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Cooperation with the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia

Content updated: 25-04-2022 09:47
The cooperation with the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia began immediately after the said court was established, i.e. in 1996. Since 2000, the justices of both courts have shared their work experience at their meetings, and, since 2002, annual bilateral conferences between the justices have been held.

At these conferences, experience is shared and the relevant issues of constitutional jurisprudence are discussed. Such conferences serve as a platform for the justices of both courts to discuss about the constitutional effects of adopted decisions and to meet with a view to finding solutions to issues emerging in constitutional justice cases.

Sharing experience gained in the course of the consideration of constitutional justice cases and the formation of the constitutional doctrine makes a valuable contribution to the improvement of the activities of the Constitutional Courts of Latvia and Lithuania.

The reports delivered at the bilateral conferences that took place in Lithuania have been published as separate books, therefore, constitutional law scholars and a larger circle of practising lawyers interested in constitutional jurisprudence can familiarise themselves with the main topics and issues covered in those conferences.

Throughout the history of such bilateral meetings, a large number of important topics have been discussed.

“Constitutional Jurisdiction in Lithuania and Latvia” was the topic of the first meeting between the justices of the Constitutional Courts of Latvia and Lithuania which took place in Cesis, Latvia, on 22–23 September 2000.

At the bilateral seminar, held on 4–5 October 2001, certain cases considered by the Constitutional Courts of Latvia and Lithuania and some general issues were discussed.

The topic of the conference, held on 10–11 October 2002, was “The Principle of the Equality of Persons in the Jurisprudence of Constitutional Courts”. The reports were delivered by Justices of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania Armanas Abramavičius (“Some Theoretical and Practical Aspects of the Principle of the Equality of Persons”) and Egidijus Jarašiūnas (“The Principle of the Equality of Persons in the Jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania”), as well as by Justices of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia Romāns Apsītis (“The Position of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia on Adherence to the Principle of Equality in Relevant Cases”) and Andrejs Lepse (“The Concept of the Principle of Equality in Constitutional Complaints”).

The topic of the conference, held on 27–28 May 2004, was “The Role of Constitutional Courts in the Context of Membership in the European Union”. The reports were delivered by Justices of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia Gunārs Kūtris (“The Transfer of Competencies from the State to EU Institutions and the Role of the Constitutional Court”) and Andrejs Lepse (“The Interaction between National Courts and the Court of Justice of the European Communities), as well as by Justices of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania Zenonas Namavičius (“Sovereignty and EU Law”) and Augustinas Normantas (“The Relation Between the Competencies of the European Court of Justice and Those of Constitutional Courts”).

The topic of the conference, held on 16–17 June 2005, was “The Rule of Law, a Fair Legal Process, and the Right to a Fair Trial”. The reports were delivered by Justices of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania Armanas Abramavičius (“The Independence of Courts and Judges as an Essential Condition for the Implementation of the Right to a Fair Trial”) and Vytautas Sinkevičius (“The Concept of the Right to Fair Legal Proceedings in the Jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania”), as well as by Justices of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia Ilma Čepāne (“The Right to a Fair Trial as a Fundamental Right of Persons: Relevant Issues”) and Juris Jelāgins (“An Overview of the Cases Considered by the Constitutional Court of Latvia on the Right to a Fair Trial”).

The topic of the sixth conference, held on 28–29 September 2006, was “Social Rights of a Person in the Jurisprudence of Courts”. The reports were delivered by Justices of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania Toma Birmontienė (“The Interpretation of the Constitutional Right to Receive a Pension in the Jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania”) and Kęstutis Lapinskas (“The Issues of the Protection of Social Rights of Persons as Reflected in the Jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania”), as well as by President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia Aivars Endziņš (“The Protection of Fundamental Social Rights in the Jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania”). The reports on the most important issues of the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Courts of Lithuania and Latvia in 2005–2006 were delivered by Justice Ramutė Ruškytė (Lithuania) and Gunārs Kūtris (Latvia).

The topic covered at the seventh conference, held on 6–7 September 2007, was “The Concept of Ultra Vires in the Case-Law of a Constitutional Court”. Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania Armanas Abramavičius presented the report “The Concept of Ultra Vires in the Jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania” and Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia Aija Branta presented the report “The Concept of Ultra Vires and Its Application in the Case-Law of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia”. Like every other year, the most important issues of the previous year concerning the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Courts of Lithuania and Latvia were discussed.

The main topic of the eighth conference, held on 3–4 September 2009, was “The Constitutional Aspects of Environmental Protection in the Jurisprudence of a Constitutional Court and Other Issues of Constitutional Jurisprudence”. Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania Armanas Abramavičius delivered the report “The Constitutional Aspects of Environmental Protection in the Jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania” and Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia Kaspars Balodis delivered the report “The Constitutional Aspects of Environmental Protection in the Case-Law of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia”. An overview was also made about the relevant issues of the previous year concerning constitutional jurisprudence.

The topic of the ninth conference, held on 9–10 September 2010, was “The Principle of Legitimate Expectations (Legal Certainty) in the Case-Law of a Constitutional Court”. At this conference, President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia Gunārs Kūtris delivered the report “The Principle of Legitimate Expectations in the Case-Law of a Constitutional Court” and Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania Egidijus Šileikis delivered the report “The Principle of Legitimate Expectations and the Jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court of Lithuania”. Justices Pranas Kuconis (Lithuania) and Viktors Skudra (Latvia) made presentations on the most important jurisprudential issues faced by the constitutional courts of both countries in 2009–2010.

The topic covered in the tenth conference, held on 8–9 September 2011, was “The Problems of Election Law in Constitutional Jurisprudence”. Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania Toma Birmontienė presented the report “The Constitutional Doctrine of Elections” and Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia Aija Branta presented the report “The Problems of Election Law in Constitutional Jurisprudence”. The reports “The Most Important Jurisprudential Issues of Constitutional Courts (2010–2011)” were delivered by President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia Gunārs Kūtris and Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania Ramutė Ruškytė.

The main topic of the eleventh conference, held on 6–7 September 2012, was “Constitutional Review in the Area of State Finances”. The reports were delivered by Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia Uldis Ķinis (“Constitutional Review concerning the Issues of State Finances”) and Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania Toma Birmontienė (“The Particularities of the Constitutional Doctrine of the State Budget”). The most important issues of constitutional jurisprudence in 2011–2012 were introduced by Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania Gediminas Mesonis and Deputy President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia Aija Branta.

The topic of the twelfth conference, held on 6–7 June 2013, was “The Constitutional Doctrine of Citizenship”. In this conference, Justice of Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania Dainius Žalimas delivered the report “Main Features and Development of the Constitutional Doctrine on Nationality of the Republic of Lithuania” and Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia Kristine Krūma delivered the report “The Constitutional Doctrine of the Citizenship of Latvia”. The most relevant issues concerning constitutional jurisprudence faced by the Constitutional Courts of Latvia and Lithuania in the previous year were introduced by Justice Kaspars Balodis (Latvia) and Justice Egidijus Bieliūnas (Lithuania).

The topic of the thirteenth conference, held on 5–6 June 2014, was “The Development of a Constitutional Doctrine in a Constitutional Court”. The reports were delivered by Former Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania Toma Birmontienė (“Tendencies in the Development of the Jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania”) and Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania Gediminas Mesonis (“Problems Raised by Changes in Constitutional Jurisprudence: Reinterpreting the Official Constitutional Doctrine”), as well as by President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia Gunārs Kūtris (“The Principle of Equality in the Case-Law of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia”) and Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia Kaspars Balodis (“Assessing the Limitations on the Rights of Ownership in the Case-Law of a Constitutional Court”). Justice Pranas Kuconis (Lithuania) and Justice Sanita Osipova (Latvia) gave an overview of the most important issues considered by the constitutional courts of both countries in the previous year.

The topic of the fourteenth conference, held on 18–19 June 2015, was “The Impact of the European Convention on Human Rights on the Jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court”. Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania Danutė Jočienė delivered the report “The Impact of the European Convention on Human Rights on the Jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania” and Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia Ziemele delivered the report “The Significance of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms for the Case-Law of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia”. Presidents of the Courts Dainius Žalimas and Aldis Laviņš introduced the most important issues considered by the constitutional courts of both countries in 2014–2015.

On 7–9 June 2017, the fifteenth conference of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania and the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia took place in Riga. This year, its topic was “Legality (Lawfulness) Assessment in the Judgements of the Constitutional Court: Principles and the Criteria of Assessment”.

In his report “The Assessment of the Quality of Laws in Rulings Passed by the Constitutional Court: The Principles and Criteria for Assessment”, President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania Dainius Žalimas presented the criteria for the verification of the constitutionality of legal acts, as performed by the Constitutional Court, and the result of the application of such criteria (this result is significant for the scope of the powers of the Constitutional Court).

Justices Vytas Milius and Aldis Laviņš presented the most important problems tackled by the Constitutional Courts of Lithuania and Latvia in 2016–2017.

The partnership of the Constitutional Courts of Lithuania and Latvia is also developed in the multilateral meetings, arranged on the initiative of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, in which the representatives of the courts of both countries take part. In 2015, a meeting-discussion between the Constitutional Courts of Latvia, Lithuania, and Ukraine was held, in which certain topical issues of constitutional law were considered.

In 2021, cooperation with the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia was renewed. On 30 September–1 October, in Vilnius, the 16th annual bilateral conference “Challenges in the Implementation of Individual Constitutional Complaints” of the justices of the Constitutional Courts of Latvia and Lithuania took place.

The conference was attended by the President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, Danutė Jočienė, as well as Justices Elvyra Baltutytė, Vytautas Greičius, Gintaras Goda, Giedrė Lastauskienė, Vytautas Mizaras, Algis Norkūnas, and Janina Stripeikienė. The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia was represented by the President of this court, Sanita Osipova, its Vice-President, Aldis Laviņš, as well as Justices Gunārs Kusiņš, Jānis Neimanis, Artūrs Kučs, and Anita Rodiņa.

The first day of the conference was dedicated to the reports and discussions on the main topic – the effective implementation of individual constitutional complaints. The individual constitutional complaint was introduced in the Republic of Lithuania on 1 September 2019, so the choice of this topic for the bilateral conference was not accidental. The justices of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia have extensive experience in handling such complaints; therefore, the purpose of this 16th bilateral conference was to gain experience from the Latvian colleagues.

In her report, the President of the Constitutional Court, Danutė Jočienė, stressed that the legitimisation of individual constitutional complaints is a particularly important step for each state under the rule of law, seeking to protect constitutional human rights and freedoms more effectively by providing the new legal remedy – the right of each person to file an individual constitutional complaint with the Constitutional Court. Direct access by persons to the Constitutional Court makes it possible to identify more effectively shortcomings in the system of legal acts and to remove, in a shorter time period, from the legal system those provisions that are in conflict with the Constitution and whose constitutionality has not been referred to the Constitutional Court by other subjects specified in the Constitution.

In his report “Criteria for the admissibility of a constitutional complaint”, the Vice-President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia, Aldis Laviņš, reviewed the differences between the institutions of individual constitutional complaints in Lithuania and Latvia. According to him, in Latvia, too, the applicant submitting a constitutional complaint must give arguments concerning the violation of his or her rights and must have exhausted all legal remedies. One of the differences is that, in Latvia, the mandatory time limit of six months is established for filing an individual constitutional complaint with the Constitutional Court. In addition, applications are examined and decisions on instituting a case are usually adopted by a Constitutional Court panel, which is composed of three justices appointed to the panel for one year. The decision to institute a case or to refuse to institute a case is not subject to appeal.

Lawyers from the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania and representatives from the Apparatus of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia also participated in the work of the first day of the conference.

The conference also presented the jurisprudence of the constitutional courts of both countries elaborated over the last few years. In his report, the Justice of the Constitutional Court, Gintaras Goda, provided an overview of the cases in which new official constitutional doctrine was formulated or which had the greatest resonance in society. The report prepared by the Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia, Anita Rodiņa, addressed the general trends of this court, presented its jurisprudence of recent years, and drew attention to a case related to restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.