A case initiated with respect to a norm of the Civil Procedure Law, which does not envisage repayment of the state fee if a notice of appeal is dismissed
On 15 January 2020, the 3rd Panel of the Constitutional Court initiated the case “On Compliance of Section 37 (1) of the Civil Procedure Law, insofar it does not Envisage Repayment of the State Fee Paid of a Notice of Appeal if the Notice of Appeal is Dismissed, with the First Sentence of Article 91 of the Satversme of the Republic of Latvia”.
The Contested Norm
Section 37 (1) of the Civil Procedure Law: “State fees paid shall be repaid fully or partly in the following cases:
1) if the fee paid exceeds the fee laid down in law;
2) if a court refuses to accept an application;
3) if the court proceedings in a case are terminated on the grounds that examination of the case is not allocated to the court;
4) if a claim is left without examination on the grounds that the interested party, who has brought the case before the court, has not complied with the extrajudicial examination procedures set out for the respective type of case, or the claim has been submitted by a person lacking capacity to act according to civil procedure;
5) if a court has approved an amicable settlement – in the amount of 50 per cent from the State fee paid in for the court proceedings in the court of the relevant instance;
6) if in accordance with Section 4408 (7) of this Law a court refuses to initiate appeal proceedings – in the amount of 50 per cent from the State fee paid in;
7) if the basis for terminating court proceedings is withdrawal of the claim by a plaintiff, because the agreement resulting from mediation is reached, which is certified by a written certification regarding the result of mediation issued by the mediator – in the amount of 50 per cent from the State fee paid in.”
The Norm 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.”
The case was initiated on the basis of an application submitted by the Riga Regional Court. It is examining a civil case regarding a person’s ancillary complaint regarding a decision by the first instance court, by which a person’s application regarding repayment of the state fee, paid for submitting a notice of appeal, was dismissed.
The applicant holds that the procedure, established in the contested norm, which does not envisage repayment of the state fee paid for a notice of appeal in case the notice of appeal is dismissed, is incompatible with the principle of legal equality enshrined in the first sentence of Article 91 of the Satversme.
Groups of persons – persons, who bring a claim to the court, and persons, who submit a notice of appeal regarding a judgement by the first instance court, are said to be in similar and comparable circumstances. If the notice of appeal is dismissed, the state fee paid for it is not repaid. Hence, the contested norm envisages differential treatment of persons who are in similar and comparable circumstances. It is maintained that this differential treatment lacks a legitimate aim and is not proportional.
The Legal Proceedings
The Constitutional Court has requested the Saeima to submit a written reply on the facts of the case and the legal reasoning by 16 March 2020.
The term for preparing the case is 15 June 2020. The Court will decide on the type of procedure and the date for hearing the case after it has been prepared.
Linked case: 2020-05-01