Legal Disputes in Estonia

Legal disputes may be settled either out of court or through judicial proceedings. In both cases, it is possible to involve specialists who know the legal order of Estonia in the permit process.

Resolution of disputes without trial

If the mutual negotiations and search for an agreement did not help, you can invite lawyers or lawyers to solve the dispute and employees of LKS Consult OÜ can use the best specialists of our country. They are well acquainted with the legal system, have many years of successful experience in dealing with such legal issues and will help to protect your interests and find the necessary compromises. In addition, it was possible to negotiate an out-of-court settlement of a dispute with the other party through conciliation or arbitration.

Enforceable non-judicial notarial contract

If your company has a concluded contract and the other party has become a debtor, it must give its separate consent, upon expiry of the term of payment, that it agrees to submit to immediate enforcement. If the contract is concluded before 31.12.2005 and the debtor has consented to the performance in the contract, there is no need for separate consent and it is possible to apply immediately to the bailiff. Also, the consent of the debtor is not required where obedience to immediate enforcement is included in the serfdom.

Conciliation procedure

Conciliation is an out-of-court option where the parties choose a conciliator or resort to a conciliation body. The conciliator may be a notary, a juror or other person appointed by the parties to the dispute.

A conciliation body is a subdivision of the State or local self-government bodies: for example, a commission for the protection of copyright, the examination of consumer complaints or disputes related to leases, etc. A conciliator is an impartial person, supporting communication between the parties in finding a solution to the dispute. As a consultant, he may also submit his proposal for a permit, but the final decision remains with the parties. A conciliation decision is binding on the parties. If a party to the agreement refuses to fulfill its obligation, it is possible to apply to an Estonian court.

Arbitration proceedings

Arbitration (arbitration) is also an alternative means of dispute resolution. Since the arbitral tribunal is constituted by the parties themselves, they can be assured of the knowledge, experience and impartiality of the arbitrators. In addition, the parties may choose the language of the proceedings, the law to be applied and the rules of the proceedings. The arbitral tribunal may be formed once or be permanent.

For example, the Court of Arbitration of the Court of Notary and the Court of Arbitration of the Estonian Chamber of Commerce serve as permanent arbitral tribunals. It is the EKTK Court of Arbitration that is called upon to settle disputes arising out of international economic relations. The decision taken in the arbitral tribunal is binding on the parties, i.e. the dispute is not subject to further referral to the court.

Advantages of conciliation and arbitration

Unlike open general court proceedings, the settlement of a dispute by conciliation or arbitration is closed and confidential. The proceedings were proceeding faster – for example, the arbitral tribunal had to render an award no later than six months after the communication of the objection. In most cases, the arbitral tribunal takes a decision within 3-5 months. The costs are also several times less than the general trial.

Court procedure

If the parties do not wish to settle the dispute out of court, the claim may be brought before the court. Estonia has a three-tier court system:

  • Civil, criminal and misdemeanour cases are decided by the county courts as courts of first instance. Administrative cases are decided by administrative courts as courts of first instance.
  • District courts are courts of second instance, which review on appeal the decisions of the courts of first instance.
  • The Supreme Court of Justice is the highest court in cassation. The Supreme Court is also a court of constitutional review.

The state duty must be paid and the relevant documents submitted to the court. It is possible to initiate civil and administrative litigation and to submit procedural documents to the court in all types of proceedings electronically via the E-toimik portal. An application in accelerated payment order processing (in the case of arrears up to 6,400 euros) can be submitted only electronically through the E-toimik portal. The portal should be entered with the help of an ID card or Mobile ID, and the submitted application should be signed with an electronic digital signature.

Using the E-toimik portal it is possible:

  • Initiate judicial proceedings in civil and administrative matters
  • Pay State fees for procedural acts
  • See related processes and procedural documents, i.e. judicial decisions
  • To submit to the court procedural documents in all types of proceedings
  • Accept documents sent by the person/institution conducting the proceedings, i.e. court summonses and court decisions
  • Appeal against court decisions
  • To monitor the progress of related trials

You may represent yourself or by means of a representative (for example, a lawyer, a juror). If you have chosen a representative, he may participate in the proceedings alone or together with you. If the court decides in your favour but the other party does not comply voluntarily with the court’s decision, you may apply to the bailiff for enforcement. Decisions rendered in Estonian courts are also valid and enforceable abroad.

Court decisions can be found on the portal Riigi Teataja.

If no agreement is reached in the dispute, everyone has the right to apply to the courts for the protection of his or her rights.

County courts settle disputes between private individuals (i.e. private legal entities such as firms) and county courts deal with misdemeanours and criminal cases. In both a misdemeanour and a criminal case, it is established whether a misdemeanour or a crime has been committed, and by whom, and whether to punish. The administrative court hears public law disputes. An administrative court may be seized, for example, if a person is dissatisfied with a decision, act or omission of state or local government (for example, the county does not grant permission to build a house).

Tallinn and Tartu administrative courts have only four courthouses: in Tallinn, in Tartu, in Pärnu and in Jõhvi. Four county courts – Haryu, Pärnu, Tartu and Virzky – have courthouses in each county centre. A written complaint or statement of claim may be submitted to any house of the court of the administrative or county court of Estonia. The court will immediately refer the complaint, together with the annexes, to the court to which the case is subordinate.

County and administrative courts are courts of first instance. If you are dissatisfied with the decision of the court of first instance, you can appeal the decision to the court of second instance, that is, to the district court. There are two district courts in Estonia: in Tallinn and in Tartu. The Tallinn District Court hears judicial acts of the Haryu County Court, the Pyarnu County Court and the Tallinn Administrative Court, while the Tartu District Court hears judicial acts of the Tartu and Viru County Courts and the Tartu Administrative Court.

If necessary, the decision of the district court may be appealed in cassation to the highest court of Estonia, that is, to the State Court. The State Court in Tartu also hears, in addition to cassation appeals, applications to reopen proceedings in newly discovered circumstances and exercises constitutional review. Cassation shall be refused if there are no valid grounds for taking cassation. In the event of a refusal to accept a cassation appeal or an appeal against a ruling, the judicial act handed down by the lower court becomes enforceable.

The possibility of appeal in the three-tier court system of Estonia does not mean that all three courts have to pass before the final resolution of a legal dispute and the advent of legal tranquillity. In the interests of a speedy resolution of the dispute, legal tranquillity should take place as soon as possible, that is, by an act of the court of first instance, and not through the exercise of the right of appeal. The judicial acts of the county, administrative, district and State courts that have entered into force are equivalent to the settlement of a legal dispute, the enforcement of a legal dispute and the achievement of legal peace.

LKS Consult OÜ provides services as a consultant, representative in court and other government agencies, in negotiations and before third parties, arbitrator (arbitrator) or conciliator (mediator). With our help to file a cassation or private appeal to the State Court (Riigikohus, Supreme Court of Estonia).



Managing Associate

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