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Supreme Court Rules Judge Appointment Illegal

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Supreme Court Rules Judge Appointment Illegal

Supreme Court of Iceland

Photo: Páll Kjartansson.

A recent verdict by the Supreme Court of Iceland concluded that lawyers Ástráður Haraldsson and Jóhannes Rúnar Jóhannsson be compensated 700,000 ISK (6,500$, 4900£), RÚV reports. The matter pertains to an illegitimate handling of their application to Landsréttur, a newly founded level in the Icelandic court system. Ástráður and Jóhannes were adjudged to be among those 15 applicants most fit for hiring to Landsréttur court, yet were shunned for the position due to a decision by the Minister of Justice, Sigríður Andersen.

A neutral selection committee had previously deemed Ástráður and Jóhannes to be among the 15 most fit for the position, of the 33 total applicants. Ástráður and Jóhannes took the state to court over the hiring, where they asked for both compensation and a liability for damages. The Supreme Court of Iceland concluded that the twosome has rights to compensation, yet it decided that they would not have rights to liability for damages as it was unclear if the decision had led to financial damages for them.

Sigríður Andersen was the Minister of Justice when the decision was taken to not hire Ástráður and Jóhannes. It was within her jurisdiction to handle the hirings and the Minister compiled her own ranking of the fittest applicants, which was different to the ranking made by the neutral selection committee. The hirings were then completed according to her list. Sigríður Andersen has withheld her position as Minister of Justice in the new coalition government which was formed on the 30th of November, made up of Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn (the Independence Party), Vinstri Grænir (the Left-Green Movement), and Framsóknarflokkurinn (the Progressive Party).

Landsréttur is a newly formed mid-level court system intended to handle cases in between the District Courts and the Supreme Court of Iceland. Decisions by one of the eight District Courts in Iceland are appealed to Landsréttur and its decisions will be final. In some exceptions, and with the permission of the Supreme Court, decisions by Landsréttur can be appealed to the Supreme Court of Iceland.

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