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On the allocation of lots of land not subject to privatisation to the Lithuanian Veterinary Academy and the Weaponry Fund

Case No. 05/07

 

 

 

THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 

RULING

ON THE COMPLIANCE OF THE PROVISION OF THE LIST OF THE AGRICULTURAL ENTERPRISES AND ORGANISATIONS NOT SUBJECT TO PRIVATISATION AS APPROVED BY THE RESOLUTION OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA (NO. 540) “ON THE APPROVAL OF THE LIST OF THE AGRICULTURAL ENTERPRISES AND ORGANISATIONS NOT SUBJECT TO PRIVATISATION” (WORDING OF 27 FEBRUARY 1992) OF 9 DECEMBER 1991 WITH PARAGRAPH 1 OF ARTICLE 23 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA, THE CONSTITUTIONAL PRINCIPLE OF A STATE UNDER THE RULE OF LAW, AND WITH THE PROVISION OF ARTICLE 1 OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA’S LAW “ON THE PROCEDURE AND CONDITIONS OF THE RESTORATION OF THE RIGHTS OF OWNERSHIP OF CITIZENS TO THE EXISTING REAL PROPERTY” (WORDING OF 18 JUNE 1991), AS WELL AS ON THE COMPLIANCE OF THE LIST OF THE AGRICULTURAL ENTERPRISES AND ORGANISATIONS NOT SUBJECT TO PRIVATISATION AS APPROVED BY THE RESOLUTION OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA (NO. 540) “ON THE APPROVAL OF THE LIST OF THE AGRICULTURAL ENTERPRISES AND ORGANISATIONS NOT SUBJECT TO PRIVATISATION” (WORDING OF 14 MAY 1999) OF 9 DECEMBER 1991, THE RESOLUTION OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA (NO. 579) “ON THE ALLOCATION OF A LAND LOT AND ON AMENDING THE TARGETED PURPOSE OF THE LAND USE” OF 14 MAY 1999 AND THE RESOLUTION OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA (NO. 266) “ON A PARTIAL AMENDMENT OF THE GOVERNMENT RESOLUTION (NO. 1026) ‘ON USERS OF THE LAND ALLOTTED TO SCIENTIFIC AND EDUCATIONAL ESTABLISHMENTS AND TRANSFERRED TO STATE SPECIALISED SEED-GROWING AND STOCK-BREEDING FARMS, SPECIAL-PURPOSE STOCK-BREEDING COMPANIES AND ON ESTABLISHING THE SIZE OF LAND LOTS USED BY THESE USERS’ OF 13 AUGUST 1998” OF 8 MARCH 2001 WITH PARAGRAPHS 1 AND 3 OF ARTICLE 23 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA, THE CONSTITUTIONAL PRINCIPLE OF A STATE UNDER THE RULE OF LAW AND WITH THE PROVISION OF THE PREAMBLE (WORDING OF 1 JULY 1997) TO THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA’S LAW ON THE RESTORATION OF THE RIGHTS OF OWNERSHIP OF CITIZENS TO THE EXISTING REAL PROPERTY

 

20 May 2008

Vilnius

 

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed of the Justices of the Constitutional Court: Armanas Abramavičius, Toma Birmontienė, Pranas Kuconis, Kęstutis Lapinskas, Zenonas Namavičius, Ramutė Ruškytė, Egidijus Šileikis, Algirdas Taminskas, and Romualdas Kęstutis Urbaitis

The court reporter—Daiva Pitrėnaitė

Aleksandras Muzikevičius, Head of the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Division of the Common Market Organisation Department of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Lithuania, Jelena Liaskovskaja, Head of Law Division of the National Land Service of the Ministry of Agriculture, Algimantas Gutauskas, Deputy Director of the Law Department of the Ministry of National Defence of the Republic of Lithuania, and Olga Pacevičienė, chief specialist of the Law Division of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Lithuania, acting as the representatives of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, the party concerned

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, pursuant to Articles 102 and 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Article 1 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, in its public hearing, on 12 May 2008, considered constitutional justice case No. 05/07 subsequent to the petition of the Kaunas Regional Court, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into:

whether the provision of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation as approved by the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 540) “On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation” of 9 December 1991 (wording of 27 February 1992) that the area of the farming lands not subject to privatisation assigned to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy is 800 hectares was not in conflict with the principle of a state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, is consolidated in the Preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, with Paragraph 1 of Article 23 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, with the principle of legitimate expectations which, according to the petitioner, is consolidated in Article 29 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and with Article 1 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law “On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property” (wording of 18 June 1991);

whether the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation as approved by the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 540) “On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation” of 9 December 1991 (wording of 27 February 1992), to the extent that it has assigned the land, to which, according to the petitioner, the heirs of J. Jerinas, the former owner of the land, wish to restore the rights of ownership, to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy, was not in conflict with the principle of a state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, is consolidated in the Preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, with Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 23 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, with the principle of legitimate expectations which, according to the petitioner, is consolidated in Article 29 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and with the Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) to the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property;

whether the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 579) “On the Allocation of a Land Lot and on Amending the Targeted Purpose of the Land Use” of 14 May 1999, to the extent that it has assigned the land, to which, according to the petitioner, the heirs of J. Jerinas, the former owner of the land, wish to restore the rights of ownership, to the Weaponry Fund of the Republic of Lithuania under the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, is not in conflict with the principle of a state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, is consolidated in the Preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, with Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 23 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, with the principle of legitimate expectations which, according to the petitioner, is consolidated in Article 29 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and with the Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) to the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property;

whether the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 266) “On a Partial Amendment of the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 1026) ‘On Users of the Land Allotted to Scientific and Educational Establishments and Transferred to State Specialised Seed-Growing and Stock-Breeding Farms, Special-Purpose Stock-Breeding Companies and on Establishing the Size of Land Lots Used by These Users’ of 13 August 1998” of 8 March 2001, to the extent that it has assigned the land, to which, according to the petitioner, the heirs of J. Jerinas, the former owner of the land, wish to restore the rights of ownership, to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy, is not in conflict with the principle of a state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, is consolidated in the Preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, with Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 23 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, with the principle of legitimate expectations which, according to the petitioner, is consolidated in Article 29 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and with the Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) to the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property.

The Constitutional Court

has established:

I

1. The Kaunas Regional Court, the petitioner, considered a civil case. By its ruling, the said court suspended the consideration of the case and applied to the Constitutional Court with the petition requesting an investigation into:

(1) whether the Government Resolution (No. 540) “On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation” of 9 December 1991 to the extent that it establishes the area of the farming lands not subject to privatisation which, according to the petitioner, “must be assigned to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy” is not in conflict with the principle of a state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, is consolidated in the Preamble to the Constitution, with the provision of Article 23 of the Constitution that property shall be inviolable, with the principle of legitimate expectations which, according to the petitioner, is consolidated in Article 29 of the Constitution and with Article 1 of the Law “On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property” (wording of 18 June 1991);

(2) whether the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 134) “On a Partial Amendment of the 9 December 1991 Resolution (No. 540) and the 28 January 1992 Resolution (No. 59) of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania” of 27 February 1992 to the extent that it establishes the farming lands not subject to privatisation which, according to the petitioner, “must be assigned to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy” is not in conflict with the principle of a state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, is consolidated in the Preamble to the Constitution, with the provision of Article 23 of the Constitution that property shall be inviolable, with the principle of legitimate expectations which, according to the petitioner, is consolidated in Article 29 of the Constitution and with Article 1 of the Law “On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property” (wording of 18 June 1991);

(3) whether the Government Resolution (No. 579) “On the Allocation of a Land Lot and on Amending the Targeted Purpose of the Land Use” of 14 May 1999 is not in conflict with the principle of a state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, is consolidated in the Preamble to the Constitution, with the provisions of Article 23 of the Constitution that property shall be inviolable and may be taken over only for the needs of society according to the procedure established by law and shall be justly compensated for, with the principle of legitimate expectations which, according to the petitioner, is consolidated in Article 29 of the Constitution and with the provision entrenched, according to the petitioner, in the Preamble (wording of 13 May 1999) to the Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property that the real property must be returned to citizens first of all in kind;

(4) whether the Government Resolution (No. 584) “On a Partial Amendment of the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 540) ‘On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations Not Subject to Privatisation’ of 9 December 1991” of 14 May 1999 is not in conflict with the principle of a state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, is consolidated in the Preamble to the Constitution, with the provisions of Article 23 of the Constitution that property shall be inviolable and may be taken over only for the needs of society according to the procedure established by law and shall be justly compensated for, with the principle of legitimate expectations which, according to the petitioner, is consolidated in Article 29 of the Constitution and with the provision entrenched, according to the petitioner, in the Preamble (wording of 13 May 1999) to the Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property that the real property must be returned to citizens first of all in kind;

(5) whether the Government Resolution (No. 266) “On a Partial Amendment of the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 1026) ‘On Users of the Land Allotted to Scientific and Educational Establishments and Transferred to State Specialised Seed-Growing and Stock-Breeding Farms, Special-Purpose Stock-Breeding Companies and on Establishing the Size of Land Lots Used by These Users’ of 13 August 1998” of 8 March 2001 is not in conflict with the principle of a state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, is consolidated in the Preamble to the Constitution, with the provisions of Article 23 of the Constitution that property shall be inviolable and may be taken over only for the needs of society according to the procedure established by law and shall be justly compensated for, with the principle of legitimate expectations which, according to the petitioner, is consolidated in Article 29 of the Constitution and with the provision entrenched, according to the petitioner, in the Preamble (wording of 10 October 2000) to the Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property that the real property must be returned to citizens first of all in kind.

2. By the Constitutional Court’s Decision “On the Petition of the Kaunas Regional Court Requesting an Investigation into Whether the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 540) ‘On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations Not Subject To Privatisation’ of 9 December 1991 and the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 134) ‘On a Partial Amendment of the 9 December 1991 Resolution (No. 540) and the 28 January 1992 Resolution (No. 59) of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania’ of 27 February 1992 are Not in Conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Article 1 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law ‘On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property’ (Wording of 18 June 1991), into Whether the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 579) ‘On the Allocation of a Land Lot and on Amending the Targeted Purpose of the Land Use’ of 14 May 1999 and the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 584) ‘On a Partial Amendment of the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 540) “On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations Not Subject to Privatisation” of 9 December 1991’ of 14 May 1999 are Not in Conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the Preamble To the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens To the Existing Real Property (Wording of 13 May 1999), also into Whether the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 266) ‘On a Partial Amendment of the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 1026) “On the Users of the Land Allotted to Scientific and Educational Establishments and Transferred to State Specialised Seed-Growing and Stock-Breeding Farms, Special-Purpose Stock-Breeding Companies, and on Establishing the Size of Land Lots Used by These Users” of 13 August 1998’ of 8 March 2001 is Not in Conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the Preamble to the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property (Wording of 10 October 2000)” of 17 January 2007, it was decided to accept the petitions of the Kaunas Regional Court, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into:

whether the provision of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation that the area of the farming lands not subject to privatisation assigned to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy (hereinafter also referred to as the LVA) shall be 800 hectares, which was approved by the Government Resolution (No. 540) “On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation” of 9 December 1991 (wording of 27 February 1992) (hereinafter also referred to as government resolution No. 540 of 9 December 1991 (wording of 27 February 1992)), was not in conflict with the principle of a state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, is entrenched in the Preamble to the Constitution, with Paragraph 1 of Article 23 of the Constitution, with the principle of legitimate expectations entrenched, according to the petitioner, in Article 29 of the Constitution, and Article 1 of the Law “On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property” (wording of 18 June 1991);

whether the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations Not Subject to Privatisation (wording of 14 May 1999) as approved by the Government Resolution (No. 540) “On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations Not Subject to Privatisation” of 9 December 1991 (wording of 14 May 1999) (hereinafter also referred to as government resolution No. 540 of 9 December 1991 (wording of 14 May 1999)), to the extent that it has assigned the land to which, according to the petitioner, the heirs of J. Jerinas, the former owner of the land, wish to restore the rights of ownership to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy, was not in conflict with the principle of a state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, is entrenched in the Preamble to the Constitution, with Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 23 of the Constitution, with the principle of legitimate expectations entrenched, according to the petitioner, in Article 29 of the Constitution, and with the Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) to the Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property;

whether the Government Resolution (No. 579) “On the Allocation of a Land Lot and on Amending the Targeted Purpose of the Land Use” of 14 May 1999 (hereinafter also referred to as government resolution No. 579 of 14 May 1999) to the extent that it has assigned the land to which, according to the petitioner, the heirs of J. Jerinas, the former owner of the land, wish to restore the rights of ownership to the Weaponry Fund of the Republic of Lithuania under the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (hereinafter also referred to as the Weaponry Fund), is not in conflict with the principle of a state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, is entrenched in the Preamble to the Constitution, with Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 23 of the Constitution, with the principle of legitimate expectations entrenched, according to the petitioner, in Article 29 of the Constitution, and with the Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) to the Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property;

whether the Government Resolution (No. 266) “On a Partial Amendment of the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 1026) ‘On Users of the Land Allotted to Scientific and Educational Establishments and Transferred to State Specialised Seed-growing and Stock-breeding Farms, Special-purpose Stock-breeding Companies, and on Establishing the Size of Land Lots Used by These Users’ of 13 August 1998” of 8 March 2001 (hereinafter also referred to as government resolution No. 266 of 8 March 2001) to the extent that it has assigned the land (to which, according to the petitioner, the heirs of J. Jerinas, the former owner of the land, wish to restore the rights of ownership) to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy, is not in conflict with the principle of a state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, is entrenched in the Preamble to the Constitution, with Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 23 of the Constitution, with the principle of legitimate expectations entrenched, according to the petitioner, in Article 29 of the Constitution, and with the Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) to the Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property.

3. In Item 2 of the said decision, the Constitutional Court refused to consider the petition of the Kaunas Regional Court, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into whether the Government Resolution (No. 540) “On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation” of 9 December 1991 to the extent that it provides that the area of the farming lands not subject to privatisation assigned to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy shall be 1000 hectares is not in conflict with the principle of a state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, is entrenched in the Preamble to the Constitution, with the provision of Article 23 of the Constitution that property shall be inviolable, with the principle of legitimate expectations entrenched, according to the petitioner, in Article 29 of the Constitution, and Article 1 of the Law “On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property” (wording of 18 June 1991) as being not within the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court because the legal regulation established in the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation (wording of 9 December 1991) as approved by this government resolution was amended by the Government Resolution (No. 134) “On a Partial Amendment of the 9 December 1991 Resolution (No. 540) and the 28 January 1992 Resolution (No. 59) of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania” of 27 February 1992 and lost its validity yet before the adoption and entry into force of the Constitution.

II

The petition of the petitioner is grounded on the following arguments.

1. After by the impugned legal acts, the land lots which, according to the petitioner, also included a part of land, regarding which the requests of the applicants to restore the rights of ownership by returning it in kind had been submitted, were transferred to the LVA and the Weaponry Fund for use, one violated Article 1 of the Law “On the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property” which established the priority of the restoration of the rights of ownership in kind, as well as the principle of lawfulness which requires that decisions adopted by the institutions of the state power would be grounded on legal norms and their content would meet the requirements of the legal norms.

2. The impugned legal acts were adopted without taking account of the fact that at the time of transfer of the land lots to the LVA and the Weaponry Fund, the claimant had already submitted a request to restore the rights of ownership to a part of this land. In the opinion of the petitioner, on the grounds of Item 10 of the Procedure for Submitting and Examining Requests Regarding the Taking of Land for Public Needs, as well as Recovering Losses Suffered from the Taking of Land which was approved by the Government Resolution (No. 1379) “On Approving the Procedure for Submitting and Examining Requests Regarding the Taking of Land for Public Needs, as well as Recovering Losses Suffered from the Taking of Land” of 24 October 1995, first of all, one had to decide the question of returning the land in kind to those persons who had submitted requests to restore the rights of ownership, and only afterwards one could adopt a decision regarding the taking over of the land for the needs of society from the owners to whom the rights of ownership were restored. By transferring the land to the LVA and the Weaponry Fund as a free state-owned land by means of the impugned resolutions, without deciding the question of returning it in kind to the persons who seek to restore the rights of ownership, one violated Paragraph 1 of Article 23 of the Constitution which ensures the inviolability of property.

3. By the impugned legal acts, the land was transferred for the use of needs of society without confirming the concrete limits of the land lot which is necessary for satisfying the needs of society and without assessing the size of the concrete land lot which is necessary for satisfying the needs of society. By transferring land without proving the concrete need of society and its extent, one violated Paragraph 3 of Article 23 of the Constitution, in which it is prescribed that property may be taken over only for the needs of society according to the procedure established by law and shall be justly compensated for.

4. The principle of protection of legitimate expectations implies the duty of the state as well as state institutions which implement the state power and other state institutions to follow the obligations assumed by the state. This principle also means the protection of acquired rights, i.e. persons have the right to reasonably expect that the rights acquired under valid laws and other legal acts which are not in conflict with the Constitution will be retained for the established time and that it will be possible to implement these rights in reality. Because of the fact that the obligations assumed by the state to the heirs of J. Jerinas have not yet been fulfilled, their legitimate expectations are violated.

III

In the course of preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing, written explanations from the representatives of the Government, the party concerned, who were A. Muzikevičius, J. Liaskovskaja, A. Gutauskas and O. Pacevičienė, were received, in which it is stated that the impugned resolutions of the Government are not (were not) in conflict with the Constitution and laws. The position of the representatives of the Government, the party concerned, is based on the following arguments.

1. Taking account of the provision of the official constitutional doctrine that providing there is no possibility of restoring property in kind, fair compensation also ensures restoration of property ownership rights, in the process of the restoration of rights of ownership one must co-ordinate the interests of the former owners of land until its nationalisation, the interests of the persons to whom the land was allocated for use after it had been nationalised and the interests of the entire society. Therefore, the legislature stipulated that the rights of ownership may be restored not only by returning the land in kind, but also in other ways established in the law. While restoring the rights of ownership, one may not only satisfy the interests of persons who wish to restore the rights of ownership by denying the interests of those legitimate users of land who for many years have been engaged in practical educational or scientific activity in the land lots allocated under procedure established by means of legal acts. Under the Law “On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property”, the citizens who have the right to restore the rights of ownership have acquired a legitimate expectation that their rights of ownership would be restored under procedure and conditions as established by this law, however, according to this law, a limited restitution is performed—due to concurrence of factual land-tenure relations, the rights of ownership may not be restored by returning land in kind which was at the place before nationalisation to all persons, because certain land-tenures were assigned to the land which is purchased by the state, including scientific and educational establishments for experiments and other educational needs. Thus, the legislature did not provide for the grounds to citizens, in situations where scientific and educational establishments used the land to be returned to those citizens, to expect the return of the land in kind, i.e. these citizens did not acquire the legitimate expectations that it would be possible to retrieve the land in the former place in kind in the course of the restoration of the rights of ownership.

2. The LVA is the only institution of science and studies which prepares veterinary specialists. While preparing them for qualified work, one must create conditions not only for theoretical education, but also for practical training, therefore, one must provide this scientific and educational establishment not only with the specialised software and hardware, but it must also have the land in which feeding crops and other plants would be grown and animals would be bred and raised. In addition, the Practical Instruction and Research Centre of the LVA is the main base of implementation of programmes of veterinary medicine and veterinary food safety of the Veterinary Faculty of this academy. Therefore, the legal regulation which creates the possibility of categorising the land assigned for the experiments and other scientific needs of the scientific and educational establishments as the land which is purchased by the state, i.e. which may not be returned in kind to its former owners, allows ensuring the further functioning of the scientific and educational establishments (in this case, the LVA).

3. The land lot was allocated to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy while taking account of the need established according to the number of students (according to the number of students and the specialisations of science chosen by them, one establishes the necessary productive potential, the number of cattle and, correspondingly, the land lot which is necessary for breeding these cattle). In addition, in 2002, the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education, through the mediation of the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange Instrument of the European Commission, carried out a comprehensive international accreditation assessment of the study programme of veterinary medicine. The experts of the European Union stated that the Practical Instruction and Research Centre of the LVA is necessary for veterinary and animal husbandry. This is also required in Directive 78/1027/EEC and 78/1026/EEC of the Council of the European Communities of 18 December 1978 and Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications, in which it is emphasised that learning and test farms with animals of various kinds are necessary so that the professional qualification of the specialists trained in states of the European Union would be recognised.

4. According to the representatives of the party concerned, until the rights of ownership are restored under the conditions and procedure established in a special law for the former owners and other persons who wish to restore the rights of ownership to the existing real property, they are not considered as owners of this property, therefore, until that time, they do not acquire the subjective rights of the owner to this property. The representatives of the party concerned do not agree with the statement of the petitioner that one should compensate to the former owner of the property whose land owned before nationalisation is allocated to the land which is purchased by the state not under the special Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property, but following the legal acts which regulate the state-purchase of land from its owners for the need of society.

5. By the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Basics of National Security, the Weaponry Fund has been granted an exclusive right to provide the system of national defence and state institutions with weapons, military technique, ammunition and explosives, as well as to produce and repair weaponry, ammunition and explosives. Following this law and the interests of national security, by its resolution No. 2S of 21 December 1996, the State Defence Council of the Republic of Lithuania decided to establish a weaponry factory in Lithuania. The place of a land lot which was necessary for it was chosen by the commission composed of the Ministry of Agriculture, the state enterprise State Land Survey Institute and the representatives of the Administration of the Chief of Kaunas County and the Weaponry Fund; this commission, referring to a study which grounds the suitability of the land lot of the Vijūkai village of Užliedžiai cadastre location of the Kaunas district, drew up an act on selection of the lot for construction.

6. According to the representatives of the party concerned, by building the factory of weaponry, one aimed to provide the Lithuanian army with ammunition so that its weaponry would meet the NATO standards. Therefore, the land lot was allocated to the Weaponry Fund taking account of the need of society.

7. After the area of the farming lands assigned to the LVA was reduced to 767.5 hectares by government resolution No. 584 of 14 May 1999 and, on the same day, by government resolution No. 579, the land lot of 32.5 hectares which had been taken from the LVA was allocated to the Weaponry Fund for building a weaponry factory, the aforementioned land lot fell into another category of land where such land is purchased by the state, therefore, it did not become a free land lot which may be returned in kind.

IV

At the Constitutional Court’s hearing, the representatives of the Government, the party concerned, A. Muzikevičius, J. Liaskovskaja, A. Gutauskas and O. Pacevičienė, reiterated the arguments set forth in their written explanations, as well as presented additional explanations.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

I

1. The petitioner requests an investigation into the compliance of the impugned government resolutions, inter alia, with the principle of a state under the rule of law which is enshrined, according to the petitioner, in the Preamble to the Constitution, as well as with Article 29 of the Constitution which, according to the petitioner, enshrines the principle of legitimate expectations.

2. The Constitutional Court has held more than once that the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law may not be construed as the one which is entrenched only in the Preamble to the Constitution, that the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law integrates various values enshrined in, and protected and defended by the Constitution, that this principle comprises a range of various interrelated imperatives. The Constitutional Court has emphasised more than once that the inseparable elements of a state under the rule of law are protection of legitimate expectations, as well as legal certainty and legal security.

3. Taking account of these provisions of the official constitutional doctrine, in this constitutional justice case the Constitutional Court will investigate the compliance of the government resolutions, inter alia, with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

4. It is obvious from the arguments of the petition of the Kaunas Regional Court, the petitioner, that he had doubts regarding the compliance of government resolution No. 540 of 9 December 1991 (wording of 27 February 1992) with not entire Article 1 (wording of 18 June 1991) of the Law “On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property”, but only with the provision “the right of ownership to the existing real property shall be restored: (1) by returning the expropriated property in kind or equivalent kind; (2) by paying single state grants to the persons specified in Article 2 of this law enabling them to take over a corresponding part of the state-owned (society-owned) property which is being privatised if it is impossible to return the expropriated property in kind or in equivalent kind <...>”, and regarding the compliance of government resolution No. 540 of 9 December 1991 (wording of 14 May 1999), government resolution No. 579 of 14 May 1999 and government resolution No. 266 of 8 March 2001 not with all the Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) to the Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property, but only with the provision “the restoration of continuation of the rights of ownership is based on the provision of the 18 June 1991 Law of the Republic of Lithuania ‘On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership to the Existing Real Property’—the existing real property shall be returned to citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, and in the event it is impossible to do so, they shall be compensated justly” of the Preamble to this law.

5. Thus, in this constitutional justice case subsequent to the petition of the Kaunas Regional Court, the petitioner, the following will be investigated:

whether the provision of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation as approved by the Government Resolution (No. 540) “On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation” of 9 December 1991 (wording of 27 February 1992) that the area of the farming lands not subject to privatisation assigned to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy is 800 hectares was not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 23 of the Constitution, with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, and with the provision “the right of ownership to the existing real property shall be restored: (1) by returning the expropriated property in kind or equivalent kind; (2) by paying single state grants to the persons specified in Article 2 of this law enabling them to take over a corresponding part of the state-owned (society-owned) property which is being privatised if it is impossible to return the expropriated property in kind or in equivalent kind <...>” Article 1 of the Law “On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property” (wording of 18 June 1991);

whether the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation as approved by the Government Resolution (No. 540) “On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation” (wording of 14 May 1999) of 9 December 1991, to the extent that it has assigned the land to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy was not in conflict with Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 23 of the Constitution, with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, and with the provision “the restoration of continuation of the rights of ownership is based on the provision of the 18 June 1991 Law of the Republic of Lithuania ‘On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership to the Existing Real Property’—the existing real property shall be returned to citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, and in the event it is impossible to do so, they shall be compensated justly” of the Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) to the Law on Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property;

whether the Government Resolution (No. 579) “On the Allocation of a Land Lot and on Amending the Targeted Purpose of the Land Use” of 14 May 1999, to the extent that it has assigned the land to Weaponry Fund is not in conflict with Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 23 of the Constitution, with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, and with the provision “the restoration of continuation of the rights of ownership is based on the provision of the 18 June 1991 Law of the Republic of Lithuania ‘On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership to the Existing Real Property’—the existing real property shall be returned to citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, and in the event it is impossible to do so, they shall be compensated justly” of the Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) to the Law on Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property;

whether the Government Resolution (No. 266) “On a Partial Amendment of the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 1026) ‘On Users of the Land Allotted to Scientific and Educational Establishments and Transferred to State Specialised Seed-growing and Stock-breeding Farms, Special-purpose Stock-breeding Companies, and on Establishing the Size of Land Lots Used by These Users’ of 13 August 1998” of 8 March 2001, to the extent that it has assigned the land to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy, is not in conflict with Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 23 of the Constitution, with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, and with the provision “the restoration of continuation of the rights of ownership is based on the provision of the 18 June 1991 Law of the Republic of Lithuania ‘On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership to the Existing Real Property’—the existing real property shall be returned to citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, and in the event it is impossible to do so, they shall be compensated justly” of the Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) to the Law on Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property.

II

1. While deciding whether the impugned government resolutions are not (were not) in conflict with the Constitution and laws, it is necessary to establish by what legal acts and on what grounds the land was allocated to the LVA and the Weaponry Fund and what is the legal status of this ground.

2. On 30 July 1991, the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania adopted the Law on the Privatisation of Property of Agricultural Enterprises which was designed to regulate the conditions and procedure of the privatisation of property of agricultural enterprises (Paragraph 1 of Article 1). Paragraph 2 of Article 1 of this law prescribed: “This law shall not apply to either state agricultural industrial enterprises whose property is being privatised under the Law of the Republic of Lithuania on the Initial Privatisation of State Property, or to specialised agricultural enterprises which are not subject to privatisation. The list of such enterprises shall be established by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania”. Paragraph 1 of Article 2 thereof prescribed that “property of agricultural enterprises, with the exception of property which is subject to returning to the owners and other persons as defined in the ‘Law of the Republic of Lithuania on Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of Ownership Rights to the Existing Real Property’, shall be subject to privatisation”.

Thus, by the Law on the Privatisation of Property of Agricultural Enterprises, property of agricultural enterprises was considered subject to privatisation with the exception of specialised agricultural enterprises which are not subject to privatisation (Paragraph 2 of Article 1), as well as with the exception of property which is subject to returning to former owners while restoring the rights of ownership (Paragraph 1 of Article 2). In other words, this law singled out two categories of property of agricultural enterprises which is not subject to privatisation: (1) the property of specialised agricultural enterprises which, due to certain peculiarities, is necessary for the necessities of the state and may not be assigned to private property; (2) the property which may not be transferred to private property on the grounds of privatisation transaction, however, its assignment to private property is not absolutely restricted, since, while in the course of the restitution, it has to be returned to the former owners.

3. On 30 July 1991, the Supreme Council also adopted the Resolution (No. I-1629) “On the Procedure of the Entry into Force of the Law on the Privatisation of Property of Agricultural Enterprises” by Item 3 of which it was prescribed that the Government had “until 15 September 1991, to draw the lists of agricultural enterprises which are subject to privatisation and which are not subject to privatisation under this Law and under the Law on the Initial Privatisation of State Property and, if necessary, to establish the sequence of their privatisation”.

When implementing this resolution of the Supreme Council, on 9 December 1991, the Government adopted the Resolution (No. 540) “On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation” which approved the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation and permitted specifying the land area not subject to privatisation in the course of preparing plans of organisation of land exploitation. The List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation prescribed, inter alia, that the area of the farming lands not subject to privatisation assigned to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy shall be 1000 hectares.

4. On 27 February 1992, the Government adopted the Resolution (No. 134) “On a Partial Amendment of the 9 December 1991 Resolution (No. 540) and the 28 January 1992 Resolution (No. 59) of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania” (hereinafter also referred to as government resolution No. 134 of 27 February 1992) by Item 1 whereof the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations Not Subject to Privatisation as approved by the Government Resolution (No. 540) “On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations Not Subject to Privatisation” of 9 December 1991 (wording of 9 December 1991) was amended and set forth in its new wording. This list (wording of 27 February 1992) prescribed, inter alia, that the area of the farming lands not subject to privatisation assigned to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy shall be 800 hectares, i.e. the area of the farming lands not subject to privatisation which had been established for the LVA was reduced as from 1000 hectares to 800 hectares.

In this context, it needs to be noted that by the aforementioned government resolution No. 134 of 27 February 1992, only the area of the farming lands used by the LVA was established and the limits of the land lot were determined by the Order of the Chief of the Kaunas County (No. 05-5923) “Regarding Use of the Land Lots of Lithuanian Veterinary Academy for Agricultural Activity in the Kaunas Region” of 2 December 1996 (hereinafter also referred to as the 2 December 1996 order (No. 05-5923) of the Chief of the Kaunas County); later they were specified by the Order of the Chief of the Kaunas County (No. 05-8064) “Regarding the Confirmation of the Plans of Land Which is Purchased by the State and not Subject to Privatisation (Kaunas D.)” of 31 December 1998 (hereinafter referred to as order No. 05-8064 of 31 December 1998), by the Order (No. 02-05-4060) “On a Partial Amendment of the 31 December 1998 Order (No. 05-8064) of the Chief of the Kaunas County (Kaunas D.)” of 30 May 2001 (hereinafter referred to as order No. 02-05-4060 of 30 May 2001), by the Order (No. 02-05-4555) “On the Recognition of the 2 December 1996 Order (No. 05-5923) of the Chief of the Kaunas County as no Longer Valid, Allocating Land Lots for Use and on Specification of Registers of Real Property (Land Lots) Nos. 52/1107, 52/1101, 52/1098, 52/1102, 52/1111, 52/1129, 52/1114, and 52/1112 (Kaunas D.)” of 15 June 2001 (hereinafter referred to as order No. 02-05-4555 of 15 June 2001) and by the Order (No. 02-05-3199) “On Approving the Land Reform Land Survey Plan (Kaunas D.)” of 16 May 2003 (hereinafter referred to as order No. 02-05-3199 of 16 May 2003).

It needs to be mentioned that the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation as approved by the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 540) “On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation” of 9 December 1991 (wording of 27 February 1992) has been amended more than once (by the Government Resolution “On a Partial Amendment of the 27 February 1992 Resolution (No. 134) of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania” of 2 June 1992, the Government Resolution “On a Partial Amendment of the 27 February 1992 Resolution (No. 134) of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania” of 28 May 1993, and the Government Resolution “On a Partial Amendment of the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 134) ‘On a Partial Amendment of the 9 December 1991 Resolution (No. 540) and the 28 January 1992 Resolution (No. 59) of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania’ of 27 February 1992” of 11 October 1995), however, the provision that the area of the farming lands not subject to privatisation assigned to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy is 800 hectares of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation (wording of 27 February 1992) which was approved by the said government resolution, has not been amended.

5. On 14 May 1999, the Government adopted the Resolution (No. 579) “On the Allocation of a Land Lot and on Amending the Targeted Purpose of the Land Use” whereby it resolved: “to allot the state agricultural 32.5 hectare land lot, which is in the village of Vijūkai, the District of Kaunas, which is at present used by Lithuanian Veterinary Academy according to the prepared plan of the land lot, to the Weaponry Fund of the Republic of Lithuania under the Government of the Republic of Lithuania <…> to use it on a non-terminable basis for the construction of an ammunition manufacture enterprise” (Item 1); “to permit changing the main targeted purpose of the land use of the land lot specified in Item 1 of this Resolution from the agricultural purpose to a different purpose” (Item 2); “to commission the Chief of the Kaunas County to prepare and conclude an agreement of use with the Weaponry Fund regarding the transfer of the aforesaid land lot for use gratis” (Item 3); “to permit the Chief of the Kaunas County to write off the land reclamation equipment subject to destruction the remainder value of which is LTL 69,128” (Item 4).

Government resolution No. 579 of 14 May 1999, whereby a state land lot was transferred to the Weaponry Fund for use by changing the main targeted purpose of its use, was adopted by following Articles 22, 23 and 31 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Land (wording of 26 June 1997), in which it was prescribed, inter alia, that: the state land shall be allocated to use it on a non-terminable basis or on terminable basis to the enterprises and organisations which receive financing from the budget without concluding agreements on state land rent under procedure as established by the Government (Paragraph 1 of Article 22); the procedure of allocating the state land to the subjects established by the Ministry of Defence shall be established by law and by the Government (Paragraph 2 of Article 22); the right to use the state land shall be allocated by the Government (Item 1 of Paragraph 1 of Article 23); the users of the land who wish to use it for a different purpose than it was established when the land was acquired or rented as well as allocated for use, must receive the permission from the Government or the chief of a county (Paragraph 1 of Article 31).

6. On 14 May 1999, the Government adopted the Resolution (No. 584) “On a Partial Amendment of the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 540) ‘On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations Not Subject to Privatisation’ of 9 December 1991” (hereinafter referred to as government resolution No. 584 of 14 May 1999) whereby the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation as approved by the Government Resolution (No. 540) “On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation” of 9 December 1991 was amended: it amended the last section of the chapter titled “Agricultural Scientific Institutes and Other Establishments Not Subject to Privatisation” by enshrining in it that the area of the farming lands not subject to privatisation assigned to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy shall be 767.5 hectares, i.e. the area of the farming lands not subject to privatisation which had been established for the LVA was reduced from 800 hectares to 767.5 hectares.

This amendment of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation—reducing the area of the farming lands not subject to privatisation by 32.5 hectares (from 800 hectares to 767.5 hectares) was made because of the fact that by the aforementioned government resolution No. 579 of 14 May 1999 the land lot of 32.5 hectares was transferred to the Weaponry Fund.

7. On 8 March 2001, the Government adopted the Resolution (No. 266) “On a Partial Amendment of the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 1026) ‘On Users of the Land Allotted to Scientific and Educational Establishments and Transferred to State Specialised Seed-growing and Stock-breeding Farms, Special-purpose Stock-breeding Companies, and on Establishing the Size of Land Lots Used by These Users’ of 13 August 1998”, Item 1 whereof amended the Government Resolution (No. 1026) “On Users of the Land Allotted to Scientific and Educational Establishments and Transferred to State Specialised Seed-growing and Stock-breeding Farms, Special-purpose Stock-breeding Companies, and on Establishing the Size of Land Lots Used by These Users” of 13 August 1998 and in the Chapter titled “Ministry of Education and Science” of Annex 2 titled “Scientific and Educational Establishments and State Specialised Seed-Growing and Stock-Breeding Farms, and the Size of Land Lots Used by Them” of the said item, it was prescribed, inter alia, that the general amount of the land lots of Lithuanian Veterinary Academy shall be 815 hectares, 767.5 hectares of which shall be farming lands, and 34.1 hectares of which shall be territories with buildings built on them.

Item 2 of this government resolution recognised the Government Resolution (No. 540) “On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations Not Subject to Privatisation” of 9 December 1991, as well as the government resolutions which had amended the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations Not Subject to Privatisation, inter alia, the Government Resolution (No. 584) “On a Partial Amendment of the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 540) ‘On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations Not Subject to Privatisation’ of 9 December 1991” of 14 May 1999, as no longer valid.

After the adoption and entry into force of government resolution No. 266 of 8 March 2001, the area of land lots not subject to privatisation established for the LVA has not been amended.

8. It needs to be noted that the impugned government resolution No. 266 of 8 March 2001, whereby the size of the area of the used land lot for the LVA was established and, inter alia, impugned government resolution No. 540 of 9 December 1991 (wordings of 27 February 1992 and 14 May 1999) was recognised as no longer valid, supplemented the Government Resolution (No. 1026) “On Users of the Land Allotted to Scientific and Educational Establishments and Transferred to State Specialised Seed-growing and Stock-breeding Farms, Special-purpose Stock-breeding Companies, and on Establishing the Size of Land Lots Used by These Users” of 13 August 1998 (hereinafter also referred to as government resolution No. 1026 of 13 August 1998). Government resolution No. 1026 of 13 August 1998 was adopted following the Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property, namely the provision “the land shall be purchased by the State from the citizens specified in Article 2 of this law and it shall be compensated for it pursuant to Article 16 of this law if it <...> is allotted for use by scientific and educational establishments, state establishments of social guardianship and care, state establishments and organisations, transferred to state seed-growing, stock-breeding farms. The list of users of this land and the size of the plots of land utilised by them shall be established by the Government” of Item 9 (wording of 1 July 1997) of Article 12 thereof. This government resolution was designed to regulate the allocation of the state land lots used by the agricultural schools and agricultural scientific and educational institutions to the land which is purchased by the state by establishing the list of institutions and areas of land lots used by them.

Thus, the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation as approved by government resolution No. 540 of 9 December 1991 (wordings of 27 February 1992 and 14 May 1999) was named as the list of objects purchased by the state in government resolution No. 1026 of 13 August 1998 (wording of 8 March 2001), therefore, the status of land purchased by the state was directly enshrined also regarding the land allocated for the LVA and used by it.

9. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it needs to be noted that, as it is obvious from the material of the case, prior to the adoption of the discussed government resolutions, whereby the lot of the state land of a corresponding size was assigned to it, the LVA had used the land lot of a corresponding size since 1956. It also needs to be noted that the plan of the limits of the land use of the educational-experimental farm of Lithuanian Veterinary Academy of the Kaunas District as approved by the 26 May 1986 decision (No. 143) of the Executive Committee of the Soviet of People’s Deputies of the Kaunas District, 3363 hectares of land was assigned to the LVA and this land was used by it. As it is obvious from the material of the case, inter alia, from the explanations of the representatives of the Government, the party concerned, presented at the Constitutional Court’s hearing, the area of land of 3363 hectares used by the LVA also included the area of 1000 hectares of the farming lands which was allocated to the LVA later by government resolution No. 540 of 9 December 1991 and the already reduced areas of the farming lands—800 hectares and 767.5 hectares accordingly—which were assigned to the LVA by resolution No. 266 of 8 March 2001.

10. To sum up the legal regulation consolidated in the said government resolutions which is impugned in this constitutional justice case at issue, it needs to be noted that:

by government resolution No. 540 of 9 December 1991 (wordings of 27 February 1992 and 14 May 1999) and government resolution No. 266 of 8 March 2001, the area of the farming lands of the corresponding size was allocated (assigned) to the LVA which had the status of the state land (this is confirmed by the legal regulation established in government resolution No. 579 of 14 May 1999, inter alia, Item 1 of this resolution in which it is prescribed that the state agricultural land lot which is at present used by Lithuanian Veterinary Academy shall be allotted to the Weaponry Fund to use it on a non-terminable basis);

by government resolution No. 540 of 9 December 1991 (wordings of 27 February 1992 and 14 May 1999) and by government resolution No. 266 of 8 March 2001, one only established the area of the farming lands which are allocated (assigned) to the LVA, while the specific limits of the land lot used by the LVA were already defined by the said 2 December 1996 order (No. 05-5923) of the Chief of the Kaunas County and later amended by the 31 December 1998 order (No. 05-8064) of the Chief of the Kaunas County, his order No. 02-05-4060 of 30 May 2001, his order No. 02-05-4555 of 15 June 2001, and his order No. 02-05-3199 of 16 May 2003;

after the 32.5 hectare land lot (which was titled as one having the status of the state land and which had been used by the LVA until then) was transferred to the Weaponry Fund by government resolution No. 579 of 14 May 1999, the status of this land as state-owned land did not change.

11. It needs to be noted that the processes of the privatisation of land and restoration of the rights of ownership to land are inseparable from the land reform which, at the time of adoption of the impugned government resolutions, was regulated by the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Land Reform (wordings of 24 January 1992 and 2 July 1997). Article 2 of this law established the aims of the land reform, inter alia, to return the land which had been unlawfully expropriated.

11.1. At the time of the adoption of government resolution No. 134 of 27 February 1992, whereby government resolution No. 540 of 9 December 1991 was amended, the Law on Land Reform of the wording of 24 January 1992 was in effect. In Item 4 of Article 13 of this law it was provided for that “land which, according to the established procedure, is allocated or is planned to be allocated to institutions of science and learning for conducting experiments and for other scientific needs” shall not be liable to be sold to citizens for private ownership.

11.2. Item 5 of Article 12 of the then effective Law “On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property” (wording of 18 June 1991) prescribed that the land which is necessary for the necessities of the state and other land shall be purchased by the state (by applying the ways of state-purchase provided for in this law), if it is allocated, under established procedure, for the educational and scientific institutions, for experiments and other educational and scientific needs.

11.3. At the time of the adoption of government resolution No. 584 of 14 May 1999 whereby government resolution No. 540 of 9 December 1991 was amended, Item 3 of Article 13 of the then effective Law on Land Reform (wording of 2 July 1997) prescribed that the land shall not be subject to privatisation if it has been “allocated to scientific and educational establishments, state establishments of social guardianship and care, and transferred to state specialised seed-growing and stock-breeding farms”.

11.4. Item 9 of Article 12 of the then effective Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property (wording of 1 July 1997) prescribed that “the land shall be purchased by the state from the citizens specified in Article 2 of this Law and it shall be compensated according to Article 16 of this law if it is allotted to <...> scientific and educational establishments, state establishments of social guardianship and care, state establishments and organisations, transferred to state specialised seed-growing and stock-breeding farms. The list of users of this land and the size of the plots of land utilised by them shall be established by the Government”.

11.5. Virtually analogous provision regarding the categorisation of land which has been transferred to scientific and educational institutions as land subject to state-purchase was enshrined in Item 8 of Article 12 of the Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property (wording of 13 May 1999) at the time of the adoption of government resolution No. 266 of 8 March 2001.

12. To sum up the legal regulation enshrined in the Law on the Privatisation of Property of Agricultural Enterprises, the Law on Land Reform and the laws which regulate the relations of restitution, it needs to be noted that by singling out the two categories of not-subject-to-privatisation property of agricultural enterprises in the Law on the Privatisation of Property of Agricultural Enterprises, the legislature sought to separate the property (which belonged to specialised agricultural enterprises) necessary for the necessities of the state the appropriate use of which, after transferring it to private property, for those needs would be impossible (it is not allowed to transfer this property to private ownership) from the property the transfer of which to private ownership is not absolutely impossible, where only the transactions of the privatisation of this property seeking to ensure the possibility of returning this property to the former owners, i.e. by giving the priority to restitution, and not to privatisation, are not permitted.

It also needs to be noted that the land necessary for the necessities of the state (inter alia, the land allocated to scientific and educational establishments) was categorised by laws as land which is not subject to transferring to private property (Item 4 (wording of 25 July 1991) of Article 13 of the Law on Land Reform), not subject to privatisation (Item 3 (wording of 2 July 1997) of Article 13 of the Law on Land Reform) and not subject to returning to former owners in kind (which is purchased by the state) (Item 5 (wording of 18 June 1991) of Paragraph 1 of Article 12 of the Law “On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property”, Item 9 (wording of 1 July 1997) of Article 12 and Item 8 (wording of 13 May 1999) of Article 12 of the Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property). In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it also needs to be noted that under Item 3 (wording of 2 July 1997) of Article 13 of the Law on Land Reform and under Item 9 (wording of 1 July 1997) of Article 12 of the Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property, also the land allocated to state establishments and organisations is categorised as land which is not privatised in a corresponding manner and is not allocated to its former owners in kind (which is purchased by the state).

13. While construing the legal regulation which is enshrined in the government resolutions and which is impugned in this constitutional justice case in the context of the said laws, it needs to be noted that the inclusion of the land used by the LVA into the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation as approved by government resolution No. 540 of 9 December 1991, which is impugned in this constitutional justice case, and the categorisation of that land as belonging to the objects purchased by the state, which were established by the Government Resolution (No. 1026) “On Users of the Land Allotted to Scientific and Educational Establishments and Transferred to State Specialised Seed-Growing and Stock-Breeding Farms, Special-Purpose Stock-Breeding Companies and on Establishing the Size of Land Lots Used by these Users” of 13 August 1998 by impugned government resolution No. 266 of 8 March 2001 means that the land which had been allocated to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy as a scientific and educational institution by the impugned government resolution fell into the category of real property which is not subject to privatisation and which cannot be returned to its former owners in kind (which is purchased by the state).

It also needs to be noted that the legal status of the 32.5 hectare land lot allocated to the Weaponry Fund under impugned government resolution No. 579 of 14 May 1999 to use it on a non-terminable basis (which at that time was used by the LVA) did not change from the standpoint of the legal relations of property—this land remained state-owned land which is not subject to privatisation and is not subject to returning it to its former owners in kind, since it must be purchased by the state.

III

On the compliance of the Government Resolution (No. 540) “On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation” (wordings of 27 February 1992 and 14 May 1999) of 9 December 1991 and the Government Resolution (No. 266) “On a Partial Amendment of the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 1026) ‘On Users of the Land Allotted to Scientific and Educational Establishments and Transferred to State Specialised Seed-Growing and Stock-Breeding Farms, Special-Purpose Stock-Breeding Companies and on Establishing the Size of Land Lots Used by These Users’ of 13 August 1998” of 8 March 2001 with Article 23 of the Constitution, with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, and with the provisions of Article 1 of the Law “On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property” (wording of 18 June 1991) and of the Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) to the Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property.

1. In the constitutional justice case at issue, the Constitutional Court investigates the compliance of the provision of government resolution No. 540 of 9 December 1991 that the area of the farming lands not subject to privatisation assigned to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy is 800 hectares with Paragraph 1 of Article 23 of the Constitution, the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, and with the provision “the right of ownership to the existing real property shall be restored: (1) by returning the expropriated property in kind or equivalent kind; (2) by paying single state grants to the persons specified in Article 2 of this law enabling them to take over a corresponding part of the state-owned (society-owned) property which is being privatised if it is impossible to return the expropriated property in kind or in equivalent kind <...>” of Article 1 (wording of 18 June 1991) of the Law “On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property”, as well as the compliance of government resolution No. 540 of 9 December 1991 (wording of 14 May 1999) and government resolution No. 266 of 8 March 2001, to the extent that they assign land to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy, with Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 23 of the Constitution, with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, and with the provision “the restoration of continuation of the rights of ownership is based on the provision of the 18 June 1991 Law of the Republic of Lithuania ‘On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership to the Existing Real Property’—the existing real property shall be returned to citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, and in the event it is impossible to do so, they shall be compensated justly” of the Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) of the Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property.

2. Article 23 of the Constitution provides that property shall be inviolable (Paragraph 1); the rights of ownership shall be protected by law (paragraph 2); property may be taken over only for the needs of society according to the procedure established by law and shall be justly compensated for (Paragraph 3).

3. While construing Article 23 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has held that inviolability and protection of property which are enshrined in this article means, inter alia, that the owner has the right to perform any actions in regard of his property, save those prohibited by law, as well as to use his property and determine its future in any way, which does not violate the rights and freedoms of other persons (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 14 March 2006); in addition, in its acts the Constitutional Court has held the following more than once: the owner has the right to require that other persons would not violate his rights of ownership, while the state has the duty to defend and protect the property from illegal encroachment upon it; the constitutional guarantee of protection of ownership entrenched in the Constitution is a status quo guarantee, as first of all it protects the rights of ownership enjoyed by a person; the Constitution, while guaranteeing the protection of ownership, establishes the constitutional right to acquisition of property too, and guarantees protection of this right; the inviolability of property and protection of subjective rights of ownership which are entrenched in the Constitution cannot be interpreted as grounds for opposing the right and interests of the owner to the public interest, as well as the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of other persons; ownership includes obligations, and by this provision the social function of ownership is expressed.

4. Under Article 23 of the Constitution, property may be taken over from the owner only for the needs of society when it is justly compensated for; the property may be taken over for the needs of society and when it is justly compensated for only under procedure established by law. As the Constitutional Court has held, Paragraph 3 of Article 23 of the Constitution indicates the needs of society, for which property may be seized according to the procedure established by law and must be adequately compensated for. The said needs are interests of either the whole or part of society. The state, while implementing its functions, is constitutionally obligated to secure and satisfy such interests. When property is seized for the needs of society, one must strive for the balance between various legitimate interests of society and its members. The needs of society, for which property is seized, are always particular and clearly expressed needs of society for a concrete object of property. It is permitted to seize property (by adequately compensating for) only for such public needs which would not be objectively met if a certain concrete object of property were not seized. The person whose property is being seized for the needs of society has the right to demand that the established compensation be equivalent in value for the property seized (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 2 April 2001 and 4 March 2003). While adopting a decision on seizure of property for the needs of society, at the same time one must establish the amount of compensation for the property seized, also, one must establish a procedure according to which the owner will be compensated for the property seized. The legislature, irrespective of the fact what subject (the state, municipality, legal or natural person) becomes the owner of this property, has a duty to establish the legal regulation ensuring that the said property be used for the needs of society in reality (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 4 March 2003). In this context, it needs to be emphasised that the needs of society are state necessities at the same time (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 4 March 2003 and 23 November 2007); it should be noted that it is not permitted to oppose the notion “state necessities” against the notion “needs of society” because they not deny, but supplement each other; the notions “needs (necessities) of society”, “needs (necessities) of the state”, “needs (necessities) of a municipality” denote the public interest and should be related with the constitutional concept of the welfare of the Nation (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 23 November 2007).

5. While construing Paragraph 3 of Article 23 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has also held in its acts more than once that until the agreement is reached on the compensation for the property seized or until the dispute is not settled by court, the property may not be seized from the owner (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 4 March 2003). While construing the said provision of the constitutional doctrine together with other doctrinal provisions of the Constitutional Court which were formulated when interpreting Article 23 of the Constitution (inter alia, with the following: ownership includes obligations and this provision expresses a social function of ownership; when property is seized for the needs of society, one must strive for the balance between various legitimate interests of society and its members; it is permitted to seize property (by adequately compensating for) only for such public needs which would not be objectively met if a certain concrete object of property were not seized; the person whose property is being seized for the needs of society has the right to demand that the established compensation be equivalent in value for the property seized; the rights and interests of the owner may not be opposed against the public interest), it needs to be noted that when the legislature regulates the relations connected with consideration of disputes regarding seizure of property for the needs of society in court, then, according to the Constitution, the duty arises to establish such legal regulation which would allow deciding these disputes expeditiously and, thus, guaranteeing the public interest and ensuring that the owner would not abuse his right to receive a fair compensation for the seized property and would not procrastinate the procedure of seizure of property for the needs of society in this manner.

Under the Constitution no such situations may be tolerated, where an institution, which is established by law and which has the right to adopt a decision on seizure of property for the needs of society, after such institution adopts a decision on seizure of property for the needs of society and on the size of compensation for the property seized from the owner, and upon the payment of such compensation, such need of society cannot be satisfied for an unreasonably long time due to longstanding disputes, inter alia, due to disputes in courts regarding the size of compensation for the seized property from its owner, and due to this, the interests of vital importance and other particularly importance interests of society cannot be ensured. The duty stems from the Constitution for the legislature to establish, inter alia, the grounds and ways of fair compensation for the property seized for the needs of society and to stipulate that, upon the decision of a competent institution regarding seizure of property for the needs of society, the size of compensation for the property seized from the owner and upon the payment of this compensation, the court, after it has established that without immediately satisfying this need of society one would impair the interests of vital importance and other particularly important interests of society, may allow starting using the property in order to satisfy the needs of society before it has been essentially decided regarding the size of compensation for the seized property.

6. The Constitutional Court has also held that, while deciding whether property is seized for the needs of society, account should be taken of the fact that needs of society are not a static phenomenon. The needs that at a certain stage of development of society and the state were regarded as needs of society may be considered to be not in line with the constitutional concept of the needs of society at a different stage of development of society and the state, and vice versa. While taking account of the fact as to what socially important objectives are sought at the moment of seizure of particular property, one has to decide each time on an individual basis whether the needs for which property is seized are those of society (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 4 March 2003).

7. While interpreting the content of Article 23 of the Constitution in the context of the restoration of the rights of ownership to the existing real property, the Constitutional Court has held in its rulings more than once that although the legislature enjoys certain discretion to establish the conditions and procedure of the restoration of the right of ownership, however, when doing so, he must take account of the constitutional principles of protection of the right of ownership; it is impossible to identify the state-purchase of the existing real property from the citizens to whom the right of ownership is restored with the seizure of property from the owner for the needs of society; while deciding whether the compensation for the existing real property which has not been returned in kind is a just one, one has to take account of the fact that it was not the State of Lithuania that unlawfully nationalised or expropriated in other unlawful ways the property of the owners; until his property is restored or he is paid an appropriate compensation for it, the subjective rights of the former owner to a specific property are not restored yet; the legal meaning of the decision of the institution authorised by the state to restore property in kind or compensate for it is that only from this proper moment the former owner acquires the rights of ownership to such property (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 27 May 1994 and 4 March 2003); until respective state institutions have not adopted a decision on the restoration of the rights of ownership, in reality such persons do not enjoy the subjective rights to the property which earlier belonged to them (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 18 June 1998 and 4 March 2003).

It also needs to be noted that the State of Lithuania, while striving to restore justice in part at least, i.e. to restore the violated rights of ownership, chose restricted restitution but not restitutio in integrum. The restoration of justice when the owners are compensated for the existing real property which has not been returned in kind has two sides: it is justice in regard of the owner as well as the entire society. The unlawful actions of the occupation government inflicted enormous damage not only on the owners whose rights of ownership were denied but also on the whole society and the entire state. While restoring justice in regard of the owners, one cannot ignore justice in regard of the entire society whose members are also the owners as well. In the process of the restoration of the rights of ownership one must strive for a balance between the persons whose rights are being restored and the interests of the entire society (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 4 March 2003 and 5 July 2007). The balance between the interests of the persons whose rights are being restored and those of the entire society could not be reached if the right of a person, who seeks to restore his rights of ownership to the existing real property, to return it in kind were made absolute by at the same time denying the interests of society.

8. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it needs to be emphasised that as the Constitutional Court has held in its acts more than once, if there is no possibility of returning the existing real property in kind, a just compensation also ensures the restoration of the rights of ownership. Thus, the legislature alongside has the powers to establish (of course, without overstepping the limitations established explicitly and implicitly in the Constitution) also that in case there is not any possibility of restoring in kind namely the property that used to belong to a person by right of ownership prior to the unlawful nationalisation or other unlawful expropriation, the rights of ownership are restored by other ways, inter alia, by allocating a plot of land, forest, or water body of equal value in another locality, i.e. by allocating property which has never belonged to that person by right of ownership (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 5 July 2007).

9. It is also not allowed to return such property in kind, which used to belong to a person under the right of ownership before the unlawful nationalisation or other unlawful seizure, but which is necessary for the needs of society. As the Constitutional Court held in its ruling of 10 May 2002, the land which is not returned to the owners in kind due to its necessity for the needs of society is purchased by the state, while the owners are compensated under the manner and procedure specified in the law.

In this context, it needs to be emphasised that even though the institute of seizure of property from its owners for the needs of society may not be applied directly, when the rights of ownership are restored by means of state-purchase of the real property (inter alia, land) which is necessary for the necessities of the state, the notions of the needs of society (in the aspect of seizure of the property from the owners) and the state necessities (in the aspect of the state-purchase of property while restoring the rights of ownership) are not totally different. As the Constitutional Court has held, it is not permitted to oppose the notion “state necessities” employed in the said Law “On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property” against the notion “needs of society” employed in the Constitution (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 4 March 2003).

It also needs to be noted that the concept of the needs of society due to which, in the course of the restitution, certain property is not returned to the owners in kind, but is purchased by the state, is much broader than the content of the notion “needs of society” employed in Paragraph 3 of Article 23 of the Constitution (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 5 July 2007).

10. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should particularly be emphasised that while formulating the official constitutional doctrine of restitution—restoration of the rights of ownership of citizens to the existing real property—the Constitutional Court has noted the following: one of the situations established in laws when land may not be returned in kind to the former owners is when it has been allotted to scientific and educational establishments; without real property (land, buildings etc.) these establishments would not be able to perform their functions which are important to society; the status of land subject to being purchased by the state may be allocated only to the land allotted to scientific and educational establishments which is necessary for performing their tasks and functions, i.e. which is necessary for the needs of society but not of individual persons; the scientific and educational establishments, state and local government institutions as well as officials have a duty to ensure that the land allotted to a scientific and educational establishment be used for carrying out the tasks and functions of the said establishment only, i.e. for satisfaction of the needs of society (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 10 May 2002).

Under the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraph 4 of Article 40 of the Constitution, the state has the duty to supervise the activities of establishments of teaching and education, and it also has the duty to supervise whether the land which belongs to the state and which was transferred to scientific and educational establishments is possessed and used following the public interest and the needs of society. It also needs to be noted that the scientific and educational establishments must secure that such land allocated to them would be used only for carrying out their tasks and functions and that it would be administered and preserved rationally.

11. Therefore, under the Constitution, inter alia, the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance enshrined in it, the state institutions which are empowered to decide the questions of granting the status of the land purchased by the state to the land which is allotted to scientific and educational establishments, must take account of the fact whether the concrete land is necessary for carrying out the tasks and functions of the scientific and educational establishment and whether in case of returning that land to its former owner in kind, the corresponding scientific and educational establishment would really not be able to perform its functions which are important to society.

12. As mentioned before, the needs of society, due to which the existing real property (including land) is not returned to its former owner in kind, are not a static phenomenon. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it needs to be noted that the necessities which are understood as the need of society due to which the existing real property may not be returned to its former owner in kind, but is purchased by the state, are subject to change. Thus, some necessities may be replaced by others: if there is one necessity, which is understood as a need of society, another necessity may arise which is of no less importance (significance) to society, which is also understood as a need of society due to which the existing real property may not be returned to its former owner in kind. The mere fact that some necessities, understood as a social need due to which the existing real property may not be returned to its former owner in kind, but is purchased by the state, disappeared, in itself does not mean that other necessities have not appeared which may also be understood as a need of society, which also implies the impossibility of returning the existing real property to its former owner in kind. Also such situations are possible, when a need of society due to which the existing real property could not be returned to its former owner in kind, disappears during a certain period of time. In such a case, under the Constitution, inter alia, the principles of a state under the rule of law and of justice enshrined in it, if the rights of ownership to the existing real property were not restored to its former owner in a different way and there are not any constitutionally grounded obstacles, the existing real property must be returned to this owner (after he has expressed his wish) in kind, and if the rights of ownership to the existing real property were restored to its former owner in a different way, then, after having adopted a decision regarding the intention to transfer such existing real property to which the rights of ownership were not restored, because it had been purchased by the state, to private ownership, the state institutions must properly inform the former owner about this decision so that he would have a possibility of acquiring this real property according to the procedure established by law on the same grounds as other persons.

13. While regulating the relations connected with the restoration of the rights of ownership to the existing real property, the subjects of law-making must take account not only of the constitutional principles of protection of property—they are bound by the imperative of protection of legitimate expectations, as an element of a state under the rule of law, which stems from the Constitution.

14. In the acts of the Constitutional Court it has been held more than once that one of the elements of the principle of legitimate expectations is the protection of rights which were acquired under the Constitution as well as laws and other legal acts which are not in conflict with the Constitution; according to the Constitution, only those expectations of the person in relationships with the state are protected and defended, which arise from the Constitution itself or from the laws and other legal acts that are not in conflict with the Constitution; only these expectations of the person in relationships with the state are considered legitimate. It has also been held that the Constitution generally does not prevent from protecting and defending in certain special cases also such acquired rights of the person arising from the legal acts later ruled to be in conflict with the Constitution (substatutory legal acts—to be in conflict with the Constitution and/or the laws), which, if not defended or protected, would result in greater harm to the person, other persons, society or the state, than the harm inflicted in case of total non-defence or non-protection or partial defence or protection of the said rights (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 13 December 2004 and 5 July 2007).

15. It needs to be emphasised that the fact that the state decided that the denied rights of ownership must be restored, also the fact that a law regulating restitution relations was adopted and the implementation of the restoration of ownership rights was begun, created a legitimate expectation to the persons who had the right to restore their rights of ownership that they would be able to implement such their right by the ways, under conditions and procedure and within the terms established by law. The said legitimate expectation is protected and defended by the Constitution. Alongside, the duty appeared to the state to legislatively regulate the restoration of the rights of ownership to the existing real property so that the said expectation could be implemented in reality (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 23 August 2005).

In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it needs to be noted that the legitimate expectation of the owner to restore the rights of ownership to the existing real property does not mean that in all cases the rights of ownership to the existing real property must be restored by returning such property in kind. In addition, such legal situations are also possible, where the existing real property which is necessary for the needs of society is not returned in kind.

16. It also needs to be noted that the constitutional requirements of legal certainty, legal security and protection of legitimate expectations imply that the procedure of restitution—restoration of the rights of ownership to the existing real property—may not be unreasonably long, since this could distort the institute of the restoration of the rights of ownership to the existing real property itself and shatter the trust of people in the state and law.

17. It has been mentioned that the Kaunas Regional Court, the petitioner, impugns the compliance of the provisions of government resolution No. 540 of 9 December 1992 (wording of 27 February 1992) with the provision “the right of ownership to the existing real property shall be restored: (1) by returning the expropriated property in kind or equivalent kind; (2) by paying single state grants to the persons specified in Article 2 of this law enabling them to take over a corresponding part of the state-owned (society-owned) property which is being privatised if it is impossible to return the expropriated property in kind or in equivalent kind <...>” of Article 1 of the Law “On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership to the Existing Real Property” (wording of 18 June 1991), also the compliance of the provisions of government resolution No. 540 of 9 December 1991 (wording of 14 May 1999) and government resolution No. 266 of 8 March 2001 with the provision “the restoration of continuation of the rights of ownership is based on the provision of the 18 June 1991 Law of the Republic of Lithuania ‘On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership to the Existing Real Property’—the existing real property shall be returned to citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, and in the event it is impossible to do so, they shall be compensated justly” of the Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) to the Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property.

18. Article 1 (wording of 18 June 1991) of the Law “On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership to the Existing Real Property” prescribed: this law shall legislate the procedures and conditions of the right of ownership to the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania to the property which was nationalised under the laws of the USSR (the Lithuanian SSR), or which was otherwise unlawfully socialised, and which, on the day of enactment of this law, is considered the property of the state, of the public, of co-operative organisations (enterprises), or of collective farms (Paragraph 1); the rights of ownership to the existing real property shall be restored by returning the seized property in kind or equivalent kind (Item 1 of Paragraph 2) or by paying single state grants to the persons specified in Article 2 of this law enabling them to take over a corresponding part of the state-owned (society-owned) property which is being privatised if it is impossible to return the expropriated property in kind or in equivalent kind or if the persons specified in Article 2 of this law do not wish the property to be returned in kind (Paragraph 2 of Article 2).

19. The Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) to the Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property prescribes: “The Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, emphasising that after the Supreme Council-Reconstituent Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania restored the independence of the Republic of Lithuania under the 11 March 1990 Acts, the laws, imposed by the foreign state, by which the occupation government had seized from the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania the property possessed by them, ceased to be in force; emphasising that the rights of ownership acquired by the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania before the occupation are not revoked and have continuity; emphasising that the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania adopted by the will of citizens of the Republic of Lithuania in 1992, guarantees and defends the rights and property of the State and its citizens; emphasising that the restoration of continuation of the rights of ownership is based on the provision of the 18 June 1991 Law of the Republic of Lithuania on the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership to the Existing Real Property—the existing real property shall be returned to citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, and in the event it is impossible to do so, they shall be compensated properly; taking into consideration the judgments and rulings of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania of 1994–1996 and the limit of 150 hectares set by the land reform in 1922–1940, passes this Law”.

20. While construing the provisions of Article 1 (wording of 18 June 1991) of the Law “On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership to the Existing Real Property” and of the Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) to the Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property, in whose respect the compliance of government resolution No. 540 (wordings of 27 February 1992 and 14 May 1999) of 9 December 1991 and its resolution No. 266 of 8 March 2001 is impugned, in the context of the regulation of these laws, inter alia, Articles 12 thereof which provided for the grounds on the basis of which the land is not returned in kind to its owner, but it is purchased by the state, it should be noted, inter alia, that even though the said provisions enshrined the priority to return the real property (also land) in kind, it is not (was not) the only way of the restoration of the rights of ownership to the existing real property. The said laws established (and establish) that if it is impossible to return the real property (also land) to its owners in kind, the right of ownership shall be restored in other ways provided for by law. Therefore, the legislature, while regulating the restoration of the rights of ownership to the existing real property, singled out the persons to whom the rights of ownership to the existing real property shall be restored by returning the property in kind and the persons to whom the rights of ownership to the existing real property shall be restored in other ways. As the Constitutional Court has held, the differentiation of the said groups of persons were and are determined by objective circumstances, i.e. the impossibility of returning the existing real property in kind in every case (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 23 August 2005), while in the event when, due to the factual present land-tenure relations and public needs, it is impossible to return the land in kind, the former owner is guaranteed the right to choose the manner of the restoration of the right of ownership under procedure and conditions as prescribed by law (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 27 May 1994 and 10 May 2002).

21. In the acts of the Constitutional Court, it has also been held more than once that the laws regulating the restoration of the rights of ownership to the existing real property may prescribe that objects of property are not returned in kind to the persons who have the right to the restoration of the rights of ownership, but are purchased by the state; the provision of the laws that if it is impossible to retrieve the property in kind, compensation must be given, is not in conflict with the principles of inviolability of property and of the protection of ownership rights, since fair compensation also ensures restoration of ownership rights.

In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it needs to be noted that the laws regulating restoration of the rights of ownership to the existing real property included (and now include) the provision whereby the land allocated to scientific and educational establishments is purchased by the state.

22. As mentioned before, in this constitutional justice case, the petitioner impugns, inter alia, the provisions of government resolution No. 540 (wordings of 27 February 1992 and 14 May 1999) of 9 December 1991 and its resolution No. 266 of 8 March 2001 in the aspect of the compliance of these provisions with the Constitution and laws. According to these provisions, the area of farming lands of the corresponding size not subject to privatisation was assigned to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy by enshrining at the same time the status of land purchased by the state with regard to this land. It has also been mentioned that without possessing the real property (land, buildings etc.), the scientific and educational establishments would not be able to fulfil their socially important functions, as well as that the status of the land purchased by the state may be given only to the land allotted to scientific and educational establishments which is necessary for performing their tasks and functions, i.e. which is necessary for the needs of society, and only if such needs of society could not be satisfied after this land has been returned in kind. Therefore, while deciding whether the impugned resolutions of the Government are not (were not) in conflict with the Constitution and laws, one must also assess the fact whether a certain land lot is necessary for implementation of the functions and tasks assigned to the LVA by the legal acts.

22.1. As it is obvious from the material of the case, the LVA is the only special scientific and educational institution that prepares veterinary specialists and stock-breeding technologists who provide services to the stock-breeding sector, protect animals from contagious and other dangerous diseases spreading into this country from other states, control the quality of food of animal origin, perform the functions of breeding, feedstuff quality and other functions which are important to society and the state which are connected with the development of agriculture, growth of economy and protection of public health. Therefore, it is important for society and the state that the specialists of this field be properly prepared.

22.2. The Statute of Lithuanian Veterinary Academy as approved by the Resolution of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania (No. I-281) “Regarding the Statute of Lithuanian Veterinary Academy” of 19 October 1993 (which became null and void by upon the adoption of the Seimas Resolution (No. VIII-2044) “On Approving the Statute of Lithuanian Veterinary Academy” of 12 October 2000) stipulated that Lithuanian Veterinary Academy is a state higher scientific and educational establishment, founded in 1936, which prepares specialists of veterinary and stock-breeding (Items 1 and 2). Under Item 22 of this statute, the main base of practical training and scientific experiments is the Practical Instruction and Research Centre.

22.3. In Items 8.1 and 8.2 of the Statute of Lithuanian Veterinary Academy as approved by the Seimas Resolution (No. VIII-2044) “On Approving the Statute of Lithuanian Veterinary Academy” of 12 October 2000 (which became null and void upon the adoption of the Seimas Resolution (No. IX-2265) “On Approving the Statute of Lithuanian Veterinary Academy” of 8 June 2004), among other things, the following purposes and areas of activity of this academy are specified: to carry out scientific research and to apply the results of scientific research in the area of biomedicine science, to create conditions for a person to acquire the higher education, qualification and scientific degree, which are based on scientific research and which correspond to the level of culture, science and latest technologies.

22.4. Item 3 of the Statute of Lithuanian Veterinary Academy as approved by the Seimas Resolution (No. IX-2265) “On Approving the Statute of Lithuanian Veterinary Academy” of 8 June 2004 (and which is still effective) prescribed that the academy is a state-owned establishment of studies and science for stock-breeding and veterinary science, in which university studies prevail. In addition to other purposes and tasks enumerated in the Statute of Lithuanian Veterinary Academy, one specifies preparation of specialists of veterinary, stock-breeding and food safety and implementation of fundamental and applied scientific research and experimental development (Items 1 and 4).

22.5. In Lithuanian Veterinary Academy the works of practical training and the works of scientific research are done at the Practical Instruction and Research Centre which uses the land lot transferred to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy in which there are not only the farming lands but also the buildings necessary for the scientific research.

22.6. The status of this scientific and educational establishment defined in the statute of the LVA of the specified wordings, the purposes and tasks enumerated therein leads to the conclusion that the corresponding base (land, buildings, equipment) is necessary for the practical training and implementation of scientific research and experiments.

22.7. It needs to be noted that, as mentioned before, the LVA used the land lot and created the training base in it yet before the adoption of government resolution No. 540 of 9 December 1991. It is obvious from the material of the case that under the plan of the limits of the land use of the educational-experimental farm of Lithuanian Veterinary Academy of the Kaunas District as approved by the 26 May 1986 decision (No. 143) of the Executive Committee of the Soviet of People’s Deputies of the Kaunas District, 3363 hectares of land were assigned to the LVA and used by it. The area of the farming lands which had been used by Lithuanian Veterinary Academy before the beginning of the land reform, taking account of the need of this academy and the changed economic situation and the on-going land reform, was, by government resolution No. 540 (wording of 9 December 1991) of 9 December 1991, reduced to 1000 hectares, while government resolution No. 134 of 27 February 1992 and government resolution No. 584 of 14 May 1999 specified the area of the farming lands again and it was reduced correspondingly to 800 hectares and 767.5 hectares.

23. Taking account of the circumstances which have been set forth, the conclusion should be drawn that by the government resolutions which are impugned in this constitutional justice case, the land was allocated (assigned) to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy so that it could properly perform the tasks and functions of this establishment, i.e. satisfy the needs of society. Without possessing this land, the LVA would not be able to implement its functions which are important to society. It also needs to be noted that there are not enough legal arguments why the size of the farming lands’ lot allocated (assigned) to the LVA by the said government resolutions (as mentioned before, under government resolution No. 540 (wording of 9 December 1991) of 9 December 1991, it was 800 hectares, under government resolution No. 540 (wording of 14 May 1999, it was 767.5 hectares) does not meet the need of the LVA, i.e. is not necessary for carrying out of the tasks and functions of the LVA, therefore, it should be different.

24. As it has already been mentioned in this ruling of the Constitutional Court, the government resolutions which are impugned in the constitutional justice case at issue established only the area of the farming lands assigned to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy, however, they did not establish (determine) its limits.

It needs to be noted that the legal regulation when one establishes the area of the farming lands’ lot and does not establish the limits of that lot lacks legal certainty and, from the legal point of view, it is deficient.

However, it needs also to be noted that the impugned government resolution No. 540 of 9 December 1991 (wording of 27 February 1992), whereby the area of the farming lands transferred to the LVA was established (which, as mentioned before, was not significantly amended by the subsequent impugned government resolutions), was adopted at the beginning of the process of the land reform. In addition, the limits of the lot were determined not by the said government resolution whereby the land was allocated (assigned) to the LVA, but this has been done by the 2 December 1996 order (No. 05-5923) of the Chief of the Kaunas County. Later on, upon the adoption of the other impugned government resolutions whereby the area of the farming lands assigned to the LVA was specified, also the limits of the land lot used by the LVA were correspondingly specified by the 31 December 1998 order (No. 05-8064) of the Chief of the Kaunas County, his order No. 02-05-4060 of 30 May 2001, his order No. 02-05-4555 of 15 June 2001, and his order No. 02-05-3199 of 16 May 2003. Thus, taking account of the said circumstances, the mere fact that government resolution No. 540 (wordings of 27 February 1992 and 14 May 1999) of 9 May 1991 and government resolution No. 266 of 8 March 2001 did not determine the limits of the farming land lot assigned to the LVA is not a sufficient ground in this constitutional justice case to rule the said government resolutions to be in conflict with the Constitution.

25. It also needs to be mentioned that the petitioner grounds his doubts regarding the compliance of the impugned government resolutions with the Constitution and laws also on the fact that, according to him, the land purchased by the state which is allocated (assigned) to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy by these government resolutions also includes the land the rights of ownership of which the heirs of the former owner seek to restore in kind.

As mentioned before, the limits of the farming lands’ lot allocated (assigned) to the LVA were established not by the impugned government resolutions, but by orders of the chief (governor) of the county.

In this context, it needs to be noted that, under Paragraph 1 of Article 102 and under Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 105 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court shall decide whether the laws and other acts of the Seimas are not in conflict with the Constitution and whether the acts of the President of the Republic and the Government are not in conflict with the Constitution or laws. The assessment of lawfulness and legitimacy of legal acts adopted by the chief (governor) of a county is not within the competence of the Constitutional Court. It is within to the jurisdiction of courts which decide corresponding administrative and civil disputes.

26. Taking account of the arguments set forth, the conclusion should be drawn that:

the provision of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation as approved by the Government Resolution (No. 540) “On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation” of 9 December 1991 (wording of 27 February 1992) that the farming lands not subject to privatisation assigned to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy is 800 hectares was not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 23 of the Constitution, with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law and with the provision “the right of ownership to the existing real property shall be restored: (1) by returning the expropriated property in kind or equivalent kind; (2) by paying single state grants to the persons specified in Article 2 of this law enabling them to take over a corresponding part of the state-owned (society-owned) property which is being privatised if it is impossible to return the expropriated property in kind or in equivalent kind <...>” of Article 1 (wording of 18 June 1991) of the Law “On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property”;

the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations Not Subject to Privatisation as approved by the Government Resolution (No. 540) “On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations Not Subject to Privatisation” of 9 December 1991 (wording of 14 May 1999), to the extent that it assigned the land to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy was not in conflict with Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 23 of the Constitution, with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, with the provision “the restoration of continuation of the rights of ownership is based on the provision of the 18 June 1991 Law of the Republic of Lithuania ‘On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership to the Existing Real Property’—the existing real property shall be returned to citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, and in the event it is impossible to do so, they shall be compensated justly” of the Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) of the Law on Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property;

the Government Resolution (No. 266) “On a Partial Amendment of the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 1026) ‘On Users of the Land Allotted to Scientific and Educational Establishments and Transferred to State Specialised Seed-growing and Stock-breeding Farms, Special-purpose Stock-breeding Companies, and on Establishing the Size of Land Lots Used by These Users’ of 13 August 1998” of 8 March 2001 to the extent that it has assigned the land to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy is not in conflict with Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 23 of the Constitution, with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law and with the provision “the restoration of continuation of the rights of ownership is based on the provision of the 18 June 1991 Law of the Republic of Lithuania ‘On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership to the Existing Real Property’—the existing real property shall be returned to citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, and in the event it is impossible to do so, they shall be compensated justly” of the Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) of the Law on Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property.

IV

On the compliance of the Government Resolution (No. 579) “On the Allocation of a Land Lot and on Amending the Targeted Purpose of the Land Use” of 14 May 1999 with Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 23 of the Constitution, with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law and with the provision of the Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) of the Law on Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property.

1. In the constitutional justice case at issue, the Constitutional Court investigates the compliance of the Government Resolution (No. 579) “On the Allocation of a Land Lot and on Amending the Targeted Purpose of the Land Use” of 14 May 1999 to the extent that it has assigned the land to the Weaponry Fund with Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 23 of the Constitution, with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law and with the provision “the restoration of continuation of the rights of ownership is based on the provision of the 18 June 1991 Law of the Republic of Lithuania ‘On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership to the Existing Real Property’—the existing real property shall be returned to citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, and in the event it is impossible to do so, they shall be compensated justly” of the Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) of the Law on Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property.

2. It has been mentioned that by government resolution No. 579 of 14 May 1999, inter alia, a part of the land lot (32.5 hectares) used by Lithuanian Veterinary Academy was transferred to the Weaponry Fund to use it on a non-terminable basis for the construction of an ammunition manufacture enterprise.

3. In this ruling of the Constitutional Court, while investigating the compliance of the government resolutions whereby land was transferred to the scientific and educational establishment, Lithuanian Veterinary Academy, at the same time categorising it as land which is purchased by the state and not returned to its former owners, with the provisions of Article 23 of the Constitution and of the laws which regulate restoration of the rights of ownership, the Constitutional Court has already held that the legal regulation which establishes the alternatives of the restoration of the rights of ownership in kind is not in conflict with the purposes of restitution and with the constitutional principle of protection of the rights of ownership. It also needs to be noted that grounded and legitimate state-purchase of the objects of ownership while restoring the rights of ownership also meets the constitutional requirement of the protection of legitimate expectations.

4. It has also been mentioned that it is also permissible that such land which is necessary for the needs of society is not returned to the former owner in kind; that the needs of society are always particular and clearly expressed needs of society for a concrete object of property; and that the land which is not returned to the owner in kind due to the necessity of the land for the needs of society is purchased by the state, and the owner is compensated in the manner and procedure specified in the law.

5. Therefore, while investigating the compliance of the impugned government resolution, whereby the land was transferred to the Weaponry Fund for use with the Constitution and with the provision of the Preamble of the Law on Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property, first of all, it is necessary to assess whether this land should be categorised as land purchased by the state as established in this law.

6. As mentioned before, Item 9 of Article 12 of the Law on Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property, which was effective at the time of the adoption of government resolution No. 579 of 14 May 1999, prescribed that “the land shall be purchased by the State from the citizens specified in Article 2 of this law and it shall be compensated for it pursuant to Article 16 of this law if it <...> is allotted for use by scientific and educational institutions, state establishments of social guardianship and care, state establishments and organisations, transferred to state seed-growing, stock-breeding farms. The list of users of this land and the size of the plots of land utilised by them shall be established by the Government.”

Under this provision of the Law on Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property, inter alia, the land allocated to state establishments was categorised as land purchased by the state. Even though this law did not define in which cases the land allocated to state establishments is categorised as land purchased by the state, taking account of one of the main principles of the process of the restoration of the rights of ownership, i.e. the priority of the restoration of the rights of ownership in kind, which means that the rights of ownership must be restored in kind, with the exception of the cases when there is no such possibility, the conclusion should be drawn that the allocation of land to state establishments and its categorisation as land purchased by the state (not to be returned to the claimants seeking to restore the rights of ownership in kind) must be reasonably grounded. Therefore, under Item 9 of Article 12 of the Law on Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property (wording of 1 July 1997), only such land transferred to state establishments could be categorised as land which is necessary for the necessities of the state and which is purchased by the state.

7. While assessing the compliance of government resolution No. 579 of 14 May 1999 with the Constitution and the Law on Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property in the aspect of categorising the land which was transferred to the Weaponry Fund as land which is necessary for the necessities of the state and which is purchased by the state, the Constitutional Court must establish whether the transfer of land made by this resolution meets the essential criteria of reasonableness and legitimacy of such transfer of land, i.e. whether it has been transferred to a state establishment, whether it is necessary for the necessities of the state and whether in case this land was returned to its former owners, the necessities of the state could not be satisfied.

8. Paragraph 1 of Article 2 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Weaponry Fund (wording of 11 July 1996) provides that the Weaponry Fund shall be a state institution established and functioning under the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, having an exclusive right to supply state institutions and other legal persons with arms, ammunition, explosives, fight equipment or special devices according to the list as approved by the Government.

Article 4 of the Law on the Weaponry Fund determined the tasks of the Weaponry Fund: “to supply the systems of national defence and internal affairs, the State Security Department, and other legal persons with arms, ammunition, explosives, fight equipment or special devices, as well as natural persons with pistols (revolvers) for self-defence and ammunition for these arms”.

9. While carrying out these tasks, the Weaponry Fund was obliged to perform the functions connected with the establishment of the need and purchasing ammunition (Article 5 of the Law on the Weaponry Fund (wording of 11 July 1996)), inter alia, the manufacture, repair of arms, ammunition, explosives, fight equipment or special devices or arrangement of their metrology, certification, manufacture or repair (Item 7 of Paragraph 1 of Article 5).

10. Taking account of these provisions of the Law on the Weaponry Fund which enshrine the status and functions of the Weaponry Fund, the conclusion should be drawn that by government resolution No. 579 of 14 May 1999, the land was transferred to a state establishment for the implementation of the functions commissioned by law, where such functions are related with the necessities of the state (to organise manufacture of ammunition which is supplied to the systems of the interior and national defence).

11. On 27 April 1999, the Government adopted the Resolution (No. 469) “On Founding the State Ammunition Manufacture Enterprise and Agreement to Perform Public Procurement by Way of Competitive Negotiation” wherein it was prescribed: to found a state enterprise for manufacture of ammunition (Item 1); to commission the Weaponry Fund to discharge the functions of the founder of the ammunition manufacture enterprise (Item 2.1); to commission the Ministry of Agriculture together with the Administration of the Chief of the Kaunas County and the Weaponry Fund to choose a place (a land lot) meeting all the requirements, to prepare a draft decision regarding allocating a land lot to the Weaponry Fund to use it on a non-terminable basis for the construction of an ammunition manufacture enterprise and to submit it to the Government before 1 May 1999 (Item 2.2).

11.1. While implementing this government resolution, by the Order of the Minister of Agriculture (No. 182) “Regarding the Formation of the Commission for the Implementation of the Resolution of the Government Republic of Lithuania of 27 April 1999” of 29 April 1999 and the Order of the Director of the Weaponry Fund (No. 5) “Regarding the Formation of the Commission for Implementation of the 27 April 1999 Resolution (No. 469) of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania”, a commission was formed which, together with the representatives of the Administration of the Chief of the Kaunas County, chose a land lot for the construction of the ammunition factory. The conclusions of the commission were formalised by the 30 April 1999 Act on Choosing a Land Lot for Construction wherein one assented to the planning of the state ammunition manufacture enterprise and its construction on a land lot of 32.5 hectares, which is situated in the Vijūkai village of Užliedžiai cadastre location of the Kaunas district. As the representative of the Government, the party concerned, explained at the Constitutional Court’s hearing, the area of the land lot which is necessary for the construction of the ammunition factory was established while taking account of the particular safety requirements (regarding the areas of buildings of the factory, their layout, safety zones) which are imposed for the factories of such type, inter alia, of the corresponding legal acts of France, a state of NATO.

11.2. Taking account of these conclusions, government resolution No. 597 of 14 May 1999, which is impugned by the petitioner, was adopted whereby a part (32.5 hectares) of the land lot used by Lithuanian Veterinary Academy was transferred to the Weaponry Fund to use it on a non-terminable basis for the construction of the ammunition manufacture enterprise.

11.3. This factory (state enterprise the Giraitė Weaponry Factory) was built in 2000. By the 12 March 2002 order (No. 9) of the Director of the Weaponry Fund, the state enterprise Giraitė Weaponry Factory was issued a license for engagement in ammunition manufacture.

11.4. By the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Enterprises and Facilities of Strategic Importance to National Security and Other Enterprises Important to Ensuring National Security of 10 October 2002, the state enterprise Giraitė Weaponry Factory was included into the list of state enterprises which are of strategic importance of national security (Item 2 of Paragraph 1 of Article 2).

11.5. On 13 June 2006, the Seimas adopted the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Conversion of the State Enterprise the Giraitė Weaponry Factory into a Joint-Stock Company, whose purpose is to convert the state enterprise Giraitė Weaponry Factory (Article 1). By Article 2 of this law, the Weaponry Fund, as the institution which implements the rights and duties of the owner of the Giraitė Weaponry Factory, was granted the right to convert the state enterprise Giraitė Weaponry Factory into the Joint-Stock Company the Giraitė Weaponry Factory.

11.6. Following the Law on the Conversion of the State Enterprise the Giraitė Weaponry Factory into a Joint-Stock Company, by his Order (No. 1A-57) “On the Conversion of the State Enterprise Giraitė Weaponry Factory into the Joint-Stock Company Giraitė Weaponry Factory” of 21 May 2007, the Director of the Weaponry Fund decided to convert the state enterprise Giraitė Weaponry Factory into the joint-stock company Giraitė Weaponry Factory. Taking account of the changes of the legal form of the Giraitė Weaponry Factory, the Director of the Weaponry Fund granted the joint-stock company Giraitė Weaponry Factory a specifying license allowing the production of ammunition and parts thereof (the report of the Weaponry Fund “On Specifying the Licence” of 20 September 2007, Information Bulletin, No. 75, 26 September 2007).

12. Taking account of the circumstances set forth, the conclusion should be drawn that by government resolution No. 579 of 14 May 1999, a land lot was transferred to the Weaponry Fund for the implementation of the functions of the Weaponry Fund, a state institution, which are linked with ensuring the necessities of the state, therefore, this land lot should be categorised as land purchased by the state which is specified in Item 9 (wording of 1 July 1997) of Article 12 of the Law on Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property. In this context, it is important to note that the land was transferred to the Weaponry Fund on the grounds of the conclusions of the competent state institutions regarding the need of the land and the suitability of the concrete land lot. In addition, as it is obvious from the material of the case, if the said part of land had been returned to its former owners in kind, it would not have been possible to ensure the satisfaction of the necessities of the state.

Therefore, the part of the land assigned to the LVA was allocated for the Weaponry Fund for use upon the emergence of another, no less important, need of society, i.e. the needs of society, due to which the part of land could not be returned in kind to its former owner did not disappear in general, only its character changed.

Thus, it needs to be held that the land was assigned to the Weaponry Fund (by categorising it at the same time as land purchased by the state) by government resolution No. 579 of 14 May 1999 without violating the constitutional requirements of protection of the rights of ownership which should be applied in the process of the restoration of the rights of ownership, i.e. in the presence of the ground for the state-purchase of the land for the necessities of the state provided for in the law (Item 9 (wording of 1 July 1997) of Article 12 of the Law on Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property) and after the competent institutions have assessed the specific need of land, and that it is used for such necessities for which it was granted.

13. In this context, it needs to be noted that the land lot of 32.5 hectares which was taken from the land used by Lithuanian Veterinary Academy and which, as it has already been held in this ruling of the Constitutional Court, is categorised as land which is necessary for the necessities of the state (for the performance of direct functions of the scientific and educational establishment) and at the same time purchased by the state, and which was transferred to the Weaponry Fund, without virtually changing the legal status of this land from the point of view of the right of ownership, from one category of the land which is purchased by the state specified in Item 9 (wording of 1 July 1997) of Article 12 of the Law on Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property it fell into another category of land purchased by the state specified in the same provision of the law. Therefore, in the context of legal relations of the restoration of the rights of ownership, the status of this land, as one which is purchased by the state and not returned to its former owners in kind, has not changed, either.

14. It has been mentioned that the necessities which are understood as the need of society due to which the existing real property may not be returned to its former owner in kind, but is purchased by the state, may change; some necessities may be replaced by others.

15. Therefore, when the land which had been used until then by the LVA was assigned to the Weaponry Fund by government resolution No. 579 of 14 May 1999, one did not deviate from the imperatives of inviolability and protection of property which are enshrined in Article 23 of the Constitution, from the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, one did not disregard the provision of the Preamble to the Law on the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property (the compliance of the said government resolution with the provisions of this preamble is impugned in the constitutional justice case at issue).

16. Taking account of the arguments set forth, the conclusion should be drawn that the Government Resolution (No. 579) “On the Allocation of a Land Lot and on Amending the Targeted Purpose of the Land Use” of 14 May 1999, to the extent that it has assigned the land to the Weaponry Fund, is not in conflict with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, with Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 23 of the Constitution, and with the provision “the restoration of continuation of the rights of ownership is based on the provision of the 18 June 1991 Law of the Republic of Lithuania ‘On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership to the Existing Real Property’—the existing real property shall be returned to citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, and in the event it is impossible to do so, they shall be compensated justly” of the Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) of the Law on Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property.

Conforming to Articles 102 and 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 1, 53, 54, 55 and 56 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania gives the following

ruling:

1. To recognise that the provision of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation as approved by the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 540) “On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation” of 9 December 1991 (wording of 27 February 1992, Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 1992; No. 6-131, Lietuvos aidas, 5 March 1992; Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 1992, No. 13-373) that the area of the farming lands not subject to privatisation assigned to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy is 800 hectares was not in conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and with the provision “the right of ownership to the existing real property shall be restored: (1) by returning the expropriated property in kind or equivalent kind; (2) by paying single state grants to the persons specified in Article 2 of this law enabling them to take over a corresponding part of the state-owned (society-owned) property which is being privatised if it is impossible to return the expropriated property in kind or in equivalent kind <...>” of Article 1 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law “On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property” (wording of 18 June 1991)”.

2. To recognise that the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations not Subject to Privatisation as approved by the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 540) “On the Approval of the List of the Agricultural Enterprises and Organisations Not Subject to Privatisation” of 9 December 1991 (wording of 14 May 1999, Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 1992, No. 6-131; 1999, No. 43-1372) to the extent that it has assigned the land to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy, was not in conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and with the provision “the restoration of continuation of the rights of ownership is based on the provision of the 18 June 1991 Law of the Republic of Lithuania ‘On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership to the Existing Real Property’—the existing real property shall be returned to citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, and in the event it is impossible to do so, they shall be compensated justly” of the Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property.

3. To recognise that the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 579) “On the Allocation of a Land Lot and on Amending the Targeted Purpose of the Land Use” of 14 May 1999 to the extent that it has assigned the land to the Weaponry Fund of the Republic of Lithuania under the Government of the Republic of Lithuania is not in conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and with the provision “the restoration of continuation of the rights of ownership is based on the provision of the 18 June 1991 Law of the Republic of Lithuania ‘On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership to the Existing Real Property’—the existing real property shall be returned to citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, and in the event it is impossible to do so, they shall be compensated justly” of the Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property.

4. To recognise that the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 266) “On a Partial Amendment of the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 1026) ‘On Users of the Land Allotted to Scientific and Educational Establishments and Transferred to State Specialised Seed-Growing and Stock-Breeding Farms, Special-Purpose Stock-Breeding Companies and on Establishing the Size of Land Lots Used by These Users’ of 13 August 1998” of 8 March 2001 (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2001, No. 22-732) to the extent that it has assigned the land to Lithuanian Veterinary Academy is not in conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and with the provision “the restoration of continuation of the rights of ownership is based on the provision of the 18 June 1991 Law of the Republic of Lithuania ‘On the Procedure and Conditions of the Restoration of the Rights of Ownership to the Existing Real Property’—the existing real property shall be returned to citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, and in the event it is impossible to do so, they shall be compensated justly” of the Preamble (wording of 1 July 1997) of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Restoration of the Rights of Ownership of Citizens to the Existing Real Property.

This ruling of the Constitutional Court is final and not subject to appeal.

The ruling is pronounced in the name of the Republic of Lithuania.

Justices of the Constitutional Court: Armanas Abramavičius
                                                                     Toma Birmontienė
                                                                     Pranas Kuconis
                                                                     Kęstutis Lapinskas
                                                                     Zenonas Namavičius
                                                                     Ramutė Ruškytė
                                                                     Egidijus Šileikis
                                                                     Algirdas Taminskas
                                                                     Romualdas Kęstutis Urbaitis