We represented Kaefer, a construction services provider, in a landmark dispute where the Estonian courts explained the principles of burden of proof in cases involving a claim for remuneration under a contract for services.
Kaefer had concluded a contract for services with Isoest, under which Isoest had to insulate the pipes in a cogeneration plant. As the work undertaken by Isoest had many defects and was partly unfinished by the final contract deadline, our client hired new co-operation partners and refused to pay a part of the remuneration due to Isoest.
Landmark case for future disputes
The court dispute was innovative regarding the question of burden of proof. The court explained that in a situation where one of the parties argues that work was not done and work was not accepted, it is the other party that has the burden of proof to show that the work was done. As Isoest failed to provide evidence about actually doing the work, the court decided that Kaefer need not pay any remuneration to Isoest.
The judgment in this case will be an important reference point in future cases for deciding which party bears the burden of proof in disputes about remuneration under a contract for services. The case was successful at all three court instances, as the court of appeal and the Supreme Court agreed with the first instance court’s favourable judgment.