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Litigation in Estonia

Litigation in Estonia

Updated on Wednesday 27th May 2015

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What are the types of Courts in Estonia?

The system of courts in Estonia is one of the most simplified from Europe as there is only a Supreme Court, acting as last instance court and also being responsible for reviewing the constitutionality of the laws and decrees, two circuit courts, acting as second instance courts , four country courts, acting as first instance courts and two administrative courts.

What are the responsibilities of the Courts in Estonia?

Unlike other jurisdictions, in Estonia the Supreme Court is also reviewing the constitutionality of various decrees and laws. Besides this role, the Supreme Court is the last instance in hearing cases from other courts; it’s reviewing the appeals in protests and cassation and acts as administrator of the Estonian courts. The court is divided into the Constitutional Review Chamber, the Civil Chamber, Criminal Chamber and Administrative Law Chamber. There are 19 judges in the Civil Chamber, Criminal Chamber and Administrative Law Chamber, while the Constitutional Review Chamber has 9 members.

The second instance courts are called circuit courts and are reviewing the decisions of the county and administrative courts on the basis of an appeal against a ruling or a protest. The circuit courts are located in Tallinn Circuit Court (with 29 justices) and Tartu Circuit Court (with 14 justices).

The county court from Harju,Viru, Pärnu and Tartu are considered first instance courts in civil and criminal cases. There are 153 justices of this type in Estonia.

The two administrative courts from Tallinn and Tartu are composed from 27 justices and hears administrative cases.

What are the responsibilities of the Arbitration Court in Estonia?

The Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has its own Court of Arbitration which is taking decision in cases related to the private law relationships, including international business relations and the foreign trade.

Among the Arbitration Court’s attributes there is the confidentiality, the fast process and the flexibility of choosing the members of the commission.

The confidentiality of the details related to the disputes is assured by the Court of Arbitration as there is no disclosure of information to the third parties persons unless written consent of the parties for disclosing information exists.

Other characteristic is that the bigger the amount of the disputed claim, the cheaper the arbitration fee it gets.

The term for the procedure of arbitration is usually six months but the term can be extended if necessary.

The parties involved in the process can make proposals regarding the component arbitration commission.

Regarding the moment of enforcing a decision, the applicants must know that the decision taken by the arbitration court enters into force at the moment of the making.

How long does Litigation in Estonia take?

A process can take to several months (for example in Arbitration Court the process takes around six month) to several years, especially if there are appeals to the initial decision.

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