We represented Lux Express and several other Estonian bus operators in their dispute with the Estonian state. The crux of the matter concerned the obligation, as stipulated by the Public Transport Act, to provide free transportation for preschool children and disabled individuals on commercial lines without corresponding compensation from the state.
The aforementioned obligation was deemed unconstitutional, prompting Lux Express to file a claim against the Estonian state in August of 2019. Subsequently, three additional Estonian bus companies (MK Autobuss, Arilix, and Estonian Lines) filed similar complaints with the administrative court. In 2020, the Tallinn Administrative Court, which processed the case, referred the matter to the European Court of Justice. Last September, the European Court of Justice ruled that the law was illegal and must be invalidated.
On March 9th, the court order came into effect regarding the dispute between Lux Express Estonia and the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, which acted as Estonia’s representative in this matter. As per the regulation, the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications is required to provide compensation of EUR 1.7 million for Lux Express in relation to free rides provided to certain social groups. In addition, the court also confirmed the conclusion of a compromise in a dispute between three other bus operators and the state.
Carriers have the right to claim compensation
According to the European Court, the aforementioned norm is deemed illegal; however, the law remains valid. Therefore, carriers retain the right to claim compensation for the transportation of social groups as long as the law is in effect. “It should be noted that the current compensation procedure is distinct, and operators filing a claim against the state out of court must exercise prudence. In the event that the administrative body, either the Transport Authority or Ministry of Transport, fails to process the claim within the designated time frame of 2 months, claimants have to bring the matter before the court within 30 days. Failure to do will result in forfeiture of the entire claim,” emphasises our counsel Kadri Härginen.
Our client team
We provided legal counsel to Lux Express and other bus operators in all matters pertaining to filing a dispute, and represented them in court.
Lux Express and other Estonian bus operators were represented in the dispute by our partners Allar Jõks and Carri Ginter, supported by counsel Kadri Härginen, associate Elina Mizerova and assistant lawyers Katariina Kuum and Hanna-Elise Rähni.