Mediation in EU countries

Estónia

Rather than going to court, why not try to solve your dispute through mediation? This is an alternative dispute resolution measure, whereby a mediator helps those involved in a dispute to reach an agreement. The government and legal practitioners of Estonia are aware of the advantages of mediation.

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Estónia

Whom to contact?

Mediation is the civil action of a conciliator or conciliation body. Mediation is governed by the Conciliation Act. The Conciliation Act was drafted to transpose Directive 2008/52/EC on certain aspects of mediation in civil and commercial matters into Estonian law.

Under the Conciliation Act a conciliator may be any natural person whom the parties have asked to act as conciliator. Attorneys-at-law and notaries may also act as a conciliator. Under the specific Act the role of conciliator may also be assigned to a state or local government body.

A list of notaries can be found on the website of the Chamber of Notaries.

A list of barristers acting as conciliators can be found on the website of the Estonian Bar Association.

The following NGOs can be contacted:

  • TheEstonian Association of Mediators provides information in both Estonian and English.
  • TheEstonian Child Protection Association is a non-profit association that supports the rights of the child. Its activities include giving advice to parents who wish to separate or divorce, encouraging them to use the services of conciliators in order to protect their children’s interests. The Union has organised training sessions on the subject of family mediation.
  • TheEstonian Insurance Association has set up an insurance mediator to deal with disputes between insurance holders and insurers or insurance brokers.

The Copyright Commission established within the Ministry of Justice is a conciliation body within the meaning of Section 19 of the Conciliation Act. The Commission shall settle statements concerning the measures to be applied to allow certain cases of free use of a work or subject-matter of related rights.

Under the Collective Labour Dispute Resolution Act the parties have the right of recourse to the Public Conciliator in the event of a collective labour dispute (a dispute regarding the terms of a collective agreement). The Public Conciliator is an impartial expert who helps those involved in the labour dispute to reach a compromise. The national mediator for the collective labour dispute is Meelis Virkebau, e-mail meelis.virkebau@riikliklepitaja.ee. More information can be found on the website of the National Conciliator.

In some instances the mediator may be the Chancellor of Justice. Although the concept of ‘ombudsman’ is not used in the Chancellor of Justice Act, the Chancellor of Justice also performs the functions of an ombudsman, in monitoring whether government bodies comply with people’s fundamental rights and freedoms and with the principles of good governance and also monitoring local governments, legal persons in public law and private entities performing public functions. Since 2011, the Chancellor of Justice also performs the functions of the Ombudsman for Children under Article 4 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as mediation in discrimination disputes. You can find out more on the website of the Chancellor of Justice.

In which area is recourse to mediation admissible and/or the most common?

The conciliation procedure provided for in the Conciliation Act is generally permitted for the resolution of all civil disputes which have a content that can be reconcilable. While there are no comparative statistics, it is likely that mediation is more common in the field of family law.

The Chancellor of Justice resolves disputes concerning discrimination where an individual files a declaration that they have been discriminated against on grounds of sex, race, nationality (ethnic origin), colour, language, origin, religion, political or other beliefs, financial or social status, age, disability, sexual orientation or other characteristics laid down by law. Mediators may also act in the event of an infringement of fundamental rights.

The Public Conciliator acts as conciliator in collective labour disputes.

Are there specific rules to follow?

Under Estonian law recourse to conciliation is generally voluntary. The rules of the Conciliation Act and the conditions for the enforceability of the conciliation agreement are laid down in the Conciliation Act.

TheEstonian Code of Civil Procedure has a special rule providing for conciliation by a judge in situations where a parent violates an order relating to contact with a child. According to Section 563 of the Code, on petition by one parent, the court may summon both parents to court in order to settle such a dispute by way of an agreement. The court summons the parents to appear in person and informs them of the potential legal consequences (fine or detention) of failing to appear.

The Code of Civil Procedure also provides that if the court considers it necessary in the interests of resolving the case given the facts of the case and the proceedings thus far, it may oblige the parties to take part in a conciliation process under the Conciliation Act.

The rules of procedure of the Estonian Insurance Association’s insurance mediator are available online. http://www.eksl.ee/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=168&Itemid=226&lang=et

Mediation with the Chancellor of Justice is regulated by the Chancellor of Justice Act. The resolution of collective labour disputes, the activities of the Public Conciliator and the rights and obligations of the parties involved in the process are regulated by the Collective Labour Dispute Resolution Act.

The specific features of the conciliation procedure conducted by the Copyright Commission are laid down in the Copyright Act.

Information and training

Information on conciliators acting under the Conciliation Act, including notaries and attorneys-at-law, can be found on the websites of those acting as a conciliator. The list of notaries is available on the website of the Chamber of Notaries. A list of sworn lawyers is available on the website of the Bar Association.

Information on the activities of the Chancellor of Justice as ombudsperson for children can be found on the Chancellor of Justice’s website, and on the Chancellor of Justice’s website on reconciliation of discrimination disputes.

Information on the Public Conciliator’s activities as a conciliator can be found on the website of the Public Conciliator. http://www.riikliklepitaja.ee/index.php?pgID=4

Training for mediators is provided by the private sector (e.g. the Association of Mediators). There is no specific regulation on the training of mediators.

What is the cost of mediation?

Under the Conciliation Act conciliation is not free of charge; The fee set for mediation is subject to agreement between the mediator and the parties involved.

If the court has proposed the parties to the proceedings to refer the matter to the conciliator or obliged the parties to take part in the conciliation procedure provided for in the Conciliation Act, a party to proceedings who is unable to pay the costs of the proceedings because of his financial situation, or who is able to pay them only in part or in instalments, may, by way of legal aid, apply for partial or total exemption from the costs of the conciliation procedure at the expense of the Republic of Estonia.

If the Chancellor of Justice acts as conciliator no fee is payable. However, there may be additional costs connected with the conciliation process. The Chancellor of Justice decides who is to bear these costs.

The resolution of collective labour disputes by the Public Conciliator is also free of charge. The costs arising from the resolution of a collective labour dispute are borne by the guilty party or split by common agreement between the parties.

The management fee of the contract body of the Estonian Insurance Association is EUR 50 and the insurer’s remuneration is limited to EUR 160, plus social security contributions and unemployment insurance contributions, for a total of EUR 214.08. If conciliation is unsuccessful only half the insurance conciliator’s fee is payable.

Is it possible to enforce an agreement resulting from mediation?

Under the Conciliation Act the agreement concluded as the result of a conciliation process is enforceable after the appropriate procedure to declare it enforceable has been carried out on the basis of an application (Sections 6271 and 6272 ofthe Code of Civil Procedure). A conciliation agreement concluded by a notary or barrister may also be declared enforceable by a notary in accordance with the procedure laid down in the Law on authentication.The special rules governing the enforceability of an agreement on the procedure for contact with a child are laid down in Section 563 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

An agreement resulting from mediation approved by the Chancellor of Justice is an enforceable title.

An agreement reached through the Public Conciliator to resolve a collective labour dispute is binding on both parties and is valid from the date on which it is signed, unless another deadline for entry into force is agreed upon. However, this type of agreement does not constitute an enforceable title.

Last update: 02/10/2020

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