A case initiated regarding the procedure for reimbursing the State duty in civil procedure
On 9 March 2020, the 4th Panel of the Constitutional Court initiated case “On Compliance of Section 37 (3) of the Civil Procedure Law with the first sentence of Article 91 and Article 105 of the Satversme of the Republic of Latvia”.
The Contested Norm
Section 37 (2) of the Civil Procedure Law
“The State duty shall be reimbursed provided that an application requesting its reimbursement has been submitted to the court within three years from the date when the sum was paid into the State budget.”
The Norms of Higher Legal Force
The first sentence of Article 91 of the Satversme of the Republic of Latvia (hereafter – the Satversme): “All human beings in Latvia shall be equal before the law and the courts.”
Article 105 of the Satversme: “Everyone has the right to own property. Property shall not be used contrary to the interests of the public. Property rights may be restricted only in accordance with law. Expropriation of property for public purposes shall be allowed only in exceptional cases on the basis of a specific law and in return for fair compensation.”
The case was initiated on the basis of an application submitted by Jurijs Kapišņikovs, Ināra Kapišņikova, and Eduards Kapišņikovs (hereafter – the Applicants).
Upon establishing that the case, which was initiated on the basis of the Applicants’claim, was not subject to review by a court of general jurisdiction in the procedure of claim established by the Civil Procedure Law, the Supreme Court terminated legal proceedings in the case. The Applicants submitted an application to the court, requesting reimbursement of the State duty paid for the legal proceedings. The court dismissed the request, indicating that the term set in the contested norm had not been complied with since more than three years had passed since the State duty had been paid.
The Applicants note that the contested norm places them in a more disadvantageous situation compared to persons, with respect to whom a court has terminated legal proceedings, on the basis of the fact that the court does not have jurisdiction over the case, before the term of three years expires. It is alleged that this differential treatment lacks a legitimate aim and is not proportional. By denying to the Applicants the possibility to be reimbursed the State duty that had been paid the Applicants right to property is said to be disproportionally infringed upon. Hence, it is alleged that the contested norm is incompatible with the first sentence of Article 91 and Article 105 of the Satversme.
The Constitutional Court has requested the Saeima to provide a reply on the facts of the case and legal substantiation by 11 May 2020.
The term for preparing the case is 9 August 2020. The Court shall decide upon the procedure and the date for hearing the case after the case has been prepared.
Linked case: 2020-14-01