This page provides you information on Estonia’s judicial costs.
The fees of legal advisers are not regulated in Estonia.
Lawyers’ fees are not regulated in Estonia.
The fees of attorneys-at-law are not regulated in Estonia.
Bailiffs’ fees are regulated in Estonia by the Bailiffs Act. A bailiff’s fee may consist of a fee for initiating proceedings, the principal fee for the proceedings and an additional fee for enforcement activities. A bailiff also has the right to charge a fee for the provision of a professional service.
Advocates’ fees are not regulated in Estonia but are instead determined in the client agreement. An advocate or the person running a law firm makes the initial price offer to the client and explains how the figure was arrived at. The client reimburses the necessary expenses incurred by the advocate or person running the law firm in providing the legal services.
The fixed costs incurred by litigants in civil proceedings are:
The following costs must be paid in advance by the party applying for proceedings to be initiated or procedural acts to be carried out:
Unless the court rules otherwise, the fees charged by experts, interpreters and translators are to be paid in advance by the party to the proceedings who submitted the application resulting in the costs.
The fixed costs for litigants in criminal proceedings are set out in the Code of Criminal Procedure and are divided into procedural costs, specific costs and additional costs.
Procedural costs are:
If a party to proceedings has several counsels or representatives, the remuneration paid to them will be included in the procedural costs inasmuch as it does not exceed a reasonable level of remuneration normally paid to one counsel or representative.
If a suspect or the accused defends himself or herself, the necessary costs of the defence will be included in the procedural costs. Excessive costs which would not have been incurred had a counsel participated will not be included in the procedural costs.
Costs which are incurred by persons who are not parties to the proceedings and which relate to the conduct of expert analyses will be reimbursed in accordance with the conditions and rules set out in the Forensic Examination Act.
Specific costs are costs relating to the postponement of a court hearing because a party to the proceedings fails to appear, and the costs of compulsory attendance.
Additional costs are:
In Estonia individuals are not permitted to make requests for constitutional review. The costs of a review are covered by the State budget. The costs of involving specialists in court proceedings are covered by the State budget on the same conditions as for the payment of experts’ fees in civil proceedings.
Litigants do not incur fixed costs in constitutional proceedings.
Advocates are required to notify their clients of the full range of activities relating to the provision of legal services and of all the costs involved. An advocate or the person running a law firm makes the initial price offer to the client and explains how the figure was arrived at.
The successful party bears the costs of remunerating the legal representative or adviser for those costs considered by the court to be reasonable and not to be borne by the unsuccessful party.
According to the ruling on determining procedural costs, the unsuccessful party must reimburse the procedural costs borne by the successful party, which may include:
If, under a court decision on the division of procedural costs, a party to the proceedings is required to bear the costs incurred by another party relating to the legal representative or adviser, the costs to be determined by the court must be justified and not exceed the required level. Costs incurred in hiring several representatives are reimbursed only if they result from the complexity of the case or the need to change representative.
The cost sources are as follows:
Information on cost sources is available in Estonian.
English translations of Estonian legal instruments setting out information on costs and their sources are available on the Riigi Teataja (State Gazette) website.
The Ministry of Justice is responsible for the implementation of Directive 2008/52/EC on certain aspects of mediation in civil and commercial matters. General questions concerning mediation may be sent to the Ministry of Justice’s e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conciliation proceedings in civil matters are regulated by the Conciliation Act, which lays down mediators’ rights and obligations and also provides guidelines for implementing and enforcing agreements concluded with the help of a mediator. The following are entitled to conduct conciliation proceedings under the Act:
Conciliation proceedings in administrative cases are regulated by the Code of Administrative Court Procedure and in criminal and misdemeanour cases by the Code of Criminal Procedure.
As regards recourse to mediation in family law, the Ministry of Social Affairs is encouraging development of the activities of family mediators. The website of the Estonian Association of Mediators contains information in both Estonian and English. Similarly, the Estonian Union for Child Welfare — a non-profit association supporting children’s rights — offers advice to parents wishing to separate or divorce and encourages them to use the services of conciliators in order to protect their children’s interests. The Union also organises training in the field of family mediation.
The costs relating to court proceedings and the amounts involved depend on the duration and nature of the court case. The primary sources of information on costs relating to court proceedings are the codes regulating court proceedings and the State Fees Act. The Ministry of Justice issues and administers the official publication Riigi Teataja (State Gazette), which provides access to:
Riigi Teataja contains official consolidated versions of Acts, Government Regulations and Orders, ministerial Regulations, Regulations of the President of Eesti Pank (the Bank of Estonia), National Electoral Committee Regulations, Parliament Decisions, municipal and city council Regulations and municipal and city government Regulations. The legislation and other documents published in Riigi Teataja have been available since 1990.
An analysis of the practice of determining legal costs in civil proceedings has been published on the website of the Supreme Court.
The Courts website gives statistics on proceedings in courts of first and second instance since 1996.
• The State fee to be paid for a particular type of proceeding is laid down in the State Fees Act.
• Bailiffs’ fees are laid down in the Bailiffs Act.
• No statistics are available on the average aggregate cost for particular types of proceedings.
Bailiffs’ fees are also subject to VAT, at a rate of 20 %.
In order to be reimbursed the VAT added to the procedural costs, the declarant must confirm that he or she is not registered for VAT or is unable to recover VAT for any other reason.
As of 1 July 2009 the VAT rate in Estonia is 20 %.
Legal aid is available if the costs of the legal services are more than twice the applicant’s average monthly income, calculated on the basis of the average monthly income for the four months prior to the application being submitted.
Taxes and compulsory insurance payments, costs to meet legal maintenance obligations and reasonable costs relating to housing and transport are deducted from the calculated result.
The State may grant procedural assistance in accordance with the Code of Civil Procedure. The types of legal aid guaranteed by the State and the conditions and rules for obtaining legal aid of this nature are regulated by the State Legal Aid Act.
Legal aid may be granted to a natural person who is resident in or a citizen of Estonia or another Member State of the European Union at the time of submitting his or her application. A person’s residence is determined on the basis of Article 59 of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters. Other natural persons may be granted legal aid only where this right arises from an international agreement.
State legal aid is not granted if:
You can read more about State legal aid on the website of the Estonian Bar Association.
The conditions applicable to the granting of legal aid for suspects or defendants are the same as for injured parties.
The State Fees Act lays down the circumstances in which exemptions from State fees are possible. In a court case, the following acts are exempt from payment of a State fee:
The court adjudicating on a case sets out in the court decision or in the ruling to terminate the proceedings how the procedural costs are to be divided between the parties. The court must indicate which procedural costs or, where necessary, what proportion of the procedural costs are to be borne by each party. If a higher court amends a judgment or passes a new judgment without referring the matter for a new hearing, the court is to amend the division of the procedural costs accordingly, if necessary.
A party to court proceedings is entitled to request the court of first instance that adjudicated on the matter to determine the procedural costs in monetary terms on the basis of the proportional division of the costs set out in the court judgment. It may do so within 30 days of the date on which the court decision on the division of costs enters into force. A list of the procedural costs, which also provides details on the composition of the costs, must be enclosed with the petition. The court may set a deadline by which the party to the proceedings must provide further details concerning the procedural costs to be reimbursed, or may require the party to provide documents evidencing those costs. The court promptly forwards to the opposing party the petition for the determination of the procedural costs together with the list of procedural costs and the supporting documents.
The opposing party may submit objections within the period set by the court following the serving of the petition. The period for replying must not be shorter than seven days. The granting of legal aid does not preclude or limit the obligation on the recipient of the legal aid, under a court judgment, to reimburse the costs incurred by the opposing party. The party against whom the decision is made must bear their procedural costs in full even if the party is exempt from the obligation to pay procedural costs or if they have been granted legal aid to pay those costs.
If an action is resolved, the court orders the defendant to pay a proportion of the procedural costs from which the claimant is exempt or which the claimant may pay in instalments. That amount must be paid into public funds and is in proportion to the part of the action that has been resolved.
Unless the court rules otherwise, the costs essential to the proceedings are to be paid, to the extent ordered by the court, by the party who filed the application in conjunction with which the costs are incurred. If both parties submit an application or if the court summons an expert, the costs are split equally between the parties.
Fees are paid to experts on the basis of the performance of their duties. Hourly rates are to be paid within the limits of the minimum and maximum hourly rates laid down in a Government Regulation. The expert’s fee for expert analysis is 10–40 times the minimum hourly rate. When determining the hourly rate to be paid, the court takes account of the following:
Costs relating to preparing and drawing up the expert’s opinion, including expenses for support staff and for materials and means used for the investigation, and any necessary expenses incurred as a result of the court proceedings, above all on board and lodging, are also to be reimbursed.
The fee to be paid to an expert and the costs incurred by the expert that are to be reimbursed are determined by a ruling of the same court which involved the expert.
Experts are remunerated only on request. If an expert has fulfilled his or her obligation, the court pays the fee due regardless of whether the parties to the proceedings have paid the costs in advance or whether recovery of the costs from the parties has been ordered.
Experts’ fees and expenses relating to the conduct of an expert assessment by a public forensic institution are part of the procedural costs and are reimbursed by the unsuccessful party in the same manner as procedural costs.
Out-of-court interpreters participating in court proceedings are paid an hourly fee for interpretation ranging from 2 to 40 times the minimum national hourly wage. Translators are paid a fee per page of translation, which is up to 20 times the minimum hourly wage.
The fee to be paid to interpreters or translators and the costs to be reimbursed are determined by a ruling of the same court which involved the interpreter or translator.
When determining the hourly rates to be paid, the court takes account of the qualifications of the interpreter or translator, the complexity of the work, any unavoidable costs that have arisen and the particular conditions in which the interpretation or translation was required.
Interpreters and translators are remunerated only on request. The court pays the fee due to the interpreter or translator regardless of whether the parties to the proceedings have paid the costs in advance or whether recovery of the costs from the parties has been ordered.
Interpreters’ and translators’ fees are part of the procedural costs and are reimbursed by the unsuccessful party to the successful party in the same manner as procedural costs.
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