NOVE’s Head of Medical Law Mari Past authors chapter on right to health in newly published collection dedicated to human rights

Inimõigused (Human Rights), the first in-depth Estonian-language collection on the topic of human rights has been published on the initiative of the Office of the Chancellor of Justice of Estonia. The editor-in-chief of the book is Liiri Oja, PhD, Head of NHRI Activities at the Office of the Chancellor of Justice. Mari Past, Head of Medical Law and Partner at Law Office NOVE, wrote a chapter on the right to health for the collection.

The 767-page book can be downloaded as a free PDF file from the website: The 33 authors of the book include advisers to the Chancellor of Justice, researchers from Estonian universities and several foreign universities, judges, lawyers, experts from other state institutions and the private sector.

Mari Past, author of the chapter dedicated to the right to health, first became interested in medical law in 2011 while completing her Master’s degree in Law at the University of Oxford, thanks to Professor Jonathan Herring’s inspiring course on medical law and ethics. As a lawyer specialised in medical law, Mari supports hospitals, private clinics and public sector institutions first and foremost in the areas of personal health data protection, the informed consent of the patient, healthcare service contracts and medical error disputes.

Chapter 20 of the collection, titled Õigus tervisele (Right to Health), makes it clear that the right to health does not imply the right to be healthy, nor does it include the right to all medically indicated health services and medicinal products. The chapter examines the theoretical concepts of the right to health, its historical development and regulation by international conventions. As rights only have weight if they can be enforced, i.e. ordered to be executed through court, the chapter also provides an overview of the possibilities for enforcing the right to health in regional international courts.

In the chapter on the right to health, Mari Past also takes a closer look at the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, which is relevant for Estonia, including the state’s obligations with regard to the organisation and supervision of the health care system and legal liability for medical errors, as well as the extensive degree of discretion held by states in controversial health issues such as abortion and vaccination. In the final subsection of the chapter, the author discusses the right to health protection provided for in the constitution of Estonia, the health insurance system based on solidarity and multi-level health care services in the Estonian health care system, the rights and obligations in the doctor-patient relationship, and liability for medical errors.