Control of Price Related Terms in Standard Form Contracts in Estonia: Judicial Control and Other Means of Price Control
The principle of party autonomy enjoys a great importance in the Estonian law and it has generally been held that parties are free to agree upon the contractual price. However, the law also provides numerous statutory restrictions, e.g. concerning APRC caps for consumer credit contracts, contractual penalties, damages, claims or late payment interest, in order to protect the weaker party of the contract. Those restrictions are relevant not only for standard terms but also for individually negotiated contracts. Governmental price control is foreseen for the so-called natural monopolies.
There is no general competence for judicial price control in Estonia and price clauses in standard terms are exempt from unfairness test. However, the Supreme Court has, on several occasions, acknowledged the dangers associated with absolute party autonomy and declared void certain abusive clauses in consumer contracts. The intervention of the Supreme Court has been based upon, firstly, a general rule that transactions violating good morals are void and secondly, on subjecting certain price-similar standard terms (ancillary price clauses) to unfairness control.
Estonian law contains no specific prohibition of price bundling or price partition. A general restriction on bundling of goods and services is set forth for consumer contracts concluded on standard terms but the case law is scarce and there seems to be a general enforcement gap. The transparency requirements which would balance the effect of price-partitioning or price bundling are mostly based on different EU legislative acts.
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