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On the powers of the Constitutional Court to review its own decisions and dismiss the instituted legal proceedings, as well as on reviewing the financing of courts

Case No. 33/03

 

THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

RULING

ON THE COMPLIANCE OF ITEM 2 OF PARAGRAPH 1 OF ARTICLE 62, PARAGRAPH 4 (WORDING OF 11 JULY 1996) OF ARTICLE 69 OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA’S LAW ON THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT AND PARAGRAPH 3 (WORDING OF 24 JANUARY 2002) OF ARTICLE 11, PARAGRAPH 2 (WORDING OF 24 JANUARY 2002) OF ARTICLE 96 OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA’S LAW ON COURTS WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 

28 March 2006

Vilnius

 

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed of the Justices of the Constitutional Court: Armanas Abramavičius, Toma Birmontienė, Egidijus Kūris, Kęstutis Lapinskas, Zenonas Namavičius, Ramutė Ruškytė, Vytautas Sinkevičius, Stasys Stačiokas, and Romualdas Kęstutis Urbaitis

The court reporter—Daiva Pitrėnaitė

Jadvyga Andriuškevičiūtė, senior advisor of the Law Department of the Office of the Seimas, acting as the representative of the Seimas 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 14 March 2006, considered case No. 33/03 subsequent to the petition of the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into whether Paragraph 4 of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of Republic of Lithuania is not in conflict with Articles 6, 30, 109 and 110 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law and whether Paragraph 3 of Article 11 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Courts and Paragraph 2 of Article 96 thereof to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it establishes the possibilities of reducing the work remuneration of judges and their other social guarantees are not in conflict with Articles 5 and 109, Paragraph 1 of Article 114 of the Constitution of Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

The Constitutional Court

has established:

I

1. The Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, considered an administrative case. By its ruling, the court suspended the consideration of the case and applied to the Constitutional Court with the petition requesting an investigation into whether Paragraph 4 of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court is not in conflict with Articles 6, 30, 109 and 110 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law and whether Paragraph 3 of Article 11 of the Law on Courts and Paragraph 2 of Article 96 thereof to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it establishes the possibilities of reducing the work remuneration of judges and their other social guarantees are not in conflict with Articles 5 and 109, Paragraph 1 of Article 114 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

2. The Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, by the said ruling also applied to the Constitutional Court with the petition requesting the construction of whether Item 6 of the operative part (by which the instituted legal proceedings on the compliance of, inter alia, the Government Resolution (No. 1494) “On a Partial Amendment of the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 689) ‘On the Work Pay of Chief Officials and Functionaries of Law and Order Institutions and of Law Enforcement and Control Institutions’ of 30 June 1997’” of 28 December 1999 with the Constitution were dismissed), Item 1 of Section II of the part of reasoning (in which, according to the petitioner, it is specified that the instituted legal proceedings are dismissed because the corresponding legal regulation is no longer valid), Item 7 of the operative part (by which the instituted legal proceedings on the compliance of Paragraph 1 of Article 1 of, inter alia, the Law on the Approval of the Financial Indicators of the 2000 State Budget and Municipal Budgets with the Constitution were dismissed) and Item 2 of Section II of the part of reasoning (in which, according to the petitioner, it is specified that the instituted legal proceedings are dismissed because the corresponding legal regulation is no longer valid) of the Constitutional Court’s Ruling “On the Compliance of Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 4, Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 5, Item 1 of Paragraph 3, Paragraphs 4, 5 and 6 of Article 7 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Work Pay of State Politicians, Judges and State Officials, as well as Chapter II of the Appendix to the Same Law, Appendix 6 to the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Approval of the Financial Indicators of the 2000 State Budget and Municipal Budgets, Article 9 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law Amending the Law on the Approval of the Financial Indicators of the 2000 State Budget and Municipal Budgets, the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 499) ‘On the Temporary Experimental Procedure for the Work Pay of Heads and Other Officials of State Authority, State Administration and Law Enforcement Bodies’ of 29 November 1991, the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 666) ‘On the Work Pay of Judges of Courts, Officials and Other Employees of the Prosecutor’s Office and the State Security Department of the Republic of Lithuania’ of 24 June 1997, the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 1494) ‘On a Partial Amendment of the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 689) “On the Work Pay of Chief Officials and Functionaries of Law and Order Institutions and of Law Enforcement and Control Institutions” of 30 June 1997’ of 28 December 1999 with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania” of 12 July 2001 mean one or several of the following reasons:

the Law on the Approval of the Financial Indicators of the 2000 State Budget and Municipal Budgets and the Government Resolution (No. 1494) “On a Partial Amendment of the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 689) ‘On the Work Pay of Chief Officials and Functionaries of Law and Order Institutions and of Law Enforcement and Control Institutions’ of 30 June 1997” of 28 December 1999 are not in conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that these legal acts are related to the decrease of the work remuneration of judges;

the instituted legal proceedings on the compliance of the Law on the Approval of the Financial Indicators of the 2000 State Budget and Municipal Budgets and the Government Resolution (No. 1494) “On a Partial Amendment of the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 689) ‘On the Work Pay of Chief Officials and Functionaries of Law and Order Institutions and of Law Enforcement and Control Institutions’ of 30 June 1997” of 28 December 1999 with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania were dismissed because the legal regulation, established by the said legal acts, had been no longer valid prior to the day of the adoption of the said Constitutional Court’s ruling, thus, it made no sense to decide on their compliance with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as, under the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, a person has the right to protection of his constitutional rights and freedoms not for the whole period of time of the violation of the Constitution but only for the period of time when the violations of these rights and freedoms were violated after the pronouncement of the decision of the Constitutional Court that recognised the legal act (part thereof) as being in conflict with the Constitution;

the instituted legal proceedings on the compliance of the Law on the Approval of the Financial Indicators of the 2000 State Budget and Municipal Budgets and the Government Resolution (No. 1494) “On a Partial Amendment of the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 689) ‘On the Work Pay of Chief Officials and Functionaries of Law and Order Institutions and of Law Enforcement and Control Institutions’ of 30 June 1997” of 28 December 1999 with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania were dismissed not due to the two said reasons but by executing the requirements of Paragraph 4 of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court.

By its decision of 26 January 2006, the Constitutional Court separated into an individual case the 9 July 2003 petition of the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, to the extent that it requests the construction of whether Items 1 and 2 of Section II of the part of reasoning and Items 6 and 7 of the operative part of the Constitutional Court’s Ruling “On the Compliance of Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 4, Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 5, Item 1 of Paragraph 3, Paragraphs 4, 5 and 6 of Article 7 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Work Pay of State Politicians, Judges and State Officials, as well as Chapter II of the Appendix to the Same Law, Appendix 6 to the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Approval of the Financial Indicators of the 2000 State Budget and Municipal Budgets, Article 9 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law Amending the Law on the Approval of the Financial Indicators of the 2000 State Budget and Municipal Budgets, the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 499) ‘On the Temporary Experimental Procedure for the Work Pay of Heads and Other Officials of State Authority, State Administration and Law Enforcement Bodies’ of 29 November 1991, the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 666) ‘On the Work Pay of Judges of Courts, Officials and Other Employees of the Prosecutor’s Office and the State Security Department of the Republic of Lithuania’ of 24 June 1997, the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 1494) ‘On a Partial Amendment of the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 689) “On the Work Pay of Chief Officials and Functionaries of Law and Order Institutions and of Law Enforcement and Control Institutions” of 30 June 1997’ of 28 December 1999 with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania” of 12 July 2001 mean one or several reasons specified by the petitioner, while by its decision of 14 March 2006 it refused to construe, subsequent to the petition of the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, provided in the 3 June 2003 ruling of the said court, whether Items 1 and 2 of Section II of the part of reasoning and Items 6 and 7 of the operative part of the Ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania “On the Compliance of Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 4, Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 5, Item 1 of Paragraph 3, Paragraphs 4, 5 and 6 of Article 7 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Work Pay of State Politicians, Judges and State Officials, as well as Chapter II of the Appendix to the Same Law, Appendix 6 to the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Approval of the Financial Indicators of the 2000 State Budget and Municipal Budgets, Article 9 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law Amending the Law on the Approval of the Financial Indicators of the 2000 State Budget and Municipal Budgets, the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 499) ‘On the Temporary Experimental Procedure for the Work Pay of Heads and Other Officials of State Authority, State Administration and Law Enforcement Bodies’ of 29 November 1991, the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 666) ‘On the Work Pay of Judges of Courts, Officials and Other Employees of the Prosecutor’s Office and the State Security Department of the Republic of Lithuania’ of 24 June 1997, the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 1494) ‘On a Partial Amendment of the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 689) “On the Work Pay of Chief Officials and Functionaries of Law and Order Institutions and of Law Enforcement and Control Institutions” of 30 June 1997’ of 28 December 1999 with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania” of 12 July 2001, mean one or several of the reasons specified by the petitioner.

II

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

1. Under Paragraph 4 of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, the annulment of the impugned legal act shall be grounds to adopt a decision to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings. In the opinion of the petitioner, this provision does not allow a court to administer justice without applying the law that is in conflict with the Constitution, whose application is forbidden by Paragraph 1 of Article 110 of the Constitution, it prevents the court and the persons who participate in the case from making use of the opportunity, which arises put of Paragraph 2 of Article 110 of the Constitution, to remove doubts regarding the constitutionality of the legal act, it hinders the person whose rights and freedoms are violated to implement the right, which is entrenched in Article 30 of the Constitution, to apply to court in order to restore the violated rights and to seek a court-award of compensation for damages, as well as the right, which is entrenched in Article 6 of the Constitution, to defend his rights by invoking the Constitution; thus, the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law is violated as well.

2. Under Paragraph 2 of Article 96 of the Law on Courts, during the judge’s tenure it shall be prohibited to reduce his work remuneration with the exception of cases provided by this law, or any other social guarantees; the case when it is possible to reduce the work remuneration of judges is provided for in Paragraph 3 of Article 11 of the Law on Courts: when the economic and financial situation of the country deteriorates considerably, the Seimas may review the financial and material conditions for the functioning of courts. In the opinion of the petitioner, such legal regulation is not concrete because state institutions are allowed to interpret any necessity to pay any funds of the budget as deterioration of the financial situation of the state; in such way, the possibility is entrenched to reduce the remuneration of judges at any time, inter alia, in the cases, when the courts, while restoring violated rights of persons, award the payment of certain sums of money from the state or its institutions, if it is possible to interpret the necessity to pay these sums of money as deterioration of the financial situation of the state, thus, also as the bases in order to reduce the work remuneration of judges and their other social guarantees. In the opinion of the petitioner, such legal regulation is in conflict with Articles 5, 109, Paragraph 1 of Article 114 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

III

In the course of the preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing, written explanations from J. Andriuškevičiūtė, the representative of the Seimas, the party concerned, were received. In the opinion of the representative of the party concerned, the impugned provisions of Paragraph 4 of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court and Paragraph 3 of Article 11 and Paragraph 2 of Article 96 of the Law on Courts are not in conflict with the Constitution. The representative of the party concerned grounds her position on the following arguments.

1. Under Paragraph 4 of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, the Constitutional Court shall have the right but not a duty to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings on the compliance of the legal act which is no longer valid with the Constitution. The rulings of the Constitutional Court are final and not subject to appeal. Under Article 62 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, the Constitutional Court may review its ruling on the Court’s own initiative, if new essential circumstances turn up which were unknown to the Constitutional Court at the time when the ruling was passed. In such case, the Constitutional Court has not only a right but also a duty to decide on the constitutionality of the legal act that had not been investigated, on the compliance of which with the Constitution the legal proceedings were dismissed.

2. Under the Law on Courts, it is possible to review the financial and material conditions of the courts, when the economic and financial situation of the state deteriorates considerably. Such considerable deterioration may be stated by the Government and grounded on the economic and financial indexes of the state, while the financial and material conditions may be reviewed only after the laws, establishing these conditions, are amended. The “review” should be construed as the establishment of different but not necessarily worse financial and working conditions for the functioning of courts after the economic and financial situation of the state is assessed. Moreover, it is not allowed to considerably deteriorate the financial and working conditions of courts. On the other hand, if it were completely forbidden to change the financial and working conditions of courts, which are established by law, even when the economic and financial situation of the state deteriorates considerably, it would be impossible to ensure the rights of other persons, because exclusive guarantees would be established to one group of persons, while the rights and social condition of other citizens would not be taken into account.

IV

At the hearing of the Constitutional Court, J. Andriuškevičiūtė, the representative of the Seimas, the party concerned, virtually reiterated the arguments set forth in the written explanations.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

I

1. The petitioner requests an investigation into whether, inter alia, Paragraph 4 of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court is not in conflict with Articles 6, 30, 109 and 110 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

1.1. While identifying the wording in which Paragraph 4 of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court is set forth, the petitioner indicates the source—Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 1993, No. 6, in which the Law on the Constitutional Court in its wording of 3 February 1993 was officially published and it also makes reference to the law adopted by the Seimas on 10 July 2001 by which the amendment of one of the articles of the Law on the Constitutional Court was made; this law is the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Amending and Supplementing the Law on the National Audit Office, the Law on Courts, the Law on the Constitutional Court, the Law on the Seimas Ombudsmen, the Law on the Working Conditions of the Members of the Seimas, the Law on the Prosecutor’s Office, the Statute on the Service in the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Lithuania, the Law on Equal Opportunities for Men and Women and the Law on the Ombudsperson for Children’s Rights, adopted by the Seimas on 10 July 2001, whose Article 1 of Chapter 3 amended Article 16 of the Law on the Constitutional Court.

1.2. On 3 February 1993, the Seimas adopted the Law on the Constitutional Court. This law has been amended and supplemented more than once.

1.3. In Paragraph 4 (wording of 3 February 1993) of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, it was established: “The annulment of the impugned legal act shall be grounds to adopt a decision to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings”.

Paragraph 4 of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court has been supplemented once—by Article 18 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Amending and Supplementing the Law on the Constitutional Court, which was adopted by the Seimas on 11 July 1996. Save this supplement, neither till that time, nor after (by the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Amending and Supplementing the Law on the National Audit Office, the Law on Courts, the Law on the Constitutional Court, the Law on the Seimas Ombudsmen, the Law on the Working Conditions of the Members of the Seimas, the Law on the Prosecutor’s Office, the Statute on the Service in the Prosecutor’s Office, the Law on Equal Opportunities for Men and Women and the Law on the Ombudsperson for Children’s Rights, adopted by the Seimas on 10 July 2001, inter alia, specified by the petitioner) was the said part amended or supplemented.

In Paragraph 4 (wording of 11 July 1996) of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court it is established:

The annulment of the impugned legal act shall be grounds to adopt a decision to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings. If it becomes clear before the beginning of the Court hearing, the Constitutional Court shall decide this question in the deliberation room.”

1.4. It is obvious from the arguments of the petition of the petitioner that the petitioner had doubts on whether the provision “The annulment of the impugned legal act shall be grounds to adopt a decision to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings” of Paragraph 4 of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court is not in conflict with the Constitution. Such provision was entrenched in Paragraph 4 (wording of 3 February 1993, Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 1993, No. 6-120) of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court and is entrenched in Paragraph 4 (wording of 11 July 1993, Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 1996, No. 73-1749) of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court.

1.5. It is also obvious from the arguments of the petition of the petitioner that the petitioner had doubts on whether the said provision is not in conflict, inter alia, not with whole Article 6 of the Constitution but only with Paragraph 2 of this article, in which it is prescribed that everyone may defend his rights by invoking the Constitution, not with whole Article 30 of the Constitution, but only with Paragraph 1 of this article, in which it is prescribed that a person whose constitutional rights or freedoms are violated shall have the right to apply to court, and not with whole Article 109 of the Constitution, but only with Paragraph 1 of this article, in which it is prescribed that in the Republic of Lithuania justice will be administered only by courts.

2. The petitioner requests an investigation into whether, inter alia, Paragraph 3 of Article 11 of the Law on Courts and Paragraph 2 of Article 96 thereof to the extent that according to the petitioner, it established the possibilities of reducing the work remuneration of judges and their other social guarantees, are not in conflict with Articles 5 and 109, Paragraph 1 of Article 114 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

2.1. While identifying the wording of the impugned Paragraph 3 of Article 11 and Paragraph 2 of Article 96 of the Law on the Constitutional Court (to the extent indicated by the petitioner), the petitioner makes reference to the law adopted by the Seimas on 24 January 2002, and it also indicates No. 17 of the Official Gazette Valstybės žinios of 2002, in which this law was officially published.

2.2. The law indicated by the petitioner, which was adopted by the Seimas on 24 January 2002, is the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Amending the Law on Courts, whose Article 1 amended the Law on Courts (wording of 31 May 1994 with subsequent amendments and supplements) and set it forth in a new wording. The Law on Courts of the new wording came into force on 1 May 2002. The Law on Courts of the new wording has been more than once amended and supplemented, however, its Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 January 2002, Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2002, No. 17-649) of Article 11 and Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002, Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2002, No. 17-649) of Article 96 have not been amended nor supplemented.

2.3. In Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 11 of the Law on Courts it is established:

It shall be prohibited to worsen the financial and material-technical conditions for the functioning of courts provided by law. When the economic and financial situation of the country deteriorates considerably, the Seimas may review the financial and material conditions for the functioning of courts.”

In Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 96 of the Law on Courts, it is established: “During the judge’s tenure it shall be prohibited to reduce his work remuneration with the exception of cases provided by this Law, or any other social guarantees.”

2.4. It is obvious from the arguments of the petition of the petitioner that the petitioner had doubts on, inter alia, whether the provision “When the economic and financial situation of the country deteriorates considerably, the Seimas may review the financial and material conditions for the functioning of courts” of Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 11 of the Law on Courts is not in conflict with the Constitution.

2.5. It is also obvious from the arguments of the petition of the petitioner that the petitioner had doubts on whether the provision “When the economic and financial situation of the country deteriorates considerably, the Seimas may review the financial and material conditions for the functioning of courts” of Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 11 of the Law on Courts and Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 96, to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it establishes the possibilities of reducing the work remuneration of judges and other social guarantees, are not in conflict not with, inter alia, whole Article 5 of the Constitution but only with Paragraph 2 of this article, in which it is prescribed that the scope of power shall be limited by the Constitution, not with the whole Article 109, but only with Paragraph 2 of this article, in which it is prescribed that while administering justice, the judge and courts shall be independent, and with Paragraph 3, in which it is prescribed that when considering cases, judges shall obey only the law.

II

On the compliance of the provision “the annulment of the impugned legal act shall be grounds to adopt a decision to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings” of Paragraph 4 (wording of 11 July 1996) of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court with Paragraph 2 of Article 6, Paragraph 1 of Article 30, Paragraph 1 of Article 109 and Paragraph 2 of Article 110 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

1. Under Paragraph 4 (wording of 11 July 1996) of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, the annulment of the impugned legal act shall be grounds to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings.

The petitioner doubts on whether this provision is not in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Constitution, in which it is prescribed that everyone may defend his rights by invoking the Constitution, with Paragraph 1 of Article 30 of the Constitution, in which it is prescribed that the person whose constitutional rights or freedoms are violated shall have the right to apply to court, with Paragraph 1 of Article 109 of the Constitution, in which it is prescribed that in the Republic of Lithuania justice shall be administered only by courts, with Article 110 of the Constitution, in which it is prescribed that a judge may not apply a law, which is in conflict with the Constitution (Paragraph 1), and also that in cases when there are grounds to believe that the law or other legal act which should be applied in a concrete case is in conflict with the Constitution, the judge shall suspend the consideration of the case and shall apply to the Constitutional Court requesting it to decide whether the law or other legal act in question is in compliance with the Constitution (Paragraph 2) as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

2. When deciding, according to the petition of the petitioner, whether the provision “the annulment of the impugned legal act shall be grounds to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings” of Paragraph 4 (wording of 11 July 1996) of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court is not in conflict with Constitution, it is necessary to discuss the model of constitutional justice (the model of constitutional judicial control) consolidated in the Constitution, the powers of the Constitutional Court and other courts by which one ensures that the hierarchy of legal acts arising out of the Constitution is taken into account and that the legal acts which are in conflict with a legal act of higher legal force are not applied.

3. In the Republic of Lithuania justice shall be administered only by courts (Paragraph 1 of Article 109 of the Constitution).

3.1. Courts—jurisdictional institutions—implement the judicial power which, as the legislative and executive branches, is a fully-fledged branch of state power, one of the branches of state power consolidated in the Constitution. Administration of justice is the purpose and constitutional competence of the judicial branch.

The judicial branch differs from other branches of state power, inter alia, by the fact that it is formed on the professional but not political basis (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 21 December 1999, 12 July 2001, and its conclusion of 31 March 2004).

The courts which, under the Constitution, implement the judicial power in Lithuania should be categorised as belonging not to one, but to two or more (if that, taking account of the Constitution, is established in corresponding laws) systems of courts.

3.2. In Paragraph 1 of Article 102 of the Constitution it is prescribed that 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 and laws. Moreover, in the Constitution (inter alia, its Chapter VIII thereof titled “The Constitutional Court”) other powers of the Constitutional Court are also established as well as the legal force and consequences of the Constitutional Court’s decisions is consolidated, the procedure of forming the Constitutional Court is determined, the basis and guarantees of implementing the powers (activity) of the Constitutional Court are established, the status of the justices of the Constitutional Court is consolidated, etc.

Thus, the Constitutional Court implements constitutional judicial control. The Constitutional Court is an institution of constitutional justice. When deciding under its competence on the compliance of the legal acts (parts thereof) of lower legal force with legal acts of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, as well as when implementing its other constitutional powers, the Constitutional Court—individual and independent court—implements constitutional justice and guarantees the supremacy of the Constitution in the legal system and constitutional legitimacy.

The Constitutional Court has held that while administering justice, the court must follow only the laws and legal acts that are not in conflict with the Constitution, it may not apply a law, which is in conflict with the Constitution, that, when account is taken of the hierarchy of legal acts which originates from the Constitution, this provision of the Constitution means that the judge may not apply a substatutory legal act, which is in conflict with the Constitution, too. Moreover, it may not apply such a substatutory legal act, which is in conflict with the law. On the other hand, the aforementioned provision of the Constitution reflects the constitutional principle, one of the basic elements of the enshrined in the Constitution principle of a state under the rule of law, that a legal act, which is in conflict with a legal act of higher legal force, may not be applied (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 13 December 2004 and 16 January 2006).

Thus, it should be emphasised that Paragraph 1 of Article 102 of the Constitution may not be construed only by applying the linguistic method, literally, that it, allegedly, provides a comprehensive and final list of the legal acts the investigation into the compliance of which with legal acts of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution and adoption of corresponding decisions is assigned to the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court in the Constitution. Paragraph 1 of Article 102 of the Constitution should be construed while taking account of the whole context of the constitutional legal regulation, inter alia, while paying heed to the principle of the separation of powers, to the purpose and place of the Constitutional Court in the system of the state institutions which execute the judicial power (and the power of the state in general), which are consolidated in the Constitution, the institute of constitutional laws (that, under Constitution, have higher legal force than ordinary laws), which is entrenched in the Constitution, to the provisions of the Constitution under which laws (provisions thereof) or other legal acts may also be adopted by referendum (Paragraph 1 of Article 9, Paragraph 4 of Article 69, Paragraphs 3 and 4 of Article 71 of the Constitution), to the constitutional duty of the President of the Republic to perform everything which he is charged with by the Constitution and laws (Paragraph 2 of Article 77 of the Constitution), to the constitutional duty of the Government to execute laws and resolutions of the Seimas on the implementation of the laws as well as the decrees of the President of the Republic (Item 2 of Article 94 of the Constitution), to the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution and a state under the rule of law, which, in addition to most other things, imply the hierarchy of all legal acts and the prohibition that arise from on establishing in the legal acts of lower legal force any such legal regulation that would compete with the one established in the legal acts of higher legal force (undoubtedly, first of all in the Constitution itself), nor to implement any legal acts that are in conflict with legal acts of higher legal force as well as the possibility of removing from the legal system the legal acts (parts thereof) that do not meet the said requirements, thus taking account of the purpose of the constitutional judicial control, as the constitutional institute and of the contextual meaning of the constitutional provisions that consolidate it. When in this way construing Paragraph 1 of Article 102 of the Constitution in the whole context of the constitutional legal regulation, it should be held that under the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has the exclusive competence to investigate and decide on whether any act of the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government, as well as any act (part thereof) adopted by referendum is not in conflict with any act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, namely: whether any constitutional law (part thereof) is not in conflict with the Constitution, whether any law (part thereof) and the Statute of the Seimas (part thereof) are not in conflict with the Constitution and constitutional laws, whether any substatutory legal act (part thereof) of the Seimas is not in conflict with the Constitution, constitutional laws, laws, and the Statute of the Seimas, whether any act (part thereof) of the President of the Republic is not in conflict with the Constitution, constitutional laws and laws, and whether any act (part thereof) of the Government is not in conflict with the Constitution, constitutional laws and laws.

It is this concept, which is based upon such construction of the constitutional powers of the Constitutional Court while deciding on the compliance of legal acts with legal acts of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, of Paragraph 1 of Article 102 of the Constitution, which is embodied by the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court, which, under the Constitution, has been formed by the Constitutional Court from the very beginning of its activities, by, inter alia, these Constitutional Court’s rulings, by which, subsequent to the petitions of the petitioners (courts, the Government, groups of the members of the Seimas and the Seimas in corpore), it was decided on such compliance of legal acts with legal acts of higher legal force, which is not expressis verbis mentioned either in Paragraph 1 of Article 102 of the Constitution, or in other articles (parts thereof) of Chapter VIII “The Constitutional Court” of the Constitution, such as: whether the substatutory legal acts of the Seimas, i.e. the resolutions of the Seimas on the implementation of laws, which are specified in Item 2 of Article 94 of the Constitution, are not in conflict with laws; whether laws are not in conflict with constitutional laws, whether the Statute of the Seimas that has the force of a law (Article 76 of the Constitution), which, however, may regulate not any but only certain relations indicated in the Constitution—it may establish the structure and the procedure of activities of the Seimas (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 13 May 2004)—is not in conflict with the Constitution; whether substatutory legal acts of the Seimas are not in conflict with the Statute of the Seimas. If Paragraph 1 of Article 102 of the Constitution were construed literally, such constitutional justice cases in which the petitioners (courts, the Government, groups of members of the Seimas and the Seimas in corpore) had doubts and subsequent to their petitions it was decided whether laws were not in conflict with constitutional laws, whether substatutory legal acts of the Seimas were not in conflict with laws, whether the Statute of the Seimas was not in conflict with the Constitution, as well as whether substatutory legal acts of the Seimas were not in conflict with the Statute of the Seimas would have been impossible at all. Also such constitutional justice cases would have been impossible, in which the Constitutional Court, while deciding, subsequent to petitions of petitioners, on the compliance of corresponding laws with the Constitution, ex officio had to elucidate and adopt a decision whether the constitutional laws, upon which, as it had been asserted, the impugned laws (parts thereof) were grounded and/or which regulated the same (or close) relations as the impugned laws did, were not in conflict with the Constitution. If Paragraph 1 of Article 102 of the Constitution were construed literally, it would also be impossible to investigate whether the laws (provisions thereof) or other legal acts adopted by referendum were not in conflict with the Constitution and constitutional laws, whether such legal acts (parts thereof) of lower legal force of one-off (ad hoc) application, passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government, which at the moment when the constitutional justice case was being considered had already been implemented, were not in conflict with the Constitution and other acts of higher legal force. The establishment of legislative omission would have become more difficult as well.

Thus, different, literal construction of Paragraph 1 of Article 102 of the Constitution would mean that the Constitution, purportedly, tolerates its own disregard, when certain legal acts (for example, constitutional laws or the Statute of the Seimas) are passed, that under the Constitution, purportedly, it is possible to disregard constitutional laws when laws are passed, and to disregard laws and constitutional laws, when certain substatutory legal acts (for example, those of the Seimas) are passed, as well as that, purportedly, under the Constitution, it is possible to disregard the Constitution when laws (provisions thereof) or other legal acts are passed by referendum. Thus, the legal acts (parts thereof) of lower legal force of one-off (ad hoc) application passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government would, in general, avoid the verification of their compliance with legal acts of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution. Literal (moreover, narrowing) construction of Paragraph 1 of Article 102 of the Constitution would be totally groundless as it would deny the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution, the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, the hierarchy of all legal acts arising out of the Constitution (which imply, inter alia, the compliance of substatutory legal acts with laws), the provision of Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Constitution that any law or other act, which is contrary to the Constitution, shall be invalid, the provision of Paragraph 2 of Article 5 of the Constitution that the scope of powers shall be limited by the Constitution, and the provision of Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Constitution that everyone may defend his rights by invoking the Constitution. If only such literal construction of Paragraph 1 of Article 102 of the Constitution were followed, preconditions would be created to violate also other values, inter alia, constitutional rights of a person entrenched in and defended and protected by the Constitution. In this context, it should also be noted that the Constitution, if it is construed only by applying the linguistic method and literally, could not be supreme law of Lithuania as it would be virtually identified with its textual form—the letter of the Constitution would be particularised and the spirit of the Constitution would be ignored.

In Paragraph 1 of Article 107 of the Constitution it is prescribed that a law (or part thereof) of the Republic of Lithuania or other act (or part thereof) of the Seimas, act of the President of the Republic, act (or part thereof) of the Government may not be applied from the day of official publication of the decision of the Constitutional Court that the act in question (or part thereof) is in conflict with the Constitution. Thus, the erga omnes model of constitutional control is consolidated in the Constitution.

In Paragraph 2 of Article 102 of the Constitution it is prescribed that the status of the Constitutional Court and the procedure for the execution of its powers shall be established by the Law on the Constitutional Court. Thus, the legislature has the duty to regulate by law all the relations related to the status, forming, execution of powers (activity) and its guarantees of the Constitutional Court, to the status of the justices of the Constitutional Court as well as with the implementation of decisions of the Constitutional Court. Moreover, the title of this law is expressis verbis consolidated in the Constitution—the Law on the Constitutional Court. Alongside, it should also be noted that such constitutional legal regulation in itself does not mean that certain relations, related to the said relations, may not be in general regulated by other laws as well.

3.3. In Paragraph 1 of Article 111 of the Constitution it is prescribed that the courts of the Republic of Lithuania shall be the Supreme Court of Lithuania, the Court of Appeal of Lithuania, regional courts and local courts. These courts, which are specified in Paragraph 1 of Article 111 of the Constitution, comprise the system of courts of general jurisdiction (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 13 December 2004 and 16 January 2006).

One can find significant links between the system of courts of general jurisdiction and the institution of constitutional justice, the Constitutional Court, inter alia: upon the basis established in the Constitution (Paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of Article 106 and Paragraph 2 of Article 110), any court (judge thereof) of general jurisdiction, as a petitioner, has the powers to initiate cases of constitutional justice at the Constitutional Court; all courts of general jurisdiction—the Supreme Court of Lithuania, the Court of Appeal of Lithuania, regional courts and local courts—are bound by the fact that the decisions of the Constitutional Court on issues assigned to its competence by the Constitution shall be final and not subject to appeal, which is entrenched in Article 107 of the Constitution; all courts of general jurisdiction are bound by the official constitutional doctrine, formed in the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court.

However, from the organisational and administrative points of view, both of these systems of courts—the Constitutional Court, implementing constitutional judicial control, and the system of courts of general jurisdiction—are separated.

Under the Constitution, the system of courts of general jurisdiction, as a system of institutions, is comprised of four-level courts: the first (lowest) level—local courts, the second level—regional courts, the third level—the Court of Appeal of Lithuania, the fourth (supreme/highest) level—the Supreme Court of Lithuania. The legislature, taking account of the Constitution, has the discretion to establish as many local and regional courts, as, in its opinion, is necessary, and to establish such a quantitative composition, which, in its opinion, is necessary in order to administer justice properly and in time, as well as to determine such territorial boundaries of the activity of corresponding local and regional courts, which, in its opinion, are necessary in order to administer justice properly and in time.

In the Constitution (inter alia, Paragraph 1 of Article 111 of the Constitution) not only a four-level system of courts of general jurisdiction (as a system of institutions) is established, but also the fundamentals of the instance systems of courts of general jurisdiction, as a system of procedural levels of judicial consideration of cases, are entrenched. The instance system of courts of general jurisdiction, which stems from the Constitution, implies that there must be possibilities of lodging an appeal against any final act of a court of general jurisdiction of the first instance with a court of general jurisdiction of at least one higher instance. The Constitutional Court has held that the purpose of the instance court system is to remove possible mistakes of courts of lower instances, not to permit that injustice is executed, and, thus, to protect the rights and legitimate interests of the person, society and the state (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 16 January 2006). Thus, the purpose of the instance system of courts of general jurisdiction is to create preconditions for courts of higher instances to correct any mistakes of the fact (i.e. of the establishment and assessment of legally significant facts) or of the law (i.e. of the application of law), which for some reasons could be made by a court of lower instance, and not to allow the execution of injustice in any civil case, criminal case or case of other category considered by courts of general jurisdiction. The said correction of mistakes of courts of lower instance and the related prevention of injustice is a conditio sine qua non of the confidence of the parties of corresponding cases and society in general not only in the court of general jurisdiction which considers the corresponding case, but also in the whole system of courts of general jurisdiction.

The principle of a state under the rule of law entrenched in the Constitution implies continuity of jurisprudence (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 12 July 2001, 30 May 2003, its decision of 13 February 2004, its rulings of 13 December 2004 and 14 March 2006). In this context, it should be emphasised that the instance system of courts of general jurisdiction established in the Constitution must function so that the preconditions are created to form the same (regular, consistent) practice of courts of general jurisdiction, i.e. such, which would be based on the principles of a state under the rule of law, justice, equality of all persons before the law (and other constitutional principles) enshrined in the Constitution, on the maxim inseparably linked with the said principles and arising from them that the same (analogous) cases must be decided in the same way, i.e. they have to be decided not by creating new court precedents, competing with the existing ones, but by taking account of the already consolidated ones. When ensuring the uniformity (regularity, consistency) of the practice of courts of general jurisdiction, which arises out of the Constitution, thus, also the continuity of the jurisprudence, the following factors (along with other important factors) are of crucial importance: the courts of general jurisdiction, when adopting decisions in cases of corresponding categories, are bound by their own created precedents—decisions in the analogous cases; the courts of general jurisdiction of lower instance, when adopting decisions in the cases of corresponding categories, are bound by the decisions of the courts of general jurisdiction of higher instance—precedents in the cases of the same categories; the courts of general jurisdiction of higher categories, while revising decisions of the courts of general jurisdiction of lower instance, must assess these decisions by always following the same legal criteria; these criteria must be clear and known ex ante to the subjects of law, inter alia, to the courts of general jurisdiction of lower instance (thus, the jurisprudence of courts of general jurisdiction must be predictable); the practice of courts of general jurisdiction in cases of corresponding categories has to be corrected and new court precedents in these categories may be created only when it is unavoidably and objectively necessary; such correction of practice of courts of general jurisdiction (deviation from the previous precedents, which had been binding on courts until then and creation of new precedents) must in all cases be properly (clearly and rationally) argued in corresponding decisions of courts of general jurisdiction. The fact that the courts of general jurisdiction that adopt decisions in cases of corresponding categories bind themselves by their own created precedents (decisions in analogous cases) and the fact that the courts of general jurisdiction of lower instance that adopt decisions in cases of corresponding categories are bound by decisions of the courts of general jurisdiction of higher instance (precedents in cases of such categories) inevitably imply that the said courts have to follow such concept of the content of corresponding provisions (norms, principles) of law, also of the application of these provisions of law, which was formed and which was followed when applying these provisions (norms, principles) in the previous cases, inter alia, when previously deciding analogous cases. Disregarding the maxim that the same (analogous) cases have to be decided in the same way, which arises out of the Constitution, would also mean disregarding the provisions of the Constitution on administration of justice, that of the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, justice, equality of people before the court and other constitutional principles.

The establishment of four-level courts of general jurisdiction and the consolidation of the grounds of the instance system of courts of general jurisdiction in the Constitution in itself does not mean that it is four judicial instances (as levels of proceedings of cases and not as institutional links) that the legislature is constitutionally obliged to create by law, i.e. that it has to establish such legal regulation, under which it would be possible to consider any case in a local court, the regional court, the Court of Appeal of Lithuania and in the Supreme Court of Lithuania. On the contrary, in most of the democratic states under the rule of law such a tradition of the instance system of courts of general jurisdiction has been developed (which is not questioned), where these courts comprise a three-level instance system: in this system, the consideration of cases is assigned to the court of first instance, the court of appeal instance (when the facts that are important to the decision of the case are, inter alia, investigated and assessed anew) and the court of cassation instance (when no facts that are important to the decision of the case are newly established, because this has already been done by the court of appeal instance, but the issues on the application of law are decided anew). It is such—three-level—instance system of courts of general jurisdiction which is established by law in Lithuania as well. It should be noted that, under the Constitution, the legislature has the discretion to establish (by following, inter alia, expediency reasons) which civil, criminal cases or cases of other categories have to be considered by first instance in local courts, and which in regional courts; the legislature has also certain discretion to establish (by following, inter alia, expediency reasons) whether the proceedings of appeal have to take place only in the Court of Appeal of Lithuania or also in regional courts. However, under the Constitution, it is not permitted to establish any such legal regulation, nor to form any such practice of courts that would eliminate the essential difference among the proceedings of cases in the court of first instance, the proceedings of cases in the court of appeal instance and/or the proceedings of cases in the court of cassation instance, nor to establish any such legal regulation nor to form any such practice of courts that would deny the constitutional nature of the Court of Appeal of Lithuania, as a court of appeal instance, and/or the Supreme Court of Lithuania, as a court of cassation instance.

In this context, it should be mentioned that the Constitutional Court in its ruling of 22 December 1994 formed the doctrine that under the Constitution, the Seimas is free to choose the ways in which the then system of courts (i.e. the one which had been created before the Constitution came into force and which functioned for a certain period of time after the Constitution had come into force) had to be reformed so that it would be in line with the model of the four-level courts system entrenched in the Constitution, however, these ways could not be in conflict with the Constitution. In the said Constitutional Court’s ruling it was emphasised that when the then system of courts (created before the Constitution came into force and which functioned for a certain period of time after the Constitution had come into force) was reformed so that it would be in line with the model of the four-level courts system entrenched in the Constitution, the Supreme Court of Lithuania became exclusively the instance of cassation.

It was mentioned that one of the factors that is of crucial importance when ensuring the uniformity (regularity, consistency) of the practice of courts of general jurisdiction, thus, also the continuity of the jurisprudence is that the practice of courts of general jurisdiction may be corrected in cases of corresponding categories and new court precedents may be created in cases of these categories only when it is unavoidably and objectively necessary; such correction of the practice of courts of general jurisdiction (deviation from the previous precedents which had been binding on the courts by then) must in all cases be properly (clearly and rationally) argued in corresponding decisions of courts of general jurisdiction. It should be emphasised that the already existing precedents in cases of corresponding categories, which were created by courts of general jurisdiction of higher instance, not only are binding on the courts of general jurisdiction of lower instance that adopt decisions in analogous cases, but also the courts of general jurisdiction of higher instance that created those precedents (inter alia, the Court of Appeal of Lithuania and the Supreme Court of Lithuania). One may deviate from the existing precedents and create new precedents only in such particular exceptional cases when it is unavoidably and objectively necessary, when it is constitutionally grounded and reasoned and only when it is properly (clearly and rationally) argued. Neither the creation of new court precedents, nor the arguing (grounding) of the court precedents may be such voluntary acts that are not rationally and legally reasoned. No creation or reasoning of a new court precedent may be determined by accidental (in the aspect of law) factors. The fact arises out of the Constitution that it is such correction —only when it is unavoidably and objectively necessary, and when it is properly (clearly and rationally) argued in all cases—of the practice of courts of general jurisdiction (deviation from the previous precedents that had been binding on courts by then and creation of new precedents) must be respectively ensured by the Court of Appeal of Lithuania and the Supreme Court of Lithuania. If the said requirements arising out of the Constitution are disregarded when the court decisions are adopted, not only the preconditions for the irregularities and inconsistencies to appear in the practice of courts of general jurisdiction and the legal system are created, not only the jurisprudence of courts become less predictable, but also there are grounds for doubts on whether the corresponding courts of general jurisdiction were impartial when adopting the decisions, and whether these decisions were not subjective in other aspects. In this context, it should be noted that the final acts of the court must be clear for the persons participating in the case as well as other persons, and in case this requirement is disregarded, then this is not the administration of justice which is entrenched in the Constitution (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 16 January 2006).

The constitutional concept of administration of justice and that of courts of general jurisdiction imply that the law has to establish such legal regulation that, under the laws, each court of general jurisdiction of certain instance would perform precisely such functions which are typical for the courts of general jurisdiction of that instance. In this context, it should be noted that, as the Constitutional Court held in its ruling of 16 January 2006, the legislature must legislatively establish such powers (jurisdiction) of all courts of general jurisdiction of all instances, which would be constitutionally grounded, as well as that the constitutional concept of administration of justice also implies that courts must solve cases only by strictly following procedural and other requirements, which are established in laws, and by not overstepping the limits of their jurisdiction, nor exceeding their other powers. Thus, under the laws, each court of general jurisdiction of certain instance must perform precisely the functions which are assigned to the courts of general jurisdiction of that instance by law.

In this context, it should be noted that it is not possible to construe the instance system of the courts of general jurisdiction that arises out of the Constitution as hierarchal one as no court of general jurisdiction of lower instance is subordinate to any court of higher instance in the administrative or organisational aspect or any other way: the courts of general jurisdiction of the first instance are neither subordinate to the courts of general jurisdiction of instance of appeal, nor instance of cassation, and the Court of Appeal of Lithuania is not subordinate to the Supreme Court of Lithuania.

The instance system of the courts of general jurisdiction arising out of the Constitution may not be construed as restricting the procedural independence of the courts of general jurisdiction of lower instance, either: however, as mentioned before, under the Constitution, when adopting decisions in the cases of corresponding categories, the courts of general jurisdiction of lower instance are bound by decisions of courts of general jurisdiction of higher instance—precedents in the cases of these categories; courts of general jurisdiction of higher legal force (and their judges) may not interfere in the cases considered by courts of general jurisdiction of lower instance, nor give them any instructions, either obligatory or recommendatory, on how corresponding cases must be decided etc. From the aspect of the Constitution, such instructions (whether obligatory or recommendatory) would be regarded as acting by the corresponding courts (judges) ultra vires. Under the Constitution, court practice is formed only when courts decide cases themselves. A different construction of the provisions of the Constitution entrenching the instance system of courts of general jurisdiction, as well as the legal regulation based on that different construction of the provisions of the Constitution, would create preconditions for courts of general jurisdiction of higher instance (or their judges) to assume the functions that are not provided for to them and the powers that are not established in the Constitution, would deny the independence of courts entrenched in the Constitution, would violate the provision of Paragraph 2 of Article 109 of the Constitution that while administering justice, the court and judges shall be independent, and the provision of Paragraph 3 of this article that when considering cases, judges shall only obey the law. It should also be noted that the giving of obligatory or recommendatory instructions to courts of general jurisdiction of lower instance on how corresponding cases must be decided etc. would also restrict the possibilities of the courts of general jurisdiction of higher instance to independently and impartially review the corresponding cases under appeal and cassation procedure in case it might be necessary.

In Paragraph 4 of Article 111 of the Constitution it is prescribed that the formation and competence of courts shall be established by the Law on Courts. Thus, the Constitution not only obliges the legislature to establish by law the establishment and competence of all the courts of the Republic of Lithuania (thus, also the status, formation, execution of powers (activity) and the guarantees for the courts of general jurisdiction, the status of the judges of these courts, etc.) specified in Paragraph 1 of Article 111 of the Constitution, but also expressis verbis consolidates the title of this law—the Law on Courts. It should also be noted that such constitutional legal regulation does not mean in itself that certain relations related to the said relations may not be regulated by other laws as well. But it should be emphasised that when regulating the said relations, the legislature must pay heed to the Constitution and, inter alia, the bases of the instance system of courts of general jurisdiction entrenched in it.

3.4. In Paragraph 2 of Article 111 of the Constitution it is prescribed that for the consideration of administrative, labour, family and cases of other categories, specialised courts may be established according to law. It should also be mentioned that courts with extraordinary powers may not be established in the Republic of Lithuania in a time of peace (Paragraph 3 of Article 111 of the Constitution).

It should be noted that when regulating the relations related with the establishment and activity of the specialised courts the legislature is bound by the provisions of the Constitution, which establish the bases of the instance court system. In this context, it should be emphasised that, as the Constitutional Court held in its ruling of 16 January 2006, the instance court system is established in the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 111 thereof (but not only in these provisions of the Constitution). The Constitution, if its provisions are construed in a systemic manner, implies that the instance system is established not only for the courts of general jurisdiction, but also for the specialised courts established under Paragraph 2 of Article 111 of the Constitution.

The legislature, while paying heed to the Constitution, has broad discretion to decide (by following, inter alia, expediency reasons) as regards establishment of specialised courts for consideration of particular categories of cases. The legislature also enjoys broad discretion in establishing the system of specialised courts assigned for consideration of each category of cases, their quantitative composition and their relations with courts of general jurisdiction and with specialised courts assigned for consideration of cases of other categories, inter alia, the fact whether the specialised courts assigned for consideration of cases of certain categories will constitute an autonomous system, which is separated from the system of courts of general jurisdiction and from the system of specialised courts assigned for consideration of cases of other categories, or whether it will somehow be linked with such systems (one of them) in organisational, procedural or some other aspect. It should be noted that the instance system of the specialised courts, established under Paragraph 2 of Article 111 of the Constitution, may have certain peculiarities in comparison with the instance system of courts of general jurisdiction.

However, under the Constitution, the legislature may not create any such system or systems (if there are more than one category of the cases for whose consideration the individual specialised courts are created) of the specialised courts, established under Paragraph 2 of Article 111 of the Constitution, which would replace the system of courts of general jurisdiction imperatively established in the Constitution and which would take over most of the functions of the system of courts of general jurisdiction.

It should be emphasised that the imperatives of the activity of the courts of general jurisdiction and legal regulation of this activity arising out of the Constitution and discussed in this ruling of the Constitutional Court should also be applied mutatis mutandis to the activity of the specialised courts established under Paragraph 2 of Article 111 of the Constitution and its legal regulation. This should be said about the requirements arising out of the Constitution, related, inter alia: to the ensuring of an opportunity to appeal to the court of at least one higher instance against the final act of the court under the established procedure; to the forming of the uniform court practice (grounded on the maxim that the same (analogous) cases must be decided in the same way) and predictability of court decisions arising from this, thus, also to the continuity of the jurisprudence of courts; to the binding of the courts (inter alia, those of the supreme instance) by the existing precedents; to the correction of courts practice and creation of new court precedents only when it is unavoidably and objectively necessary and by arguing it properly (clearly and rationally) in all cases; to the obligation of each court of a certain instance to perform, pursuant to laws, precisely the functions that are assigned to the courts of that instance and not to overstep the limits of their jurisdiction, nor to exceed their other powers; to organisational and other insubordination of courts of lower instance to any court of higher instance and to procedural independence and formation of court practice when courts decide cases by themselves, etc.

It should also be emphasised that the legislature, when establishing specialised courts, must also establish the procedure under which the competition of cognisance of cases between specialised courts and courts of general jurisdiction, as well as between the specialised courts, assigned for the consideration of cases of one category and the specialised courts assigned for the consideration of cases of another category (if there is more than one category of cases for whose consideration the individual specialised courts were established) will be decided. Moreover, the legislature must establish such legal regulation, which would not only ensure the forming of the same practice of courts in any of the individual systems of the specialised courts assigned for the consideration of cases of a certain category, but also which would not allow for the inconsequence and inconsistence to appear among the specialised courts and courts of general jurisdiction as well as among the specialised courts assigned for the consideration of cases of one category and the specialised courts assigned for the consideration of cases of another category (if there is more than one category of cases for whose consideration the individual specialised courts were established). The irregularity and inconsistency of the practice of courts among the specialised courts and courts of general jurisdiction as well as among the specialised courts assigned for the consideration of cases of one category and specialised courts, assigned for the consideration of cases of another category (if there is more than one category of cases for whose consideration the individual specialised courts were established) could be avoided, inter alia, by such legal regulation (of establishment of cognisance) when cases of certain categories may be considered only in the clearly specified courts of general jurisdiction or specialised courts and may not be considered in both, courts of general jurisdiction, as well as specialised courts, or in the specialised courts assigned for the consideration of cases of one category and specialised courts, assigned for the consideration of cases of another category (if there is more than one category of cases for whose consideration the individual specialised courts were established).

4. It was mentioned that one of the basic elements of the enshrined in the Constitution principle of a state under the rule of law is the principle that a legal act, which is in conflict with the legal act of higher legal force, may not be applied.

In Paragraph 1 of Article 110 of the Constitution it is prescribed that a judge may not apply a law, which is in conflict with the Constitution, and in Paragraph 2 of this article—that in cases when there are grounds to believe that the law or other legal act which should be applied in a concrete case is in conflict with the Constitution, the judge shall suspend the consideration of the case and shall apply to the Constitutional Court requesting it to decide whether the law or other legal act in question is in compliance with the Constitution. If the court, after it has faced doubts as regards the compliance of the law applicable in the case with the Constitution, did not suspend the consideration of the case and did not apply to the Constitutional Court so that these doubts could be removed, and if the legal act the compliance of which with the Constitution is doubtful was applied in the case, the court would take a risk to adopt such a decision, which would not be a just one (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 16 January 2006).

It should be emphasised that under the Constitution, the Constitutional Court does not decide on the compliance with the Constitution (with other legal acts of higher legal force) of all legal acts of lower legal force (parts thereof) but, as it has been held in this ruling of the Constitutional Court, only on whether the acts (parts thereof) passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or adopted by referendum are not in conflict with legal acts of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution.

On the other hand, as the Constitutional Court held in its decision of 20 September 2005, under the Constitution, such legal situations are impermissible where it would not be possible to verify in a court whether legal acts (parts thereof), inter alia, legal acts issued by ministers, other substatutory legal acts of lower legal force, as well as legal acts issued by municipalities, whose control as regards their compliance with the Constitution does not fall within the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court, are not in conflict with the Constitution and laws.

When executing this constitutional imperative, under the Constitution, the legislature has the duty to establish by law, in which courts (of general jurisdiction or specialised ones, established under Paragraph 2 of Article 111 of the Constitution) and under which procedure one must investigate and decide whether the legal acts (parts thereof) the control over whose compliance with the Constitution is not assigned to the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court under the Constitution (inter alia, legal acts, passed by the ministers, other substatutory legal acts of lower legal force, as well as legal acts, passed by municipal institutions) are not in conflict with the Constitution and laws.

However, if the legislature for certain reasons has not carried out this constitutional duty (though the Constitution does not tolerate this), still the courts, under Paragraph 1 of Article 110 of the Constitution, may not apply any such legal acts, which are in conflict with the Constitution. Thus, if one fails to establish any such legal regulation under which it might be clearly established, following, inter alia, the principle expressio unius est exclusio alterius, in what courts and under what procedure one should investigate and decide whether the said legal acts (parts thereof) are not in conflict with legal acts of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, it should be held that: first, under the Constitution (Article 110), any court, as mentioned before, that may not apply a legal act on whose compliance with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force) it doubts, though it may not apply to the Constitutional Court concerning its compliance with the Constitution, because the control over the compliance of this legal act with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force) is not assigned to the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court under the Constitution, has the powers arising directly from the Constitution to recognise ad hoc the corresponding legal act as being in conflict with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force) and not to apply it; second, such ad hoc recognition of the legal act as being in conflict with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force) is constitutional control over the inter partes model which is established by the Constitution only under the said exceptional circumstances, i.e., if the legislature for certain reasons has not carried out this constitutional duty to establish by law, in what courts and under what procedure one must investigate and decide whether the legal acts (parts thereof) the control over whose compliance with the Constitution is not assigned to the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court under the Constitution are not in conflict with legal acts of higher legal force, inter alia, with the Constitution.

In this context, it is especially to be noted that such legal regulation was not established for several years after the Constitution had come into force. Under the then valid laws, a court of general jurisdiction, after having established that a legal act, the control on whose compliance with the Constitution is not assigned to the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court, is in conflict with the laws, it, while adopting a decision in the case, cold not follow such legal act. This was also held by the Constitutional Court in its ruling of 18 December 1997. It should also be stated that at that time in the Lithuanian legal system a gap of legal regulation occurred which did not allow the removal all legal acts (parts thereof) from the legal system, in which the established legal regulation competed with the one, established in the legal acts of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, nor a proper implementation of the purpose and possibilities provided by the constitutional judicial control as a constitutional institute, i.e. to decide in court (thus, by following such principles of the due process of law as the right to be heard in court, adversarial argument, the equality of the parties before the court, inter alia, their procedural equality, publicity, etc.) on the compliance of the legal acts, passed by other subjects of law-making (thus, those passed not by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government and not adopted by referendum) with legal acts of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), the Constitution.

The said gap of law was removed when on 14 January 1999, the Seimas adopted the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Establishment of Administrative Courts (which came into force on 3 February 1999) by which specialised administrative courts were established “for considering complaints (applications) against administrative enactments adopted by the subjects of public and internal administration and their acts of omission (i.e. failure to carry out the duties)” (Paragraph 1 of Article 1) which had to be formed by 1 May 1999 and had to start their activities as from 1 May 1999 (Article 6), as well as the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Proceedings of Administrative Cases (which came into force on 1 May 1999), under Item 4 of Paragraph 2 of Article 6 of which the regional administrative court had powers, as a court of first instance, to consider cases concerning the applications of the Government representative on, inter alia, “acts of local authorities and their officials which are in conflict with <…> the Constitution and laws”, and under Article 30, in the cases when the court of general jurisdiction or specialised court had doubts on whether a normative administrative act (or a part thereof) passed by a public administrative subject is not in conflict with the law or the normative act of the Government, this court had to suspend the consideration of the case and to apply by its ruling to the administrative court with a petition, requesting the verification of whether the corresponding act (or a part thereof) complies with the law or the normative act of the Government; after it received the effective decision of the administrative court, the court of general jurisdiction or specialised court had to renew the consideration of the case. Even though the administrative court system was later reorganised and their powers were corrected, the general provision remained entrenched in the laws that a decision on the compliance of legal acts passed by other subjects of law-making (thus, those passed not by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government and not adopted by referendum) with legal acts of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, is assigned to the jurisdiction of administrative courts. In this context, it should be noted that this general provision is consolidated, inter alia, in Paragraph 1 (wording of 19 September 2000) of Article 20 of the now effective Law on the Proceedings of Administrative Cases, under Item 3 of which the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania is, inter alia, “the only and final instance for the cases on the lawfulness of the normative acts adopted by the central subjects of state administration”, and in Article 112 (wording of 19 September 2000), under which “the court of general jurisdiction or specialised court shall have the right to suspend the consideration of the case and by its ruling to apply to the administrative court with a petition, requesting the review of whether a concrete normative administrative act (or a part thereof), which should be applied in the considered case, complies with the law or the normative act of the Government” (Paragraph 1), and “after it has received an effective decision of the administrative court on the normative act, the court of general jurisdiction or specialised court shall renew the consideration of the suspended individual case”. Similar provisions are also entrenched in other laws, inter alia, Paragraph 4 of Article 3 (wording of 8 April 2003) of the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania, in which it is established: “After it has established that a normative legal act or a part thereof, the control on whose compliance with the Constitution or laws is not within the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court, is in conflict with the law or the normative legal act of the Government, when adopting a decision, the court must not follow such legal act. The court of general jurisdiction shall have the right to suspend the consideration of the case and by its ruling apply to the administrative court with a petition, requesting the verification of whether a corresponding normative legal act or a part thereof complies with the law or the normative legal act of the Government. After the court has received the effective decision of the administrative court, the court shall renew the consideration of the case. A normative administrative act (or a part thereof) shall be considered as abolished and normally may not be applied since the day when the effective administrative court decision on the recognition of the corresponding normative act (a part thereof) as no longer valid was officially published.”

It should be held that at present the legal regulation is established by the Law on the Proceedings of Administrative Cases and other laws whereby a decision on the compliance of the legal acts, passed by other subjects of law-making (thus, those passed not by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government and not adopted by referendum) with legal acts of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, is assigned to the jurisdiction of administrative courts. If the administrative court recognises such legal act as being in conflict with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force), then, under the Constitution and laws, such decision of the said court has erga omnes impact on the whole practice of the application of corresponding legal acts (parts thereof).

In this context, it needs also to be noted that the formula “the court of general jurisdiction or specialised court shall have the right <…> by its ruling to apply to the administrative court with a petition, requesting the verification of whether a concrete normative administrative act (or a part thereof), which should be applied in the considered case, complies with the law or the normative act of the Government” of Paragraph 1 (wording of 19 September 2000) of Article 112 of the Law on the Proceedings of Administrative Cases as well as the formula “after it has established that a normative legal act or a part thereof, the control on whose compliance with the Constitution or laws is not within the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court, is in conflict with the law or the normative legal act of the Government” and the formula “The court of general jurisdiction shall have the right <…> by its ruling apply to the administrative court with a petition, requesting the verification of whether a corresponding normative legal act or a part thereof complies with the law or the normative legal act of the Government” of Paragraph 4 of Article 3 (wording of 8 April 2003) of the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania, are not without faults from the legal point of view and should be corrected, because, as the Constitutional Court held in its ruling of 16 January 2006, the powers of state officials, inter alia, judges, cannot be defined in legal acts as their subjective right that they can implement at their discretion, i.e. such right that they choose whether to use or not to use it; such powers are also the duties that the state officials not only may but also must implement, if there are corresponding conditions established by law. The legal deficiency of the quoted formulas of Paragraph 1 (wording of 19 September 2000) of Article 112 of the Law on the Proceedings of Administrative Cases and Paragraph 4 of Article 3 (wording of 8 April 2003) of the Code of Civil Procedure becomes even more obvious when they are construed in the context of Item 3 (under which, the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania is the only and final instance for the cases on the lawfulness of normative acts adopted by central subjects of the state administration) of Paragraph 1 (wording of 19 September 2000) of Article 20 of the Law on the Proceedings of Administrative Cases.

5. It should also be noted that the investigation into whether the legal acts (parts thereof), passed by other subjects of law-making (thus, which were passed not by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government and not adopted by referendum) are not in conflict with legal acts of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, and adoption of corresponding decisions imply the necessity for the administrative court that decides the case to ascertain whether these legal acts of higher legal force (parts thereof) themselves are not in conflict with any legal acts of even higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, and, if there are doubts, to take measures provided for in the Constitution and laws, in order to remove them, certainly, without interfering with the powers assigned to the Constitutional Court. If this is not done, there would be a risk to adopt a decision that would not be a just one, i.e. to apply a certain legal act (part thereof), based on the legal act of higher legal force, which would be recognised as being in conflict with a legal act of even higher legal force, or even with the Constitution itself if a proper investigation were carried out, or not to apply a certain legal act (part thereof) that was recognised as being in conflict with a legal act of higher legal force by the administrative court, even though that legal act of higher legal force should be recognised as being in conflict with a legal act of even higher legal force, or even with the Constitution itself, if a proper investigation were carried out. In case it happened, preconditions would be created to violate the values, inter alia, constitutional rights of the person, entrenched in and protected and defended by the Constitution.

In this aspect, the investigation into the compliance of the legal acts (parts thereof) passed by other subjects of law-making (thus, which were passed not by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government and not adopted by referendum) which are assigned to the jurisdiction of administrative courts by law (inter alia, by the Law on the Proceedings of Administrative Cases), with legal acts of higher legal force, save the Constitution itself, implies the initiation of a corresponding case of constitutional justice at the Constitutional Court, thus, also the duty of the administrative courts to apply in such cases to the Constitutional Court with a corresponding petition, if the administrative court has doubts on the compliance of a legal act (part thereof) of higher legal force, passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or adopted by referendum, with a legal act of even higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution.

6. In Paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Constitution, it is prescribed that everyone may defend his rights by invoking the Constitution, and in Paragraph 1 of Article 30 thereof that a person whose constitutional rights or freedoms are violated shall have the right to apply to court. In its rulings the Constitutional Court has held more than once: the Constitution guarantees a person the right to an independent and impartial arbiter of the dispute, who would in essence settle the legal dispute on the grounds of the Constitution and laws; each person, who thinks that his rights or freedoms are violated has the right to defend his rights and freedoms in court—the implementation of the right to apply to court is conditioned by the understanding of the person himself that his rights or freedoms are violated; the person is guaranteed the defence of his rights in court regardless of his legal status; the violated rights, inter alia, acquired rights, and the legitimate interests of a person must be defended in court irrespective of whether or not they are directly established in the Constitution; the rights of the person must be defended not formally, but in reality and effectively from unlawful actions of both private persons and state institutions or officials. When construing Paragraph 1 of Article 30 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has also held that the law must establish such legal regulation so that it would be possible to appeal against a final act adopted by a court of general jurisdiction or a specialised court established under Paragraph 2 of Article 111 of the Constitution at least in one court of higher instance (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 16 January 2006).

When construing Paragraph 2 of Article 6 and Paragraph 1 of Article 30 of the Constitution in the context of Paragraph 1 of Article 109 and Article 110 of the Constitution, as well as of the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, it needs to be noted that the right of each person to defend his rights on the basis of the Constitution and the right to apply to court of the person whose constitutional rights or freedoms are violated also imply that each party of the case considered by a court, which has doubted on the compliance of the law or other legal act (part thereof) that may be applied in that case and the investigation into the compliance of which with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force) is assigned to the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court (i.e. the compliance of a certain act (part thereof) of the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or an act (part thereof) adopted by referendum with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force)), has the right to apply to the court of general jurisdiction or a corresponding specialised court established under Paragraph 2 of Article 111 of the Constitution which considers the case and to request such a court to suspend the consideration of the case and to apply to the Constitutional Court with a petition, requesting an investigation into, and a decision on, whether the legal act (part thereof) passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or adopted by referendum and which is applicable in the said case, is not in conflict with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution.

This is applicable mutatis mutandis also to those legal situations when a certain party of a case considered by a court has doubts on the compliance of the law or other legal act (part thereof) that may be applied in that case and the investigation into the compliance of which with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force) is not assigned to the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court (i.e. that act has not been passed by the Seimas, by the President of the Republic or by the Government and it has not been adopted by referendum)— the said party, under the Constitution and laws (inter alia, the Law on the Proceedings of Administrative Cases), has the right to apply to the corresponding administrative court on the compliance of such legal act (part thereof) with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force).

In its ruling of 16 January 2006, the Constitutional Court held: the constitutional imperatives that only courts administer justice, that law cannot be not public, as well as the requirement arising out of the Constitution to consider the case justly, also imply that every final act of the court must be based on legal arguments (reasoning); the argumentation must be rational; the requirement of legal clarity, which arises out of the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law means, inter alia, that a final act of the court cannot contain any concealed arguments, nor any non-specified circumstances, which are important for the adoption of a just final act of the court; final acts of the court must be clear to the persons participating in the case as well as other persons.

The said requirements on the argumentation of court decisions are applicable also to decisions of courts of general jurisdiction or specialised courts established under Paragraph 2 of Article 111 of the Constitution to apply or (even though it is requested by a certain party of the case considered in the court) not to apply to the Constitutional Court with a petition requesting an investigation into, and a decision on, whether the legal act (part thereof) applicable in that case whose verification as to the compliance with legal acts of higher legal force (inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution) is assigned not to the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court but to that of administrative courts, is not in conflict with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force).

These requirements are also applicable to the court decisions on application or non-application (although such courts are requested to apply) to a corresponding administrative court with a petition requesting an investigation into, and a decision on, whether the legal act (part thereof) applicable in the corresponding case, the verification of the compliance of which with legal acts of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, is assigned not to the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court, but that of administrative courts, is not in conflict with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force).

7. It should be noted that the comparison of the applications of courts (both, of general jurisdiction and specialised) to the Constitutional Court with the petition requesting an investigation into, and a decision on, whether a legal act (part thereof), passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or adopted by referendum is not in conflict with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, shows that the applications of courts are special ones also because the courts, having doubted on the compliance of a legal act (part thereof), passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or adopted by referendum with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, not only may but also must apply to the Constitutional Court.

In this context, it should be noted that under the Constitution, a court of general jurisdiction or a specialised court established under Paragraph 2 of Article 111 of the Constitution may apply to the Constitutional Court with a petition requesting an investigation into, and a decision on, whether not any constitutional law (part thereof) is not in conflict with the Constitution, but only such constitutional law, which must be applied in the corresponding case considered by that court, also whether not any law (part thereof) (as well as the Statute of the Seimas (part thereof)) is not in conflict with the Constitution and constitutional laws, but only that which must be applied in the corresponding case considered by that court, also whether not any substatutory legal act (part thereof) of the Seimas is not in conflict with the Constitution, constitutional laws and laws as well as the Statute of the Seimas, but only that which must be applied in the corresponding case considered by that court, also whether not any act (part thereof) of the President of the Republic is not in conflict with the Constitution, constitutional laws and laws, but only that which must be applied in the corresponding case considered by that court, as well as whether not any act (part thereof) of the Government (part thereof) is not in conflict with the Constitution, constitutional laws and laws, but only that which must be applied in the corresponding case considered by that court.

Such requirement is also applicable to the court decisions to apply to the corresponding administrative court with a petition requesting an investigation into, and a decision on, whether the legal act (part thereof) applicable in the case the verification of whose compliance with legal acts of higher legal force (inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution) is assigned to the jurisdiction of administrative courts, is not in conflict with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force).

8. It should be noted that the Constitution does not tolerate any such situations, when a certain court, which, in a case considered by it, has to apply a legal act (part thereof) concerning the compliance of which with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution another petitioner (for example, other court) has already applied to the Constitutional Court, neither (in case it doubts on the compliance of the legal act (part thereof) with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution) suspends the consideration of the corresponding case and applies to the Constitutional Court in order that these doubts would be removed, nor (in case it doubts on the compliance of the legal act (part thereof) with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution) applies this legal act (part thereof), but when it has information that another petitioner (for example, other court) has already applied to the Constitutional Court concerning the compliance of that legal act (part thereof) with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, suspends the consideration of the case and does not decide on the case before the Constitutional Court finishes the consideration of the corresponding case under the petition of the said another petitioner.

9. In this ruling of the Constitutional Court it has been held that the comparison of the applications of courts (both, of general jurisdiction and specialised) to the Constitutional Court with a petition requesting an investigation into, and a decision on, whether a legal act (part thereof), passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or adopted by referendum is not in conflict with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, shows that the applications of courts are special ones also because the courts, having doubted on the compliance of a legal act (part thereof), passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or adopted by referendum, with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, not only may but also must apply to the Constitutional Court.

It should be emphasised in particular that if a petitioner—a court which is considering a case—applies to the Constitutional Court requesting an investigation into, and a decision on, whether a legal act (part thereof), passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or adopted by referendum, which is applicable in that case is not in conflict with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, and if the Constitutional Court does not decide this question in essence, the doubts of the said court on whether the corresponding law or other legal act (part thereof) is not in conflict with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution would not be removed, and if it applies that law or other legal act (part thereof), the values, inter alia, constitutional rights of the person, entrenched in and defended and protected by the Constitution, could be violated.

This should also be said about such legal situations, when an impugned law or other legal act (part thereof), which must be applied in a case considered by a court, which applied to the Constitutional Court with a petition, is no longer valid at the time when the corresponding case of constitutional justice is being considered (or at the time when one expects its consideration to take place)—it has been recognised as no longer valid (it was either abolished or amended) or its validity expired: if the Constitutional Court did not decide the question on the compliance of that law or other legal act (part thereof) with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, in essence, the doubts of the court which considers the case on whether that law or other legal act (part thereof) with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution would not be removed, and if that law or other legal act (part thereof) which is no longer valid is applied at the time of adoption of the corresponding court decision, the values, inter alia, constitutional rights of the person, entrenched in and defended and protected by the Constitution, could be violated.

Thus, in every case when the Constitutional Court, after it has received a petition of a court of general jurisdiction or a specialised court, established under Paragraph 2 of Article 111 of the Constitution, requesting an investigation into, and a decision on, whether a legal act (part thereof), passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or adopted by referendum, is not in conflict with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, refuses, under the Constitution and the Law on the Constitutional Court, to consider the petition (thus, does not undertake to decide the corresponding question in essence), a rationally argued decision must be adopted.

The adoption of such a reasoned decision by which the Constitutional Court refuses to consider a petition is provided for in Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court. In this context, it should be noted that none of the grounds of the refusal to investigate a petition provided for in Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court (a petition was filed by an institution or person who does not have the right to apply to the Constitutional Court (Item 1), the consideration of the petition does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court (Item 2), the compliance of the legal act with the Constitution specified in the petition has already been investigated by the Constitutional Court and the ruling on this issue adopted by the Constitutional Court is still in force (Item 3), the Constitutional Court has already commenced the investigation of a case concerning the same issue (Item 4), the petition is grounded on non-legal reasoning (Item 5)) may be construed as creating legal preconditions for the court that considers the case to apply such law or other legal act (part thereof) on whose compliance with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force) the said court doubts.

It should be noted that the said requirements arising out of the Constitution related to the investigation into the compliance of the legal acts which are no longer valid with legal acts of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution as well as to the reasoned and rationally argued refusal to investigate, subsequent to the petitions of the petitioners, into the compliance of the impugned legal acts (parts thereof) with legal acts of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, are applicable also to corresponding decisions of administrative courts.

10. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that, in general, the Constitution does not prohibit the establishment of the legal regulation in the Law on the Constitutional Court whereby if the impugned legal act (part thereof) is no longer valid—it has been recognised as no longer valid (it was abolished or amended) or its validity expired—the Constitutional Court, by taking account of all the circumstances of importance, could refuse to investigate and decide, subsequent to the petition of the petitioners (as mentioned before, they are specified in Article 106 of the Constitution), whether the legal act (part thereof) passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or adopted by referendum is not in conflict with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, and if the corresponding petition has been received at the Constitutional Court and the preparation of the constitutional justice case has begun or the case has already been investigated at the Constitutional Court’s hearing—to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings (case).

However, it should be emphasised that, under the Constitution (inter alia, Paragraph 1 of Article 110 of the Constitution, under which a judge may not apply the law which is in conflict with the Constitution, and Paragraph 2 of this article, under which in cases when there are grounds to believe that the law or other legal act which should be applied in a concrete case is in conflict with the Constitution, the judge shall suspend the consideration of the case and shall apply to the Constitutional Court requesting it to decide whether the law or other legal act in question is in compliance with the Constitution), it is not possible to establish any such legal regulation whereby if the Constitutional Court has received a petition particularly from a court (which, as mentioned before, differs from other subjects specified in Article 106 of the Constitution, inter alia, because the court, having doubted on the compliance of a legal act (part thereof), passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or adopted by referendum with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, not only may but also must apply to the Constitutional Court), requesting an investigation into, and a decision on, whether the legal act (part thereof), passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or adopted by referendum is not in conflict with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, and if the Constitutional Court did not undertake to decide this question in essence (if it refused to consider the petition) particularly because the impugned legal act (part thereof) is no longer valid—it has been recognised as no longer valid (it was abolished or amended) or its validity expired, preconditions would be created for the court that considers the case to apply the law or other legal act (part thereof) on whose compliance with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force) the said court doubts; if the court applied such law or other legal act (part thereof), the values, inter alia, constitutional rights of the person, entrenched in and defended and protected by the Constitution, could be violated. Thus, it should be held that, under the Constitution, the court considering the case which, under the Constitution, not only has the powers but (if it has certain doubts) also must apply to the Constitutional Court with a petition requesting a decision on whether the legal act (part thereof) passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or adopted by referendum is not in conflict with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, also has the constitutionally grounded interest to receive a corresponding Constitutional Court answer that such answer will be given; a different construction of the corresponding provisions of the Constitution could create preconditions for the court that considers the corresponding case to apply such law or other legal act (part thereof) on whose compliance with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force) the said court has doubts. Thus, the Constitution prohibits the establishment of any such legal regulation in the Law on the Constitutional Court (or in any other law) whereby if an impugned legal act (part thereof), passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or adopted by referendum, is no longer valid—it has been recognised as no longer valid (it was abolished or amended) or its validity expired—but it must be applied in a corresponding case considered by a court, the Constitutional Court could refuse to investigate and decide, subsequent to the petition of the petitioner, whether the legal act (part thereof) passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or adopted by referendum is not in conflict with the Constitution (with other legal act of higher legal force), particularly because that legal act (part thereof) is no longer valid—it was recognised as no longer valid (it was abolished or amended) or its validity expired, and if the corresponding petition is received at the Constitutional Court and the preparation of the constitutional justice case has been begun or the case has already been investigated at the Constitutional Court’s hearing—to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings (case).

The said requirements arising out of the Constitution should also be applied to such legal situations when a petition requesting an investigation into the compliance of a legal act (which was passed not by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government and not adopted by referendum) with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, is submitted to a corresponding administrative court.

11. It was mentioned that under Paragraph 4 (wording of 11 July 1996) of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, the annulment of the impugned legal act shall be grounds to adopt a decision to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings, as well as that this provision (impugned by the petitioner) was also entrenched in Paragraph 4 of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the initial wording (3 February 1993).

When deciding, subsequent to the petition of the petitioner, whether the impugned provision of Paragraph 4 (wording of 11 July 1996) of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court is not in conflict with the Constitution, it should be noted that, as in its rulings the Constitutional Court has held more than once, the formula “shall be grounds <…> to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings” of this paragraph (wording of 11 July 1996) should be construed as establishing the powers of the Constitutional Court, while taking account of the circumstances of the considered case, to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings in such cases, when the Constitutional Court was not applied by courts but by the other subjects specified in Article 106 of the Constitution, and not as stipulating that in every case when the impugned legal act (part thereof) is abolished, the instituted legal proceedings must be dismissed, as well as that, under the Constitution, in the cases when the Constitutional Court is applied by the court which considers a case and which had doubts on the compliance of the law applicable in that case with the Constitution as well as on the compliance of other act passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic, or the Government with the Constitution or laws, the Constitutional Court has the duty to consider the petition of the court irrespective of whether or not the impugned law or other legal act is valid. If the court applies to the Constitutional Court with a petition requesting an investigation into, and a decision on, whether a legal act (part thereof) passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or that adopted by referendum is not in conflict with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, the Constitutional Court does not have to dismiss the legal proceedings also in the cases when the impugned legal act (part thereof) was not abolished, however, the legal regulation established therein was changed.

12. Under the Constitution, only the Constitutional Court enjoys powers to construe the Constitution officially (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 30 May 2003, 29 October 2003, 13 May 2004, 1 July 2004 and 13 December 2004, and its decision of 20 September 2005). It is the Constitutional Court that formulates the official constitutional doctrine: the provisions of the Constitution—its norms and principles—are construed in the acts of the Constitutional Court. The official constitutional doctrine, inter alia, discloses the content of various constitutional provisions, their interrelations, the balance between the constitutional values, and the essence of the constitutional legal regulation as a single whole (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 1 July 2004, 13 December 2004, and 14 March 2006). In the official constitutional doctrine it may also be expressis verbis specified as to what construction of the Constitution is not permissible.

12.1. Each ruling of the Constitutional Court is integral (it constitutes a single whole), its all constituent parts are interrelated (the Constitutional Court’s decision of 12 January 2000, its ruling of 30 May 2003, its decisions of 11 February 2004 and 13 February 2004, its ruling of 19 January 2005 and its decisions of 10 February 2005 and 20 September 2005). The operative part of a ruling of the Constitutional Court is based upon the arguments of the part of reasoning (the Constitutional Court’s decisions of 12 January 2004, 11 February 2004, 13 February 2004, 10 February 2005, and 20 September 2005). While adopting new, amending and supplementing already adopted laws or other legal acts, the state institutions that pass them are bound by the concept of the provisions of the Constitution and other legal arguments presented in the reasoning of the Constitutional Court’s rulings (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 30 May 2003, 19 January 2005 and its decision of 20 September 2005). It also needs to be noted that law-making institutions (officials) and those that apply law are bound not only by the concept of constitutional provisions and by arguments set forth in rulings of the Constitutional Court, but also in other acts of the Constitutional Court, i.e. conclusions and decisions; thus, under the Constitution, all acts of the Constitutional Court in which the Constitution is construed, i.e. the official constitutional doctrine is formulated, by their content are also binding on law-making institutions (officials) and those that apply law, including courts of general jurisdiction and specialised courts (the Constitutional Court’s decision of 20 September 2005).

Law-making subjects elucidate (often also interpret) higher law, thus, the Constitution too; the subjects which apply law, inter alia, the Constitution, cannot avoid its elucidation (often also its interpretation). The application of the Constitution is inseparable from the elucidation and often interpretation of its provisions. It is elucidation and interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution that are the necessary precondition in order to institute the verification of the compliance of certain legal acts (parts thereof) with the Constitution in the Constitutional Court or other court, to whose jurisdiction it is assigned. In this context, it should be emphasised that, as the Constitutional Court held in its decision of 20 September 2005, all subjects of law-making and those of application of law, including courts, must pay heed to the official constitutional doctrine when they apply the Constitution, they cannot interpret the provisions of the Constitution differently from their construction in the acts of the Constitutional Court. Otherwise, the constitutional principle that only the Constitutional Court enjoys powers to construe the Constitution officially would be violated, the supremacy of the Constitution would be disregarded, and preconditions would be created for the emergence of inconsistencies in the legal system.

It should be noted that the courts which, under the Constitution and laws, enjoy the powers to investigate the compliance of legal acts (parts thereof), the investigation into the compliance of which with the Constitution (other legal acts of higher legal force) is not assigned to the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court, with the Constitution (other legal acts of higher legal force) and to adopt corresponding decisions cannot evade the construction of the Constitution in corresponding cases, when they investigate the compliance of these legal acts (parts thereof) with the Constitution. It was mentioned that under the Law on the Proceedings of the Administrative Cases and other laws, the administrative courts—specialised courts, established under Paragraph 2 of Article 111 of the Constitution—decide on the compliance of legal acts (parts thereof), passed by other subjects of law-making (thus, those passed not by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government and those not adopted by referendum), inter alia, on the compliance of the legal acts issued by ministers, other substatutory legal acts of lower legal force, as well as legal acts issued by municipalities, with legal acts of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution. In its decision of 20 September 2005, the Constitutional Court held that while implementing their corresponding powers, the administrative courts are bound by the official constitutional doctrine formulated in acts (rulings, conclusions and decisions) of the Constitutional Court.

12.2. While investigating the compliance of the laws and other legal acts with the Constitution, the Constitutional Court develops the concept of provisions of the Constitution set forth in its previous acts and it discloses new aspects of the legal regulation established in the Constitution, which are necessary for the investigation of the corresponding constitutional justice case (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 30 May 2003, 1 July 2004, 13 December 2004, and 14 March 2006).

The development of the constitutional jurisprudence and the official doctrine formulated therein (particularly at the beginning of the Constitutional Court’s activity, when no official constitutional doctrine was yet formulated on most constitutional provisions) is characteristic of the fact that the official constitutional doctrine is not formulated all “at once” on any issue of the constitutional legal regulation (construction of corresponding provisions of the Constitution) but “case by case”, by supplementing the elements (fragments) of the said doctrine, which were disclosed in the previous constitutional justice cases adopted in the acts of the Constitutional Court with others, disclosed in the acts of the Constitutional Court adopted in new cases of constitutional justice.

Thus, it should be emphasised that the formulation of the official constitutional doctrine (both as a whole and on every individual issue of the constitutional legal regulation) is not a one-off act but a gradual and consecutive process. This process is uninterrupted and is never fully finished because—since the nature of the Constitution as the act of the supreme legal force itself and the idea of the constitutionality imply that the Constitution may not have, nor does it have any gaps or internal contradictions (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 25 May 2004 and 13 December 2004)—while construing the norms and principles of the Constitution, which are explicitly and implicitly entrenched in the text of the Constitution and which constitute a harmonious system, the possibility, if it is necessary because of the logic of the considered constitutional justice case, to formulate the official constitutional doctrinal provisions (i.e. to disclose such aspects of constitutional legal regulation) which have not been formulated in the acts of the Constitutional Court adopted in previous constitutional justice cases, never disappears. When the Constitutional Court considers new constitutional justice cases every time subsequent to petitions of petitioners, the official constitutional doctrine formulated in the previous acts of the Constitutional Court (on every individual issue on the constitutional legal regulation which is important to a corresponding case) is every time supplemented by new fragments. Thus, by formulating new official constitutional doctrinal provisions the diversity and completeness of the legal regulation entrenched in the Constitution—the supreme legal act—is disclosed.

12.3. In this ruling of the Constitutional Court, it has been held that the official constitutional doctrine (both as a whole and on every individual issue of the constitutional legal regulation) is formulated gradually and consecutively, by supplementing the elements (fragments) of the said doctrine disclosed in the previous acts of the Constitutional Court with other elements, disclosed in new acts of the Constitutional Court.

Therefore, in general, it is not impossible that at certain time (particularly at the beginning of the Constitutional Court’s activity) there were also such official constitutional doctrinal provisions (fragments or rudiments of the doctrine) in the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court, which, if compared with each other, but if assessed in isolation from the entire official constitutional doctrinal context (particularly, when a more detailed, broader official constitutional doctrine has not been formed in the corresponding issue of the constitutional legal regulation) and/or from the general principles of law, they might be assessed as competing ones. If the text of the Constitution does not change, if it remains stable (i.e. if corresponding amendments of the Constitution are not made), the said real or alleged competition of these official constitutional doctrinal provisions is removed by further construction (inter alia, systemic) and development (in the new constitutional justice cases) of the conception of the provisions of the Constitution and the official constitutional doctrinal provisions formulated on the basis of these provisions.

The conceptions of the provisions of the Constitution and further construction and development of the official constitutional doctrinal provisions formulated on the basis of the said provisions in the acts of the Constitutional Court adopted in new constitutional justice cases under certain circumstances may imply not only the disclosing of new aspects of the constitutional legal regulation necessary for the investigation of the said constitutional justice cases and supplement of the conception of the provisions of the Constitution provided in the acts of the Constitutional Court adopted in the previous constitutional justice cases with new elements (fragments), but also reinterpretation of the official constitutional doctrinal provisions formulated previously when the official constitutional doctrine is corrected.

It should be noted that the constitutional principle that only the Constitutional Court enjoys powers to construe the Constitution officially as well as the requirement related with it that, while applying the Constitution, all the law-making subjects and those applying law (including courts) would pay heed to the official constitutional doctrine and would not construe the provisions of the Constitution differently from what the Constitutional Court has done it in its acts, implies that such reinterpretation of the conception of the provisions of the Constitution and official constitutional doctrinal provisions when the official constitutional doctrine is corrected is an exclusive competence of the Constitutional Court.

12.4. It is necessary (or it may be necessary) to reinterpret the official constitutional doctrinal provisions so that the official constitutional doctrine would be corrected in cases when amendments of the Constitution are made.

After an amendment of the Constitution comes into force, whereby a certain provision of the Constitution is altered (or abrogated) on the basis of which (i.e. in the course of construction of which) the previous constitutional doctrine was formed (as regards the corresponding issue of the constitutional legal regulation), the Constitutional Court, under the Constitution, enjoys exceptional powers to hold whether it is possible (and to what extent) to invoke the official constitutional doctrine formulated by the Constitutional Court on the basis of previous provisions of the Constitution, or whether it is no longer possible to invoke it (and to what extent) (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 13 May 2004, 16 January 2006, 24 January 2006, and 14 March 2006).

As mentioned before, all the constitutional norms and constitutional principles form a harmonious system. In this context, it should also be noted that, as the Constitutional Court has held more than once in its acts, it is not permitted to construe the Constitution so that the meaning of any provision or the Constitution or value entrenched in and defended and protected by the Constitution would be distorted or denied, thus, the essence of the entire constitutional legal regulation would be distorted and the balance of constitutional values would be disturbed. Taking account of this, it should be held that it may also be necessary to reinterpret the official constitutional doctrinal provisions so that the official constitutional doctrine would be corrected when the amendment of the Constitution is made (certain provision of the Constitution is amended or abolished or a new provision is entrenched in the Constitution) by which the content of the overall legal regulation is corrected in essence, even though the provision of the Constitution, on the basis of which (i.e. while construing it) the previous official constitutional doctrine on certain issue of the constitutional legal regulation was formulated, is not formally changed. In such cases the Constitutional Court also enjoys the exceptional powers to hold whether it is possible (and to what extent) to refer to the previous official constitutional doctrine (as a whole and on every individual issue of the constitutional legal regulation) or it is not possible to refer to it any more (and to what extent) while construing the Constitution.

12.5. It should be emphasised that when no amendments to the Constitution are made, due to which it is necessary to reinterpret certain official constitutional doctrinal provisions so that the official constitutional doctrine would be corrected, this may be done only if the necessity to diverge from the existing precedent and to create a new one arises out of the Constitution. In this field, the Constitutional Court is not completely free, it is bound by its own created precedents and formed official constitutional doctrine on which the said precedents are based.

It was mentioned that the principle of a state under the rule of law enshrined in the Constitution implies continuity of jurisprudence, as well as that creation of new court precedents and arguing (grounding) the court precedents may not be rationally legally unreasoned volitional acts. Since courts of general jurisdiction, inter alia, the Supreme Court of Lithuania and the Court of Appeal of Lithuania, must, under their competence, ensure the continuity of the corresponding jurisprudence (inter alia, the fact that the practice of courts of general jurisdiction would be corrected (it would be deviated from the precedents that had been binding on courts by then and new precedents would be created) only when it is unavoidably and objectively necessary, constitutionally grounded and reasoned, and that such correction of the practice of courts of general jurisdiction (deviation from the previous precedents that had been binding on courts by then and creation of new precedents) would in all cases be properly (clearly and rationally) argued (first of all, in the decisions of the corresponding courts of general jurisdiction themselves)), as the courts of the highest instances of the systems of specialised courts established under Paragraph 2 of Article 111 of the Constitution (in the system of administrative courts—the Supreme Administrative Court) are under analogous obligation, so must the Constitutional Court, referring to its already formed constitutional doctrine and precedents, ensure the continuity of the constitutional jurisprudence (its consecution, consistency) and the predictability of its decisions.

Thus, it may be possible to deviate from the Constitutional Court precedents created while adopting decisions in cases of constitutional justice and new precedents may be created only in the cases when it is unavoidably and objectively necessary, constitutionally grounded and reasoned. Also the official constitutional doctrinal provisions on which the precedents of the Constitutional Court are based may not be reinterpreted so that the official constitutional doctrine would be corrected when it is unavoidably and objectively necessary, constitutionally grounded and reasoned. Any change of the precedents of the Constitutional Court or correction of the official constitutional doctrine may not be determined by accidental (in the aspect of law) factors. For instance, the correction of the official constitutional doctrine may not be determined only by a change in the composition of the Constitutional Court.

It should be emphasised that the said necessity to reinterpret certain official constitutional doctrinal provisions so that the official constitutional doctrine would be corrected may be determined only by the circumstances as the necessity to increase possibilities for implementing the innate and acquired rights of persons and their legitimate interests, the necessity to better defend and protect the values enshrined in the Constitution, the need to create better conditions in order to reach the aims of the Lithuanian Nation declared in the Constitution on which the Constitution itself is based, the necessity to expand the possibilities of the constitutional control in this country in order to guarantee constitutional justice and to ensure that no legal act (part thereof) which is in conflict with legal acts of higher legal force, would have the immunity from being removed from the legal system.

It also needs to be emphasised that it is impossible and constitutionally impermissible to reinterpret the official constitutional doctrine so that the official constitutional doctrine would be corrected, if by doing so the system of values entrenched in the Constitution is changed, their compatibility is denied, the protection guarantees of the supremacy of the Constitution in the legal system are reduced, the concept of the Constitution as a single act and harmonious system is denied, the guarantees of rights and freedoms of the person entrenched in the Constitution are reduced and the model of the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution is changed.

It should be emphasised particularly that every case of such reinterpretation of the official constitutional doctrine when the official constitutional doctrine is corrected has to be properly (clearly and rationally) argued in the corresponding act of the Constitutional Court.

13. The Constitutional Court has held that the Constitution, as supreme law, must be a stable act (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 16 January 2006 and 14 March 2006). The stability of the Constitution is such its feature which, together with its other features (inter alia and first of all, with the special, supreme legal force of the Constitution) makes the constitutional legal regulation different from the legal (ordinary) regulation established by legal acts of lower legal force (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 14 March 2006) and the Constitution—different from all the rest legal acts. The stability of the Constitution is a great constitutional value. The Constitution should not be altered, if it is not legally necessary. This is guaranteed by a more difficult and more complex procedure for making amendments to the Constitution, if compared with constitutional and ordinary laws (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 14 March 2006), particularly by the fact that special procedural requirements for alteration of certain provisions of the Constitution (Article 1, Chapter I “The State of Lithuania”, Chapter XIV “Alteration of the Constitution”) are established. The stability of the Constitution is one of the preconditions in order to ensure the continuity of the state, the respect to the constitutional order and law and the implementation of the aims of the Lithuanian Nation declared in the Constitution on which the Constitution itself is based.

One of the conditions ensuring the stability of the Constitution as a legal reality is the stability of its text. It was mentioned that the nature of the Constitution, the idea of constitutionality implies that the Constitution may not have and has no gaps or internal contradictions. Thus, the text of the Constitution should not be corrected, for example, only after the terminology, inter alia, legal terminology, has changed (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 16 January 2006). The meaning of the Constitution as an extremely stable legal act would also be ignored if the intervention to its text would be made every time when certain social relations which are regulated by law undergo changes (for example, the technological possibilities of certain kinds of activity expand so much, which maybe were impossible to predict at the time when the text of the Constitution was created).

In this context it should be emphasised particularly that the further construction and development of the official constitutional doctrine, inter alia, the reinterpretation of the official constitutional doctrinal provisions, also such, when the official constitutional doctrine is corrected, in the acts of the Constitutional Court adopted in new constitutional justice cases, allows one to disclose the deep potential of the Constitution without changing its text and in this aspect to apply the Constitution to the changes of social life, to constantly changing living conditions of society and the state and to ensure the viability of the Constitution as the fundamental of life of society and the state. The formation and development of the official constitutional doctrine is a function of constitutional justice. In the acts of the Constitutional Court adopted in new constitutional justice cases, by further construing and developing, inter alia, reinterpreting the official constitutional doctrinal provisions, also so that the official constitutional doctrine is corrected, it is prompted not to make any intervention to the text of the Constitution when such intervention is not legally necessary. Alongside, one thus contributes to the ensuring of the stability of the text of the Constitution and the constitutional order.

14. The reinterpretation of the official constitutional doctrinal provisions, also such when the constitutional doctrine is corrected means, inter alia, that in the future, at the Constitutional Court, constitutional justice cases will have to be considered and corresponding decisions will have to be adopted by following this reinterpreted (corrected) official constitutional doctrine.

15. In Paragraph 2 of Article 107 of the Constitution, it is prescribed that the decisions of the Constitutional Court on issues assigned to its competence by the Constitution shall be final and not subject to appeal.

15.1. The notion “decisions” used in Paragraph 2 of Article 107 of the Constitution (the same notion is used in Paragraph 1 of Article 105, Paragraph 2 of Article 107 and Paragraph 4 of Article 109 of the Constitution) may not be construed as meaning that the Constitutional Court, while deciding on issues assigned to its competence, may adopt only a legal act called a decision (which has the form of a decision). The notion “decisions” is a general one, it not only describes the legal acts adopted by the Constitutional Court and the kind of these acts—this means that the Constitutional Court implements the competence assigned to it by the Constitution and expresses its will, i.e. adopts a final act of the Constitutional Court.

It needs to be noted that final acts of the Constitutional Court are also such its legal acts by which a constitutional justice case is considered in essence as well as such which are adopted without investigating the compliance of the impugned legal act (part thereof) with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force) in essence, but by properly (clearly and rationally) refusing by means of a reasoned decision to consider the petition or by dismissing the instituted legal proceedings (if the corresponding petition was received at the Constitutional Court and the preparation of the constitutional justice case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing was begun) or by dismissing the case (if the constitutional justice case has already been considered at the Constitutional Court’s hearing).

15.2. The general notion “decisions” of Paragraph 2 of Article 107 of the Constitution is concretised in the Law on the Constitutional Court.

In Article 22 (wording of 11 July 1996) of the Law on the Constitutional Court, it is, inter alia, established: the Constitutional Court shall decide a case in essence by passing a ruling (Paragraph 1), the Constitutional Court shall pronounce rulings in the name of the Republic of Lithuania (Paragraph 1); in the cases provided for by the Law on the Constitutional Court (i.e. the cases provided for in Paragraph 3 of Article 105 of the Constitution), the final act of the Constitutional Court shall be called a conclusion (Paragraph 2); the Constitutional Court shall adopt decisions on individual questions which prevent a case from being decided in essence (Paragraph 3). Therefore, after it investigates whether a certain act of the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government, as well as any act (part thereof) passed by referendum is not in conflict with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, the Constitutional Court shall adopt a ruling.

In this context, it should be noted that under the Law on the Constitutional Court, the Constitutional Court shall adopt decisions regarding the construction of a ruling of the Constitutional Court (Paragraph 2 of Article 61) and regarding the dismissal of a case (legal proceedings) (Paragraph 3 of Article 69).

The specified rulings, conclusions and decisions of the Constitutional Court are final acts of the Constitutional Court—by them a constitutional justice case is finished. All the said Constitutional Court’s rulings, conclusions, as well as decisions by which the constitutional justice case is finished, i.e. final acts of the Constitutional Court, are included in the general notion “decisions” used in Paragraph 2 of Article 107 of the Constitution which also means that the Constitutional Court implements the competence assigned to it by the Constitution and expresses its will, i.e. adopts a final act of the Constitutional Court.

15.3. Under Paragraph 2 of Article 107 of the Constitution, in which, as mentioned before, it is prescribed that the decisions of the Constitutional Court on issues assigned to its competence by the Constitution shall be final and not subject to appeal, the Constitutional Court’s rulings, conclusions, as well as decisions by which the constitutional justice case is finished, i.e. final acts of the Constitutional Court, may not be reviewed, except the cases when the necessity to review them arises out of the Constitution itself.

In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that the Constitutional Court’s rulings, conclusions and decisions by which a constitutional justice case is finished, i.e. final acts of the Constitutional Court, are final and not subject to appeal irrespective of whether the Constitutional Court adopted these acts in a corresponding constitutional justice case after it had investigated in essence on the compliance of the legal act (part thereof) with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force) or after it had not investigated into the compliance of the legal act (part thereof) with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force) in essence, but by means of a properly (clearly and rationally) reasoned decision refused to consider the petition or dismissed the instituted legal proceedings (case), if the corresponding petition had been received at the Constitutional Court and the preparation of the constitutional justice case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing had begun or it had already been considered at the Constitutional Court’s hearing.

15.4. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it is particularly to be noted that the formula “shall be final and not subject to appeal” of Paragraph 2 of Article 107 of the Constitution, in which, as mentioned before, it is prescribed that the decisions of the Constitutional Court on issues assigned to its competence by the Constitution shall be final and not subject to appeal, means that the Constitutional Court’s rulings, conclusions and decisions by which a constitutional justice case is finished, i.e. final acts of the Constitutional Court, are obligatory to all State institutions, courts, all enterprises, establishments and organisations, as well as officials and citizens, including the Constitutional Court itself: final acts of the Constitutional Court are obligatory to the Constitutional Court itself, they restrict the Constitutional Court in the aspect that it may not change them or review them if there are no constitutional grounds for that.

15.5. Thus, it should be emphasised that under the Constitution, no development of the official constitutional doctrine—neither the supplement of the conception of the provisions of the Constitution provided in the acts of the Constitutional Court adopted in the previous constitutional justice cases with new elements (fragments) nor the reinterpretation of the official constitutional doctrinal provisions formulated previously when the official constitutional doctrine is corrected—may be or is the grounds for reviewing the rulings, conclusions or decisions or their reasoning, which were adopted in the previous constitutional justice cases by which corresponding constitutional justice cases were finished.

This should also be said about the cases when the Constitutional Court, after it has received a petition of a court of general jurisdiction or a specialised court, established under Paragraph 2 of Article 111 of the Constitution, requesting an investigation into, and a decision on, whether any act (part thereof) of the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government, as well as that adopted by referendum is not in conflict with an act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, did not decide, under the Constitution and the Law on the Constitutional Court, on the corresponding question in essence by means of a properly (clearly and rationally) argued decision—it refused to consider the petition or dismissed the instituted legal proceedings (case), if the corresponding petition had been received at the Constitutional Court and the preparation of the constitutional justice case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing had begun or it had already been considered at the Constitutional Court’s hearing.

16. Although the Constitution does not specify expressis verbis that the Constitutional Court has the powers to review its rulings, conclusions and decisions, nor does it contain any expressis verbis specified grounds, due to which the Constitutional Court has the powers to review its rulings, conclusions and decisions, it does not mean that the said powers of the Constitutional Court and grounds are not established in the Constitution at all. The powers of the Constitutional Court to review its rulings, conclusions and decisions arise out of the constitutional purpose of the Constitutional Court to administer constitutional justice, guarantee the supremacy of the Constitution in the legal system and the constitutional legality; such powers of the Constitutional Court are also implied by the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, according to which it is required that the jurisdictional institutions (thus, also the Constitutional Court) would seek to establish the objective truth and that they would adopt their decisions only on the grounds of law (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 11 May 1999, 19 September 2000, 24 January 2003, and 13 December 2004).

The opposite construction would mean that the Constitutional Court may not review its rulings, conclusions and decisions even when they were adopted while the Constitutional Court did not know about such essential circumstances which, if had been known then, would have been able to determine a different content of the adopted rulings, conclusions and decisions. It is obvious that such construction would not correspond the constitutional purpose of the Constitutional Court and the conception of powers established to it in the Constitution because it would imply, inter alia, the fact the Constitutional Court may not administer constitutional justice and guarantee the supremacy of the Constitution in the legal system, nor the constitutional legality.

However, it should be emphasised that the Constitutional Court may review its rulings, conclusions and decisions only if there are constitutional grounds for doing that. The construction that the Constitutional Court may review its rulings, conclusions and decisions also when the necessity to review them does not arise out of the Constitution, i.e. when no significant new circumstances turned up which were unknown at the time when the corresponding final act of the Constitutional Court was passed, would mean that the Constitutional Court is not bound by Paragraph 2 of Article 107 of the Constitution, under which, as mentioned before, final acts of the Constitutional Court are binding on the Constitutional Court itself and they restrict the Constitutional Court in the aspect that it may not change or review them if there are no constitutional grounds for that. Such construction would not correspond the Constitution also because of the fact that it would create preconditions for denying the continuity of the constitutional jurisprudence and violating the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution, the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law and other provisions of the Constitution.

17. In this context, it should be noted that the provision that the Constitutional Court has the powers to review its ruling is entrenched in Article 62 of the Law on the Constitutional Court. In the said article it is established:

The Constitutional Court may review its rulings on its own initiative if:

1) new, essential circumstances turn up which were unknown to the Constitutional Court at the time when the ruling was passed;

2) the constitutional norm on which the ruling was based has changed.

In such a case, the Constitutional Court shall adopt a decision and start the investigation of the case anew.

A decision of the Constitutional Court concerning construction of its ruling may also be reviewed if the ruling was not construed according to its actual content.”

18. The formula “may review its rulings” of Article 62 of the Law on the Constitutional Court may not be construed literally, as meaning that, allegedly, the Constitutional Court has the powers to review only its rulings (i.e. only such of its legal acts, which have the form of a ruling). This formula should be construed in the context of the legal regulation, established in other articles (parts thereof) of the Constitution, inter alia, of the general notion “decisions” of Paragraph 2 of Article 107 of the Constitution, which, as mentioned before, includes all rulings, conclusions and decisions of the Constitutional Court by which a constitutional justice case is finished (i.e. final acts of the Constitutional Court), as well as in the context of the legal regulation established in other articles (parts thereof) of the Law on the Constitutional Court, inter alia, of the notion “decision concerning <…> construction of the ruling” of Paragraph 3 of Article 62 of the Law on the Constitutional Court. Thus, under Article 62 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, the Constitutional Court has the powers to review not only its rulings, but also other final acts.

However, it should be emphasised that, as it has been held in this ruling of the Constitutional Court, under the Constitution, the final acts of the Constitutional Court are final and not subject to appeal, therefore, obligatory the Constitutional Court itself (irrespective of whether the Constitutional Court adopted these acts in the corresponding constitutional justice case after it has investigated in essence on the compliance of the legal act (part thereof) with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force) or after it has not investigated into it in essence); they restrict the Constitutional Court in the aspect that it may not change or review them if there are no constitutional grounds for that; the Constitutional Court may review its rulings, conclusions and decisions only in the cases when the necessity to review them arises out of the Constitution itself. Under Paragraph 2 of Article 62 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, in such cases, the Constitutional Court shall adopt a decision and start the investigation of the case anew.

19. Under the Law on the Constitutional Court, a final act may be reviewed only on the grounds established in Article 62 of this law. In such a case, the Constitutional Court shall adopt a decision and start the investigation of the case anew (Paragraph 2 of Article 62 of the Law on the Constitutional Court).

It needs to be noted that a final act of the Constitutional Court may be reviewed only upon the initiative of the Constitutional Court itself (Paragraph 1 of Article 62 of the Law on the Constitutional Court). This provision does not mean that various subjects of law, inter alia, those, which, under the Constitution and the Law on the Constitutional Court, may apply to the Constitutional Court with a petition or request on the questions assigned to the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court, may not raise the question of the reviewing of a final act of the Constitutional Court at the Constitutional Court, however, under the Constitution and the Law on the Constitutional Court, while deciding, whether to do so, the Constitutional Court has a wide discretion.

19.1. One of the bases for reviewing a final act of the Constitutional Court on its own initiative is the fact that new essential circumstances turned up which were unknown to the Constitutional Court at the time when the ruling was passed (Item 1 of Paragraph 1 of Article 62 of the Law on the Constitutional Court).

19.1.1. It was mentioned that, under the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has the powers to review its rulings, conclusions and decisions when they were adopted while the Constitutional Court did not know about such essential circumstances which, if they had been known, such circumstances would have been able to determine a different content of the adopted rulings, conclusions and decisions.

19.1.2. However, as it has been held in this ruling of the Constitutional Court, under the Constitution, no development of the official constitutional doctrine—neither the supplement of the conception of the provisions of the Constitution provided in the acts of the Constitutional Court adopted in the previous constitutional justice cases with new elements (fragments), nor the reinterpretation of the official constitutional doctrinal provisions formulated previously when the official constitutional doctrine is corrected—may be or is the grounds for reviewing the rulings, conclusions, or decisions or their reasoning which were adopted in the previous constitutional justice cases by which corresponding constitutional justice cases were finished; this, as mentioned before, should also be said about the cases when the Constitutional Court, after it has received a petition of a court of general jurisdiction or a specialised court, established under Paragraph 2 of Article 111 of the Constitution, requesting an investigation into, and a decision on, whether an act (part thereof) of the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government, or that adopted by referendum is not in conflict with an act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, refused, under the Constitution and the Law on the Constitutional Court and by means of a properly (clearly and rationally) argued decision, to consider the petition or dismissed the instituted legal proceedings (case), if the corresponding petition had been received at the Constitutional Court and the preparation of the constitutional justice case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing had begun or it had already been considered at the Constitutional Court’s hearing, thus, it did not decide on the corresponding question in essence.

19.2. Another base for reviewing a final act of the Constitutional Court on its own initiative is that “the constitutional norm on which the ruling was based has changed” (Item 2 of Paragraph 1 of Article 62 of the Law on the Constitutional Court).

19.2.1 In this context, it should be noted that, under Paragraph 1 of Article 107 of the Constitution, a law (or part thereof) or other act (or part thereof) of the Seimas, act of the President of the Republic, act (or part thereof) of the Government may not be applied from the day of official publication of the decision of the Constitutional Court that the act in question (or part thereof) is in conflict with the Constitution. As Paragraph 1 of Article 102 of the Constitution is construed as meaning that the Constitutional Court has the exclusive competence to investigate and decide on whether a certain act (part thereof) of the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government, or that adopted by referendum is not in conflict with a certain legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, so is specified Paragraph 1 of Article 107 of the Constitution to be construed as meaning that every legal act (part thereof) of the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government, as well as that passed by referendum, which is recognised as being in conflict with a certain legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, is removed from the Lithuanian legal system for good and one will never be able to apply it again. It should also be noted that the power of the ruling of the Constitutional Court to recognise a legal act or part thereof as unconstitutional may not be overruled by a repeated adoption of a like legal act or part thereof (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 30 May 2003). It was mentioned that, under Paragraph 2 of Article 107 of the Constitution, the decisions of the Constitutional Court on issues assigned to its competence by the Constitution shall be final and not subject to appeal.

Therefore, after the publication of the ruling of the Constitutional Court that a certain act (part thereof) passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government, as well as that adopted by referendum is in conflict with a certain legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, the subject which has passed that legal act has the duty to recognise that legal act (part thereof) as no longer valid or to change it so that it would not be in conflict with the corresponding legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution. However, till this constitutional duty has not been fulfilled, the corresponding legal act (part thereof) may no longer be applied under any circumstances.

19.2.2. In themselves, no amendments or supplements of a legal act of higher legal force, even those of the Constitution, made after the Constitutional Court recognised, while referring to the previous provisions of the Constitution, a certain legal act (part thereof) passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or adopted by referendum as being in conflict with any act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, bring back the legal act (part thereof) which was recognised as being in conflict with any legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution to the Lithuanian legal system. Under the Constitution, nor does the Constitutional Court have the powers to bring back such legal acts (parts thereof) to the Lithuanian legal system. In an analogous way, in themselves no amendments or supplements of a legal act of higher legal force, even of the Constitution, made after the Constitutional Court recognised, while referring to the previous provisions of the Constitution, a certain act passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or that adopted by referendum as not being in conflict with a certain act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, do not mean that the decision on the said legal act may or has to be retrospectively changed. On the other hand, when an amendment to the Constitution is made, the legislature and other law-making subjects must co-ordinate the legal acts that they passed and which are still valid with the changed legal regulation, however, this does not imply that the constitutional justice cases on the compliance of the previous legal regulation with the legal regulation of higher legal force, inter alia (and first of all), with the Constitution, which have already been investigated, must be renewed and that the decisions adopted therein—reviewed and changed.

This is applicable mutatis mutandis also to such cases, when the Constitutional Court, referring to the previous provisions of the Constitution, presents a conclusion on any of the questions, specified in Paragraph 3 of Article 105 (whether there were violations of election laws during an election of the President of the Republic or an election of members of the Seimas (Item 1); whether the state of health of the President of the Republic allows him to continue to hold office (Item 2); whether international treaties of the Republic of Lithuania are not in conflict with the Constitution (Item 3); whether concrete actions of members of the Seimas and State officials against whom an impeachment case has been instituted are in conflict with the Constitution (Item 4))—such conclusion remains valid even if the provisions of the Constitution, taking account of what conclusion was made and presented, are changed or abolished. Moreover, this is applicable mutatis mutandis to the decisions of the Constitutional Court that were adopted without investigating the compliance of the impugned legal act (part thereof) with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force) in essence, but by properly (clearly and rationally) refusing by means of a reasoned decision to consider the petition or by dismissing the instituted legal proceedings (case), if the corresponding petition had been received at the Constitutional Court and the preparation of the constitutional justice case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing had begun or it had already been considered at the Constitutional Court’s hearing.

19.2.3 Thus, the Constitution does not give grounds to bring back retrospectively the legal act (part thereof) which was recognised as being in conflict with legal regulation of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), established in the Constitution, to the Lithuanian legal system, as well as to question and annul the corresponding rulings, conclusions and decisions of the Constitutional Court that were constitutionally grounded at the moment when they were adopted. While construing it in a different way, not only the provisions of the Constitution that entrench the institute of constitutional justice—constitutional legal control—inter alia, the fact that the decisions of the Constitutional Court are final and not subject to appeal would be disregarded, but the stability of the Constitution, the predictability of decisions of the Constitutional Court, the legitimate expectations of various subjects of law that are created by such decisions would be denied.

Thus, Item 2 of Paragraph 1 of Article 62 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, in which one of the bases for reviewing a final act of the Constitutional Court on the initiative of the Constitutional Court is that “the constitutional norm on which the ruling was based has changed” is not in line with the provisions of Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 107 of the Constitution.

19.2.4. It was also mentioned that under Paragraph 2 of Article 5 of the Constitution, the scope of power shall be limited by the Constitution. The Constitutional Court has held in its acts that the provision of Paragraph 2 of Article 5 of the Constitution that the scope of power shall be limited by the Constitution is violated if the legal regulation is established whereby the powers of the state institution specified in Paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the Constitution or those of any other state institution are broadened in a constitutionally unreasonable manner (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 13 May 2004, 13 December 2004, and 23 August 2005).

It was mentioned that on the basis established in Item 2 of Paragraph 1 of Article 62 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, a final act of the Constitutional Court may be reviewed only on the initiative of the Constitutional Court itself.

Since it has been held that Item 2 of Paragraph 1 of Article 62 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, in which the base is established, whereby a final act of the Constitutional Court may be reviewed only on the initiative of the Constitutional Court is not in line with the provisions of Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 107 of the Constitution, it should also be held that by such regulation the powers that belong to the Constitutional Court under the Constitution are broadened without constitutional grounds.

19.2.5. Taking account of the arguments set forth, the conclusion should be drawn that Item 2 of Paragraph 1 of Article 62 of the Law on the Constitutional Court is in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 5 and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 107 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

19.3. Under Paragraph 3 of Article 62 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, a decision of the Constitutional Court concerning the construction of its ruling may also be reviewed if the ruling was not construed according to its actual content.

In this context, it should be noted that under Paragraph 1 of Article 61 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, a ruling of the Constitutional Court may only be officially construed by the Constitutional Court itself; the Constitutional Court does so upon a request of the persons who participated in the case, of other institutions and persons to whom the ruling was sent, as well as on its own initiative. In Paragraph 3 of Article 61 of the Law on the Constitutional Court it is prescribed that the Constitutional Court must construe its ruling without changing its content. The Constitutional Court has held that while construing its ruling, the Constitutional Court is bound both by the content of the operative part and the part of reasoning of its ruling (the Constitutional Court’s decisions of 12 January 2000, 11 February 2004, 13 February 2004, and 10 February 2005). The provision of Paragraph 3 of Article 61 of the Law on the Constitutional Court that the Constitutional Court must construe its ruling without changing its content means, among other things, that while construing its ruling, the Constitutional Court may not construe its content so that the meaning of the provisions of the ruling would be changed, inter alia, the entirety of the meaning of the elements composing the content of the ruling, as well as the arguments and reasons on which the Constitutional Court’s ruling is based. The specified provision of Paragraph 3 of Article 61 of the Law on the Constitutional Court also means that the Constitutional Court may not construe what it did not investigate in the constitutional justice case in which the construed ruling was adopted.

20. It has been held in this ruling of the Constitutional Court that no development of the official constitutional doctrine—neither the supplement of the conception of the provisions of the Constitution provided in the acts of the Constitutional Court adopted in the previous constitutional justice cases with new elements (fragments), nor the previously formulated reinterpretation of the official constitutional doctrinal provisions when the official constitutional doctrine is corrected—may be or is the grounds for reviewing the rulings, conclusions or decisions or their reasoning adopted in previous constitutional justice cases by which corresponding constitutional justice cases were finished, this, as mentioned before, should also be said about the cases when the Constitutional Court, after it has received a petition of a court of general jurisdiction or a specialised court, established under Paragraph 2 of Article 111 of the Constitution, requesting an investigation into, and a decision on, whether a legal act (part thereof) passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government, as well as any act (part thereof), or that adopted by referendum is not in conflict with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, did not decide, under the Constitution and the Law on the Constitutional Court, on the corresponding question in essence by means of a properly (clearly and rationally) argued decision—it refused to consider the petition or dismissed the instituted legal proceedings (case), if the corresponding petition had been received at the Constitutional Court and the preparation of the constitutional justice case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing had begun or it had already been considered at the Constitutional Court’s hearing, thus, it did not decide the corresponding question in essence.

Thus, in itself no development of the official constitutional doctrine (inter alia, the reinterpretation of the official constitutional doctrinal provisions when the official constitutional doctrine is corrected) is the grounds for the subjects specified in Article 106 of the Constitution to apply to the Constitutional Court anew with a petition requesting an investigation into whether the law (part thereof) whose compliance with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force) has already been investigated in essence, is not in conflict with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force), or with a petition, which is analogous to the petition previously presented by some subject, requesting an investigation into whether the legal act (part thereof) on which the Constitutional Court has already passed a decision to refuse to consider the petition or a decision (ruling) to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings (case), if the corresponding petition had been received at the Constitutional Court and the preparation of the constitutional justice case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing had begun or it had already been considered at the Constitutional Court’s hearing, thus, it did not decide the corresponding question in essence, is not in conflict with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force).

In itself, the change (reinterpretation, correction) of the constitutional doctrine formed by the Constitutional Court previously is not the grounds for the subjects specified in Article 106 of the Constitution to apply to the Constitutional Court anew with a request whether there were violations of election laws during an election of the President of the Republic or an election of members of the Seimas, whether the state of health of the President of the Republic permits him to continue to hold office, whether international treaties of the Republic of Lithuania are not in conflict with the Constitution and whether particular actions of members of the Seimas and state officials against whom the impeachment case has been instituted are in conflict with the Constitution.

21. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that the official constitutional doctrine that if the Constitutional Court did not decide, subsequent to a petition of a petitioner—a court—the question on the compliance of the impugned law or other legal act (part thereof) with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, in essence due to the fact that at the time when the corresponding constitutional justice case is being considered (or at the time when one expects its consideration to take place) is no longer valid—it has been recognised as no longer valid (it was abolished or amended) or its validity expired, the doubts of the court, which considers the case, regarding the compliance of that law or other legal act (part thereof) with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution would not be removed, and if that law or other legal act (part thereof) is applied, the values, inter alia, constitutional rights of the person, entrenched in and defended and protected by the Constitution, could be violated, was formulated in the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court not at the beginning of its activity, but gradually, after the Constitutional Court has gained appropriate experience in consideration of constitutional justice cases and while construing the aspects of the legal regulation established in the Constitution, necessary for the investigation of the corresponding constitutional justice cases.

It should also be noted that after the Constitutional Court has gained appropriate experience in consideration of constitutional justice cases, the construction (which is mentioned in this ruling of the Constitutional Court) of the provision “the annulment of the impugned legal act shall be grounds to adopt a decision to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings” of Paragraph 4 (wording of 11 July 1996) of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court has gradually developed in the Constitutional Court jurisprudence, whereby in cases when the Constitutional Court is not applied by courts but by the other subjects specified in Article 106 of the Constitution and when the impugned legal act (part thereof) is no longer valid—it has been recognised as no longer valid (it was abolished or amended) or its validity expired—the Constitutional Court, while paying heed to the circumstances of the considered case, has the powers to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings, however, it does not have to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings in every case when the impugned legal act (part thereof) is no longer valid—it has been recognised as no longer valid (it was abolished or amended) or its validity expired—and that the Constitutional Court has the duty, when it is applied by a court, which considers a case and which had doubts on the compliance of a law applicable in that case with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force), to consider the petition of the court irrespective of whether the impugned law or other legal act is valid or not.

22. At the beginning of its activity and a bit later, the Constitutional Court adopted certain decisions to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings (and, when the constitutional justice case had already been investigated in the Constitutional Court’s hearing—to dismiss the case) in the constitutional justice cases, in which the laws or other legal acts impugned by the petitioners (inter alia, courts) were no longer valid at the time when corresponding constitutional justice cases were considered—they had been recognised as no longer valid (they had been abolished or amended) or their validity had expired. If the impugned legal act (part thereof) used to be recognised as no longer valid (they had been abolished or amended) or their validity had expired before the Constitutional Court decided on the acceptance of the corresponding petition for consideration and preparation of the case, a decision used to be adopted to refuse to investigate the petition.

It should also be mentioned that at the beginning of the activity of the Constitutional Court and a bit later also such decisions of the Constitutional Court were adopted by which it was refused to consider certain petitions because corresponding legal acts (parts thereof) of higher legal force were no longer valid (they had been recognised as no longer valid (they had been abolished or amended) or their validity had expired) in regard of which the compliance of legal acts (parts thereof) of lower legal force was impugned, at the time when the corresponding constitutional justice case was being investigated (or at the time when one expected its consideration to take place).

The said decisions of the Constitutional Court to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings or the case and decisions to refuse to consider the petition were reasoned by the fact (or, inter alia, by the fact) that at the time of consideration of the corresponding constitutional justice case (or at the time when one expected its consideration to take place), the impugned legal act (part thereof) and/or the legal act (part thereof) of higher legal force was no longer valid (it had been recognised as no longer valid (it had been abolished or amended) or its validity had expired) in regard of which the compliance of certain legal acts (parts thereof) of lower legal force was impugned.

Alongside, it should also be emphasised that the said decisions of the Constitutional Court to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings or the case and decisions to refuse to consider the petition were adopted while taking account of various circumstances of the corresponding case (when one refused to consider a corresponding petition—also of the circumstances related to the matter of the petition).

23. In this context, it should also be noted that by some decisions adopted at the beginning of the Constitutional Court’s activity and a bit later the instituted legal proceedings used to be dismissed also in such constitutional justice cases, in which, subsequent to the petitions of the petitioners, one investigated the compliance with the Constitution (other legal acts of higher legal force) of such legal acts (parts thereof) of lower legal force, which, even though formally were valid when the corresponding constitutional justice cases were investigated—formally they had not been recognised as no longer valid (they had not been abolished nor amended), nor their validity had been formally terminated, however, at that moment they could no longer be applied because one had to apply certain legal acts (parts thereof) that were passed later and/or those of higher legal force, which regulated the corresponding relations differently than the impugned legal acts (parts thereof). In this aspect, the impugned legal acts (parts thereof) which at the time when the constitutional justice cases were investigated could no longer be applied because one had to apply the legal acts (parts thereof) that were passed later and/or those of higher legal force, which regulated the corresponding relations differently than the said impugned legal acts (parts thereof), in the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court were compared to no longer valid legal acts (parts thereof).

It should also be mentioned that there were also such decisions in which the Constitutional Court referred to the provision of Paragraph 4 (wordings of 3 February 1993 and 11 July 1996) of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court that the annulment of the impugned legal act shall be grounds to adopt a decision to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings holding that there was no impugned matter left in the considered case (because the new legal regulation was already applied and not the impugned one).

24. The said decisions of the Constitutional Court to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings or to refuse to consider the petition when the impugned legal acts (parts thereof) and/or legal acts (parts thereof) of higher legal force in whose aspect the compliance of certain legal acts (parts thereof) of lower legal force was impugned were no longer valid, as well as when the impugned legal acts (parts thereof) that were formally still valid were compared to legal acts (parts thereof), which were no longer valid, were grounded on such conception of the Constitutional Court’s powers that was prevailing for some time (particularly, at the beginning of the Constitutional Court’s activity and a bit later) that the Constitutional Court has the powers to investigate only the compliance of valid legal acts of lower legal force with only valid legal acts of higher legal force (inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution); while following such conception of the Constitutional Court’s powers, the Constitutional Court did not investigate whether the legal acts that were no longer valid, or the ones compared to such were not in conflict with the Constitution (other legal acts of higher legal force).

It should be noted that for some time (particularly, at the beginning of the Constitutional Court’s activity and a bit later) the prevailing conception of the Constitutional Court’s powers that the Constitutional Court has the powers to investigate only the compliance of valid legal acts of lower legal force with only valid legal acts of higher legal force (inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution) and does not investigate whether the legal acts that are no longer valid, or the ones compared to such are not in conflict with the Constitution (other legal acts of higher legal force) was grounded not so much on the construction of the provisions (inter alia, of those in which the Constitutional Court’s powers are entrenched) of the Constitution based on the systemic, logical, teleological or other methods, but, first of all, on the linguistic (literal) construction of the provision “the annulment of the impugned legal act shall be grounds to adopt a decision to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings” of Paragraph 4 (wordings of 3 February 1993 and 11 July 1996) of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court.

It should be emphasised that the application of the linguistic method of construction of law as well as the strict following of the letter of the law in general while applying law is most often grounded; it is not possible to deny the significance of this method of construction of law; while applying the linguistic method of construction of law (together with other methods), the observance of the formal requirements of law and the same understanding of the corresponding legal regulation are ensured.

On the other hand, the linguistic method of construction of law is not unique or universal, its significance should not be exaggerated. In this context, it should be noted that, as the Constitutional Court has held in its acts (inter alia, in its rulings of 25 May 2004 and 13 December 2004) more than once, it is not permitted to construe the Constitution only literally, by applying only the linguistic (verbal) method, that while construing the Constitution, it is necessary to apply various methods of construction of law: systemic, the one of general principles of law, logical, teleological, the one of intentions of the legislature, the one of precedents, historical, comparative, etc. It should also be held that the same can be said about construction of all legal acts of lower legal force (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 16 January 2006). Moreover, the Constitutional Court has held that it is impossible to construe constitutional norms and principles on the basis of the legal acts adopted by the legislature and other subjects of law-making, as then the supremacy of the Constitution in the legal system is denied (the Constitutional Court’s decisions of 12 July 2001, 1 July 2004, 13 December 2004, and 10 February 2005).

25. As mentioned before, at the beginning of its activity and a bit later, the Constitutional Court, while taking account of various circumstances of the case (related to the matter of the petition), adopted decisions to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings (and, when the constitutional justice case had already been investigated in the Constitutional Court’s hearing—to dismiss the case) in the constitutional justice cases in which the laws or other legal acts impugned by the petitioners (inter alia, courts) were no longer valid at the time when corresponding constitutional justice cases were considered—they had been recognised as no longer valid (they had been abolished or amended) or their validity had expired. Also, the Constitutional Court adopted decisions to refuse to consider corresponding petitions, if the impugned legal acts (parts thereof) had been recognised as no longer valid (they had been abolished or amended) or their validity had expired before the Constitutional Court decided on the acceptance of the corresponding petitions for consideration and on preparation of cases for Constitutional Court’s hearings, also when these decisions were reasoned by the fact (inter alia, by the fact) that the impugned legal acts (parts thereof) were no longer valid.

However, it needs also to be noted that at the discussed time there were also such constitutional justice cases, in which one investigated and decided whether the legal acts (parts thereof) of lower legal force which were not valid at the time when the corresponding constitutional justice case was investigated or which, even though were formally valid when the corresponding constitutional justice case was investigated, at that moment they could no longer be applied because one had to apply the legal acts (parts thereof) that were passed later and/or those of higher legal force, which regulated the corresponding relations differently than the impugned legal acts (parts thereof), were not in conflict with the Constitution (other legal acts of higher legal force). In these constitutional justice cases, while taking account of various circumstances of the case, corresponding rulings were adopted, by which the cases were decided in essence. In this context, it should be noted that in such constitutional justice cases it was investigated whether, inter alia, such legal acts (parts thereof) of lower legal force, which at the moment when the Constitutional Court was deciding on the acceptance of the corresponding petition for consideration and preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing, were valid, however, they became no longer valid prior to the consideration of the corresponding constitutional justice case at the Constitutional Court’s hearing, as well as such legal acts (parts thereof) of lower legal force of one-off (ad hoc) application which had been executed at the time when the constitutional justice case was considered, were not in conflict with the Constitution (other legal act of higher legal force).

26. In summary, it should be held that the official doctrine of the acceptability of petitions at the Constitutional Court in the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court was not finally formulated for some time; this doctrine was formulated “case by case” in two directions: on the one hand, there was a prevailing conception of the Constitutional Court’s powers that the Constitutional Court has the powers to investigate only the compliance of valid legal acts of lower legal force only with valid legal acts of higher legal force (inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution) and that it does not investigate whether the legal acts that are no longer valid, or the ones compared to such are not in conflict with the Constitution (other legal acts of higher legal force); on the other hand (more seldom), one investigated and decided whether the legal acts (parts thereof) of lower legal force, which were not valid when the corresponding constitutional justice case was investigated or which even though were formally valid when the corresponding constitutional justice case was investigated, at that moment they could no longer be applied because one had to apply the legal acts (parts thereof) that were passed later and/or those of higher legal force, which regulated the corresponding relations differently than the impugned legal acts (parts thereof), were not in conflict with the Constitution (other legal acts of higher legal force).

27. When the Constitutional Court gained appropriate experience in consideration of constitutional justice cases, it was noticed that the said conception of the Constitutional Court’s powers that the Constitutional Court has the powers to investigate only the compliance of valid legal acts of lower legal force with only valid legal acts of higher legal force (inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution) and does not investigate whether the legal acts that are no longer valid, or the ones compared to such are not in conflict with the Constitution (other legal acts of higher legal force), created preconditions for the emergence of such legal situations, when a court, which considers a corresponding case, doubted on the compliance of the legal act (part thereof) passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or adopted by referendum, which was applicable in the considered case, with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, and which, after it had applied to the Constitutional Court with a petition, could not be certain that these doubts which had arisen to it would be removed after receiving an answer from the Constitutional Court, because the Constitutional Court, while following the said conception of the Constitutional Court’s powers, could, while taking into account the circumstances of importance, refuse to accept the petition requesting an investigation into the compliance of the corresponding laws (parts thereof) and other legal acts (parts thereof) with the Constitution precisely because of the fact that the impugned legal act (part thereof) was no longer valid—it had been recognised as no longer valid (it had been abolished or amended) or its validity had expired, or, under Paragraph 4 (wordings of 3 February 1993 and 11 July 1996) of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, it could dismiss the instituted legal proceedings in the constitutional justice case (dismiss the case). Thus, the said court had to apply such law (part thereof), other legal act (part thereof) on whose compliance with the Constitution (other legal acts of higher legal force) it had doubted. Undoubtedly, in such cases, when not courts but other subjects specified in Article 106 of the Constitution applied to the Constitutional Court with a petition requesting an investigation into the compliance of a legal act (part thereof) passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or adopted by referendum with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, the dismissal of the instituted legal proceedings (case) precisely because of the fact that the impugned legal act (part thereof) was no longer valid—it had been recognised as no longer valid (it had been abolished or amended) or its validity had expired—did not use to give rise to any undesirable legal effects.

The said conception of the Constitutional Court’s powers that the Constitutional Court, allegedly, has the powers to investigate only the compliance of valid legal acts of lower legal force with only valid legal acts of higher legal force (inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution) and that it does not investigate whether the legal acts that are no longer valid, or the ones compared to such are not in conflict with the Constitution (other legal acts of higher legal force) created preconditions for the emergence of such legal situations, when the state institutions which pass laws and other legal acts the revision of the constitutionality of which is assigned to the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court, while seeking to achieve dismissal of the instituted legal regulation in the constitutional justice case following the provision that the annulment of the impugned legal act shall be grounds to adopt a decision to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings of Paragraph 4 (wordings of 3 February 1993 and 11 July 1996) of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, could, before the consideration of the corresponding constitutional justice case at the Constitutional Court’s hearing, recognise the impugned law (part thereof) or other legal act (part thereof) as no longer valid (to annul or amend it) and to adopt a new legal act—replacing the impugned legal act—in which virtually the same legal regulation would be established as the one which was being impugned in the said constitutional justice case, in which the legal proceedings were dismissed because the impugned legal act (part thereof) was no longer valid—it had been recognised as no longer valid (it had been annulled or amended) or its validity had expired. Thus, the said conception of the Constitutional Court’s powers that the Constitutional Court, allegedly, has the powers to investigate only the compliance of only valid legal acts of lower legal force with only valid legal acts of higher legal force (inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution) and that it does not investigate whether the legal acts that are no longer valid, or the ones compared to such are not in conflict with the Constitution (other legal acts of higher legal force) created preconditions for the emergence of such legal situations, when the state institutions which pass laws and other legal acts the revision of the constitutionality of which is assigned to the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court, could also act so that the impugned legal regulation (established in laws (parts thereof) and other legal acts (parts thereof))—after it had been transferred to new legal acts—would be applied afterwards anyway, i.e. until it was not annulled, amended or, if a new constitutional justice case were initiated on that issue in the Constitutional Court, recognised as being in conflict with the Constitution.

It was also noticed that the concept of the powers of the Constitutional Court that it allegedly has the powers to investigate only the compliance of valid legal acts of lower legal force with only valid legal acts of higher legal force (inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution) and that it does not investigate whether the legal acts that are no longer valid, or the ones compared to such are not in conflict with the Constitution (other legal acts of higher legal force), does not permit any investigation into, and the removal of, the legal acts that are not yet valid from the legal system, if such legal acts of lower legal force were recognised as being in conflict with the legal acts of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution.

28. Due to such and other reasons, one began to harmonise the two directions of the forming of the official constitutional doctrine on the acceptance of applications at the Constitutional Court which came into being gradually, after the subjects specified in Article 106 of the Constitution that have the powers to apply to the Constitutional Court were differentiated: in the official constitutional doctrine a provision was eventually entrenched that in the cases when the Constitutional Court is applied by courts, when, in the course of administration of justice they had doubts on the compliance of legal acts of lower legal force with legal acts of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, under the Law on the Constitutional Court (inter alia, Paragraph 4 (wording of 11 July 1996) of Article 69) the Constitutional Court does not have the powers to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings (case) and must consider the case, and when the Constitutional Court is applied by other subjects specified in Article 106 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court may, while taking account of the circumstances of the considered constitutional justice case, either dismiss the instituted legal proceedings (case) or not dismiss it.

29. It was mentioned that the necessity of reinterpretation of certain official constitutional doctrinal provisions so that the official constitutional doctrine would be corrected may be determined only by the circumstances as: the necessity to increase possibilities for implementing the innate and acquired rights of persons and their legitimate interests, the necessity to better defend and protect the values enshrined in the Constitution, the need to create better conditions in order to implement the aims of the Lithuanian Nation declared in the Constitution on which the Constitution itself is based, the necessity to expand the possibilities of constitutional control in this country in order to guarantee constitutional justice and to ensure that no legal act (part thereof) which is in conflict with legal acts of higher legal force, would have the immunity from being removed from the legal system.

The development of the official constitutional doctrine on the acceptance of applications at the Constitutional Court, which also entrenches the Constitutional Court’s powers to investigate the compliance of the laws and of other legal acts (parts thereof) which are no longer valid with the Constitution (other legal acts of higher legal force), inter alia, after one has differentiated the subjects specified in Article 106 of the Constitution that have the powers to apply to the Constitutional Court, is the supplementing of corresponding constitutional doctrine formed in the previous constitutional justice cases with such new elements, which are necessary in deciding new constitutional justice cases so that the specified constitutionally important objectives would be sought, and it is a clearer disclosure of one of the aspects of the variety and completeness of the legal regulation entrenched in the Constitution, the supreme law, when in most of the Constitutional Court’s acts (“case by case”) the corresponding changes (reinterpretation, correction) of the official constitutional doctrinal provisions have been rationally reasoned.

30. It was mentioned that, under the Constitution, no development of the official constitutional doctrine—neither supplement of the conception of the provisions of the Constitution provided in the acts of the Constitutional Court adopted in the previous constitutional justice cases with new elements (fragments), nor reinterpretation of the official constitutional doctrinal provisions formulated previously when the official constitutional doctrine is corrected—may be or is the grounds for reviewing the rulings, conclusions or decisions or their reasoning adopted in the previous constitutional justice cases by which the constitutional justice case was finished; it was also mentioned that the same should be said about such cases when the Constitutional Court, after it has received a petition of a court of general jurisdiction or a specialised court, established under Paragraph 2 of Article 111 of the Constitution, requesting an investigation into, and a decision on, whether the legal act (part thereof), passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or adopted by referendum is not in conflict with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, under the Constitution and the Law on the Constitutional Court, by means of a properly (clearly and rationally) argued decision refused to consider the petition or dismissed the instituted legal proceedings (case), if the corresponding petition had been received at the Constitutional Court and the preparation of the constitutional justice case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing had begun or it had already been considered at the Constitutional Court’s hearing, thus, it did not decide the corresponding question in essence.

It was also mentioned that, under the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has the powers to revise its rulings, conclusions, and decisions when they were adopted while the Constitutional Court did not know about such essential circumstances which, if had been known, would have been able to determine a different content of the adopted rulings, conclusions and decisions.

It should be emphasised that neither the development of the official constitutional doctrine (inter alia, supplement of the conception of the provisions of the Constitution provided in the acts of the Constitutional Court adopted in the previous constitutional justice cases with new elements (fragments), nor reinterpretation of the official constitutional doctrinal provisions formulated previously when the official constitutional doctrine is corrected), nor application of new methods of construction of law while construing certain provisions of the Constitution may be considered the “new, essential circumstances which were unknown to the Constitutional Court at the time when the ruling was passed” mentioned in Item 1 of Paragraph 1 of Article 62 of the Law on the Constitutional Court. Thus, neither any development of the official constitutional doctrine, nor application of new methods of construction of law while construing certain provisions of the Constitution is, or may be the grounds for the Constitutional Court to revise its final legal acts—rulings, conclusions and decisions—inter alia, such by means of which it was refused to consider the petition of the petitioner—a court—requesting an investigation into, and a decision on, whether a legal act (part thereof) passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or adopted by referendum is not in conflict with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, or by which the instituted legal proceedings (case) were dismissed, if the corresponding petition had been received at the Constitutional Court and the preparation of the constitutional justice case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing had begun or it had already been considered at the Constitutional Court’s hearing.

31. The provision “the annulment of the impugned legal act shall be grounds to adopt a decision to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings” of Paragraph 4 (wording of 11 July 1996) of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, which is impugned by the petitioner, should be assessed while taking account of the fact that, as mentioned before, under Paragraph 2 of Article 107 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court’s decisions on issues assigned to its competence by the Constitution shall be final and not subject to appeal, that under Paragraph 1 of Article 107 of the Constitution, a law (or part thereof) or other act (or part thereof) of the Seimas, act of the President of the Republic, act (or part thereof) of the Government may not be applied from the day of official publication of the decision of the Constitutional Court that the act in question (or part thereof) is in conflict with the Constitution. It was held in this ruling of the Constitutional Court that Paragraph 1 of Article 107 of the Constitution means that every legal act (part thereof), passed by the Seimas, the President of the Republic or the Government or adopted by referendum, which is recognised as being in conflict with any legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, is removed from the Lithuanian legal system for good and it could never be applied.

Such provisions of the Constitution help to ensure the stability and certainty of the legal regulation of social relations, the continuity of the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court (and other courts), the predictability of their activity and adopted decisions, the subjects of the constitutional legal relations are protected from revision of final legal acts adopted by the Constitutional Court, which would be determined not by the objective constitutional necessity, but by the accidental (in the aspect of law) factors.

32. Thus, the provision “the annulment of the impugned legal act shall be grounds to adopt a decision to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings” of Paragraph 4 (wording of 11 July 1996) of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court neither denies the stability and certainty of the legal regulation of social relations and the continuity of the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court and other courts, nor ignores the fact that, under the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has the duty to provide a proper (clearly and rationally argued) answer to the court which applied to the Constitutional Court on the compliance of a legal act (part thereof) applicable in the corresponding case with a legal act of higher legal force, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution irrespective of whether the impugned legal act (part thereof) is valid or not, nor, after it has taken account of all the circumstances of importance, does it prevent from dismissing the legal proceedings instituted in corresponding constitutional justice case in the cases when the legal act, on whose compliance the Constitutional Court was applied not by courts but by the other subjects specified in Article 106 of the Constitution, is no longer valid (it has been recognised as no longer valid (it has been abolished or amended) or its validity has expired).

If one understands the provision “the annulment of the impugned legal act shall be grounds to adopt a decision to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings” of Paragraph 4 (wording of 11 July 1996) of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court in this way, the following is not violated:

Paragraph 2 of Article 110 of the Constitution, whereby in cases when there are grounds to believe that the law or other legal act which should be applied in a concrete case is in conflict with the Constitution, the judge shall suspend the consideration of the case and shall apply to the Constitutional Court requesting it to decide whether the law or other legal act in question is in compliance with the Constitution;

Paragraph 1 of Article 30 of the Constitution, whereby the person whose constitutional rights are violated shall have the right to apply to the Constitutional Court;

Paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Constitution, whereby everyone may defend his rights by invoking the Constitution;

Paragraph 1 of Article 109 of the Constitution, whereby in the Republic of Lithuania, justice shall be administered only by courts;

the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

33. While taking account of the arguments set forth, the conclusion should be drawn that the provision “the annulment of the impugned legal act shall be grounds to adopt a decision to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings” of Paragraph 4 (wording of 11 July 1996) of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court is not in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 6, Paragraph 1 of Article 30, Paragraph 1 of Article 109 and Paragraph 2 of Article 110 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

III

On the compliance of the provision “When the economic and financial situation of the country deteriorates considerably, the Seimas may review the financial and material conditions for the functioning of courts” of Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 11 and Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 96 of the Law on Courts with Paragraph 2 of Article 5, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 109 and Paragraph 1 of Article 114 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

1. In Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 11 of the Law on Courts, it is established:

It shall be prohibited to worsen the financial and material-technical conditions for the functioning of courts provided by law. When the economic and financial situation of the country deteriorates considerably, the Seimas may review the financial and material conditions for the functioning of courts.”

In Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 96 of the Law on Courts, it is established: “During the judge’s tenure it shall be prohibited to reduce his work remuneration with the exception of cases provided by this law, or any other social guarantees.”

It was mentioned that the petitioner had doubts on whether the provision “When the economic and financial situation of the country deteriorates considerably, the Seimas may review the financial and material conditions for the functioning of courts” of Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 11 and Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2004) of Article 96 of the Law on Courts to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it establishes the possibilities of reducing the work remuneration of judges, are not in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 5, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 109 and Paragraph 1 of Article 114 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

2. Courts are one of the institutions exercising state power. Under Article 109 of the Constitution, while administering justice, the judge and court shall be independent (Paragraph 2), when considering cases, judges shall obey only the law (Paragraph 3).

The principle of the independence of judges and courts, which is entrenched in the Constitution, obliges the legislature to establish such guarantees ensuring the independence of the judge and court, which would ensure the impartiality of the court while adopting a decision and would not permit any interference in the activities of the judge or a court when it administers justice. The Constitutional Court has held that the independence of the judge is ensured by establishing the inviolability of the term of office of the judge, inviolability of the person of the judge, guarantees of social (material) character of the judge, by consolidating self-governance of the judiciary, which is fully-fledged, and its financial and technical provision, that all these guarantees are closely interrelated, thus, in case any guarantee of independence of the judge and court is violated, administration of justice and the ensuring of the human rights and freedoms might be damaged (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 6 December 1995, 21 December 1999 and 12 July 2001). The protection of the judge’s social (material) guarantees is one of the protection guarantees of the constitutional principle of independence of judges and courts. Thus, any attempts to reduce the remuneration or other social guarantees of judges or to cut the budget of the judiciary are interpreted as an encroachment upon the judicial independence (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 6 December 1995, 21 December 1999 and 12 July 2001, and its decision of 12 January 2000).

3. Under the impugned provision of Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 11 of the Law on Courts, “when the economic and financial situation of the country deteriorates considerably, the Seimas may review the financial and material conditions for the functioning of courts”, while under Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 96 of this Law, during the judge’s tenure it shall be prohibited to reduce his work remuneration with the exception of cases provided by this law.

In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be held that the remuneration of judges, called “work remuneration of the judge” in Article 96 of the Law on Courts, is one of the financial and material conditions mentioned in the impugned provision “When the economic and financial situation of the country deteriorates considerably, the Seimas may review the financial and material conditions for the functioning of courts” of Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 11 of the Law on Courts.

Thus, it should be held that under Paragraph 2 (taking account of the provision of Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 11 of the Law on Courts) of Article 96 of the Law on Courts, during the judge’s tenure his remuneration may be reduced when the economic and financial situation of the country deteriorates considerably.

It should also be mentioned that, as the Constitutional Court held in its ruling of 12 July 2001, in Paragraph 1 of Article 113 of the Constitution, the remuneration received by judges is referred to by the notion “remuneration of the judge”, however, in the laws, by comparing judges with state politicians and other state officials, a different notion is employed—“work remuneration of judges”. Such use of the notion is imprecise and may be treated as one of the preconditions of denying the specific character and protection of the remuneration of judges enshrined in the Constitution. Thus, the legislature is obligated to refer to the remuneration received by judges by employing the notion “remuneration of the judge” pointed out in the Constitution.

4. The provision “when the economic and financial situation of the country deteriorates considerably” of Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 11 of the Law on Courts should be construed as meaning an essential change of the economic and financial situation of the state, where, due to particular circumstances (economic crisis, natural disasters, etc.), an extremely difficult economic and financial situation has occurred in the state. In such cases, due to objective reasons, there may be not enough funds in order to implement the functions of the state and to satisfy the public interests, thus, also to ensure the material and financial needs of courts. Under such circumstances, the legislature may change the legal regulation which establishes the remuneration to various persons, and may consolidate the legal regulation on remuneration which would be less favourable to these persons, if it is necessary in order to ensure the vital interests of society and the state and to protect other constitutional values. However, also in such cases the legislature must keep the balance between the rights and legitimate interests of the persons, to whom the less favourable legal regulation is established and the interests of society and the state, i.e. to pay heed to the requirements of the principle of proportionality.

It should be noted that in case of a difficult economic and financial situation, usually the financing from the budget to all the institutions which implement state powers, as well as the financing of various spheres which are financed from the resources of the budgets of the state and municipalities, should be revised and reduced. If one established a certain legal regulation, whereby in case of considerable deterioration of the economic and financial situation of this country it would not be permitted to reduce the financing of courts only, or to reduce the remuneration of judges only, it would mean that courts are groundlessly singled out from among other institutions which exercise state power, and the judges—from among other persons who participate in implementing the powers of corresponding state institutions. Such consolidation of the exceptional situation of courts (judges) would not be in line with the requirements of an open, fair and harmonious civil society and the imperatives of justice.

It should also be emphasised that it is possible to worsen the financial and material conditions for the functioning of courts and to reduce the remuneration of judges only by law and that it is possible to do so only temporarily, for the period of time when the economic and financial condition of the state is extremely difficult; by such reduction of the remuneration no conditions should be created for other state power institutions and their officials to violate the independence of courts. Even in the case of the extremely difficult economic and financial situation of the state, neither the financing of courts, nor remuneration of judges may be reduced to the extent that the courts would not be able to implement their constitutional function and obligation—to administer justice—or the opportunity of the courts to do that would be restricted.

5. Under the impugned provision of Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 11 of the Law on Courts, when the economic and financial situation of the country deteriorates considerably, the financial and material conditions for the functioning of courts may be reviewed, while under Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 96 of this Law, during the judge’s tenure, his remuneration may be reduced also in the case, when the economic and financial situation of the country deteriorates considerably.

By such legal regulation the following is not violated:

Paragraph 2 of Article 5 of the Constitution, whereby the scope of power shall be limited by the Constitution;

Paragraph 2 of Article 109, whereby while administering justice, the judge and court shall be independent;

Paragraph 3 of Article 109, whereby when administering cases, judges shall obey only the law;

Paragraph 1 of Article 114, whereby interference by institutions of State power and governance, members of the Seimas and other officials, political parties, political and public organisations, or citizens with the activities of a judge or the court shall be prohibited and shall incur liability provided for by law;

the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

6. While taking account of the arguments set forth, the conclusion should be drawn that the provision “When the economic and financial situation of the country deteriorates considerably, the Seimas may review the financial and material conditions for the functioning of courts” of Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 11 and Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 96 of the Law on Courts are not in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 5, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 109 and Paragraph 1 of Article 114 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

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 Item 2 (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 1993, No. 6-120) of Paragraph 1 of Article 62 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania is in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 5 and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 107 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

2. To recognise that the provision “the annulment of the impugned legal act shall be grounds to adopt a decision to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings” of Paragraph 4 (wording of 11 July 1996, Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 1996, No. 73-1749) of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania is not in conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

3. To recognise that the provision “When the economic and financial situation of the country deteriorates considerably, the Seimas may review the financial and material conditions for the functioning of courts” of Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 January 2002, Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2002, No. 17-649) of Article 11 and Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002, Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2002, No. 17-649) of Article 96 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Courts are not in conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

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

                                                                                  Egidijus Kūris

                                                                                  Kęstutis Lapinskas

                                                                                  Zenonas Namavičius

                                                                                  Ramutė Ruškytė

                                                                                  Vytautas Sinkevičius

                                                                                  Stasys Stačiokas

                                                                                  Romualdas Kęstutis Urbaitis