State legal assistance system provides lawyer’s services for the least privileged. State legal aid is provided in/for:
Civil, criminal and administrative proceedings as well as judicial misdemeanour procedure;
Pre-trial, execution and administrative proceeding;
Preparing legal documentation and other legal counselling or representation.
State legal assistance means the state pays for the services initially. This does not necessarily mean that the services free of charge! For instance, upon the designation of legal assistance you may be subjected to the duty to partially self-finance the costs for legal assistance or pay the costs partially or in full after the termination of court action.
Advocate's law offices also provide explanations without charge regarding the opportunities of state legal assistance. It makes sense to apply for state legal assistance if:
You need legal advice or in-court representation and cannot protect your rights yourself (state legal assistance is not provided in case of, for example, business dispute or for compensating moral damage);
Required legal assistance probably costs more than your two months’ income, of which taxes, mandatory insurance payment and amount needed to perform maintenance obligation have been deducted;
You lack money to pay for legal services or would lack enough money for coping (e.g. for residence expenses and food) after paying for legal services, and you also lack property upon selling of which you are able to incur legal expenses yourself (dwelling and necessary means of transport are not regarded as assets).
To receive state legal assistance you should submit a written application and notice on your financial state (see the Forms below). The application and notice forms are also available at courts and advocate’s law offices. The application must be either in Estonian or in English; those in other languages are not reviewed. Application for receiving state legal assistance is to be submitted to court in the work area of which you live or in the work area of which you wish to receive legal assistance.
If the court allows your application for legal assistance, a lawyer is appointed for you (if you have an agreement with a lawyer for the provision of legal assistance, court shall appoint the same lawyer as the provider of legal assistance). Court shall also decide whether and to which extent you are required to pay the state back the costs for legal assistance.
Similarly to state legal assistance, you may apply to a court for procedural assistance to cover your legal expenses (advocate's fees, state fee, security on cassation, obligation for provision of a security to court, etc.) and exemption from notary fees, as regards general necessary operations, such as certification and annulment of powers, wills and inheritance operations, ownership certificates and other related expenses (for example, inviting a notary for operations at client’s home or medical institution). After having received an invoice from the notary, please turn to your county court within ten days. Attach notary’s invoice and copies of notarial deed to the application and the notice on financial state (same Forms as with legal assistance).