You have the right to freely choose and hire a lawyer to represent you in administrative proceedings.

Right to a lawyer

You have a right to hire a lawyer at any stage of administrative proceedings. This means that you can already choose a lawyer during the proceedings at the state institution. 

Your lawyer can be present at any time your presence is required at proceedings.

State-paid lawyer

The state must guarantee your right to a fair trial. Therefore, the state should provide you with a lawyer only if:

  • you cannot afford one, and
  • if a fair hearing cannot be ensured without legal aid 

In such cases, human rights dictate that you should be given a free lawyer to ensure that you are not placed in a worse situation than your opponent and that you can effectively defend yourself. Otherwise this could result in a violation of your right to a fair trial.

example You will be entitled to a lawyer if your case is so complex that you cannot meaningfully participate in the trial without the help of a lawyer and understand what is happening in your case.

Estonian law

You can apply for free legal aid according to the procedure laid down in the Code of Administrative Court Procedure and in the State Legal Aid Act. Procedural assistance means assistance from the government towards payment of procedure expenses. An applicant for procedural assistance is granted the assistance if that applicant is unable, due to his or her financial situation, to pay the procedure expenses or if he or she is only able to pay those expenses in part or by instalments and if there is sufficient ground to believe that the envisaged participation in the proceedings hold good prospects.

How to complain

If you are not entitled to a lawyer under national law, but you cannot participate meaningfully in the court process without a lawyer, your right to a fair trial may be violated.

If you genuinely cannot afford a lawyer and you cannot understand and participate in the trial because it is legally too complex, you should still, in all instances, ask the court to provide you with a lawyer free of charge. Even if your request is refused, you will later be able to complain about a potential violation of your rights in other national or international human rights institutions.


Last updated 03/05/2019