The Constitutional Court of Latvia terminates legal proceedings in the case on the norm which denies the right to old-age pension to those persons whose permanent place of residence is not in Latvia
On 7 November 2023, the Constitutional Court of Latvia adopted a decision on termination of legal proceedings in a case contesting a norm which denies the right to old-age pension to those persons whose permanent place of residence at the time of applying for the pension is not in the territory of Latvia.
Case No. 2023-12-01 “On Compliance of Section 3, Paragraph One of Law “On State Pensions” with the First Sentence of Section 91 and Section 109 of the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia” was initiated before the Constitutional Court on the application of the Senate. There is an administrative case of the applicant under examination in accordance with the cassation procedure initiated on the basis of an application of a person for the issuance of a favourable administrative act on the granting of an old-age pension. The State Social Insurance Agency refused to grant a pension to the person concerned because it had established that the person did not reside in Latvia and therefore did not meet all the conditions for granting a state old-age pension laid down in the contested norm.
The applicant regards that the contested norm, in so far as it provides for granting a state old-age pension only to a person residing in the territory of Latvia, is incompatible with the first sentence of Section 91 and Section 109 of the Constitution. According to the applicant, the legislator has not fulfilled its positive obligation under Section 109 of the Constitution to ensure the implementation of the right of a person to social security in case of old-age, since by adopting the contested norm it has not complied with the principle of legal equality. The contested norm provides for different treatment of persons depending on the moment when the person left for permanent residence abroad – before or after applying for and being granted a Latvian pension. Moreover, the difference in treatment established by the contested norm does not pursue a legitimate aim and does not comply with the principle of proportionality.
The Constitutional Court concluded that by the amendments of 15 June 2023 the legislator had extended Section 3 of the Law “On State Pensions” with a Paragraph Four, which stipulates that a person who permanently resides outside the territory of Latvia and who is not entitled to a pension as provided for in the Paragraph One of this Section, shall be entitled to an old-age and survivor’s pension if, in accordance with this Law, the required length of insurance for granting the pension has been accumulated.
The Constitutional Court recognised that by these amendments the legislator had substantially changed the regulation included in the first sentence of the Paragraph One of this Section with regard to the scope of persons entitled to a state old-age pension. Thus, persons, who were previously denied the right to a state old-age pension solely because they were residing outside the territory of Latvia at the time of applying for the pension, are no longer subject to the condition laid down in the first sentence of Section 3, Paragraph One of the Law “On State Pensions”.
At the same time, the Constitutional Court recognised that by the second sentence of Paragraph 81 of the Transitional Provisions of the Law “On State Pensions” the Saeima had eliminated the adverse consequences resulting from the infringement of rights for a person whose application for the issuance of a favourable administrative act on granting an old-age pension was pending before the Senate, as well as for other persons who had started protection of their fundamental rights through general legal remedies. The Constitutional Court concluded that it was not necessary to declare the contested norm null and void from a certain moment in the past. Moreover, on the basis of the amendments of 15 June 2023, the State Social Insurance Agency has adopted a decision to grant an old-age pension to a person whose application for a favourable administrative act on the granting of an old-age pension is pending before the Senate. As a result, both the person concerned and the State Social Insurance Agency consider that the legal dispute on which the application was submitted has been resolved and there are grounds to terminate the proceedings in the administrative case. Taking into account the aforesaid, the Constitutional Court concluded that there were no such circumstances which would require the continuation of legal proceedings in the ongoing case.
Linked case: 2023-12-01