A case initiated with regard to the transitional provision of the Construction Law which restricts an individual’s right to continue independent practice in design
On 14 June 2021, the 2nd Panel of the Constitutional Court initiated the case “On the compliance of the first sentence of Paragraph 4 of the Transitional Provisions of the Construction Law with Article 1, the first sentence of Article 91, and the first sentence of Article 106 of the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia”.
First sentence of Paragraph 4 of the Transitional Provisions of the Construction Law:
“Persons who before the date of coming into force of this Law have obtained the right to an independent practice in the field of construction in the profession of a building engineer and who have acquired first-level higher vocational education by completing the building engineering study programme are entitled to continue an independent practice in engineering research indefinitely, and in design or building expert examination – no longer than until 31 December 2020.”
Provisions of Superior Legal Force
- Article 1 of the Constitution (Satversme) of the Republic of Latvia (hereinafter – the Constitution): “Latvia is an independent democratic republic”.
- First sentence of Article 91 of the Constitution: “All human beings in Latvia shall be equal before the law and the courts.”
- First sentence of Article 106 of the Constitution: “Everyone has the right to freely choose their employment and workplace according to their abilities and qualifications.”
Facts of the Case
The case has been initiated on the basis of an application filed by Rūdolfs Liberts (hereinafter – the Applicant). In 2009, the Applicant obtained a building trade certificate and the right to an independent practice in water supply and sewerage systems design. He had received the first-level higher vocational education necessary for the job at the time, acquired the experience required by regulations, and worked for 11 years as a certified designer of water supply and sewerage systems. At a certain point, the legislature stipulated in the Construction Law that a second-level higher vocational education in construction, or under a related study programme in engineering science, was necessary for obtaining the right to an independent practice in design. By virtue of the contested provision, the Applicant has no right to an independent practice in the field of designing water supply and sewerage systems as of 1 January 2021, having failed to obtain the aforementioned second-level higher vocational education. The Applicant is of the opinion that the legislature had not duly weighed up the need for the requirement of a second-level higher vocational education in respect of the right to an independent practice in the field of design. Also, the legislature had not introduced a proportionate period for transition to the new regulation and had provided for the right to continue independent practice indefinitely in a comparable situation – in respect of engineering research. The Applicant therefore considers that the contested provision disproportionately restricts his right under the first sentence of Article 106 of the Constitution to freely choose an occupation, violates the principle of legitimate expectations, which is enshrined in Article 1, and the principle of legal equality, which is enshrined in the first sentence of Article 91 of the Constitution.
The Constitutional Court has requested the Saeima to submit a written reply stating the facts of the case and the legal reasoning by 16 August 2021.
- The case is to be prepared by 14 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: 2021-27-01