A justice ministry bill aims to hike state fees of turning to court by 40 to 100 percent, with curtailing the number of malicious applications and lowering the courts' workload given as reasons.
The state has a long price list for how much a person or company has to pay for various judicial activities. For example, lodging a complaint with the administrative court currently costs €15. Requesting preliminary legal protection costs the same.
The prices are somewhat higher when it comes to civil matters. For instance, a person who is after damages of €500 in civil proceedings must first pay a state fee of €100. The Ministry of Justice feels the sums are outdated. Deputy Secretary General Viljar Peep said that people's standard of living has grown considerably since the current fees were introduced in 2011.
"In a situation where fees fall short of inflation and remain unchanged for a decade, we can see people bringing to court matters where an attempt has not been made to find a compromise first," Peep said.
The bill's explanatory memo reads that courts' workload needs to be reduced, with over 16 percent of civil and eight percent of administrative cases taking over a year to resolve.
Viljar Peep said that the bill also aims to hike the sum for solving a civil case in writing or simplified procedure. The ministry will be coming up with a new price list for state fees. Filing an administrative complaint would cost €30 instead of the previous €15 and seeking damages of €500 would run up a bill of €140 instead of €100. Most fees would be hiked by between 40 and 100 percent. The explanatory memo suggests the aim is to rule out malicious and hopeless applications.
"We are not talking about social affairs here. Family matters are not affected by the planned revision," Peep said.
Feedback from courts is two-pronged. While several courts support higher fees, it is suggested that courts' workload could grow instead of falling, which is what happened when the fees were sharply hiked in 2009.
"People who cannot afford state fees but need to defend their rights in court can apply for proceedings support. They can be exempt from paying court fees. Simply hiking fees without a second thought could mean a spike in support applications instead of the workload lessening."
Peep promised that feedback will be thoroughly analyzed and that fee amounts are subject to change.
"The balance point could be lower. That is to say we are not committed to any fee amount currently suggested in the bill," the deputy secretary general said.
Editor: Marcus Turovski