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Estonia
Content provided by Member state:
European Judicial Network
European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters

1 Is it possible to initiate court proceedings via the internet?

Yes, court proceedings may be initiated using the e-File procedural information system (hereinafter: the e-File system).

The system is accessible via the following URL: https://www.e-toimik.ee/.

2 If so, for what types of cases is it available? Are any proceedings available exclusively via the internet?

The system may be used in civil, administrative, criminal and misdemeanour matters. In the case of civil and administrative court procedure, it is possible to initiate a court case and file documents and appeals for proceedings. In criminal and misdemeanour proceedings, it is possible to submit a limited number of documents for existing court proceedings.

Exclusively via the internet it is possible to submit an application for the expedited procedure for payment orders in debt claims and in claims for support.

3 Is the facility available at all times (i.e. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or just during specific hours? If so, what are those hours?

This service is available around the clock.

4 Should the details of the claim be provided in any particular format?

In order to file a court case, you will need to fill in the details using the forms provided. They differ according to the type of proceedings and petition, but they are all in a similar format: you will need to provide general information about the case, details about the parties, any documents attached to the petition and any details relating to the payment of the state fee.

The form for submitting information for the expedited procedure for payment orders is more detailed, and the whole petition should be entered in the form of metadata.

5 How is transmission and storage of data secured?

In order for the system to recognise a person logging in, they must log in to the e-File system using their ID-card or Mobile-ID. The portal is secure. When logging in to the portal (with an ID-card or Mobile-ID), users will only be provided access to proceedings and data that relate to them. Persons with no connection to the proceedings will not be given any access to those details. In order to transmit data, X-Road, the electronic information exchange layer of the state information systems, is used. It is a technical and organisational environment which enables secure Internet-based data exchange between the state information systems.

6 Is it necessary to use any kind of electronic signature and/or time record?

If the law requires certain types of documents to be signed, this will be done electronically using an ID-card. Procedural documents may be filed via the e-File system using a digital signature. If the case is referred to court, the e-File system automatically saves the date on which the court case was initiated. A person who forwards a document initiating a court case or another procedural document to a court via the e-File system will be sent automatic confirmation of receipt by e-mail stating the date and time the document was received by the court.

7 Are court fees payable? If so, how can they be paid and are they different to those for non-electronic procedures?

A state fee is payable for those acts which, in accordance with the law, are subject to a state fee. In general, the state fee is to be paid before applying for the act to be performed. State fees can be paid via a bank link in the e-File system, as well as outside the system via internet banking or in bank branches.

For many acts, lower state fees apply when filing petitions or applications via the e-File system, rather than in other ways (e.g. on paper).

8 Is it possible to withdraw a claim that has been initiated via the internet?

A plaintiff may withdraw a claim until the end of pre-trial proceedings, by filing a petition with the court concerning the withdrawal of the action. With the defendant’s consent, an action may be withdrawn until such time as the court decision concerning the action enters into force. The court should be informed of the withdrawal of the action in writing or a record should be made in the minutes. An application can also be submitted to the court via the e‑File system.

9 If the claimant initiates proceedings via the internet is it possible and/or compulsory for the defendant to respond using the internet as well?

There is no obligation to reply via the internet. The defendant may reply via the internet, electronically, by fax or in writing.

10 In terms of the electronic procedure what happens if the defendant responds to the claim?

There is no difference between proceedings initiated via the internet or in any other way. The way the proceedings are handled depends on the subsequent action taken by the body conducting the proceedings and may differ depending on the type of proceedings, as well as on the type of claim.

If, in the expedited procedure for payment orders, a debtor files an objection, the court will continue to hear the matter by means of an action or it will terminate the proceedings. This depends on the petitioner’s request.

Civil matters may be resolved by way of written proceedings if the parties submit a relevant petition, or the court may decide that the matter is to be heard in a court session. The way in which they proceed will depend on the type of matter and the objections filed against the claim by the defendant.

11 In terms of the electronic procedure what happens if the defendant does not respond to a claim?

In the expedited procedure for payment orders, if the debtor does not reply to the proposal for payment, i.e. does not file an objection, the court makes a ruling for a payment order for the appropriate amount. That ruling is enforceable immediately. Therefore, the court must be sure that the defendant has received the proposal for payment.

In other civil matters, if the court has set a deadline for the defendant to reply but the defendant has failed to reply, the court may in certain cases make a default judgment at the request of the plaintiff. If the court does not consider this possible, it can set a new deadline for the defendant to reply or for a court session. A petition for a default judgment may be filed with a statement of claim. The court does not make default judgments in the cases provided for by law.

12 Is it possible to submit documents to a court electronically and if so in what type of proceedings and under what conditions is it possible?

It is possible to file petitions and documents to the court electronically by email or via the specially created information system (e-File system).

It is possible via the e-File system to file all documents in civil and administrative court proceedings, and to a limited extent also in criminal and misdemeanour proceedings. Procedural documents filed via the e-File system should be signed digitally.

13 Can judicial documents, and particularly judgments, be served via the internet?

Court judgments, rulings and summons may be served on participants in proceedings electronically either via the e-File system or via the participant’s main email address or any other email address of which the court has been notified. The recipient of a document must notify the court of receipt if the document has been sent by e-mail, while if the document is served via the e-File system, the date on which the recipient receives and opens it is automatically registered.

14 Can judicial decisions be given electronically?

In civil and administrative court procedure, the court may prepare a judgment electronically, furnishing it with the digital signature of the judge or preparing it in another technically secure way.

In the expedited procedure for payment orders, all court documents, including decisions, are prepared automatically in the information system and need not be digitally signed.

15 Can an appeal be made and its decision served via the internet?

It is possible via the e-File system to file an appeal and serve a decision regarding it in civil and administrative matters.

16 Is it possible to initiate enforcement proceedings via the internet?

Enforcement proceedings cannot be initiated via the e-File system.

17 Can the parties or their legal representatives consult on-line cases? If so, how this can be done?

Electronic proceedings can be followed via the e-File system. For that purpose, a user must log in with their ID-card or Mobile-ID in order to verify their identity. In civil and administrative court procedure, it is possible to view all procedural documents which do not have a personal access limitation and which have been made available in the system to the participants in the proceeding.

The expedited procedure for payment orders can be followed in full via the e-File system.

In criminal and misdemeanour proceedings, only limited information can be viewed in the e‑File system.

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Last update: 30/05/2016

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