On October 21, the Constitutional Court passed the judgement, considering provision of the Civil Procedure Law, which provides the Supreme Court senators’ rights to refuse initiation of cassation proceedings, to be in compliance with the Constitution. 

The Constitutional Court admitted in its case No 2013-02-01 “On compliance of Section 464.1, Paragraph Two, Item 2 of the Civil Procedure Law with the first sentence of Article 92 of the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia” that the first sentence of the Article 92 of the Constitution does not envisage obligation of the State to guarantee examination of each civil case under cassation proceedings.

If the cassation complaint formally complies with legal provisions and if the court of appeal has not admitted violation of provisions of Section 452, Paragraph Three, of the Civil Law, senators’ board may refuse to initiate cassation proceedings also in cases, when there arise no doubts about rule of law of a judgement of a court of appeal and case being examined is of no importance in development of case-law.

In the case in the Constitutional Court cases were joined, which were initiated upon applications of Latvian Association of Book Industry Professions and of “Arkolat” Ltd. Applicants had arbitrated civil disputes in the court, and the Senate of the Supreme Court had adopted decision on refusal to initiate cassation proceedings in both cases.

The Constitutional Court in its judgement has repeatedly indicated that cassation procedure is turned to uniform application and interpretation of legal provisions in whole country.  So that the cassation instance court could perform its work in proper manner, namely, to decide fundamental questions upon application of material and procedural provisions, the legislator, within limits, has to unburden it from examination of unfounded complaints.  

The Constitutional Court assessed the first sentence of the Article 92 of the Constitution in its interrelation with Article 6 of the European Convention on Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and with practice of application of that in the European Court of Human Rights.

The Court admitted that the Article 92 of the Constitution does not guarantee appeal against every decision, when adjudicating the case and it does not envisage the obligation to the state to state an opportunity to appeal against judgement under appellate and cassation proceedings in every case. The Constitution does not forbid the State to establish, what cases and upon what conditions shall be reviewed under cassation proceedings. It also includes rights to allocate certain freedom of action to the Senate, so that it would be able to evaluate necessity of examination of concrete cases.  

Also, right to accessibility to the court has been expressed in the way that the State has to create a court, which may be addressed by individuals to resolve dispute at least at one tier. Right to accessibility to the appellate instance court and cassation instance court does not include demand to examine each case on the merits and preparation of full judgement of the court.

Applicants expressed opinion that question about rule of law of judgement of the appellate instance court can only be assessed, when initiating cassation proceedings and reviewing the case on the merits. The Constitutional Court admitted that cassation complaint received in the Senate has been assesses by the board of senators, inter alia, having acquainted with content of the cassation complaint, court judgement and materials of the case file. Actually, such procedure is equated with review of a case in written procedure. Moreover, cassation proceedings should be initiated, if at least one member of the senator’s board has doubts about rule of law of a judgement of the appellate instance court and importance of case reviewed in development of case-law.

Thus, the Constitutional Court admitted that provision contradicted did not invade fundamental right stipulated in the first sentence of Article 92 of the Constitution and considered  Section 464.1, Paragraph Two, Item 2 of the Civil Procedure Law to be in compliance with the first sentence of Article 92 of the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia”.

The judgement is final and irreversible; it will become effective on the day of its official publication. The text of the judgement in Latvian language is available on the web site of the Constitutional Court: http://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/upload/spriedums-2013-02-01.pdf

 

Information prepared by

Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court

E-mail: rasma.zvejniece@at.gov.lv, telephone: 67020396, 28652211