Kristel Siimula-Saar
Adviser of the Supreme Court Personnel and Communication Department


Number of judges and justices

There are temporarily 243 judge positions as of early 2022[1], and only two of them are vacant. Of these, one is on the Supreme Court and the other in Tartu Circuit Court. The competition declared for the Supreme Court justice position has ended, and the new justice will take their position on 1 March but the competition for the Tartu Circuit Court judge position is still ongoing.

In autumn 2021, the Minister of Justice regulation designating the number of judges and their division between courthouses was amended. Under the amendment, if a judge is away from their duties for a longer period, an additional judge can be appointed. The number of judges can be temporarily increased by as many as five judges in Harju County Court and by one in Tartu County Court. A competition is underway to find additional judges.

Figure 1. Distribution of judge positions.
Figure 2. Distribution of filled positions.
Figure 3. Unfilled positions in 2012–2022 [2].

Gender structure of the judges

During the time of the plenary session, there were 162 women and 79 men serving as judges. Compared to last year, the share of the women has increased.

Figures 4.1. and 4.2. Gender structure of the judges.

Age of judges

As of the date of the plenary session, the average age of judges is 49.3 years. This is the same as the year before.

Figure 5. Average age of the judges by court.

Of the judges currently serving, the greatest number are in the 40-49 age range – 87 of them. There are 81 in the 50-59 range and 37 in the 30-39 age group. There are 36 judges 60 and older.

Figure 6. Average age of the judges in 2012-2022.
Figure 7. Distribution of judges in each court instances by age group (number of judges). 

New judges

As of the beginning of 2022, there were 18 judges who are eligible for retirement, and five of them will go on pension during 2022. Another 52 judges will also become eligible to retire in the period 2022–2027. Close to half of them will become eligible in 2023 – this is the year that judges appointed in 1993 will mark 30 full years of service as a judge, which entitles them to go on pension regardless of their age.

Figure 8. As of 1 January 2022, the share of judges eligible to retire.
Figure 9. Judges who will become eligible for pension, 2022–2027.

New judges and transfers

From mid-February 2021 to the beginning of 2022, 10 new judges have been hired by the court system, two In Tallinn Circuit Court and eight in county courts. At the same time, one judge was transferred within the court system: Iris Kangur-Gontšarov, who had worked at Harju County Court took a position at Tallinn Circuit Court.

At Tallinn Circuit Court, Gea Lepik and Neve Uudelt began work; at Harju County Court, Kädi Sacik-Korn and Priit Kama; at Pärnu County Court Kadri Mälberg; at Tartu County Court, Vutt and Triin Harak; and at Viru County Court, Anneli Alekand, Olga Dorogan and Regiina Lebedeva.

Before being appointed as judges, three served as court jurists, two as Supreme Court counsellors, one as a sworn advocate, one as prosecutor, one as a jurist and one as under secretary at a ministry. One of the appointees previously worked as a notary.

Judges who left their positions

The number of judges departing is greater than in the previous year: eight judges have left their positions since the middle of February last year. One judge left the Supreme Court, two from the circuit court and eight from the county court. Because of retirement, the Harju County Court judge Viktor Brügel, Pärnu County Court Judge Teet Olvik, Tartu County Court judges Roomet Sõnna and Epp Tombak, Viru County Court judge Tiit Kullerupp, Tallinn Circuit Court judge Ande Tänav, Tartu Circuit Court judge Viivi Tomson and Supreme Court justice Jüri Põld asked to be released from service.

Besides the judges released from their positions, the powers of Tartu Circuit Court judge Madis Ernits were suspended.

Judge appointment rounds

The minister of justice announced four selection rounds for 16 judge positions in county and circuit courts and the Supreme Court chief justice announced one selection process for a position of Supreme Court justice.

On 10 May 2021, the minister of justice announced a competition for one Tallinn Circuit Court judge position, two Harju County Court judge positions and one Viru County Court judge position. The new county court judges were appointed on 15 July 2021 and 29 November 2021.

On 1 October 2021, the minister of justice announced a selection round for two Tallinn Circuit Court judges, one Tartu Circuit Court judge, five Harju County Court judges and two Tartu County Court judges. The process of filling the county court judge positions is under way and is expected to wrap up by early summer.

Both the spring and autumn appointment process for Tallinn Circuit Court judge positions concluded with the appointment of judges on 29 November 2021 and transfer of two county court judges to circuit court judges.

On 19 November 2021, the minister of justice announced a competition for one Harju County Court judge position. The process can be expected to conclude by early summer.

On 22 December 2021, the minister of justice announced a competition for one Tallinn Circuit Court judge position. The process can be expected to conclude in summer.

On 5 April 2021, the Supreme Court chief justice announced a competition for one Supreme Court justice position in the Criminal Chamber. The round concluded on 24 November 2021 with the appointment of a new Supreme Court justice in the Parliament.


[1] From 2021 on, there is temporarily one more judge position than in previous years, because the Viru County Court judge was appointed chairman of the Harju County Court and in such a case, it is permitted to temporarily increase the number of judge positions.

[2] All data up to 2021 are hereinafter as of the time of the plenary session (second Friday in February), while the data for 2022 reflect the start of the year.