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Lithuania May Soon Allow Individuals to Appeal to the Constitutional Court

2017 / 05 / 16

The Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania is currently discussing amending the Constitution and the Law on the Constitutional Court to allow natural persons and legal entities to defend their constitutional rights before the Constitutional Court.

Anyone could plead their case

This is already possible in many democracies. It would open the way for people seek constitutional review of legal acts of the Parliament, the President and the Government, when said acts result in decisions that breach their rights.

The right would be available to anyone who had exhausted all other legal remedies. Furthermore, the proposed amendments would extend the right of constitutional complaint to Parliamentary Ombudspersons as well as other parliamentary oversight bodies, such as the Children’s Rights Ombudsperson and the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson.

At present, only the Parliament, group of its members, the courts and (in certain cases) the President or the Government are allowed to petition the Constitutional Court.

To make sure that the right of individual constitutional complaint is practical and effective, , the Human Rights Monitoring Institute proposed changes to the draft amendment that would set out how this right would be implemented.

Legal representation shouldn’t be mandatory

Under the draft amendment, any petition to the Constitutional Court would have to be drawn up by a lawyer, unless the person in question has a university degree in law.

“We believe that this requirement should be dropped, otherwise constitutional complaint would become a remedy only available to those with higher income. Furthermore, this requirement is absent in most of the countries that allow individual appeals to the Constitutional Court, such as Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Croatia, Georgia,” said Erika Leonaitė, the legal coordinator for the Human Rights Monitoring Institute.

The Human Rights Monitoring Institute also asked lawmakers to give the Constitutional Court the ability to renew a deadline for submitting constitutional complaint, if a deadline was missed due to important reasons.

Furthermore, to ensure that decisions violating a person’s rights would not result in grave damage for a an idividual, it was suggested to allow suspending decisions until the Constitutional Court finishes examining the case.