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Dear reader,

The purpose of Juridica International is to give an overview of the Estonian legal system and report on the developments in legal reform. Juridica International is a special issue of Juridica, a journal published by the Faculty of Law of the University of Tartu. Observance of the existing principles of continental European law and harmonisation of the Estonian legal system with those of the European Union countries are some of the most important endeavours in Estonia. Although the articles in Juridica International only address a part of the reform process, they nevertheless reflect the status of the Estonian legal system in 1996. The articles may be divided into two categories according to their nature. Survey articles look at legal reform in specific areas (concepts, significant bills and amendments which have taken place in the last two to three years), while more academic articles deal with a single issue in an area of law.

The law journal Juridica was founded in 1993 in co-operation with the Faculty of Law and Financial Studies of the University of Glasgow. On the initiative of Professor J. P. Grant, Dean of the Faculty, and publisher D. Fletcher, and with the financial help of the Law Society of Scotland, the Faculty of Law of the University of Tartu has developed the only practical academic law journal in Estonia. In 1993, six issues were published and since 1994, ten issues have been published per year. Starting with the seventh issue in 1994, AS Juura Publishing has financed the publishing of the journal. Eesti Jurist, another law journal, merged with Juridica in 1995.

In the last few years, along with the main objective of providing contemporary legal education to its students, the Faculty of Law has taken on an important role in legal drafting. An ideal situation would be one where the adoption of a new law would be followed by the publication of a collection of comprehensive reviews. Unfortunately, such an undertaking is impeded by a lack of time and the heavy workloads of the potential reviewers. Thus, only current issues in drafting are discussed in the journal in detail. In the case of many recently passed laws, theoretical and practical commentaries or solutions to issues that have arisen in the implementation of these laws have first been published in Juridica.

The existence of Juridica as the Faculty’s own journal has given all professors and researchers, as well as students, an excellent opportunity to publish. Without a doubt, some articles can be classified as original research, accompanied by a synopsis in English, while others are general information articles on law. The location of the Supreme Court in Tartu, the highest court of Estonia, has undoubtedly had a positive effect on the journal.

This special issue of Juridica is published on the initiative of the Faculty of Law with the financial support of the Open Estonia Foundation. This English language publication would not have been possible without the generous help of the language editors and translators of the Estonian Translation and Legislative Support Centre.

I hope that through the introduction of the current status of Estonian legal academe, we are also providing an opportunity for information exchange and the furthering of academic contacts between legal academics in Estonia and other countries.