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Legal professions - Estonia

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Judges 1.
a) Lay judges a)
2. Clerks of the court 2.
a) Assistant Judges a)
b) Court security guard b)
c) Clerk of court session c)
d) Consultant d)
3. Prosecutors 3.
4. Bailiffs 4.
5. Lawyers 5.
a) Sworn advocates’ clerks and senior clerks a)
b) Advocates of foreign states b)
6. Notaries 6.

 

1. Judges

Appointment

An Estonian citizen, who has fulfilled an accredited law curriculum of academic studies, has proficiency of the Estonian language at the advanced level, is of high moral character and has the abilities and personal characteristics necessary for working as a judge may be appointed as a judge.

The following shall not be appointed as a judge:

1) a person who is convicted of a criminal offence;

2) a person who has been removed from the office of judge, notary or bailiff;

3) a person expelled from the Estonian Bar Association;

4) a person who has been released from the public service for a disciplinary offence;

5) a bankrupt.

Judges shall not be employed other than in the office of judge, except for teaching or research. A judge shall notify of his or her employment other than in the office to the chairman of the court. Employment other than in the office of judge shall not damage the performance of official duties of a judge or the independence of a judge upon administration of justice.

A judge shall not be:

1) a member of the Riigikogu or member of a rural municipality or city council;

2) a member of a political party;

3) a founder, managing partner, member of the management board or supervisory board of a company, or director of a branch of a foreign company;

4) a trustee in bankruptcy, member of a bankruptcy committee or compulsory administrator of immovable;

5) an arbitrator chosen by the parties to a dispute.

Judges shall be appointed for life. The maximum age of a judge is 67 years. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall be appointed to office by the Riigikogu, on the proposal of the President of the Republic. Justices of the Supreme Court shall be appointed to office by the Riigikogu, on the proposal of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Other judges shall be appointed to office by the President of the Republic, on the proposal of the Supreme Court.

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A person who has undergone judge’s preparatory service or is exempted there from and has passed a judge’s examination may be appointed as a judge of a county or city court, or administrative court (county judge, city judge or administrative court judge).

A person who is an experienced and recognised lawyer and who has passed a judge's examination may be appointed as a judge of a circuit court (circuit court judge). A person who worked as a judge directly before appointment shall be exempted from the judge’s examination.

A person who is an experienced and recognised lawyer may be appointed as a justice of the Supreme Court (Supreme Court justice).

Judges shall be appointed to office on the basis of a public competition. The suitability of the personal characteristics of a candidate for judicial office shall be assessed on the basis of an interview. A candidate for judicial office must pass a security check before being appointed judge.

Judges may be removed from office only by a court judgment. Criminal charges against a judge of a court of the first instance and a court of appeal may be brought during their term of office only on the proposal of the Supreme Court en banc with the consent of the President of the Republic. Criminal charges against a justice of the Supreme Court may be brought during his or her term of office only on the proposal of the Legal Chancellor with the consent of the majority of the membership of the Riigikogu (i.e. Parliament).

Ethical code, independence

A judge shall perform his or her official duties in an impartial manner and without self-interest and shall comply with service interests also outside service. A judge shall behave impeccably in service and outside service and refrain from acts, which may damage the reputation of court. A judge shall perform his or her duties within reasonable time, having regard to the terms for proceedings prescribed by law.

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A judge shall not disclose information, which becomes known to him or her at a court session held in camera. A judge may disclose facts to which the duty of confidentiality applies in judicial proceedings or pre-trial procedure in criminal matters only with the permission of the Supreme Court en banc. The duty of confidentiality applies for an unspecified term and remains in force also after termination of the service relationship.

A judge shall not disclose discussions, which take place at the time the decision is made. The duty of confidentiality of deliberations applies for an unspecified term and remains in force also after termination of the service relationship.

Fee

A judge’s salary is provided by an act.

In addition to a salary, judges shall receive additional remuneration for years of service as follows:

1) as of the fifth year in employment as a judge – 5 per cent of the salary;

2) as of the tenth year in employment as a judge – 10 per cent of the salary;

3) as of the fifteenth year in employment as a judge – 15 per cent of the salary.

A chairman of the court of the first instance or court of appeal and judges supervising candidates for judicial office, candidates for assistant judge or university student trainees shall receive additional remuneration

a) Lay judges

Lay judges shall participate in the administration of justice in county and city courts on the bases and pursuant to the procedure provided by the Codes of procedure. In administration of justice, a lay judge has equal rights with a judge.

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An Estonian citizen with active legal capacity from 25 to 70 years of age who resides in Estonia, has proficiency of the Estonian language at the advanced level, and is of suitable moral character for the activity of a lay judge may be appointed as a lay judge.

The following shall not be appointed as a lay judge:

1) a person who is convicted of a criminal offence;

2) a bankrupt;

3) a person who is not suited due to his or her state of health;

4) a person who has permanent residence, that is the residence the address details of which have been entered in the population register, of less than one year within the territory of the local government which presents the person as a candidate for lay judge;

5) a person who is in service in a court, prosecutor’s office or the police;

6) a person who is in service in the armed forces;

7) an advocate, a notary or a bailiff;

8) a member of the Government of the Republic;

9) a member of a rural municipality or city government;

10) the President of the Republic;

11) a member of the Riigikogu;

12) a county governor.

A person who is accused of a criminal offence shall not be appointed as a lay judge during the criminal proceedings.

Lay judges shall be appointed for four years. A person shall not be appointed as lay judge for more than two consecutive terms.

A local government council shall elect the candidates for lay judge. Lay judges shall be appointed to office from among candidates for lay judges by the committee for appointment of candidates for lay judge, the membership of which shall be approved by the chairman of the court.

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See also: Courts Act

2. Clerks of the court

a) Assistant Judges

An assistant judge is a court official who performs the duties specified by law. Upon performance of his or her duties, an assistant judge is independent but shall comply with the instructions of a judge to the extent prescribed by law.

An Estonian citizen who has attained at least 21 years of age, resides in Estonia, who has fulfilled an accredited law curriculum of academic studies or who has acquired the professional education of assistant judge at an institution of applied higher education, has proficiency of the Estonian language at the advanced level and has undergone assistant judge’s preparatory service and passed an assistant judge’s examination may be appointed as an assistant judge. A person who has not undergone assistant judge’s preparatory service, but who has undergone judge’s preparatory service or is exempted therefrom and has passed an assistant judge’s or judge’s examination may also be appointed as an assistant judge.

The following shall not be appointed as an assistant judge:

1) a person who is convicted of a criminal offence;

2) a person who has been removed from the office of judge, notary or bailiff;

3) a person expelled from the Estonian Bar Association;

4) a person who has been released from the public service for a disciplinary offence;

5) a bankrupt.

The restrictions on services of judges apply to assistant judges.

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b) Court security guard

A court security guard is a court official whose duty is to maintain order in the court, serve notices and summons to persons and perform other duties related to the functions of a court security guard determined by the internal rules of the court.

Court Security Guard:

  • delivers notifications and summons to the parties to the proceeding, to witnesses and to the other persons;
  • maintains discipline at the court session and in the court building and keeps guard in the court house;
  • introduces protocol of the court session to the convicted offenders;
  • in case of necessity brings the person to the court session together with the police;
  • executes other orders of the president of the court and of the administrative director.

The other lines of duty of the court security guard shall be determined by the president of the court in the job description.

The court security guard is entitled to:

  • demand termination of violation of law from the offender and adherence to public order;
  • to check the documents proving identity of the person, suspected of commission of offence;
  • to detain pursuant to procedure prescribed in the law and to bring to the police authorities the persons, who have committed and offence and the persons, suspected of commission of offence;
  • to bring to the medical or police authorities the persons, who due to their alcoholic, toxics or narcotic intoxication may jeopardise themselves or other persons, but also offenders in order to identify their person and if necessary for preparation of the minutes about violation of administrative law;
  • to carry and use firearm and special equipment on the occasions and pursuant to procedure prescribed in the law.

Additional remuneration shall be paid to court security guards for serving summons and notices. The Minister of Justice shall establish the rates of additional remuneration.

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c) Clerk of court session


1. summons parties to the proceedings and witnesses to court;

2. prepares the list of court cases to be heard at the court and displays them in visible place;
3. checks the presence of persons, summoned to the court session;

4. prepares minutes of court sessions;
5.enforces the promptly enforceable court judgements;

6. formalises court files and delivers them against signature to the court office in five days after court has made the decision;

7. preserves the list of cases, hearted at the court in a separate file for three years;

8.summons lay judges to court session and keeps count of their participation in the sessions; 9. executes other orders of the judge. .

The clerk of court sessionin cases, provided in the law participates in hearing of civil, criminal and administrative matters and in matters of violation of administrative law. The other work obligations of the clerk of court sessionshall bedetermined by the president of the court in the job description. The work of the clerk of court sessionshall be co-ordinated by the head of the court office in accordance with the request of the judge.

d) Consultant

1. systematizes legal acts and legal information literature;

2. keeps control copies of legal acts and codes;

3. replaces interleaves in the publications of the collection “Estonian Law” and supplies new volumes and interleaves for the above collection

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4.presnets information to the judges on validity of legal acts and on the amendments and supplementation made in the above; completes and copies legal acts for the judges according to branches of law or sub-subjects;

5.collects and systematizes court decisions and generalises court practice;

6. analyses court statistics;
7. receives statements of claim and other petitions and complaints and protests from persons;
8.assists the judge in preparation of court matters;

9. draws up draft court decisions.

The other work obligations of the consultantshall bedetermined by the president of the court in the job description.

3. Prosecutors

General

Prosecutors are the prosecutors of the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the prosecutors of the county and city prosecutor’s offices. The prosecutors of the county and city prosecutor’s offices are senior county or city prosecutors, county or city prosecutors and assistant prosecutors.

The Chief Public Prosecutor shall direct the Prosecutor’s Office and perform other duties imposed on him or her by law. The prosecutors of the county and city prosecutor’s offices shall supervise the legality of pre-trial procedure in criminal matters, represent public prosecutions in the county and city courts and perform other duties imposed on them by law.

Appointment

An Estonian citizen with active legal capacity who has attained at least 21 years of age, has completed an academic higher education in law, is proficient in Estonian to the extent established by or pursuant to law, is of high moral character and has the necessary abilities and personal characteristics may be appointed as a prosecutor.

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The following shall not be appointed as a prosecutor:

1) a person in respect of whom a conviction for an intentionally committed criminal offence has entered into force;

2) a person who has been released from the public service for a disciplinary offence;

3) a person who has been disbarred from the Estonian Bar Association or expelled from the notarial profession;

4) a person closely related by blood (parent, brother, sister, child) or by marriage (spouse, spouse’s parent, brother, sister, child) to the prosecutor to whom he or she is directly subordinate;

5) a person who due to his or her state of health is unable to work as a prosecutor. In the case of doubt, a medical committee shall determine the state of health of a person.

A person who has been employed as a judge, sworn advocate or an assistant prosecutor immediately before appointment to office, or an assistant prosecutor released from clerkship after the end of the probationary period may be appointed as a county or city prosecutor. The clerkship period of an assistant prosecutor shall be included in the period of employment as a prosecutor on the condition that the prosecutor has passed the prosecutor’s examination.

The prosecutor is not allowed to be engaged anywhere outside his duties of employment but in study or scientific work. The prosecutor may not be the founder of a company, a shareholder with management right, the member of the management board o council nor the head of a foreign branch neither can he be the member of a political party.

Into the office of a county or city prosecutor may be nominated a person, who has worked for three years as a judge, a prosecutor, a police officer, sworn advocate or senior assistant of a sworn advocate, but also an assistant prosecutor after release from clerkship after expiration of the probation period and the assistant prosecutor after passing of the prosecutor’s examination and after expiration of the clerkship period.

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Into the office of a county or city prosecutor may be nominated a person, who prior to nomination into the office has worked for three years as a judge, a prosecutor, a police officer, sworn advocate or senior assistant of a sworn advocate. The period of clerkship or probation as an assistant prosecutor shall not be counted into the period of working as a prosecutor.

Public prosecutors, county and city prosecutors and assistant prosecutors shall be appointed to office for an unspecified term. Senior county or city prosecutors shall be appointed to office for a term of five years. Into the office of Chief Public Prosecutor may be nominated a person, who has worked at least for two years in the office, calling for higher legal qualification and who has passed the prosecutor’s examination. Into the office of Chief Public Prosecutor may be nominated a person, who is an experienced and acknowledged lawyer. The Chief Public Prosecutor shall be appointed to office for a term of five years.

Public prosecutors, county and city prosecutors and assistant prosecutors shall be appointed to office on the basis of a public competition. The prosecutors’ competition and evaluation committee shall assess the suitability of an applicant for a position.

The Government of the Republic shall appoint the Chief Public Prosecutor to office on the proposal of the Minister of Justice after considering the opinion of the Legal Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu 2.

The Minister of Justice shall appoint senior county and city prosecutors to office on the proposal of the Chief Public Prosecutor.

The Minister of Justice shall appoint public prosecutors, county and city prosecutors and assistant prosecutors to office on the proposal of the prosecutors’ competition and evaluation committee.

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A disciplinary penalty may be imposed on a prosecutor for a disciplinary offence.

Disciplinary penalties are:

1) a reprimand;

2) a fine of up to one month’s salary;

3) a reduction of salary;

4) release from service.

The prosecutors’ disciplinary committee shall consider disciplinary offences committed by prosecutors. The persons, entitled to impose disciplinary penalty on a prosecutor are as follows:

1) The Minister of Justice in respect of all prosecutors upon the proposal of the prosecutors’ disciplinary committee;
2) The Chief Public Prosecutor in respect of county and city prosecutors and assistant prosecutors to office upon the proposal of the prosecutors’ disciplinary committee.

The Government of the Republic shall decide the release of the Chief Public Prosecutor from service as a disciplinary punishment on the proposal of the Minister of Justice within one month.

Ethical code, independence

Prosecutors shall be independent in the performance of their duties and act only pursuant to law and according to their conscience.

A prosecutor shall not disclose information, which becomes known to him or her in connection with the performance of his or her duties if this may prejudice the administration of justice. The obligation of professional secrecy has an unspecified term.

Fee

The salary of a prosecutor shall be the salary rate at the highest level of the salary scale for state public servants multiplied by a coefficient specified in Prosecutor’s Office Act. A prosecutor supervising an assistant prosecutor shall receive remuneration for supervision.

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See also Prosecutors’s Office Act

4. Bailiffs

General

A bailiff is an independent person who holds an office in public law.

A bailiff engages in liberal profession and holds office in his or her own name and at own liability. An undertaking or a state official shall not be a bailiff.

Bailiffs belong to the area of government of the Minister of Justice who has the right to issue regulations for the organisation of professional activities of bailiffs.

Appointment

An Estonian citizen who has completed preparatory service for bailiffs and passed a bailiff examination, who has completed the national curriculum of academic legal studies, who is proficient in oral and written Estonian, is honest and of moral character may be appointed as a bailiff.

A bailiff shall be appointed to office by the Minister of Justice. A bailiff shall be appointed to office for an unspecified term. A bailiff shall assume office within three months after appointment to office.

The following shall not be appointed as bailiff:

1) a person who has been punished pursuant to criminal procedure for an intentionally committed criminal offence;

2) a person who is a suspect, the accused or the accused at trial in a criminal matter;

3) a person who has been removed from the office of judge, notary or bailiff;

4) a person who has been expelled from the Estonian Bar Association;

5) a person who has been released from public service for a disciplinary offence;

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6) a person who is bankrupt.

A bailiff shall not hold other paid offices besides the office of bailiff or perform any other paid work except teaching or research in educational or research institutions.

The following shall not be bailiffs:

1) the founder of a company, a member of the management board or supervisory board of a company, the liquidator of a company or a procurator;

2) the director of a branch of a foreign company;

3) a person acting as a trustee in bankruptcy, a member of a bankruptcy committee or a compulsory administrator of an immovable.

If circumstances exist which cast suspicion upon the impartiality of a bailiff, the bailiff shall not conduct enforcement proceedings and shall remove himself or herself from office.

The disciplinary penalties imposed on bailiffs are:

1) reprimand;

2) fine;

3) removal from office.

The Minister of Justice has the authority to impose a disciplinary penalty on a bailiff.

Ethical code, independence

A bailiff shall be impartial in the performance of professional acts and appear trustworthy to all persons for whose benefit or with regard to whom he or she performs acts. A bailiff shall be guided by the oath of office and shall also act in a dignified manner outside of his or her professional activities.

A bailiff is required to maintain business secrets and not to disclose information obtained in his or her professional activities which cannot be disclosed pursuant to legislation regulating the protection of personal data. The duty to maintain confidentiality also remains after a bailiff resigns from office. Employees of a bailiff’s office and other persons who have access to the specified information shall comply with the duty to maintain confidentiality.

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A bailiff is liable for the wrongful breach of his or her official duties. The state shall not be liable for damage caused by a bailiff.

Fee

A fee shall be charged for a professional act of a bailiff. The rates of bailiffs’ fees shall be established by the Minister of Justice.

See also Bailiff-s Act

5. Lawyers

General

Sworn advocates, senior clerks of sworn advocates and clerks of sworn advocates are members of the Bar Association (advocates). (Estonian Bar Association is a self-governing professional association, which organises the provision of legal services in private and public interests and protects the professional rights of advocates.) In Estonia, only members of the Estonian Bar Association may provide legal services as advocates.

Advocates provide legal services on equal bases with other professional legal services providers, unless otherwise provided by law. Legal services mean providing legal counselling, representing and defending a person in court or in pre-trial proceedings or elsewhere, preparing a document for a person or performing other legal acts in the interests of a person as professional activity.

A sworn advocate is competent to:

1) represent and defend clients in court, in pre-trial proceedings and elsewhere in Estonia and in foreign states;

2) collect evidence;

3) in the provision of legal services, freely choose and use the means and methods, which are in conformity with law;

4) receive information necessary for provision of legal services from state and local government agencies, have access to documents, receive copies of and extracts from such documents, unless the receipt of the information or documents by the advocate is prohibited by law;

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5) in the framework of provision of legal services to a client and in accordance with the law, to verify for the client transcripts of and signatures on documents to be submitted to the court and other state offices;

6) act as an arbitrator or conciliator;

7) act as a trustee in bankruptcy.

Appointment

A person may be admitted to the Bar Association, if he or she:

1) has active legal capacity;

2) resides in Estonia or is a citizen of the Republic of Estonia or of a Member State of the European Union;

3) has fulfilled an accredited law curriculum of academic studies

4) has oral and written proficiency in Estonian;

5) is honest and of high moral character.

In order to be admitted to the Bar Association, a person must submit a written application and pass an advocate’s examination.

Members are admitted to the Bar Association by a resolution of the Board.

A member of the Bar Association may become a sworn advocate on the basis of a written application if he or she has passed the sworn advocate’s examination and has practised:

1) as a sworn advocate’s clerk for at least two years, or

2) as a sworn advocate’s senior clerk for at least one year.

A person may be admitted to the Bar Association as a sworn advocate if he or she has passed the sworn advocate’s examination and:

1) is a professor of law;

2) was a sworn advocate and becomes a member of the Bar Association within five years after he or she was excluded from the Bar Association on the grounds provided for in clauses 36 (1) 1) or 4) of Bar Association Act.

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The professional title of a sworn advocate shall be granted by a resolution of the Board.

A sworn advocate shall be at least 24 years old.

A person shall not be admitted to the Bar Association if he or she:

1) does not comply with the requirements for advocates;

2) has been disbarred or removed from the position of a notary;

3) has been punished pursuant to criminal procedure for an intentionally committed criminal offence;

4) is in public service, is employed under an employment contract or a contract of service, belongs without the permission of the Board of the Bar Association to the management board or supervisory board of a company, except a company of advocates, or is the director of a branch of a foreign company, except a branch of a foreign company of advocates, is a partner or shareholder who holds the right of representation of an undertaking or a procurator of an undertaking;

5) is a bankrupt;

6) operates in a profession, which is contrary to the requirements for the professional ethics of advocates or the principle of independence;

7) has been deprived of the right to be an advocate, judge, prosecutor, and notary or operate as an undertaking by a court judgment.

Working in teaching or research capacity shall not prevent a person from being admitted to the Bar Association.

An advocate shall be disbarred:

1) as a penalty for a disciplinary offence imposed under the procedure provided for in this Act;

2) on the basis of a resolution of the Board if a judgment of conviction for an intentionally committed criminal offence or any other criminal offence has entered into force with regard to the advocate which renders the professional activities of the advocate impossible;

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3) on the basis of a resolution of the Board, if the advocate fails to pay the membership fee of the Bar Association by the due date without good reason and regardless of a warning given by the Board.

If a person is excluded from the Bar Association or is disbarred, he or she loses the right to practice as an advocate.

Ethical code, independence

In the provision of legal services, an advocate shall be independent and shall act pursuant to law, the legal acts and resolutions adopted by the bodies of the Bar Association, the requirements for the professional ethics of advocates, good morals and conscience.

An advocate is required to:

1) use all means and methods, which are in conformity with law in the interests of a client while preserving his or her professional honour and dignity;

2) notify a client of activities relating to the provision of legal services;

3) maintain a list of matters in which the advocate acts as a representative;

4) store media related to the provision of legal services separately from other media in his or her possession.

An advocate is required to maintain the confidentiality of information which has become known to him or her in the provision of legal services, the confidentiality of persons who request the advocate to provide legal services and of the amount of remuneration paid for legal services. Such obligation shall have an unspecified term and it shall also apply after the termination of the activities of the advocate. Such obligation shall extend to the employees of law offices and of the Bar Association and to public servants to whom an advocate’s professional secret has become known in connection with their official duties.

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An advocate shall not provide legal services if he or she provides or has provided legal services in the same matter to a person whose interests are contrary to those of the client or if provision of legal services is prohibited by law.

On an advocate’s own initiative and with the consent of the management of the law office, the advocate may waive the obligations assumed by a contract entered into with a client or to terminate the contract if the client has requested the performance of an act which is in violation of the law or requirements for the professional ethics, or if the client violates any of the essential conditions of the client contract.

An advocate shall not be detained, searched or taken into custody on circumstances arising from his or her professional activities, except on the basis of a ruling of a county or city court. A law office through which an advocate provides legal services shall also not be searched on circumstances arising from his or her professional activities.

Fee

An advocate’s fee shall be agreed upon in a contract with a client. The management of a law office or an advocate shall make the first proposal to the client as to the amount of a fee and explain the grounds for the formation of the fee. The Bar Association shall not set limits to advocates’ fees.

A fee shall be determined:

1) on the basis of time (hourly fee);

2) in a fixed amount (flat fee);

3) contingent on the recovery obtained for the client as a result of the provision of the legal services (contingency fee);

On the basis of an agreement with a client, a fee may be determined as contingent on the results of the work of the advocate or other circumstances.

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A client shall compensate for the necessary costs incurred by the advocate or the management of the law office in the provision of the legal services. An advocate is required to notify a client of all costs.

a) Sworn advocates’ clerks and senior clerks

Sworn advocates’ clerks and senior clerks shall have the competence of sworn advocates within the limits provided by law. A sworn advocate’s senior clerk or sworn advocate’s clerk is not competent to act as an arbitrator or conciliator, or represent or defend a client in the Supreme Court. A sworn advocate’s clerk is not competent to act as a trustee in bankruptcy. Sworn advocate’s clerks may provide legal services only under the supervision of his or her patron who is a sworn advocate.

b) Advocates of foreign states

An advocate of a foreign state means a person who has the right to practice as an advocate on a permanent basis in a member state of the European Union and who is not a member of the Estonian Bar Association.

An advocate of a foreign state may not practice as an advocate on a permanent basis in Estonia. In Estonia, an advocate of a foreign state may represent or defend a client in court only together with a sworn advocate. In Estonia, the requirements for the professional activities and professional ethics of advocates applicable to members of the Estonian Bar Association also apply to the activities of advocates of foreign states, without prejudice to the requirements for professional activities applicable to him or her in the corresponding member state of the European Union

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In provision of legal services in Estonia, an advocate of a foreign state shall practice under the professional title of an advocate, which grants him or her the right to practice as an advocate in a member state of the European Union. The name of the body that granted such right or the name of the court where the advocate of the foreign state practices in a member state of the European Union shall be added to the professional title. The professional title of an associate member shall be expressed in at least one official language of the member states of European Union where he or she has the right to practice as an advocate in a manner that enables it to be clearly differentiated from the professional titles of Estonian advocates

Supervision over the professional activities of advocates of foreign states in Estonia shall be performed by the Board of the Bar Association. An advocate of a foreign state shall have the obligations to:

1) appear at a session of the Board;

2) submit documents related to the activities of the law office or the professional activities of the advocate to the Board or a person appointed by the Board;

3) give explanations regarding his or her activities;

4) allow a person appointed by the Board to access the premises of the law office.

The Board of the Bar Association may require an advocate of a foreign state to verify his or her right to practice as an advocate in a member state of the European Union. Upon commencing provision of legal services, an advocate of a foreign state shall submit a corresponding notice to the Board of the Bar Association.

Proceedings of the court of honour are commenced against advocates of foreign states on the bases and pursuant to the procedure provided for in this Act. The court of honour may impose a fine in favour of the Bar Association in the extent of up to two months earnings of the advocate as a penalty on an advocate of a foreign state or deprive him or her of the right to practice as an advocate of a foreign state in Estonia. A decision of the court of honour on deprivation of a person of the right to practice as an advocate of a foreign state in Estonia shall take force as of the approval thereof by the Board of the Bar Association. The Board of the Bar Association shall notify the competent authority of a member state of the European Union of the commencement of proceedings of the court of honour against an advocate of the foreign state or of imposition of a disciplinary penalty of an advocate of a foreign state, and communicate the relevant information to the competent authority.

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See also Bar Association Act

6. Notaries

General

A notary is a holder of office in public law who is empowered by the state to attest, at the request of persons, facts and events, which have legal meaning and perform other notarial acts in order to ensure legal certainty. A notary shall be independent in the performance of notarial acts. An undertaking or a state official shall not be a notary. A notary executes his or her office as a liberal profession in his or her own name and at his or her own responsibility.

Notaries shall perform the following notarial acts at the request of persons pursuant to the procedure provided by the Attestation Act:

1) attest transactions and declarations of intention, authenticity of signatures and copies, correctness of translations of documents and authenticity of signatures of translators;

2) attest other facts and events which have a legal meaning, including voting or ballot results and results of drawing of lots, and sea protests;

3) receive deposits of and transfer money, securities and valuables;

4) issue certificates concerning data entered in registries and printouts from registries;

5) prepare lists of assets;

6) forward petitions and notices;

7) organise and attest auctions.

Notaries shall settle succession matters in the cases and pursuant to the procedure provided for in the Law of Succession Act.

Notaries shall preserve notarial documents and issue copies thereof pursuant to the procedure established by law.

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Notaries have the duty to provide legal assistance to the parties to notarial acts and to prepare corresponding draft documents.

If the participants have not determined otherwise and if it is not provided otherwise in the law, the notary shall represent participants in the professional proceedings in the judicial and administrative agencies, among others:

  • elaborates and submits the petition for registration of the attested transactions, but also an application for withdrawal of the petition;

2) elaborates and submits objections to challenge the activity of the registrar in respect of the attested transactions.

A notary, being a holder of an office in public law and representative of a free profession, shall perform in person the duties imposed on him or her by law. Persons requesting the performance of notarial acts and parties entering into transactions to be notarially attested shall always have the possibility to directly address a notary in connection with the notarial act.

Appointment

An Estonian citizen with active legal capacity who has completed candidate service and passed the notary examination, has academic higher education in law and oral and written proficiency of Estonian, is honest and acts in compliance with high moral standards may become a notary.

The following shall not be appointed as a notary:

1) a person who has been punished pursuant to criminal procedure for an intentionally committed criminal offence;

2) a person who has been removed from the office of judge or notary;

3) a person who has been expelled from the Estonian Bar Association;

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4) a person who has been released from public service for a disciplinary offence;

5) a person who is bankrupt.

A person who is a suspect, an accused or accused at trial in a criminal matter shall not be appointed as a notary during the time of the criminal proceedings.

A notary shall not hold other paid offices besides the office of notary or perform any other paid work except teaching or research. A notary shall not be a member of the leadership of a political party or belong to foreign political organisations. A notary and the employees of his or her office are prohibited from acting as intermediaries between parties entering into transactions unless otherwise provided by law.

Also, a notary shall not engage in enterprise, or:

1) participate in a company or be a member of the management or supervisory board or a liquidator or procurator of a company;

2) be the director of a branch of a foreign company;

3) be a trustee in bankruptcy, member of a bankruptcy committee or compulsory administrator.

A notary may acquire securities, which are publicly issued, including shares and convertible bonds.

An office of notary shall be filled on the basis of competition. A notary shall be appointed to office by the Minister of Justice. A notary shall be appointed to a specified territorial jurisdiction and a professional certificate shall be issued to the notary. A notary shall be appointed to office for life. At the request of a notary, the Minister of Justice may permit the notary to remain in office after attaining pensionable age if this is necessary to satisfy the need for notarial acts to be performed, but for no longer than ten years.

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The Minister of Justice shall remove a notary from office on the following bases:

1) if a conviction of a court for an intentionally committed criminal offence has entered into force in respect of the notary, and also if any other conviction of a court has entered into force in respect of the notary by which a criminal punishment is imposed on the notary which makes it impossible for the notary to act as a notary;

2) in the case of serious violation related to office;

3) if the notary does not assume office within four months after appointment to office;

4) if other circumstances become evident which make it impossible for a person to practice as a notary.

A notary is prohibited from advertising himself or herself or his or her professional activities. The communication of the name of a notary and of the office hours, address and telecommunication numbers of a notary's office to the public is not deemed to be advertising.

Ethical codes, independence

A notary shall maintain impartiality and loyalty towards all persons whose interests or rights are affected by the notarial acts performed by the notary. A notary shall be guided by the oath of office and shall also act in a dignified manner outside of his or her professional activities.

A notary is required to maintain the confidentiality of information, which he or she receives through professional activities. The duty of a notary to maintain confidentiality remains also after he or she resigns from office, and extends to the employees of a notary’s office, translators and interpreters and other persons who have access to such information.

A notary shall be liable for damage arising from wrongful violation of his or her official duties. The state shall not be liable for damage caused by a notary.

Fee

Fees are charged for the performance of notarial acts. The rates for notary’s fees shall be established by an Act. Notaries are prohibited to enter into agreements concerning changing rates of fees. Each notarised document shall indicate the amount of fee charged by the notary.

See also: Notaries Act

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Last update: 29-07-2004

 
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