Kristi Jakobsoo
Supreme Court human resources specialist


Number of judges and justices

As of 1 January 2023[1], there were 254[2] judge and justice positions in Estonia, and of these 245 were filled. That means nine were vacant, of which one was at Tallinn Circuit Court, four at Harju County Court, three at Tartu County Court and one at Pärnu County Court. The hiring round for a position of Tallinn Circuit Court judge has been completed and the new circuit court judge will start work in March 2023. The hiring rounds for filling vacancies in the county courts announced in spring 2022 have also now been completed; the new judges will start serving on the bench from January to March 2023.

Figure 1. Distribution of judge positions.
Figure 2. Distribution of filled judge positions.
Figure 3. Vacant positions 2012–2023.

Gender structure of the judges

As of the beginning of the year, there were 165 women and 60 men serving as judges.

Figures 4.1 and 4.2. Gender structure of the judges

Age of judges

As of the beginning of 2023, the average age of judges was 49.4.

Figure 5. Average age of judges in each court

The largest contingent among the judges currently on the bench are the 40-49 age group (91), followed by 85 in the 60-69 group and 35 in the 30-39 group. There are 34 judges that are 60 and older. There are no judges under the age of 30.

Figure 6. Average age of judges, 2012–2023.
Figure 7. Distribution of judges by age group in different court instances (number of judges).

New faces on the bench

As of the beginning of the year, there were 14 judges legible to retire, and three of them will do so in 2023. In the period from 2023 to 2028, 51 other judges will retire. Close to half of them will be eligible in 2023 – the year that marks the 30–year anniversary of the first 1993 appointments; 30 years of service entitles judges to the pension for years worked regardless of their age. In 2023, nine of these judges will go on pension.

Figure 8. Percentage of judges eligible to retire, as of early 2023
Figure 9. Who will become eligible to retire 2023–2028.

New judges and transfers of judges within the judiciary

In 2022, 12 new judges started working, of whom two were in Tallinn Circuit Court and 10 in county courts. At the same time, three judges were transferred within the court system: Janika Kallin, who had worked for Harju County Court; started serving as Tallinn Circuit Court judge, Margit Vutt, who had been a Tartu County Court judge, became a Tartu Circuit Court judge and Heili Sepp, who had served as Tallinn Circuit Court judge, became a Supreme Court justice.

Inna Ombler and Maris Kuurberg began serving at Tallinn Circuit Court, Priit Kama, Anna Liiv, Katrin Paesoo, Triin Siimpoeg, Kristjan Paluteder, Karin Mölder, Ahti Kuuseväli, and Geidi Sile in Harju County Court, and Alo Noormets and Anneli Roonet in Tartu County Court.. Before being appointed judge, three of them worked as advocates general, five as sworn advocates, one as a public prosecutor, one as a senior prosecutor, one as Ministry of Justice under secretary and one as representative of Estonia on the European Court of Human Rights.

Judges who left the bench

Last year, seven judges left office: two from Tallinn Circuit Court, two from Tallinn County Court and two from Pärnu County Court. Due to retirement, Tallinn Circuit Court judges Ivi Kesküla and Gaida Kivinurm were granted discharges, as were Harju County Court judges Piret Randmaa and Tiia Mõtsnik, Tartu County Court judge Lea Aavastik and Pärnu County Court Judges Sirje Lahesoo and Rubo Kikerpill.

Judge hiring rounds

The Minister of Justice announced five hiring rounds for a total of 24 judge positions in the county and circuit courts.

In the first half of the year, the minister announced two hiring rounds. On 11 April 2022, the Justice Minister announced a hiring round for six positions in Harju County Court, three in Tartu County Court, one in Pärnu County Court and one in Tallinn Administrative Court and on 25 May 2022 for one in Tartu County Court. The 11 new judges selected in these hiring rounds were appointed by the President on 21 December 2022. One Harju County Court civil law judge position remained unfilled.

In the second half of the year, the justice minister announced three hiring rounds. On 9 November 2022, the minister announced a hiring round for positions of three judges in Pärnu County Court, three in Harju County Court, two in Viru County Court; one in Tartu Administrative Court and one in Tartu Circuit Court, and on 28 November 2022, for one Tartu County Court and one Tartu Circuit Court position respectively, and on 6 December 2022 for one Harju County Court position. These hiring rounds can be expected to be completed in the first half of 2023.

The chairman of the Supreme Court announced a hiring round on 12 August 2022 for one Supreme Court justice position in the Civil Chamber. The hiring round was completed on 7 February 2023 with Margit Vutt being sworn in by Parliament.


[1]  Hereinafter: the data up to 2021 are given as of the time of the court en banc (second Friday in February), while the data for 2022 are presented as of the evening of 1 January. From 2023, data will be provided as of the end of the year.

[2]  The number also includes so-called temporary judge positions. Namely, in 2021, there was an amendment to the regulation of the Minister of Justice, which determines the number of judges and how they are distributed between courthouses, was changed. Under the amendment, it is allowed to appoint an additional judge if the judge is away from their duties for a longer period of time. For this reason, the number of judges can be temporarily increased by up to five in Harju County Court and by one in Tartu County Court.