The Council for Administration of Courts considers it important that Estonian courts ensure the proper functioning of the administration of justice during emergency situation, while avoiding the spread of the COVID-19 virus to judges, court officers, parties to a proceeding, and other persons engaged in the administration of justice. Written proceedings and using technical solutions is preferred.
The recommendations cover the organisation of the work of judicial authorities, performance of judicial proceedings and court’s communication with the public and the parties to the proceedings.
- Where possible, litigation is handled in writing.
- In cases where a hearing is scheduled, the court will immediately contact the parties to the proceedings and other persons summoned to the hearing as soon as possible and will inform them of the further course of the proceedings.
- During emergency situation, the hearings that are absolutely necessary for the performance of unforeseen or urgent service duties will be held by technical means of communication.
- If this is not possible, the judge will decide whether to hold a hearing based on the circumstances of the particular case. In general, the court will postpone the hearing or the conduct of the procedural act, and will execute it as soon as possible after the end of emergency situation.
- Procedural acts involving direct physical contact are carried out in the court only when it is absolutely necessary. The hearings will be conducted and procedural acts carried out in the largest possible courtroom, where there is sufficient distance between persons. After the hearing, the courtroom will be thoroughly cleaned and, if necessary, disinfected.
- If a person if summoned to the court during emergency situation, they will be asked to inform the court if they have any symptoms of the disease or they have been in contact with a virus carrier. Any persons who have any symptoms of the disease or who have been in close contact with a virus carrier are prohibited from appearing in the court and they are not allowed into the courthouse.
- The Court office is open on working days from 9.00–13.00 The courthouse is open on working days until 14.00, unless the chairman of the court decides otherwise.