This section provides you with an overview of the court system in Estonia.
The Estonian Constitution requires that justice be administered solely by courts which are independent in their activities. Courts must administer justice in accordance with the Constitution and other laws. Pursuant to the Constitution, the Estonian court system has exclusive competence to administer justice. A court is separate from both the executive and legislative spheres in the performance of its duties.
Estonia’s court system consists of three levels: County and administrative courts are courts of first instance. There are four county courts in Estonia: Harju county court, Viru county court, Tartu county court and Pärnu county court. There are two administrative courts in Estonia: Tallinn administrative court and Tartu administrative court. County courts and administrative courts are divided into courthouses.
District courts are courts of second instance which hear appeals lodged against rulings given by the courts of first instance. There are two district courts: Tallinn district court and Tartu district court.
The Supreme Court is the highest court and hears appeals in cassation lodged against rulings from courts of second instance. There is no separate constitutional court in the Estonian court system. The duties of a court of constitutional review are performed by the Supreme Court.
Courts of first and second instance are administered by the Ministry of Justice together with the Council for Administration of Courts. The Council for Administration of Courts is an advisory board set up to run the court system and its work is directed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The courts of first and second instance are financed from the State budget, through the budget of the Ministry of Justice. The Supreme Court is independently responsible for its own administration and has its own budget.
The Council for Administration of Courts is composed of:
The Minister of Justice may convene sessions, but has no voting rights.
The Council grants approval for:
The Council must:
Estonia’s court system consists of three levels:
As general courts, county courts hear civil, criminal and misdemeanour cases. As courts of first instance, administrative courts hear those administrative cases which are placed under their jurisdiction by law. District courts are courts of second instance which scrutinise rulings given by the country and administrative courts in the event of an appeal. The Supreme Court is the highest court and hears appeals in cassation lodged against district court rulings. The Supreme Court is also the court of constitutional review.
General information on the Estonian legal system can be found on the website of the Ministry of Justice.
An overview of the court system in Estonia can be found on the Courts website.
Access to information concerning the Estonian legal and court system is free of charge.
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