Both parties in court proceedings must be equal.

Equality means that both parties must be given an opportunity to present their case in a way that does not place them in a significantly worse position than the other. 

example If your opponent is allowed to comment on certain evidence at the hearing and you are not, it will most likely be a violation of the equality requirement.

Equal, not the same

Equality does not mean that both parties in the trial are absolutely the same and are treated in the exact same way. In an Administrative court the state will usually be in a better position, especially if you cannot afford a lawyer. This must be balanced out by the judge who must conduct his/her own independent investigation in the case. If necessary, the judge must request additional evidence that you (or your opponent) have not presented. 


There are many aspects of the court process where the equality of both parties is very important. For example, both parties must have the opportunity to present their own evidence, challenge the evidence of the other party and to explain their arguments to the court. This also means that you must know about the evidence your opponent has given to the court and to access it. 

It is important to understand that when the court seems to limit only your rights, it will not always violate your equality. For example, when giving your evidence to the court, you must remember that the court will only accept the evidence and witnesses that are relevant to the case. Therefore, if the court does not accept your evidence because it does not relate to any of the important issues of the case, the equality of parties will not be violated.

In addition, according to Estonian law the court may deny you access to certain parts of the case materials if they contain state, commercial or professional secrets or the secret of adoption. When taking such a decision, the court must properly explain to you why you cannot access certain case materials. If you also consider that your opponent should not have access to certain case materials because they contain confidential information (such as your professional, commercial or adoption secrets), you may ask the court to deny access to these materials to your opponent. 


Last updated 04/01/2017