A case initiated with regard to the provision restricting business activity in large shopping malls
On 7 June 2021, the 2nd Panel of the Constitutional Court initiated the case “On compliance of paragraph 2418 of the Cabinet of Ministers Regulation No 360 of 9 June 2020 ‘Epidemiological safety measures for the containment of the spread of COVID-19 infection’ (in the wording that was in force from 7 April 2021 until 19 May 2021) with the first sentence of Article 91, the first and the third sentence of Article 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia”.
Paragraph 2418 of the Cabinet of Ministers Regulation No 360 of 9 June 2020 “Epidemiological safety measures for the containment of the spread of COVID-19 infection” (in the wording that was in force from 7 April 2021 until 19 May 2021) stipulated that only the following may remain open in a shopping mall with a total trading space of over 7000 square metres:
- stores where food constitutes at least 70% of the assortment of goods;
- stores where hygienic products constitute at least 70% of the assortment of goods;
- pharmacies (including veterinary pharmacies);
- optical stores;
- pet food stores;
- florist shops;
- printed press outlets;
- stores selling computers, peripheral units and software, as well as telecommunications equipment.*
Provisions of Superior Legal Force
- First sentence of Article 91 of the Constitution (Satversme) of the Republic of Latvia (hereinafter–the Constitution): “All human beings in Latvia shall be equal before the law and the courts.”
- The first and the third sentence of Article 105 of the Constitution: “Everyone has the right to own property.” “Property rights may be restricted only in accordance with law.”
Facts of the Case
The case has been initiated on the basis of an application filed by the company SIA “Jysk Linen’n Furniture” (hereinafter – the Applicant). The Applicant retails furniture, lighting equipment, and other household items in specialised stores. It mainly operates in large shopping malls with a total trading space of over 7000 square metres (hereinafter – a large shopping mall). The Applicant’s stores in large shopping malls have separate entrances from outside. Thus, it can be ensured that the visitors get in and out of the stores without crossing the rest of the indoor territory of the shopping malls. As a result of the contested provision, the Applicant was completely prohibited from operating in large shopping malls. It was also prohibited from operating collection points in the respective malls for the goods sold under distance contracts. Thus, allegedly, the contested provision was disproportionately restricting the Applicant’s right to own property, as enshrined in the first and the third sentence of Article 105 of the Constitution. It is also alleged that the prohibition contained in the contested provision caused a violation of the principle of legal equality, as enshrined in the first sentence of Article 91 of the Constitution, as no such prohibition had been imposed on similarly situated retailers.
The Constitutional Court has requested the Cabinet of Ministers to submit a written reply stating the facts of the case and the legal reasoning by 9 August 2021.
- The case is to be prepared by 7 November 2021.
The Court will decide on the type of proceedings and the date of hearing once the case has been prepared.
- The decision to initiate the case is available here.
Press release in PDF is available here.
Linked case: 2021-24-03