One more case initiated with respect to civil procedure norms that regulate initiation of cassation legal proceedings
On 18 October 2019, the 3rd Panel of the Constitutional Court initiated the case “On Compliance of the First Part and Part 41 of Section 464 of the Civil Procedure Law with the First Sentence of Article 92 of the Satversme of the Republic of Latvia”.
The Contested Norms
Section 464 (1) of the Civil Procedure Law provides: in order to decide on an issue regarding the initiation of cassation proceedings, cassation complaints, cross complaints and protests after expiry of the time period for submitting the explanations provided for in Section 460 (1) and Section 463 (3) of this Law, shall be examined at the Supreme Court assignments hearing by a judicial collegium established in accordance with the procedures laid down by the Chairperson of the Department in the composition of three judges.
Part 41 of Section 464 of the Civil Procedure Law provides that the decision adopted at the Supreme Court assignments hearing regarding initiation of cassation proceedings, refusal to initiate cassation proceeding, on transferring the case for examination in cassation proceedings in an expanded composition of the Supreme Court, as well as refusal to accept ancillary complaint may be drawn up in the form of a resolution, abiding by the provisions made in Section 229 (2) of this Law.
The Norm of Higher Legal Force
The first sentence of Article 92 of the Satversme of the Republic of Latvia (hereinafter – the Satversme): “Everyone has the right to defend his or her rights and lawful interests in a fair court.”
The case has been initiated with respect to an application submitted by Ltd. “Spilbridge & Partners”. A collegium of the Judges of the Supreme Court, by a decision of assignments hearing, adopted in compliance with the contested norms, refused to initiate cassation proceedings on the basis of its cassation complaint.
The applicant holds that a person’s right to demand recusal of judges as well as the right to receive a reasoned court’s ruling fall within the scope of the first sentence of Article 92 of the Satversme.
The applicant holds that Section 464 (1) of the Civil Procedure Law is incompatible with the first sentence of Article 92 of the Satversme since it does not envisage the right of a participant in case to demand recusal of judges included in the composition of the collegium of the Supreme Court Judges. Part 41 of this Section, in turn, is said to be incompatible with the first sentence of Article 92 of the Satversme since it envisages that the collegium of the Supreme Court Judges may draw up the decision on the refusal to initiate cassation proceedings in the form of a resolution. Therefore the applicant has no possibility to familiarise itself with the arguments on which this decision is based.
Allegedly, the established restrictions on fundamental rights have a legitimate aim – to make legal proceedings more effective; however, it is contended that these are not proportional since the legitimate aim could be reached by other measures, less restrictive on an individual’s rights. Moreover, the public benefit gained from the restriction on fundamental rights established in Section 464 (1) of the Civil Procedure Law does not outweigh the damage inflicted on a person’s rights and lawful interests.
The Legal Proceedings
The Constitutional Court has requested the institution, which issued the contested act, the Saeima, to submit a written reply on the facts of the case and the legal reasoning by 18 December 2019.
The term for preparing the case is 18 March 2020. The Court will decide on the type of procedure and the date for hearing the case after it has been prepared.
Linked case: 2019-23-01