the port in the interest of the non-profit association while at the same time being a public official of the Vihula municipality. According to the prosecutor, Namm would be treated as an official as she had provided legal services to the municipality.
“At the time, Namm was active only as a board member of the non-profit association, not as a public official, and she had not signed an engagement letter with the municipality, nor did she have any official authorisation to act on behalf of the municipality,” emphasised Sorainen partner and attorney at law Norman Aas, who represented Namm in court. “The Prosecutor’s Office was trying to expand the definition of a public official to unprecedented lengths, but you cannot make someone a public official who is not one, let alone convict them based on that.” Additionally, it was proven in court that a number of municipal documents, the preparation of which Namm was accused of, were not drafted by her.
The court agreed with the defence
During the three-year-long proceedings, Estonian investigative authorities tried to prove that Küllike Namm was a public official without her knowledge. “From the beginning, the court agreed with us that I am not a public official and therefore refused to consider the rest of the allegations, “stressed Namm. The administrative procedure restriction the client was accused of violating protects public funds from self-serving officials. “A non-profit association where free people decide how to spend their money doesn’t have such procedural restrictions in place,” added Namm.
A threat to all law firms
Our partner Norman Aas praised the Viru County Court for a thorough and meaningful ruling. “We are pleased that the court agreed with most of our arguments. However, the fact that these proceedings could have been avoided altogether had the Prosecutor’s Office weighed our arguments with the same seriousness as the court leaves a bad aftertaste.”
As one of the problems, Aas highlighted that the decision to raid the law firm of Küllike Namm was made too lightly. The main aim of the raid was to uncover the engagement letter and alleged power of attorney from Vihula municipality, although the police and Prosecutor’s Office were already aware during the search that such documents did not exist. “An arbitrary search of anyone is a serious infringement of one’s rights, but an unjustified raid of a law firm threatens client’s confidentiality across all law firms and takes away the opportunity to consult one’s attorney without the interference of the state, “emphasised Aas.
Our services and client team
We represented the client in all legal matters related to the proceedings and in the dispute before Viru County Court. Our client team was led by partner Norman Aas, supported by associate Steven Andrekson and assistant lawyers Maarika Maripuu and Aleksandr Šapovalov.