Yet another case initiated with regard to the provision restricting business activity in large shopping malls
On 22 June 2021, the 1st 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 1 June 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 1 June 2021) stipulated that only the following businesses may trade 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;
- shops that provide the visitors with a separate external access (entrance) to the sales area. *
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 “VRPB” (hereinafter – the Applicant). The Applicant is a legal entity managing a shopping mall with the total trading space of over 7000 square metres (hereinafter – a large shopping mall). The Applicant’s business activity is renting out retail space in the respective shopping mall. By virtue of the contested provision, a number of retailers are prohibited from performing business activity in shopping malls. The Applicant, too, is suffering losses due to this prohibition, being unable to rent out the retail space efficiently. Thus, allegedly, the Applicant’s right to own property, as enshrined in the first and the third sentence of Article 105 of the Constitution, is interfered with. It is also alleged that the prohibition imposed by the contested provision has caused a violation of the principle of legal equality, as no such prohibition was imposed on similarly situated retail space providers.
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 23 August 2021.
- The case is to be prepared by 22 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: 2021-29-03