Whenever you are involved in a dispute concerning your civil rights you must be able to have access to the court. There may be certain requirements for your access to the court, but they cannot be so excessive that you are unable to fulfil them.

Whenever you have a dispute concerning your civil rights, such as a dispute about a contract, damages, employment or marriage, you must be able to have access to the court. However, there may be some conditions which you have to observe:

Type of claim

The court only deals with disputes about private (civil) law in civil proceedings. This means that it will refuse to accept your claim if it is not of a private nature and you have chosen the wrong court. 

example A court in civil proceedings will not examine your appeal against the decision of a state institution refusing to extend your residence permit. The decisions of state institutions should be appealed in a different court: the Administrative Court.


Your right to access the court may also be subject to certain time limits or fees. These requirements have to be reasonable, so that it is possible for you to fulfil them. 


When you submit a civil claim to the court, you may be required to pay a certain fee, but the fee cannot be excessive, which would deny you from being able to afford to go to court. This does not mean that you must be able to easily pay the required fee. The fees are set by law for each type of claim. If, due to your financial situation, you are not able to pay the required fee, you can ask the court to waive or reduce it.

Time limits

Procedural time limits for claims and requests to the court are permissible, but they cannot be so short that you are unable to do what is required of you within the given time. The time limits differ depending on what kind of claim you want the court to examine. 

example The time limit for submitting a claim arising from a contract to the court is 3 years, but the time limit for the appeal of a lower court’s judgement is 30 days. 

You must be diligent in observing these time limits, otherwise you will not be able to claim that your rights have been violated. However, if you have missed a deadline and you have valid reasons for being unable to comply with it, Estonian law allows you to ask the court to reinstate this time limit. 


Last updated 01/05/2019