The Constitutional Court of Latvia terminates legal proceedings in the case on land use rights and fees for their use
On 7 November 2023, the Constitutional Court of Latvia decided to terminate legal proceedings in Case No. 2023-03-01 on norms establishing the right to use land and determining the fees for exercising such rights.
Two cases were brought before the Constitutional Court, which were subsequently consolidated into one case. The applicants own land or undivided shares of land on which structures belonging to other persons are located. According to the applicants, the right to use land provided for in the Law “On the Time Period of Coming into Force and the Procedures for the Application of the Introduction, Parts on Inheritance Rights and Property Rights of the Renewed Civil Law of 1937 of the Republic of Latvia” (hereinafter – the Law on Entry into Force) is unclear and was unnecessary. The land use fee, on the other hand, is disproportionately low and does not take into account expenses that reduce the landowner’s income. The applicants had expected the land use fee to be at least six per cent of the cadastral value of the land. The legislator, by determining the land use fee and the moment from which it would apply, also infringed the principle of legal equality and the applicants’ right to a fair trial.
The applications in the current case concern a claim which, inter alia, has already been adjudicated in case No. 2022-02-01. The claim on compliance of the Paragraph One and Paragraph Two of Section 38 of the Law on Entry into Force with the first and third sentences of Section 1 and Section 105 of the Constitution. Therefore, the claim in the current case is therefore identical to that already adjudicated in Case No. 2022-02-01. Taking into account the aforesaid and the fact that the Constitutional Court had ruled on the validity of the aforesaid legal norms, the proceedings in this part of the claim were terminated.
Furthermore, the Constitutional Court concluded that, although the applicants had requested to assess the compatibility of the Paragraph Two of Section 38 of the Law on Entry into Force with the first sentence of Section 91 of the Constitution, the legal proceedings in this part of the claim should also be terminated. In the judgement in Case No. 2022-02-01 it was concluded that there was no need to assess the constitutionality of this legal norm, as it had already been declared incompatible with other sections of the Constitution. In the current case, the applicants have not raised such arguments, and no such considerations have been established from the case-file, which would indicate the necessity to assess the compatibility of Section 38, Paragraph Two of the Law on the Entry into Force with the first sentence of Section 91 of the Constitution. The Constitutional Court concluded that the principle of procedural economy would be contradicted by a practice where, in the existence of similar factual and legal circumstances, the Constitutional Court would rule on the same issue several times.
Likewise, the Constitutional Court terminated the legal proceedings in the part of the claim on compliance of Section 42, Paragraph Three of the Law on Entry into Force with Section 1 and the first sentence of Section 92 of the Constitution, as the legal regulation established in the aforesaid legal norm does not fall within the scope of the principle of res judicata and does not affect the right of the applicants to a fair trial.
Linked case: 2023-03-01