Costs of proceedings - Estonia
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This page provides you with information about the costs of proceedings in Estonia.
Regulative framework governing fees of legal professions
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 — it is determined in the client agreement. The person running a law firm or an advocate 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.
Fixed costs for litigants in civil proceedings
The determined costs of litigants in civil proceedings are set out in the Code of Civil Procedure, Sections 139-144 and the costs of litigation and extrajudicial costs. The court fees are state fees, bail and review costs. In each instance, the court must keep a record of the procedural costs incurred in the case, including the costs of examining the case.
Stage of the civil proceedings where fixed costs must be paid
The following costs must be paid in advance by the party applying for proceedings to be initiated or procedural acts to be carried out:
- the State fee;
- security on cassation;
- security for a petition to set aside a default judgment;
- security for the reopening of proceedings or to reset the term;
- the costs of bailiffs forwarding procedural documents;
- costs of publishing summonses or notices in the official publication Ametlikud Teadaanded or in a newspaper;
- other costs of examination of a case to the extent determined by the court.
Unless the court rules otherwise, remuneration for experts, interpreters and translators is to be paid in advance by the party to the proceedings who submitted the application resulting in the costs.
The court decides definitively the reimbursement and the procedural costs to be reimbursed and the procedural costs to be awarded in the final decision or after entry into force of the final decision of the main case.
Fixed costs in criminal proceedings
Fixed costs for parties to criminal proceedings
The costs determined by the parties to criminal proceedings are borne out by the Code of Criminal Procedure, § 175-179 and split into costs of procedures, specific costs, ancillary costs.
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.
Stage of the criminal proceeding where fixed costs for litigants must be paid
In the event of an acquittal, the procedural costs are reimbursed by the State. In the event of a conviction, the procedural costs are reimbursed by the convicted offender. In the event of a partial acquittal, the costs are reimbursed by the State in line with the extent to which the accused was acquitted. The obligation to reimburse procedural costs arises once the final decision has entered into force.
If a civil action is dismissed, the procedural costs relating to securing the civil action are reimbursed by the victim. If a civil action is satisfied in full, the procedural costs relating to securing the civil action are reimbursed by the convicted offender or the defendant. If a civil action is satisfied in part, the court divides the procedural costs relating to securing the civil action between the victim and the convicted offender or the defendant, taking all the circumstances into consideration. In the event of refusal to review a civil action, the procedural costs relating to securing the civil action are reimbursed by the State.
Fixed costs in constitutional proceedings
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.
Stage of constitutional proceedings where fixed costs must be paid
In constitutional proceedings, no fixed costs are incurred by litigants.
Prior information to be provided by legal representatives
Rights and obligations of the parties
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. The person running a law firm or an advocate makes the initial price offer to the client and explains how the figure was arrived at.
Costs of participating in proceedings
Costs to be borne by the successful party
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.
Costs to be borne by the unsuccessful party
According to the case law on the determination of costs, the unsuccessful party must reimburse the costs of the costs incurred by the winning party, which may include:
- the State fee;
- costs relating to witnesses, experts, interpreters and translators, and the costs of an expert analysis carried out by a person who is not a party to the proceedings and which are to be reimbursed under the Forensic Examination Act;
- costs of obtaining documentary and physical evidence;
- inspection costs, including necessary travel expenses incurred by the court;
- costs of delivering, forwarding and issuing procedural documents;
- costs of determining the value of the civil case;
- costs relating to the representatives and advisers of the parties to the proceedings;
- travel, postal, communications, accommodation and other similar expenses incurred by the parties to the proceedings in connection with the proceedings;
- earnings or other permanent income not received by the parties to the proceedings;
- costs of pre-trial proceedings laid down by law, unless the action was filed later than six months after the end of the pre-trial proceedings;
- the bailiff’s fee for securing an action and the costs of executing a ruling on the securing of an action;
- the bailiff’s fee for the delivery of procedural documents;
- costs of processing an application for procedural assistance in bearing procedural costs;
- costs of the accelerated order for payment procedure;
- costs of participating in conciliation proceedings if the court has required the parties to participate under Section 4 (4) of the Code of Civil Procedure or, if the proceedings are mandatory, pre-trial conciliation proceedings under Section 1 (4) of the Conciliation Act.
In favour of a party to the proceedings which is justified for the costs of proceedings, only the necessary and reasonable costs shall be recognised as a party to the proceedings.
Where can I find information on cost sources in Estonia?
The legal bases for the determination of costs are laid down in the following legal acts:
- The Code of Civil Procedure;
- The Bailiffs Act;
- The State Fees Act;
- legal instruments issued on the basis of the Code of Civil Procedure.
In what languages can I obtain information on cost sources in Estonia?
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.
Where can I find information on mediation?
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: Info@just.ee.
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:
- a natural person to whom the parties to the proceedings have entrusted the task of conducting the proceedings;
- in the case laid down in the Act, a State or local government conciliation body.
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.
Where can I find additional information on costs?
Website on costs
The costs related to court proceedings and their amount depend on the type, duration and complexity of the 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:
- Acts and Regulations;
- Decrees of the President of the Republic;
- Supreme Court Decisions and international agreements;
- Local government Regulations.
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 the State Gazette have been available since 1990.
Where can I find information on the average length of time different procedures take?
The Courts website gives statistics on proceedings in courts of first and second instance since 1996.
Where can I find information on the average aggregate cost for a particular proceeding?
- 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.
How is this information provided?
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.
What are the applicable rates?
As of 1 July 2009 the VAT rate in Estonia is 20 %.
Applicable income threshold in the area of civil justice
State legal aid is one of the methods of granting aid and the procedure for granting State aid in civil proceedings is governed by the rules of procedure of the Code of Civil Procedure.
No procedural assistance shall be granted to a natural person if:
- the costs of the proceedings are not expected to exceed twice the average monthly income of the applicant for procedural aid calculated on the basis of the average monthly income of the four months preceding the lodging of the application, minus taxes and compulsory insurance and the amount provided for legal maintenance obligations, as well as reasonable costs for housing and transport;
- an applicant for procedural aid can bear the costs of the proceedings at the expense of his existing and most easily sold assets which, in accordance with the law, can be entered into;
When assessing the economic situation of the applicant, account shall be taken of its assets and income, and of the property of the family members who are also living with them, the number of their survivors, the reasonable costs of housing, and other reasonable circumstances.
Other conditions attached to the granting of legal aid for victims
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 shall be granted to a natural person residing at the time of application for legal aid in the Republic of Estonia or in another Member State of the European Union or who is a national of the Republic of Estonia or of another Member State of the European Union, except in the case specified in subsection (2) of this section. For the purpose of determining residence for purposes of this Act, Article 62 of the European Parliament and of the Council on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (OJ L 351, 20.12.2012, p. 1-32). Legal aid shall be granted to any other natural person only if it results from a binding international obligation on Estonia.
The grounds for refusal of State legal aid are set out in Section 7 of the State Legal Aid Act.
You can read more about State legal aid on the website of the Estonian Bar Association.
Other conditions relating to the granting of legal aid for suspects and defendants
The conditions applicable to the granting of legal aid for suspects or defendants are the same as for victims.
Cost-free court proceedings
The bases for exemption from the payment of state fees and for the reduction of state fees are listed in Chapter 3 of the State Fees Act.
When does the losing party have to pay the winning party’s costs?
The court dealing in civil matters, in the judgment or in the order concluding the proceedings, shall state the division of procedural costs between the parties to the proceedings. The court shall indicate, where applicable, the proportion of the costs of proceedings to be borne by either 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.
The court shall decide the amount of the proceedings to be paid for the costs of the proceedings, in favour of the party to the proceedings, which is justified by the merits of the proceedings:
- in a judgment or proceedings terminating proceedings, or
- after completion of the legal proceedings, by a Regulation fixing the procedural costs.
The grant of procedural assistance, including legal aid, does not exclude or limit the recipient’s obligation to reimburse the costs of the other party on the basis of a court settlement. The party against whom the decision was made bears the costs of the proceedings in full even if the party is exempt from the procedural costs or has been granted procedural aid for the costs of the proceedings.
In the event of the settlement of the action, the court treats the defendant in the costs of the proceedings in respect of which the claimant is exempt or liable to pay in instalments, in proportion to the part of the proceedings in respect of which the action is being taken.
If the court settlement has entered into force or the court has declared enforceable immediately, the creditor may appeal to the bailiff for the enforcement of the decision. If the deadline for the voluntary execution of a writ of execution in a court decision is not assigned, it shall be determined by the bailiff. The period shall not be less than 10 days and shall not exceed 30 days. With the collector’s consent, the bailiff may order the period of the voluntary execution of the enforcement document for a period exceeding 30 days.
If the court does not specify otherwise, the expert will pay, to the extent determined by the court, the party who applied for the costs. If both parties submit an application or if the court summons an expert, the costs are split equally between the parties.
An expert shall be paid the hourly rate established by a regulation of the government within the limit of the hourly rate set by the hourly rate. 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:
- the expert’s qualifications;
- the level of complexity of the work;
- any unavoidable costs incurred when using the necessary means;
- any special circumstances under which the expert has carried out the required work.
Expenses relating to the preparation and assembly of an expert opinion shall also be reimbursed, including the necessary expenditure on materials and facilities used for the study, up to a maximum of 20 % of the expert’s expenses, as well as the cost of travel and the necessary expenses arising from the trial, in particular the costs of accommodation and meals.
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.
The cost of forensic services carried out by the State Authority and the cost of the expert body are laid down in the forensic equipment.
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.
Translators’ and interpreters’ fees
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 minimum wage per hour shall be established by a regulation of the Government of the Republic.
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.
The interpreter will also be entitled to reimbursement of the travel expenses and other expenses incurred as a result of judicial proceedings, in particular the costs of lodging and catering.
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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Last update: 28/08/2019