The Estonian legal environment favours entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial mind-set. Foreign investors have equal rights and obligations with local entrepreneurs. All foreign investors may establish a company and conduct business in Estonia in the same way as local investors; no restrictions apply.
Estonia has concluded treaties for the protection of investments with 31 countries, including the USA, Germany, France, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland. Also, agreements for avoiding double taxation have been made with 53 countries, including the EU.
The legal system in Estonia is based on the Continental European civil law model and has been influenced by the German legal system. Unlike in common law countries, Estonia has detailed codifications and issues are solved according to those. Estonian law is basically divided into private and public law. Generally, private law consists of civil law and commercial law. Public law consists of international law, constitutional law, administrative law, criminal law, financial law and procedural law.
Estonia has a three-level court system. County, city courts and administrative courts adjudicate matters in the first instance. The majority of courts of first instance are situated in county centres. The courts of second instance hear the appeals against decisions of courts of first instance. Courts of appeal are courts of second instance (sometimes also called circuit courts). The courts of appeal are situated in Jõhvi, Tartu and Tallinn. The Supreme Court, situated in Tartu, is the court of the highest instance.
A statement of claim is filed with the court of first instance, an appeal with the court of second instance and an appeal in cassation with the court of third or the highest instance. A matter shall be heard in the Supreme Court only after all previous court instances have been passed. The filing of an appeal is governed by respective codes of court procedure.
Here are some useful links regarding the Estonian legal system:
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What is it like to run a business in Estonia? How to benefit from the e-solutions and the efficiency of our business culture? What are the opportunities in specific sectors?
The Estonian Investment Agency’s team is happy to help you via the complimentary e-consulting service.