Althingi’s shame

When the Icelandic Parliament, Althingi agreed on an emergency law after the collapse of the banks that allowed the state to nationalize them, it included a clause which caught people’s attention. 

According to the clause, it was illegal to sue the old banks, and it was apparent that this would go against the constitution of Iceland. One of the basic rights is the right to have a court hear one’s case.  

And yet, Althingi agreed on the law, including that clause even though Left Green MP Atli Gislason, a lawyer by trade warned against it.  

And this week it was rejected by the courts in a personal case against Glitnir. Of course the person can sue the former banks.  

So what should be made of a legislative branch, where incidentally many lawyer-educated people are members, that accepts a law that is obviously against the constitution?

Undemocratic? Degenerate? Asleep on the job?  

The shame of those who accepted the clause is great.

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4 Responses to “Althingi’s shame”


  1. 1 Roy February 11, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Another reason why lawyers should not be a part of the law making process!

  2. 2 ari February 11, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Degenerate is a great term for what is going on in our parliament. Basically, 20% of parliamentarians can expect to ever have any real power i.e. become ministers, the rest are just there to rubber stamp legislation. They are happy to take the salary and benefits however while they sing in the choir to the glory of their masters in the executive.

  3. 3 Vilhjalm A. February 11, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    I’m sorry to have to tell you Icelanders this but is normal for a government to make itself immune to lawsuits. In the US the government grants itself immunity but then gives back to citizens the right to sue the government in certain cases. For instance, you can sue the government if a government employee hits you with his car. But you can’t sue the Treasury Department for making stupid decisions and causing the economy to collapse.
    Here, allowing the government to be sued would mean allowing all the people who lost money in the banks to sue the government and collect from them (i.e. the taxpayers), even though the guilty parties were in fact parties like the Kaupthing directors.
    The decision to natioalize the banks was a very very stupid decision. But that’s a separate issue. (The government should kave let the banks go bankrupt, or put them into receivership.)

  4. 4 drafnsson February 11, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Vilhjalm, you are absolutely right that there are different degrees of liability the government can accept but in this case all kinds of lawsuits were hindered.


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