European Commission

 

Enforcement fiche for Estonia



I. ADMINISTRATIVE ENFORCEMENT
Which administrative mechanisms are available to enforce the UCP Directive?

In Estonia the UCP Directive has been transposed by the Consumer Protection Act and the Advertising Act.
The general enforcement of these laws is handled by the Consumer Protection Board (CPB), which is a government authority within the area of government of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. The primary duty of the CPB is to protect the rights and interests of consumers, i.a. the it settles petitions and complaints concerning violations of consumer rights or forwards such petitions and complaints to the relevant institutions for settlement, and demands through county courts that the application of standard terms which cause unfair harm to the collective interests of consumers and unfair commercial practices be prohibited and that any other activities which violate consumer rights be terminated. The general website of the CPB is: http://www.tarbijakaitseamet.ee/.
In addition, disputes arising from contractual disputes between a consumer and a trader may be settled by the consumer complaints committee. The latter operates at the CPB within the area of government of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and makes decisions independently. The committee is competent to settle disputes arising from contracts between consumers and traders if the parties have not been able to settle the disputes by agreement and if the value of the disputed goods or services is 20 or more euros. The committee does not settle a dispute if the claim arises from an event of death, physical injury or damage to health. Such disputes are to be settled in court. The committee also does not settle disputes relating to the provision of health services or legal services or the transfer of immovables or buildings, or disputes for which the settlement procedure is prescribed by other laws. Such disputes are settled by the competent institution or court.
Based on the internal procedure rules of the CPB, upon receipt of a complaint from a consumer, the CPB forwards it to the trader within three working days, requiring response from the trader within 10 working days. If the consumer does not consent with the solution offered by the trader, the CPB will forward the matter to the consumer complaints committee.
 

Who can file administrative complaints?

The law does not limit the range of persons entitled to file a complaint to the CPB. Hence, in principle anyone can submit a complaint to the CPB. However, based on internal procedure rules of the CPB, it does not settle disputes between two private persons or two legal persons. Furthermore, it does not consider complaints related to claims arising from an event of death, physical injury or damage to health. Such disputes are to be settled in court. It also does not settle disputes relating to the provision of health services or legal services or the transfer of immovables or buildings.

Do any specific procedural requirements apply to filing administrative complaints?

The law does not set any specific requirements to the complaints submitted to the CPB. However, were possible, the CPB expects that the affected consumer would contact the trader first and would try to settle the dispute directly with the trader.
Based on the internal procedure rules of the CPB, complaints can be submitted to the CPB in writing by post or in person at the CPB, by e-mail to the address info@tarbijakaitseamet.ee, electronically through CPB’s webpage: http://www.tarbijakaitseamet.ee/1607/ or CPB’s Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Tarbijakaitseamet, filling out respective form.
Based on the internal procedure rules of the CPB, complaints should contain the following information:
• name and contact details of the complainant;
• name and contact details of the trader;
• the date of purchase or conclusion of the contract;
• the date of filing a complaint with the trader;
• the date of filing the complaint with the CPB;
• description of the defect of the product or service;
• content of the claim to trader.

Do the administrative authorities have an obligation to investigate the complaint?

The law is not clear about the obligations of the CPB in this respect, but according to the internal procedure rules, the CPB must respond to all complaints. If needed, it will give guidance to the complainant about missing information or documents. If the complainant has not contacted trader before filing a complaint to the CPB or the materials are otherwise insufficient, then the CPB will treat the complaint as information request and corresponds to the complainant accordingly.
As regards investigating complaint by the consumer complaints committee, the law sets out the following rules. The CPB does not forward a complaint to the committee if: 1) settlement of the dispute is not within the competence of the committee, or 2) the same dispute on the same grounds and between the same parties is currently before a court, or 3) a court judgment concerning the same matter has entered into force. If a complaint does not meet the requirements, the CPB grants a term for eliminating the deficiencies. If the consumer who submitted the complaint fails to eliminate the deficiencies within that term, the complaint is not be forwarded to the committee.
Generally, the committee is obliged to hear all complaints at a committee session within one month from the date when the complaint was forwarded to the committee. The committee may terminate the proceedings, if: 1) it becomes evident upon hearing the complaint that settling the complaint is not within the competence of the committee; 2) settlement of the complaint is not possible based on the evidence provided because it requires a thorough investigation and hearing of witnesses; 3) the parties to the dispute reach an agreement before the session, during the session or in a period between the sessions of the committee; or 4) the consumer withdraws the complaint.
 

Are there any specific requirements regarding the provision of evidence to the competent authorities?

Complaints should be accompanied with the copy of the purchase receipt or the relevant contract or other such documents and the copies of the complaint submitted to the trader and of the reply received.

II. ENFORCEMENT THROUGH COURT ACTION
Which court actions are available to enforce the UCP Directive?

The CPB may demand through county courts that the application of standard terms which cause unfair harm to the collective interests of consumers and unfair commercial practices be prohibited and that any other activities which violate consumer rights be terminated.
A consumer association or the federation of associations representing the collective interests of consumers has the right in the cases provided by the Law of Obligations Act and in order to protect the collective interests of consumers, to demand through a court that the application of standard terms which cause unfair harm to consumers be terminated or that other violations be terminated and that any future violations be refrained from.
If a consumer finds that his or her rights have been violated or his or her interests have been damaged, the consumer may also submit a complaint to a court.
 

Who can start a court action?

The CPB, a consumer association or federation of such associations, as well as the consumer.

Can court actions be initiated by competitors?

Yes.

Can the case be handled through an accelerated procedure?

No.

Are there any specific requirements regarding the provision of evidence to the court?

No. General provisions regarding providing of evidence of the Code of Civil Procedures apply.

III. SANCTIONS
What are the possible civil sanctions and remedies for the infringement of the UCP provisions?

Prohibition or termination of unfair commercial practices and any other activities which violate consumer rights, as well as damages.

What are the possible criminal sanctions for the infringement of the UCP provisions?

No criminal sanctions are set forth.

What are the possible administrative sanctions for the infringement of the UCP provisions?

The CPB can, upon detection of an offence, issue an administrative request demanding that the offence be terminated and, if possible, that the initial situation be restored, or requiring the offering and sale of goods or services which do not meet the requirements to be suspended and prescribing a term for bringing the goods or services into compliance with the requirements. The Director General of the CPB or a person authorised by him/her may issue an administrative request and demand that a trader terminate the use of an unfair commercial practice or, if such practice has not yet been used but is intended to be used, demand that the trader refrain from using the practice. Upon failure to comply with an administrative request, a penalty payment may be imposed pursuant to the procedure provided for in the Substitutive Enforcement and Penalty Payment Act. The upper limit for a penalty payment is 640 euros.
The CPB may also impose misdemeanour fines. Violation by a trader of the prohibition to use unfair commercial practices is punishable by a fine of up to 3200 euros.
 

What are the contractual consequences of an administrative order or a judgement relating to an unfair commercial practice on an individual transaction?

The order or the judgment as such would not have direct impact on the individual transaction, although the consumer may cancel the contract as a transaction entered into under the influence of a relevant mistake, fraud, threat, violence or gross disparity, if such can be proven in light of the unfair commercial practise that was used and due to which the consumer entered into the contract.

How can consumers get redress/compensation (e.g. through collective actions)?

If consumers have suffered damage, they can file a claim for compensation to civil court.

Can the administrative authorities or the courts require the publication of their decisions?

In general, the decisions of CPB making an administrative request and the judgments of courts are public.

IV. OTHER TYPES OF ENFORCEMENT
Are there any self-regulatory enforcement systems in your jurisdiction that deal with aspects of the UCP Directive?

No.

Are there any mediating services that deal with aspects of the UCP Directive (e.g., an ombudsman)?

No.