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On amending the Law on Forestry and the legislative procedure, in particular, the deliberation of laws under special urgency procedure

no 4/2018

THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA
IN THE NAME OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

RULING

ON THE COMPLIANCE OF THE LAW AMENDING ARTICLES 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 18, AND 19 OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA’S LAW ON FORESTRY (NO I-671) AND PARAGRAPH 1 OF ARTICLE 164 OF THE STATUTE OF THE SEIMAS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

16 April 2019, no KT12-N4/2019
Vilnius

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed of the Justices of the Constitutional Court: Elvyra Baltutytė, Gintaras Goda, Vytautas Greičius, Danutė Jočienė, Gediminas Mesonis, Vytas Milius, Daiva Petrylaitė, Janina Stripeikienė, and Dainius Žalimas

The court reporter – Daiva Pitrėnaitė

Kęstutis Mažeika, the member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, acting as the representative of the Seimas, 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, at the hearing of the Constitutional Court, on 20 March 2019, considered, under oral procedure, the constitutional justice case (no 4/2018) subsequent to the petition (no 1B-1/2018) of the group of members of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into whether the Law Amending Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Forestry (No I-671), which was adopted on 11 July 2017, is in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

The Constitutional Court

has established:

I

The arguments of the petitioner

1. The doubts of the group of members of the Seimas, the petitioner, concerning the compliance of the Law Amending Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Forestry (No I-671), which was adopted on 11 July 2017 (hereinafter also referred to as the Law) with Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, are substantiated by the fact that, according to the petitioner, while adopting this law, the legislator did not follow the requirements prescribed in legal acts, inter alia, the requirement of Article 15 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Legislative Framework to perform the impact assessment of the envisaged legal regulation, the requirement to perform anti-corruption assessment of a draft legal act consolidated in Items 2 and 10 of Paragraph 1 of Article 8 (wording of 5 June 2008) of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Prevention of Corruption, and the requirement to present the explanatory note together with the draft law submitted to the Seimas, as established in Paragraph 3 of Article 135 of the Statute of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania. According to the petitioner, the non-exhaustive assessment of the impugned draft Law means that also the principles of legislation (expediency, proportionality, effectiveness) consolidated in Paragraph 2 of Article 3 of the Law on the Legislative Framework were violated.

1.1. The petitioner points out that the impugned Law was adopted on the basis of the draft Law Amending Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Law on Forestry (No I-671), which had been registered at the Seimas on 11 July 2017 (registration No XIIP-4291(5); hereinafter also referred to as the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)). According to the petitioner, the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)) was drafted on the basis of the drafts that had been formerly registered at the Seimas, i.e. former versions of the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)) of 11 July 2017 and the draft Law Amending Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Law on Forestry (No I-671), which had been drafted by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania and registered at the Seimas on 10 March 2017 (registration No XIIIP-420; hereinafter also referred to as the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government).

1.2. The petitioner notes that the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government was assessed comprehensively, inter alia, by the Special Investigation Service of the Republic of Lithuania (a conclusion on anti-corruption assessment was presented) and two independent experts; however, the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)) was not legally assessed in a proper manner. Although former versions (the first and the second versions of the draft) of the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)) were accompanied by explanatory notes, these notes discussed only the amendment of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry. From the fourth version of this draft, it was proposed to amend more articles of the Law on Forestry (additionally to amend Articles 2, 4, 5, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Law on Forestry; in addition, it was proposed to amend not only Paragraph 1 of Article 7 but also Paragraph 2 thereof). After the draft law was amended substantially on 11 July 2017, no legal assessments were carried out (no impact assessment of the legal regulation envisaged in the draft, as well as no expert or anti-corruption assessment) and no additional explanatory note was submitted.

1.3. By providing with the arguments concerning the non-compliance of the Law with the principle of effectiveness consolidated in Paragraph 2 of Article 3 of the Law on the Legislative Framework as one of the principles of legislation, under which, among other things, legislative actions must be made within reasonable terms, the petitioner states that legislative actions had been performed within unreasonable terms: having substantially amended the draft Law on 11 July 2017, it was adopted on the same day.

2. The doubts of the petitioner concerning the compliance of the Law with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law are based on the fact that the formula “forest enterprise (enterprises)” of the Law is not clear enough, i.e. it is not specified which specific institution has to establish the number of forest enterprises in the Republic of Lithuania (the Government, the Ministry of Environment, etc.). Moreover, the Law does not consolidate the criteria under which it would be possible to establish the number of forest enterprises that should operate in the Republic of Lithuania; thus, it is not clear how the institutions implementing the Law should decide that.

II

The arguments of the representative of the party concerned

3. In the course of the preparation of the case for the hearing of the Constitutional Court, written explanations were received from Kęstutis Mažeika, a member of the Seimas, acting as the representative of the Seimas, the party concerned, in which it was maintained that the impugned legal regulation was not in conflict with the Constitution either in terms of the procedure of its adoption or in terms of its contents. The additional written explanations from the representative of the party concerned were also received in which the arguments concerning the adoption of the impugned Law under urgency procedure were presented. The position of the representative of the Seimas is based on the following arguments.

3.1. While adopting the Law, the requirements of the Statute of the Seimas, the Law on the Legislative Framework, and the Law on Prevention of Corruption were followed.

3.1.1. The draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)) is a new (improved) version of the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) of the Law Amending Article 7 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Forestry (No I-671) submitted by the group of members of the Seimas (hereinafter referred to as the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) and registered at the Seimas on 27 June 2017, which is prepared by the Committee on Environment Protection of the Seimas. Together with the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) the explanatory note was submitted to the Seimas, although the Statute of the Seimas does not include the requirement to submit, during the deliberation of a draft law at the Seimas, the explanatory notes together with the new (improved) versions of the draft law which was already submitted.

3.1.2. The draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) submitted by the group of members of the Seimas should be considered as an alternative draft to the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government, as both of these draft laws suggested changing of the model of the management of state forests. The explanatory note to the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government specified the results of the impact assessment of the legal regulation envisaged in this draft; a conclusion on anti-corruption assessment prepared by the Special Investigation Service and two conclusions on independent expert assessment were received at the Seimas in relation with this draft law.

When comparing the content of the provisions of the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)), which is the new version of the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) submitted by the group of members of the Seimas, with the content of the provisions of the draft Law (No XIIP-420) submitted by the Government, the conclusion should be made that the content of the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)) is essentially identical to the content of the provisions of the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government with the exception of the provision regulating the model of management of state forests (Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Forestry). In the provisions of the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government, there was a proposal to establish such a model of management of state forests under which one state enterprise manages, uses, and disposes in trust of state forests, as well as is engaged in integrated forestry activities; meanwhile, in the provisions of the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)), there was a proposal to establish that one or several state enterprises – forest enterprise (enterprises) manage(s), use(s) and dispose(s) in trust of state forests, as well as is (are) engaged in integrated forestry activities.

Therefore, according to the representative of the party concerned, it can be stated that the legal regulation proposing (both the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government and the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)) to consolidate a model of management of state forests by one enterprise was extensively discussed at the Seimas and the conclusions from specialists were received. The representative of the party concerned also points out that no initiative concerning independent expert assessment of the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)) has been presented at the Seimas and, in this case, under the Statute of the Seimas, such an assessment is not necessary.

3.1.3. The representative of the party concerned is critical of the arguments of the petitioner concerning anti-corruption assessment of the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)), as by means of this draft it was not actually proposed to regulate the transfer of the new functions of the state to forest enterprises. They were left the same functions to implement as had been established in the Law on Forestry prior to the entry into force of the impugned Law. According to Item 2 of Paragraph 1 of Article 8 of the Law on Prevention of Corruption, anti-corruption assessment of a draft legal act is carried out only in those cases where due to the transfer of the implementation of state functions to state enterprises state budget revenue or expenditure may increase. In the opinion of the representative of the party concerned, the petitioner does not specify what the particular functions of the state were transferred to forest enterprises that would result in a decrease (increase) of state budget revenues or expenditure.

Under the legal regulation established in Item 10 of Paragraph 1 of Article 8 of the Law on Prevention of Corruption, anti-corruption assessment of a draft legal act is also carried out when the regulation of social relationship linked to manufacturing, storage of and trade in goods withdrawn from circulation or being in circulation to a limited extent is planned. A forest of national importance as an immovable item withdrawn from circulation, does not have the features of objects established in Item 10 of Paragraph 1 of Article 8 of the Law on Prevention of Corruption that could be manufactured and the storage of and trade in which could be regulated. The Law regulates the manufacture of immovable items, wholesale and retail trade of them where the state is not the exclusive owner thereof and these items have not been withdrawn from civil circulation, i.e. the sale of raw timber, residues from forest harvesting, etc.; thus, there was no legal ground for carrying out anti-corruption assessment of the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)).

In addition, the Special Investigation Service had presented the conclusion on anti-corruption assessment concerning the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government; therefore, there was no need to reassess, from anti-corruption point of view, the amendments of the Law on Forestry, which were identical in terms of their content and which were actually transferred from the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government to the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)).

3.1.4. The representative of the party concerned does not agree with the arguments of the petitioner that the non-exhaustive assessment of the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)) means that the principles of legislation (expediency, proportionality, effectiveness) consolidated in Paragraph 2 of Article 3 of the Law on the Legislative Framework were violated, as, in his opinion, while considering at the Seimas the model of management of state forests proposed in the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government, as well as the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)), the conclusions submitted by experts were evaluated. When considering the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government at the Seimas, upon the emergence of conflicting opinions and in seeking a compromise, it was decided for the Seimas to sumbit the alternative draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) submitted by the group of members of the Seimas (whereby it was proposed to grant the powers for the Government to choose the model of management of state forests and to establish the optimal number of state enterprises (state forests)) for further consideration.

3.1.5. Thus, according to the representative of the party concerned, when adopting the Law, the legislative procedure established in the Statute of the Seimas was followed, no essential violations thereof were made.

3.1.6. In additional written explanations, the representative of the party concerned specifies that the Law was adopted under special urgency procedure upon the proposal by the Speaker of the Seimas during the deliberation of the draft Law at the sitting of the Seimas. On 11 July 2017, the extraordinary prolonged Seimas spring session finished. At the morning sitting of the Seimas held on this day, during the discussions concerning the draft Law, the Speaker of the Seimas noted that the reform of forest management had been delayed for ten years as well as that it was aimed at the effective use of the state property. In the opinion of the representative of the party concerned, this gives rise to the reasons why the Speaker of the Seimas later, during the same morning session, proposed the deliberation of the Law under special urgency procedure. The fact that the reasons of this proposal were clear for the members of the Seimas participating in the sitting is confirmed by the circumstance that none of them, including the representatives of an opposition, requested for additional reasoning why the Speaker of the Seimas proposed the deliberation of the Law under special urgency procedure.

3.2. According to the representative of the party concerned, the formula “forest enterprise (enterprises)” of the Law is not in conflict also with the constitutional principle of legal clarity.

3.2.1. Only one formula “forest enterprise (enterprises)” is consistently used throughout the Law and the legal regulation established in it is clear and precise. From the provisions of the Law, as interpreted together with the provisions of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on State and Municipal Enterprises, it is obvious that the Government has the right to establish state enterprises – forest enterprises and that one forest enterprise may operate in Lithuania, as well as that a different number of forest enterprises may be established.

3.2.2. While adopting the Law, the legislature implemented the provision of Item 1 of Article 94 of the Constitution that the Government manages national affairs – it granted the powers to the Government for establishing by itself the optimal number of state enterprises (forest enterprises) with regard to the principles of the management of state-owned property, as well as the use and disposal thereof, so that the costs of state-owned property – state forests, would not be unreasonable, public interests would be ensured to the maximum, and the state-owned property would be rationally managed and used.

III

The persons who were present at the hearing of the Constitutional Court and the explanations provided by them

4. Member of the Seimas Remigijus Žemaitaitis, the representative of the group of members of the Seimas, the party concerned, did not participate at the hearing of the Constitutional Court.

5. At the hearing of the Constitutional Court, member of the Seimas Kęstutis Mažeika, the representative of the party concerned, specified that he supported the arguments set out in his written explanations and answered the questions of the justices of the Constitutional Court.

5.1. When answering the questions of the justices of the Constitutional Court, the representative of the party concerned noted that, in his opinion, the notion “forest enterprise (enterprises)”, which was consolidated in the Law on Forestry, was clear; under this notion, in Lithuania, both one or several forest enterprises may operate, and the specific number of forest enterprises may be established in accordance with the principles of effective management. The Law on Forestry should not establish the specific number of forest enterprises; taking into account the need, the Government should establish the said number of forest enterprises; moreover, the state enterprise the State Forests’ Enterprise itself may decide on the number of its branches necessary for the effective operation thereof. The representative of the party concerned also noted that while extending the protected forest areas where economic activity is limited, it may be necessary to amend the number of forest enterprises. Such a legal regulation when a law does not consolidate the specific number of forest enterprises creates the possibility to implement the reforms more effectively and there is no need make respective amendments of the Law on Forestry each time.

5.2. When answering the questions of the justices of the Constitutional Court, the representative of the party concerned explained that certain provisions of the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government were transposed into the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)) submitted by the group of members of the Seimas in order not to get involved into wider debate and in order to implement the reform of forest enterprises provided for in the programme of the Government. While interpreting why the submission of the draft Law by the Speaker of the Seimas under special urgency procedure was not reasoned, the representative of the party concerned noted that each member of the Seimas could ask what the reasons were if it was not clear for him/her; however, the members of the Seimas did not do that as they understood the reasons from the speech of the Speaker of the Seimas delivered at the beginning of the sitting.

The representatives of the party concerned also noted that such legislative practice when laws are very often adopted under special urgency procedure is not good; however, at present, the laws adopted under special urgency procedure are not numerous. The impugned law was adopted under special urgency procedure as the procedure of adoption of the amendments of the Law on Forestry took a long time as the rapid adoption of one or another decision was necessary, as otherwise the state forests whose situation deteriorated due to inefficient management would have been affected.

6. At the hearing of the Constitutional Court, the witness Andrius Kabišaitis, the Director of the Legal Department of the Office of the Seimas (hereinafter referred to as the Legal Department) also spoke.

According to the witness, the Legal Department assessed the draft Law (No XIIP-4291) of the Law Amending Article 7 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Forestry (No I-671) submitted by the group of members of the Seimas (hereinafter referred to as the draft Law (No XIIP-4291)) both at the stage of its submission and before its adoption. Although the Legal Department only assessed draft Law XIIP-4291(4) before the adoption, there were no essential differences in the content between the said draft Law and the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)); an editorial mistake was made in the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(4)).

In answering the question of the representative of the party concerned, the witness noted that formerly the Statute of the Seimas included the provision under which, when adopting a draft law according to the general procedure, the Legal Department had to assess the amendments or supplements received prior to the adoption of this law at the sitting of the Seimas. This provision was refused as impossible to implement; however, the same provision remained in the chapter of the Statute of the Seimas regulating the deliberation of a draft law under special urgency procedure.

In answering the questions of the justices of the Constitutional Court, the witness noted that the Legal Department assessed all the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(4)) submitted by the group of members of the Seimas and presented a few remarks concerning the article of the draft law in which it was proposed to amend Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry, and the fact that, in the conclusion of the Legal Department, a wrong reference to this Law is made is purely a technical error. According to the witness, the proposals submitted by the members of the Seimas during the break in the deliberation of the draft Law under special urgency procedure before its adoption were not assessed in the Legal Department, as the Legal Department was not informed about these proposals under the procedure established in the legal acts governing the activity of the Legal Department. The witness noted that, in general, the situations when it was necessary to assess such proposals were not numerous; however, in his opinion, it was almost impossible to implement the provision of the Statute of the Seimas under which the Legal Department has to assess the proposals submitted during the break in the deliberation of a draft law under special urgency procedure before its adoption, as there may be a lot of such proposals, thus, the Legal Department would be unable to go into the detail of these proposals. In addition, the Statute of the Seimas does not clearly regulate whether these proposals must be assessed in terms of their compliance with the legal acts in force, or in terms of their compatibility with the draft law being adopted, or in terms of their consistency with each other.

IV

The material received in the case

7. In the course of the preparation of the case for the hearing of the Constitutional Court, a written opinion from Kęstutis Navickas, the Minister of Environment of the Republic of Lithuania, was received; the letter (No S-2018-8696) of the Office of the Seimas of 19 November 2018 on the presentation of material in case No 4/2018 of the Constitutional Court and the letter (No S-2018-9568) of the Legal Department of 12 December 2018 on the presentation of information in case No 4/2018 were also received.

8. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it is important to note that, in the public audit report on law-making process carried out by the National Audit Office and published on 16 March 2018, it is held that, in a single year, approximately 700 draft laws are submitted to the Seimas; in 2012–2016, 3 779 draft laws were registered at the Seimas and more than half of them (2 200) were submitted by the members of the Seimas (the public audit report (No VA-2018-P-40-6-2, l. 25) of the National Audit Office of 16 March 2018.

In this report, it was also noted that about one half of all laws adopted in Lithuania in 2008–2016 were the laws deliberated under urgency or special urgency procedure:

in 2004–2008, 1 777 laws were adopted, 52 of which were deliberated under urgency procedure and 206 of which were deliberated under special urgency procedure;

in 2008–2012, 1 790 laws were adopted, 66 of which were deliberated under urgency procedure and 869 of which were deliberated under special urgency procedure;

in 2012–2016, 2 105 laws were adopted, 172 of which were deliberated under urgency procedure and 768 of which were deliberated under special urgency procedure (the public audit report (No VA-2018-P-40-6-2, l. 27) of the National Audit Office of 16 March 2018).

In the public audit report on law-making process carried out by the National Audit Office, it was also noted that having analysed the data of the spring session of 2017 of the Seimas, it was established that 37.6 per cent (108 out of 287) of laws had been adopted after being deliberated under urgency or special urgency procedure, 65 per cent of which – upon a proposal from the Government; the proposals from the Government to deliberate draft laws under urgency or special urgency procedure were, in 67 per cent of cases, reasoned by the delay in transposing European Union legislation into national law; other reasons were the ambition of Lithuania to become a member of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (hereinafter referred to as the OECD) and a need to implement the provisions of the programme of the Government (the public audit report (No VA-2018-P-40-6-2, l. 27–28) of the National Audit Office of 16 March 2018) . It is obvious from this audit report that, in Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Poland, this percentage of laws adopted under such a procedure does not exceed 5 per cent for all draft laws and it is about 10 per cent in Estonia (the public audit report (No VA-2018-P-40-6-2, l. 27) of the National Audit Office of 16 March 2018) .

The report also drew attention to the fact that, in 2014, when performing the evaluation, the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) noted that the excessive application of urgency procedures while adopting legal acts in Lithuania could harm the publicity of various stages of adoption of legal acts and reduce the transparency of all the process; however, the deliberation of draft laws under urgency or special urgency procedure is still very frequent (the public audit report (No VA-2018-P-40-6-2, l. 27-28) of the National Audit Office of 16 March 2018).

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

I

The scope of investigation

9. The group of members of the Seimas, the petitioner, requests an investigation into the compliance of the Law Amending Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Law (No I-671) on Forestry, which was adopted on 11 July 2017, with Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

9.1. The arguments set out in the petition make it clear that the petitioner had doubts concerning the compliance of the Law with Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution, which establishes that laws are adopted at the Seimas according to the procedure established by law, and with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law under the procedure of adoption.

Thus, the petitioner impugns the compliance of the Law with Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law in terms of the procedure of its adoption.

9.2. The petitioner also doubts the compliance of the formula “forest enterprise (enterprises)” of the Law with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

9.2.1. The formula “state forest enterprise (enterprises)” is used in Articles 2, 3, 5, and 8 of the Law.

Paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the Law amended Paragraph 1 (wording of 30 June 2016) of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry by establishing that the forest enterprise (enterprises) operate(s) in the Republic of Lithuania instead of the specific number of forest enterprises (42 forest enterprises) formerly established in the said paragraph.

Under Paragraph 1 of Article 2, Paragraphs 1 and 4 of Article 3, and Article 8 of the Law, the amendments were made to Paragraph 6 of Article 4, Item 8 of Paragraph 2 of Article 5 and Paragraph 5 of this article, as well as Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 18 of the Law on Forestry; moreover, the formula “forest enterprise” was replaced by the formula “forest enterprise (enterprises)”.

9.2.2. According to the petitioner, the formula “forest enterprise (enterprises)” of the Law is not clear enough, i.e. it is not specified which specific institution has to establish the number of forest enterprises in the Republic of Lithuania (the Government, the Ministry of Environment, etc.). The Law on Forestry does not consolidate the criteria under which it would be possible to establish the number of forest enterprises that should operate in the Republic of Lithuania; thus, it is not clear how the institutions implementing this law should decide that.

9.2.3. As mentioned before, the specific number of forest enterprises was established in Paragraph 1 (wording of 30 June 2016) of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry, which was amended by Paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the Law.

9.2.4. Therefore, it is obvious from the arguments of the petitioner that it doubts, inter alia, the compliance of Paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the Law with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, insofar as, by means of the said paragraph, the formula “forest enterprise (enterprises)” is consolidated in Paragraph 1 (wording of 11 July 2017) of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry, from which, according to the petitioner, it is not clear how many forest enterprises should operate.

II

Factual circumstances linked to the adoption of the impugned Law

10. As mentioned before, the group of members of the Seimas, the petitioner, impugns the compliance of the Law with the Constitution in terms of the procedure of its adoption.

11. The relevant factual circumstances linked to the adoption of the Law are obvious from the material of the constitutional justice case at issue.

11.1. Paragraph 1 (wording of 30 June 2016) of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry, which was effective at the time of the adoption of the Law, established that “42 forest enterprises shall operate in the Republic of Lithuania”, and, under Paragraph 4 (wording of 15 February 2005) of Article 5 of this law, forest regeneration, maintenance and protection, also the use of forest resources assigned to state forest enterprises were organised and coordinated by the Directorate General of State Forests at the Ministry of Environment.

11.2. On 15 April 2016, the draft Law (No XIIP-4291) submitted by the group of members of the Seimas (Eugenijus Gentvilas, Eligijus Masiulis, Andrius Mazuronis, Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, and Gintaras Steponavičius) was registered at the Seimas, whereby it was proposed to amend Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry so that instead of a concrete number of forest enterprises (42 forest enterprises), it would be established that forest enterprises operate in the Republic of Lithuania.

11.2.1. An explanatory note was submitted together with the draft Law (No XIIP-4291) submitted by the group of members of the Seimas, in which it was specified, among other things, that: the provision of Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry in force at that time, which consolidated the number of forest enterprises operating in the Republic of Lithuania, limited the possibilities of the Government and the institutions authorised by it to seek for an optimal management of state forests; therefore, the aim of the draft was not to establish the number of forest enterprises in a law in order to create the possibility for the optimal management of state forests; the preparation of the draft Law was encouraged by the recommendations presented by the experts of the State Control and the OECD in order to ensure more effective activities of state-owned enterprises, in which it was emphasised that it is appropriate to seek better management of forest enterprises, better financial performance of forest enterprises, and to seek to reform all the system by optimising management costs; the representatives of the OECD noted that, in Latvia, Estonia, and Finland, state-forests are maintained and administered by one state-owned enterprise; in the explanatory note, also the impact assessment results of the envisaged legal regulation are discussed – it is specified that no negative consequences are expected.

11.2.2. Following the submission, in the sitting of 16 March 2017, the Seimas returned the draft Law (No XIIP-4291) to the initiators for improvement (protocol No SPP-33 of the morning sitting of the Seimas of 16 March 2017).

11.3. On 10 March 2017, the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) Amending Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Forestry (No I-671), submitted by the government resolution (No 154) of 8 March 2017 on submitting to the Seimas the drafts of the Law Amending Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Forestry (No I-671), Law Amending Article 589 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Republic of Lithuania, Law Amending Article 9 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law (No VIII-2032) on the Financing of Road Maintenance and Development Programme, Law Amending Articles 2 and 10 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Hunting (No IX-966), Law Amending Article 18 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Fire Safety (No IX-1225), Law Amending Article 27 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Protected Areas (No I-301), Law Amending Article 3 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Transfer of State-Owned Property to Municipalities (No VIII-546), Law Amending Article 8 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Land (No I-446), and the Law Amending Article 11 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Taking of Land for Public Needs in Implementing the Projects of Particular Public Importance (No XI-1307) was registered at the Seimas.

It should be noted that, in the government resolution (No 154) of March 2017, taking account of the fact that the foreseen date of the entry into force of laws was 1 January 2018 and in seeking to ensure smooth implementation of the procedures of reorganisation of state-owned enterprises, the Seimas was requested to deliberate the specified draft laws under urgency procedure (Item 3).

11.3.1. In Paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the draft Law (No XIIIP-450) submitted by the Government, it is proposed to amend Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry so that one state enterprise called Lithuanian State Forests instead of 42 forest enterprises operating in Lithuania would be established.

By means of the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government, it was also proposed to amend the following:

certain key notions established in Article 2 of the Law on Forestry – nature management measures, integrated forestry activities, forest manager, the state enterprise Lithuanian State Forests, and state officials of forests (Article 1);

certain provisions of Article 4 of the Law on Forestry, which regulates ownership of forests and forests of national importance, among other things, by establishing that the state enterprise Lithuanian State Forests manages in trust state-owned forest land (Article 2);

certain provisions of Article 5 of the Law on Forestry, which regulates state forest management and the supervision of the implementation of the Law on Forestry, among other things, by providing for the functions of the state enterprise Lithuanian State Forests (Article 3);

certain provisions of Article 6 of the Law on Forestry, which regulates duties, rights, and social guarantees of state forest officials (Article 4);

Paragraph 2 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry, which regulates economic regulation of the state forestry, by establishing how general forestry needs and nature management measures in forests were to be financed (Article 5);

the provisions of Article 8 of the Law on Forestry, which regulates individuals’ access to forests (Article 6);

the provisions of Article 13 of the Law on Forestry, which regulates state forest inventory, forest recording, and forest cadastre, among other things, by foreseeing the aim of forest inventory and forest recording (Article 7);

Article 18 of the Law on Forestry, which regulates forest protection against fire and natural disasters, among other things, by foreseeing that the state enterprise Lithuanian State Forests together with municipalities and other competent institutions jointly develop the common national system of fire prevention and organise its implementation (Article 8);

the provisions of Article 19 of the Law on Forestry, which regulates forest protection against diseases and pests (Article 9).

11.3.2. Following the submission, in the morning sitting of 16 March 2017, the Seimas was deliberating the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government and decided to make a break until the next sitting (protocol No SPP-33 of the morning sitting of the Seimas of 16 March 2017). After the break, at the evening sitting on the same day, following the submission, the Seimas approved the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government, commenced the procedure of its consideration, appointed the Committee on Environment Protection as the lead committee for the consideration of this draft law, and rejected the proposal by the Government to consider this draft law under urgency procedure (protocol No SPP-34 of the evening sitting of the Seimas of 16 March 2017).

As mentioned before, at the morning sitting on the same day, following the submission, the Seimas returned the draft Law (No XIIP-4291) to the initiators for improvement (protocol No SPP-33 of the morning sitting of the Seimas of 16 March 2017).

In this context, it should be noted that, at the sitting of the Seimas on 16 March 2017, the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government and the draft Law (No XIIP-4291) submitted by the group of members of the Seimas were not presented as alternative, they were considered as separate issues on the agenda of the Seimas: the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) was issue No 1–7a on the agenda and the draft Law (XIIP-4291) was issue No 1.9.

11.3.3. It should be noted that together with the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government, an explanatory note was presented, in which, among other things, the impact assessment results of the envisaged legal regulation were discussed – it was specified that no negative consequences were expected, as well as that the adoption of the amendments proposed in that draft Law would enable the formation of an economic entity, which would be competitive in the long term and efficient and which would ensure the economic stability of state forestry sector, as well as the maximum financial return to the state for the use of state property (state forests); this would ensure access of raw timber for timber industry and that would have positive impact on the development of timber industry; smooth provision of raw timber would improve the conditions for the activity of timber industry in the country (including smaller companies at regional level); the proposed legal regulation would promote investment in timber industry and in the working or processing of raw timber in Lithuania, thus creating the greatest added value, would create favourable conditions for the development of timber industry, as well as would contribute in increasing employment by preserving the existing places of employment and creating the new ones.

In the explanatory note, it was also noted that the need to improve the management system of state forests was emphasised by the OECD (whose membership was sought by Lithuania), which, having performed the overview of the governance of Lithuanian state-owned enterprises, presented specific recommendations on the improvement of the governance of state-owned enterprises; Lithuania was directed to take measures to ensure that groups of small state-owned enterprises with identical functions achieve an efficient allocation of resources and are subject to higher standards of governance and transparency; one of the sectors including many state-owned enterprises with identical functions – 42 forest enterprises; the recommendation concerning the reform of this sector was presented – “organise both sectors with a view to achieving an efficient allocation of resources and implementing high standards of governance and transparency. This could be achieved through a consolidation of the enterprises within each sector.” In this context, it should be noted that, as specified in the explanatory note, the Ministry of Environment was obliged to prepare the draft Law Amending the Law on Forestry which would provide for the consolidation of forest enterprises and to submit it to the Government by the end of the first quarter of 2017; after the Seimas adopted the submitted draft law, the activity and governance of forest enterprises had to be optimised until the first quarter of 2018.

11.3.4. On 29 March 2017, at the request of the Committee on Environment Protection, the Special Investigation Service presented the conclusion on anti-corruption assessment (No 4-01-2522) on the draft Law (No XIIIP-420). The conclusion on anti-corruption assessment specified that the Special Investigation Service “agrees with the legal regulation presented in the Draft, whereby, provided that the Draft is adopted, the model of governance of state forests would be changed in the Republic of Lithuania”.

11.3.5. On 13 June 2017, by its decision (No SV-S-300) on independent expert evaluation of the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) Amending Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Forestry (No I-671), and the proposals of the members of the Seimas concerning this draft law, the Board of the Seimas approved the proposals of the Committee of Environment Protection concerning the requirements for an independent expert who would assess the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government and the proposals of the members of the Seimas regarding this draft law (Item 1).

The draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government and the proposals by the members of the Seimas concerning this draft law were evaluated in the conclusions of independent expert evaluation submitted by UAB Civitta and the Forest Owners Association of Lithuania (the conclusions were registered at the Secretariat of Seimas sittings on 29 June 2017 and 30 June 2017 respectively).

11.4. Before receiving the above-mentioned conclusions of independent expert evaluation concerning the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government, on 27 June 2017, at the Seimas, the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) prepared by the group of members of the Seimas (consisting of Eugenijus Gentvilas, Kęstutis Glaveckas, and Gabrielius Landsbergis) was submitted, in which it was proposed to amend Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry by refusing the specific number of forest enterprises (42 forest enterprises) established therein and to consolidate that a forest enterprise (enterprises) operate(s) in the Republic of Lithuania.

The draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) submitted by the group of members of the Seimas was accompanied by an explanatory note, in which, as in the explanatory note submitted together with the draft Law (No XIIP-4291), it was noted that the preparation of the draft Law was encouraged by the recommendations presented by the experts of the State Control and the OECD in order to ensure more effective activities of state-owned enterprises, in which it was emphasised that it was appropriate to seek better management of forest enterprises; in the explanatory note, also the impact assessment results of the envisaged legal regulation were discussed – it was specified that no negative consequences were expected.

11.5. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that, on 30 June 2017, the Seimas adopted the resolution (No XIII-587) on the prolongation of the II (spring) session of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, by which it prolonged the Seimas session until 7 July 2017; on 4 July 2017, this resolution was amended and the II (spring) session of the Seimas was prolonged until 13 July 2017.

11.6. At the sitting on 4 July 2017, following the submission, the Seimas approved the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) submitted by the group of members of the Seimas, commenced the procedure of its deliberation and appointed the Committee on Environment Protection as the lead committee for the consideration of a draft law (protocol No SPP-89 of the evening sitting of the Seimas of 4 July 2017).

11.7. At the sitting of 7 July 2017, the Committee on Environment Protection, as the lead committee appointed by the Seimas, considered both draft laws – the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government and the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) submitted by the group of members of the Seimas.

11.7.1. At the sitting of 7 July 2017, the Committee on Environment Protection decided to reject the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government; it should be noted that before rejecting it, the Committee on Environment Protection did not consider either the conclusions of independent expert evaluation submitted concerning this draft law, or any other conclusions, proposals, amendments or remarks presented by consultants or specialists, as well as entities having the right of legislative initiative, the proposals by additional committees appointed by the Seimas and by state and municipal institutions and bodies; moreover, the Committee on Environment Protection did not specify any arguments related to the rejection of this draft law (the conclusion (No 107-P-27) of the lead committee of 7 July 2017 on the draft Law (NO XIIIP-420) Amending Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Forestry (No I-671).

It should be noted that at the sitting of 7 July 2017, the Committee on Environment Protection did not adopt the decision to join the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government and the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) submitted by the group of members of the Seimas.

11.7.2. At the same sitting, the Committee on Environment Protection decided to approve the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) submitted by the group of members of the Seimas, as well as its own conclusions concerning this draft law, and to submit the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(3)) Amending Article 7 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Forestry (No I-671) (hereinafter referred to as the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(3)) to the Seimas for consideration; at this sitting, together with the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) submitted by the group of members of the Seimas, among other things, the proposal concerning the draft law submitted by Seimas members Simonas Gentvilas and Paulius Saudargas on 7 July 2017 was considered, which was approved by the Committee on Environment Protection; also the proposals submitted by Seimas members Kęstutis Mažeika and Virginija Vingrienė on 7 July 2017 were considered but they were not approved (the conclusion (No 107-P-27) of the lead committee of 7 July 2017 on the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) Amending Article 7 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Forestry (No I-671)).

11.7.2.1. It should be noted that, in the proposal concerning the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) submitted by Seimas members Simonas Gentvilas and Paulius Saudargas, which was approved by the Committee on Environment Protection, it was proposed to amend Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry by consolidating therein that forest enterprises operate in the Republic of Lithuania and to supplement this paragraph by the provisions regulating the size of a forest enterprise: until 31 December 2019, a forest enterprise should mean a forest area of no less than 30 000 ha and no more than 70 000 ha, and from 1 January 2020 the forest area of a forest enterprise would be established under the procedure prescribed by the Government.

11.7.2.2. It should also be noted that, in the proposals submitted by Seimas members Kęstutis Mažeika and Virginija Vingrienė concerning the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)), which were not approved by the Committee of Environment Protection, it was proposed to amend the same articles of the Law on Forestry as in the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government, which was rejected by the said committee (with the exception of Article 6 of the Law on Forestry, which was not proposed to be amended by the members of the Seimas); the following was proposed to be amended:

certain key notions of this law established in Article 2;

Article 4, which regulates the right of ownership of forests of national importance;

Article 5, which regulates the state governance of forests and the supervision of the implementation of the Law on Forestry;

Paragraph 2 of Article 7, which regulates economic regulation of the state forestry, by establishing how general forestry needs and nature management measures in forests were to be financed;

Article 8, which regulates individuals’ access to forests;

Article 13, which regulates state forest inventory, forest recording, and forest cadastre;

Article 19, which regulates forest protection against diseases and pests.

In addition, in the proposals submitted by the members of the Seimas, differently from the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government, in was proposed to regulate, in Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry, sale of raw timber from state forests and residues from forest harvesting and other essential conditions of sale of this state property.

There were also other differences between the above-mentioned proposals of the members of the Seimas and the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government; for instance, the members of the Seimas proposed to define the notion of the residues from forest harvesting in Article 2 of the Law on Forestry, to amend Article 18 of this law, which regulates forest protection against fire and natural disasters, so that the Minister of Environment would establish special measures of the protection and elimination of the consequences of natural disasters in forests where the volume of dry, windfallen, broken, burnt or otherwise disturbed stands at the state level is more than 25 000 cubic metres, and not 500 000 cubic metres as it was proposed by the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government.

11.7.3. It should be noted that neither the conclusion (No 107-P-27) of the Committee on Environment Protection of 7 July 2017 on the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) Amending Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Forestry (No I-671), nor the conclusion (No 107-P-27) adopted on the same day on the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) Amending Article 7 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Forestry (No I-671) identifies these draft laws as alternative; in both of them, it was proposed to amend Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry: by the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government it was proposed to amend Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry so that instead of 42 forest enterprises operating in Lithuania the state enterprise Lithuanian State Forests would be established, and by the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) submitted by the members of the Seimas it was proposed to amend this paragraph by refusing the specific number of forest enterprises (42 forest enterprises) established therein and consolidating that, a forest enterprise (enterprises) operate(s) in the Republic of Lithuania. It should be noted that by the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government it was also proposed to amend other articles of the Law on Forestry – Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 13, 18, and 19. Thus, the content of the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government and content of the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(P)) submitted by the group of members of the Seimas were fundamentally different.

11.8. It should be noted that, in the proposal concerning the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(3)) submitted by Seimas members Simonas Gentvilas and Paulius Saudargas, which was approved by the Committee on Environment Protection, it was proposed to amend Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry by consolidating therein that forest enterprises operate in the Republic of Lithuania and to supplement this paragraph by the provisions regulating the size of a forest enterprise: until 31 December 2019, a forest enterprise should mean a forest area of no less than 30 000 ha and no more than 70 000 ha, and from 1 January 2020 the forest area of a forest enterprise would be established under the procedure prescribed by the Government.

11.9. On 10 July 2017, Seimas members Ramūnas Karbauskis, Kęstutis Mažeika, and Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė submitted a proposal concerning the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(3)), in which it was proposed to amend Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry by consolidating therein that a forest enterprise (forest enterprises) operate(s) in the Republic of Lithuania, to regulate the ways of sale of raw timber from state forests and residues from forest harvesting and other essential conditions of sale of this state property, as well as to refuse the establishments of the sizes of forest enterprises proposed by Seimas members Simonas Gentvilas and Paulius Saudargas.

11.10. On 11 July 2017, at the morning sitting, the Seimas approved the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(3) with the amendments adopted at the sitting; these amendments were adopted subsequent to the proposals of Seimas members Kęstutis Mažeika and Virginija Vingrienė concerning the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(3)), which partially coincided with the provisions of the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government and which, as mentioned before, were not approved by the Committee on Environment Protection at the sitting on 7 July 2017. According to these proposals, it was provided for not only to amend Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry (as mentioned before, the members of the Seimas proposed to regulate, in this part, the ways of sale of raw timber from state forests and residues from forest harvesting and other essential conditions of sale of this state property) but also Paragraph 2 of this article, as well as Articles 2, 4, 5, 8, 13, 18, and 19 (protocol No SPP-90 of the morning sitting of the Seimas of 11 July 2017).

11.10.1. At the same morning sitting of the Seimas held on 11 July 2017, during the discussions concerning the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(3)) at the beginning of deliberation, the Speaker of the Seimas noted that the reform of forest management had been delayed for ten years, as well as that it was aimed at effective use of the state property. Later, following the discussions and after the Seimas approved the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(3)) and the said proposals concerning this draft law submitted by Seimas members Kęstutis Mažeika and Virginija Vingrienė by voting, the Speaker of the Seimas proposed to deliberate this draft Law under special urgency procedure but he did not present the reasons for doing that; the Seimas approved the proposal by vote; in accordance with the requirements of the Statute of the Seimas, a break was made (the verbatim report of the morning sitting of the Seimas of 11 July 2017).

11.10.2. During the break in the deliberation of this draft law, also the proposals concerning this draft law, which had been registered with the Secretariat of Seimas Sittings, were received from Seimas members Rimantas Jonas Dagys and Juozas Olekas.

11.10.2.1. Seimas members Rimantas Jonas Dagys proposed to clarify some key notions of the law established in Article 2 of the Law on Forestry and the functions of a forest enterprise (enterprises) consolidated in Article 5 thereof also in a manner similar to what was proposed to amend Article 6 of the Law on Forestry by the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government – to regulate life and health insurance of state forest’s officers who work under an employment contract.

11.10.2.2. It is obvious from the content of the proposal of member of the Seimas Juozas Olekas to amend Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry (in the proposal, the formula “state enterprise Lithuanian State Forests” is used) that it was proposed not to amend the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(3)) but to amend the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government.

11.11. Having approved the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(3)) and having decided to deliberate it under special urgency procedure, at the same morning sitting on 11 July 2017, the Seimas also deliberated the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government, which had been proposed to be rejected by the Committee on Environment Protection, appointed by the Seimas as the lead committee for the consideration of this draft law. The Seimas did not endorse the proposal of the committee and appointed another lead committee for the consideration of the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government – the Committee on Economics, and set the consideration of this draft Law at the sitting of the Seimas during III (autumn) session of the Seimas (the verbatim report of the morning sitting of 11 July 2017). It should be noted that the Committee on Economics had not considered the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government and had not registered the conclusion at the Secretariat of Seimas sittings (the letter (No S-2018-8696) of the Office of the Seimas of 19 November 2018 on the presentation of material in case No 4/2018 of the Constitutional Court).

11.12. With reference to the amendments which were approved at the morning sitting of the Seimas of 11 July 2017, also the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(4)) Amending Articles 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Forestry (No I-671) was registered at the Seimas on the same day; after some editorial inaccuracies were noticed and corrected, the draft law was registered anew and it was given the reference number XIIP-4291(5) (the verbatim report of the evening sitting of the Seimas of 11 July 2017).

11.12.1. At the morning sitting of the Seimas on 11 July 2017, after the proposals of Kęstutis Mažeika and Virginija Vingrienė submitted concerning the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(3)) (whereby it was proposed to amend only Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry – no longer to establish the concrete number of forest enterprises and to regulate their size),were approved by the Seimas after the voting during the deliberation, the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)) was, in comparison to the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(3)), supplemented by the provisions, whereby it was proposed to amend the following:

some key notions (nature management measures, integrated forestry activities, residues from forest harvesting, and state official of forests) established in Article 2 of the Law on Forestry (Article 1 of the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)));

Article 4 of the Law on Forestry, which regulates the right of ownership of forests and forests of national importance, among other things, to establish that a forest enterprise (enterprises) manage(s) in trust state-owned forest land (Article 2 of the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)));

Article 5 of the Law on Forestry, which regulates state forest management and the supervision of the implementation of the Law on Forestry, among other things, to provide for the functions of a state enterprise (enterprises);

Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry, which regulates the economic regulation of state forestry, i.e. to regulate therein the sale of raw timber from state forests and residues from forest harvesting and other essential conditions of sale of this state property, and Paragraph 2 of this article, i.e. to establish how the general forestry needs and nature management measures in forests are financed (Article 4 of the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)));

Article 8 of the Law on Forestry, which regulates individuals’ access to forests (Article 5 of the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)));

Article 13 of the Law on Forestry, which regulates state forest inventory, forest recording, and forest cadastre, among other things, to provide for the aim of forest inventory and forest recording (Article 6 of the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)));

Article 18 of the Law on Forestry, which regulates forest protection against fire and natural disasters, among other things, to provide for that a forest enterprise (enterprises) together with municipalities and other competent institutions jointly develop(s) the common national system of fire prevention and organise(s) its implementation (Article 7 of the draft Law No XIIP-4291(5));

Article 19 of the Law on Forestry, which regulates forest protection against diseases and pests (Article 8 of the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5))).

11.12.2. With regard to this draft law, an additional conclusion was received from the Committee on Environment Protection, in which, among other things, the committee supported the proposal submitted by Seimas members Ramūnas Karbauskis, Kęstutis Mažeika, and Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė on 10 July 2017 to amend Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry by consolidating therein that a forest enterprise (forest enterprises) operate(s) in the Republic of Lithuania, to regulate the sale of raw timber from state forests and residues from forest harvesting and other essential conditions of sale of this state property, as well as to refuse the establishments of the sizes of forest enterprises proposed by Seimas members Simonas Gentvilas and Paulius Saudargas; in this conclusion, among other things, the proposal of member of the Seimas Juozas Olekas, which had been received during the break before the adoption of the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5)), was rejected and the proposal of Seimas member Rimantas Jonas Dagys was not considered (the additional conclusion (1) (No 107-P-28) of the lead committee of 11 July 2017 on the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(4))) Amending Article 7 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Forestry (No I-671).

11.12.3. On 11 July 2017, also the conclusion of the Legal Department on the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(4)) Amending Articles 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Forestry (No I-671) was a received. Although the title of this conclusion would show that the Legal Department assessed the amendments of Articles 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Law on Forestry proposed by the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(4)), it is obvious from the content of the conclusion that only the provisions of the draft Law, whereby it was proposed to amend the legal regulation established in Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry, were assessed (it should be noted that, in its conclusion, the Legal Department specified that the legal regulation established in Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry was amended by Article 1 of the draft Law, even though this amendment had been provided for in Article 4 of this draft Law). In this context, it should be noted that, as witness Andrius Kabišaitis, the Director of the Legal Department, specified at the hearing of the Constitutional Court, the fact that the conclusion of the Legal Department includes a wrong reference to the article of the draft law whereby the legal regulation prescribed in Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry is amended, is a technical mistake and the Legal Department did not present any remarks regarding other provisions of the draft law. The Legal Department did not assess the proposals of Seimas members Rimantas Jonas Dagys ir Juozas Olekas, which had been received during the break made while deliberating the draft law under special urgency procedure.

11.13. At the evening sitting on 11 July 2017, the Seimas adopted, under special urgency procedure, the impugned Law together with the said proposals submitted by Seimas members Ramūnas Karbauskis, Kęstutis Mažeika, and Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė on 10 July 2017 to amend Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry by consolidating therein that a forest enterprise (forest enterprises) operate(s) in the Republic of Lithuania, to regulate the sale of raw timber from state forests and residues from forest harvesting and other essential conditions of sale of this state property, as well as to refuse the establishments of the sizes of forest enterprises proposed by Seimas members Simonas Gentvilas and Paulius Saudargas. The Seimas also approved certain proposals of member of the Seimas Rimantas Jonas Dagys which had been presented during the break after the morning sitting, inter alia, in a similar manner as it was proposed by the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government, to amend Article 6 of the Law on Forestry – to regulate life and health insurance of state forest’s officers who work under an employment contract (verbatim report No SPP-91 of the evening sitting of the Seimas of 11 July 2017).

12. It is obvious from the factual circumstances linked to the adoption of the Law and relevant to this constitutional justice case that, while deliberating the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) submitted by the group of members of the Seimas (which had been submitted for deliberation at the sitting of the Seimas as draft Law (No XIIP-4291(3))) at the morning sitting of the Seimas on 11 July 2017, the Seimas amended this draft law significantly – supplemented it with new provisions the most of which coincided with the provisions of the draft Law (No XIIP-420) submitted by the Government (i.e. the same articles of the Law on Forestry were replaced by the provisions that were identical or similar according to their content). It should be noted that such substantially amended draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) (registered for the adoption as the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5))) submitted by the group of members of the Seimas was adopted under special urgency procedure on the same day (on 11 July 2017) upon the proposal of the Speaker of the Seimas and without presenting the reasoning of such a proposal.

It should also be noted that the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government and the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) submitted by the members of the Seimas were not considered as alternative either by the Committee on Environment Protection, which had been appointed as the lead committee for the consideration of both draft laws, or at the sitting of the Seimas; the Committee on Environment Protection did not make the decision to join these draft laws into one. The Committee on Environment Protection rejected the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government without any arguments and without having assessed the conclusions of the independent expert evaluation concerning this draft law that had been presented, as well as the conclusions, comments, and proposals presented by other consultants, specialists, also subjects having the right of legislative initiative, additional committees designated by the Seimas, and by the state and municipal institutions and establishments; these conclusions, comments, and proposals were also not deliberated at the morning sitting of the Seimas on 11 July 2017, in which it was decided to appoint another lead committee for the consideration of the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government.

It should be noted that it is clear from the conclusion concerning the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(4)) of the Legal Department of 11 July 2017 that the Legal Department only assessed the provisions of this draft Law whereby it was proposed to amend the legal regulation established in Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry (i.e. the amendment of the same provision of the Law on Forestry whose amendment was proposed by the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)); the Legal Department did not assess the proposals of the members of the Seimas, which had been presented during the break made while deliberating the draft law under special urgency procedure.

III

The legal regulation linked to the adoption of the impugned Law

13. In the constitutional justice case at issue, the group of members of the Seimas, the petitioner, impugns the compliance of the Law with Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution, which establishes that laws are adopted at the Seimas according to the procedure established by law, and with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law in terms of the procedure of its adoption.

According to the petitioner, while adopting the Law, the legislature did not observe the requirements of the Statute of the Seimas, the Law on the Legislative Framework, and the Law on Prevention of Corruption linked to the submission of draft laws, as well as their assessment, deliberation, and adoption.

14. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that the legislative procedure is regulated in Part V “Legislative procedure” of the Statute of the Seimas.

14.1. Article 135 “Requirements for a draft submitted for registration” (wording of 19 December 2013) of Chapter XIX “Registration of drafts of laws and other Seimas acts” of the Statute of the Seimas, inter alia, establishes:

1. Drafts of laws and other legal acts subject to the adoption by the Seimas as well as proposals concerning the legislation thereof shall be submitted to the Seimas by the institutions and persons who, pursuant to the Constitution, have the right of legislative initiative.

2. A draft of or proposal for a law or any other legal act which is subject to the adoption by the Seimas and which is submitted to the Seimas for consideration must be signed by the initiators thereof <...>.

3. A draft law submitted to the Seimas, with the exception of a draft law submitted by the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania implementing the right granted by the Constitution, shall be accompanied by an explanatory note which must indicate the following: <...> (5) assessment results of the envisaged legal regulation impact (provided such an assessment must be carried out during the preparation of the draft law and its results are not presented in a separate document), potential negative consequences of the enacted law and the measures which should be taken to avoid these consequences <...>.

Thus, Article 135 (wording of 19 December 2013) of the Statute of the Seimas establishes the requirements for the draft laws submitted in implementing the right of legislative initiative, inter alia, the requirement to submit an explanatory note together with the draft law submitted to the Seimas, which must, inter alia, specify the impact assessment results of the envisaged legal regulation, potential negative consequences of the enacted law, and the measures which should be taken to avoid these consequences.

14.1.1. In this context, it should be noted that Paragraph 3 of Article 135 (wording of 19 December 2013) of the Statute of the Seimas is linked to Article 15 “Assessment of the effect of envisaged legal regulation” of the Law on the Legislative Framework, Paragraph 1 of which establishes that “when drawing up a draft legal act which provides for regulation of previously unregulated relations, also whereby legal regulation is substantially amended, assessment of the effect of envisaged legal regulation must be carried out. The comprehensiveness of this assessment must be proportionate to the likely consequences of the envisaged legal regulation. A decision on the assessment of the effect of envisaged legal regulation shall be adopted by the drafter”, and Paragraph 3 of this article establishes, among other things, that “the impact assessment results of the envisaged legal regulation provided for in a draft law or another draft legal act of the Seimas shall be presented in an explanatory note or a separate document”.

14.1.2. While interpreting, in the aspect important in the constitutional justice case at issue, the provisions of Item 5 of Paragraph 3 of Article 135 (wording of 19 December 2013) of the Statute of the Seimas together with the provisions of Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 15 of the Law on the Legislative Framework, it should be noted that when preparing the draft law which provides for regulation of previously unregulated relations, also whereby legal regulation is substantially amended, the impact assessment of the envisaged legal regulation must be carried out; the results of the assessment must be presented in an explanatory note or a separate document.

It should be noted that neither Article 135 (wording of 19 December 2013) of the Statute of the Seimas, nor other articles thereof include the requirement to submit the explanatory note anew when registering the previously submitted draft law which was amended during the deliberation of this draft law.

14.2. Paragraph 2 (wording of 9 November 2004) of Article 145 “Mandatory conclusions regarding a draft law” of Chapter XX “Presentation of draft laws and other acts of the Seimas at Seimas sittings” of the Statute of the Seimas, which is relevant in the constitutional justice case at issue, establishes that “if a draft law proposes substantial modifications to the legal regulation (to lay down, change or abolish the rights or duties of right-holders, to define directions of the reform or strategy of the development of particular areas) and the lead committee or at least 1/5 of all members of the Seimas (but not later than 72 hours after the completion of consideration in the lead committee) support this initiative, the decision to commence the procedure of consideration of the draft law shall be followed by commissioning the independent expert evaluation of the draft law in accordance with the procedure laid down by the Board of the Seimas” and Paragraph 3 (wording of 9 November 2004) of this article establishes that “expert findings shall be a document accompanying a legal act which is presented during consideration in the committees and at a Seimas sitting”.

Thus, under Paragraph 2 (wording of 9 November 2004) of Article 145 of the Statute of the Seimas, if a draft law proposes substantial modifications to the legal regulation (to lay down, change or abolish the rights or duties of right-holders, to define directions of the reform or strategy of the development of particular areas) and the lead committee or at least 1/5 of all members of the Seimas support this initiative, the independent expert evaluation of the draft law is necessary.

14.3. Also the provisions of the Statute of the Seimas regulating the deliberation and adoption of alternative and several draft laws are relevant for the constitutional justice case at issue.

14.3.1. Paragraph 3 of Article 137 “Concurrent consideration of several draft laws. Alternative drafts” of Chapter XIX “Registration of drafts of laws and other Seimas acts” of the Statute of the Seimas (wording of 22 May 1998) establishes that “if several alternative drafts of a law have been received, they shall be considered concurrently during the discussion in the Seimas committee and at the Seimas sitting, and one of these drafts shall be selected”.

Paragraph 3 of Article 150 “Decisions of the lead committee” of Chapter XIX “Consideration of draft laws in the lead committee” of the Statute of the Seimas (wording of 22 December 1998) establishes that “if the committee was given several alternative drafts, during one of the upcoming meetings the committee shall decide on the alternative draft to be approved and shall begin the consideration thereof in the committee”.

Paragraph 3 of Article 151 “Procedure of debate on a draft law at a Seimas sitting” (with the amendments of 3 May 2016) of Chapter XII “Debate on draft laws at Seimas sittings” of the Statute of the Seimas, inter alia, establishes:

At a Seimas sitting, a draft law shall be debated in the following sequence:

[...]

(3) reports by representatives of initiators of alternative drafts, if any;

[...]

(6) following a general discussion, if the authors of an alternative draft disagree with the lead committee’s decision not to approve the alternative draft, a vote to approve the committee’s decision;

[...]

(8) an adjournment of the Seimas sitting, if the Seimas does not approve the draft submitted by the lead committee or if the Seimas decides to approve an alternate draft which has not been approved by the lead committee; the draft shall be returned to the same lead committee for improvement or the Seimas may appoint another lead committee or a special Seimas commission to be set up for editing the draft. In this case, the commission shall perform the functions of a lead committee and act in accordance with the order of business of such committee;”.

Thus, when summing up the legal regulation of the deliberation of alternative draft laws established in Paragraph 3 of Article 137, Paragraph 3 of Article 150 and Items 3, 6, and 8 of Paragraph 3 of Article 151 (with the amendments of 3 May 2016) of the Statute of the Seimas (wording of 22 December 1998), it should be noted that, under this legal regulation, it is required to deliberate these draft laws concurrently and to decide which one of the alternative drafts to approve.

14.3.2. Paragraph 1 of Article 137 (wording of 4 November 2004) “Concurrent consideration of several draft laws. Alternative drafts” of Chapter XIX “Registration of drafts of laws and other Seimas acts” of the Statute of the Seimas establishes that “if several draft laws amending the same or different articles of the same law have been submitted, all of them shall be presented and considered at a Seimas sitting, and the committee assigned by the Seimas as the lead committee may join them and submit a joint draft to the Seimas for consideration”.

Therefore, under the legal regulation of the consideration of several draft laws amending or supplementing the same or different articles of the same law, which is established in Paragraph 4 (wording of 4 November 2004) of Article 137 of the Statute of the Seimas, the lead committee assigned by the Seimas may join them and submit a joint draft to the Seimas for consideration.

14.4. Also the provisions of the Statute of the Seimas regulating the deliberation of a draft law under urgency or special urgency procedure are relevant for the constitutional justice case at issue.

14.4.1. Article 162 “Proposal for a debate subject to urgency procedure” (wording of 9 November 2004) of Chapter XIV “Debate on a draft law subject to urgency and special urgency procedure” of the Statute of the Seimas establishes the following:

1. Deliberations on drafts of Seimas resolutions and, if the Seimas so decides, on draft laws shall be subject to urgency procedure.

2. The above procedure shall be applied on a reasoned submission by the President of the Republic, the Speaker of the Seimas or his Deputy deputising for the Speaker of the Seimas, the Leader of the Opposition, the lead committee, a political group or the Government.

3. A decision to hold a debate on a draft law subject to urgency procedure may be adopted during the submission of or debate on the draft at a Seimas sitting by a majority of votes cast by members of the Seimas, provided that the majority comprises more than 1/5 of all the members of the Seimas.

4. A draft law or a draft resolution of the Seimas proposed for a debate subject to urgency procedure must be edited by the Document Department prior to its debate at a Seimas sitting.”

Article 163 “Debate subject to urgency procedure” (wording of 3 May 2016) of the Statute of the Seimas prescribes the following:

1. Where urgency procedure applies, the time period between the stages of a debate on a draft (consideration in the lead committee, debate at the Seimas sitting and adoption) shall be shortened; other time limits established in this Statute and related to legislation shall also be shortened.

2. These time periods referred to in Paragraph 1 of this Article must not be shorter than 24 hours.

3. The Seimas shall set the specific time limits in each individual case; however, a draft being debated on must be registered with the Secretariat of Seimas Sittings and announced on the website of the Seimas under any circumstances at least 24 hours prior to the sitting at which it will be adopted.”

14.4.2. Thus, under the legal regulation established in Article 162 (wording of 9 November 2004) and Article 163 (wording of 3 May 2016) of the Statute of the Seimas, the deliberation of a draft law under urgency procedure is a certain special accelerated legislative procedure which is applied where it is necessary to adopt the draft law more urgently than under the general procedure. It should be noted that where this procedure applies, the time period between the stages of the deliberation of a draft (consideration in the lead committee, consideration at the Seimas sitting and adoption (Paragraph 1 of Article 163 (wording of 3 May 2016))) are shortened: the time periods between these stages of deliberation must not be shorter than 24 hours and a draft law must always be registered with the Secretariat of Seimas Sittings and announced on the website of the Seimas under any circumstances at least 24 hours prior to the sitting at which it will be adopted (Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 163 (wording of 3 May 2016)); in addition, also other time periods of legislation set in the Statute of the Seimas may be shortened; the specific time limits are established by the Seimas in each individual case (Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 163 (wording of 3 May 2016)).

It should also be noted that two conditions are established for the application of the urgency procedure of deliberation of a draft law:

there must be a reasoned submission by the President of the Republic, the Speaker of the Seimas or his Deputy deputising for the Speaker of the Seimas, the Leader of the Opposition, the lead committee, a political group or the Government (Paragraph 2 of Article 162 (wording of 9 November 2004));

a decision is adopted, at a Seimas sitting held for the submission or deliberation of a draft law, by a majority of votes cast by members of the Seimas, provided that the majority comprises more than 1/5 of all the members of the Seimas (Paragraph 3 of Article 162 (wording of 9 November 2004)).

14.4.3. Article 164 “Debate subject to special urgency procedure” (wording of 3 May 2016) of Chapter XIV “Debate on a draft law subject to urgency and special urgency procedure” of the Statute of the Seimas establishes the following:

1. Deliberation on draft laws and draft resolutions of the Seimas may be subject to special urgency procedure on a reasoned submission by the President of the Republic, the Speaker of the Seimas or his Deputy deputising for the Speaker of the Seimas, or the Government.

2. A decision to hold a debate on a draft law subject to special urgency procedure shall be adopted at a Seimas sitting by a majority of votes cast by members of the Seimas, provided that the majority comprises more than 1/4 of all the members of the Seimas.

3. A decision to hold a debate subject to special urgency procedure may be taken during the submission of or consideration on the draft at a Seimas sitting.

4. The requirements of Article 155 of the Statute shall not apply to the debate on a draft subject to special urgency procedure and the procedure of adoption following the submission may begin not earlier than after a three-hour interval. During such interval the amendments proposed by the persons having the right of legislative initiative, conclusions of the Legal Department of the Office of the Seimas concerning these amendments shall be submitted in writing and the draft shall be edited by the Document Department of the Office of the Seimas. Amendments submitted by the persons having the right of legislative initiative shall be submitted in writing not later than one hour prior to the commencement of the adoption of the draft.

5. In some cases, a lead committee may be assigned for consideration of a draft.”

In this context, it should be noted that Article 155 “Submission of amendments of a draft law” (wording of 3 May 2016) of Chapter XXIII “Adoption of a draft law at a Seimas sitting” of the Statute of the Seimas establishes the following:

1. The lead committee must submit to the Seimas for adoption a draft law newly edited by the Document Department of the Office of the Seimas. The Legal Department of the Office of the Seimas shall also submit conclusions regarding this draft. Drafts must be forwarded to these Departments at least four working days prior to the adoption thereof.

2. The edited draft law and the conclusions of the Legal Department of the Office of the Seimas must be registered with the Secretariat of Seimas Sittings and announced on the website of the Seimas at least three working days before the Seimas sitting.

3. At the time of adoption only those amendments, supplements, and deletions shall be considered which are supported by at least 1/5 of the members of the Seimas during the sitting after the chair of the sitting announces them. All proposed amendments, supplements and deletions of the draft law must be submitted by the persons having the right of legislative initiative to the Secretariat of Seimas sitting at least 48 hours before the time indicated in the agenda of the sitting for commencement of the procedure of adoption of the law.

4. The Secretariat of Seimas Sittings shall register the amendments, supplements and deletions and announce them on the website of the Seimas. The lead committee must evaluate the received amendments, supplements and deletions and the conclusions of the Legal Department thereon prior to the adoption of the draft law.

5. If new amendments, supplements and deletions were received according to the procedure established in paragraph 3 of this Article, but not previously considered by the lead committee, an adjournment of at least 24 hours for consideration of these proposals in the lead committee shall be made in the adoption of the draft.

6. During the adoption of the law, new amendments, supplements or deletions which do not meet the requirements of Paragraph 4 of this Article shall not be accepted.”

14.4.4. Thus, with regard to the legal regulation established in Article 164 (wording of 3 May 2016) of the Statute of the Seimas as interpreted together with the legal regulation established in Article 155 thereof, it should be noted that the deliberation of a draft law under special urgency procedure is a certain special legislative procedure, which is particularly expedited/accelerated, when, if necessary, the Seimas may adopt a draft law with special urgency – the procedure of adoption of a draft law may be initiated after a break of three hours following its submission (Paragraph 4 of Article 164 (wording of 3 May 2016)), i.e. it creates the preconditions for adopting a draft law on the same day on which it is submitted to the Seimas. When a draft law is deliberated under special urgency procedure, inter alia, these requirements established in Article 155 of the Statute of the Seimas for the deliberation of a draft law under general procedure do not apply: the conclusions of the Legal Department must be submitted and announced on the website of the Seimas together with the draft law at least three working days before the Seimas sitting (Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 155 (wording of 3 May 2016)); the lead committee must evaluate the received amendments, supplements, and deletions and the conclusions of the Legal Department thereon prior to the adoption of the draft law (Paragraph 4 of Article 155 (wording of 3 May 2016)). Paragraph 4 of Article 164 (wording of 3 May 2016) of the Statute of the Seimas prescribes the special rules for the deliberation of a draft law under special urgency procedure: during a three-hour interval the amendments proposed by the persons having the right of legislative initiative (these amendments must be submitted in writing not later than one hour prior to the commencement of the adoption of the draft) and conclusions of the Legal Department of the Office of the Seimas concerning these amendments may be submitted in writing and the draft must be edited by the Document Department of the Office of the Seimas.

It should also be noted that two following conditions are established for the application of deliberation of a draft law under special urgency procedure:

there must be a reasoned submission by the President of the Republic, Speaker of the Seimas or his/her Deputy deputising for the Speaker of the Seimas, or the Government (Paragraph 1 of Article 164 (wording of 3 May 2016));

a decision is adopted, at a Seimas sitting held for the submission or deliberation of a draft law, by a majority of votes cast by members of the Seimas, provided that the majority comprises more than 1/4 of all the members of the Seimas (Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 164 (wording of 3 May 2016)).

14.4.5. When comparing the procedure of deliberation of a draft law under special urgency procedure established in Article 164 (wording of 3 May 2016) of the Statute of the Seimas with the procedure of deliberation of a draft law under urgency procedure established in Article 162 (wording of 9 November 2004) and Article 163 (wording of 3 May 2016) of the Statute of the Seimas, in the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that while regulating the deliberation of a draft law under special urgency procedure, Article 164 (wording of 3 May 2016) of the Statute of the Seimas establishes the only extremely short interval (not shorter than 3 hours) for the adoption of a draft law, the said article establishes less subjects able to initiate the deliberation of a draft law under special urgency procedure and greater majority of votes of the members of the Seimas is required for the adoption of a decision concerning the deliberation of a draft law under special urgency procedure, and it prescribes special rules of deliberation of a draft law under special urgency procedure are established without applying the requirements for the deliberation of a draft law under general procedure prescribed in Article 155 of the Statute of the Seimas.

It should also be noted that, as also in the case of deliberation of a draft law under urgency procedure, a draft law may be deliberated under special urgency procedure only upon a reasoned submission by the subject specified in the Statute of the Seimas; the Statute of the Seimas also does not establish the cases in which these legislative procedures should be applied, i.e. their application exceptionally depends on the submission by the subjects specified in the Statute of the Seimas and the decision of the majority of votes cast by members of the Seimas at a sitting of the Seimas.

15. As mentioned before, some provisions of the Law on the Legislative Framework are relevant for the constitutional justice case at issue.

15.1. Paragraph 2 of Article 3 “Principles of legislation” of the Law on the Legislative Framework, inter alia, establishes:

2. Legislation shall be guided by the following principles:

(1) expediency, meaning that a draft legal act must be drawn up and the legal act adopted only where the objectives pursued cannot be achieved by other means;

(2) proportionality, meaning that the selected measures of legal regulation must keep the administrative and other burden to a minimum and not restrict the entities of legal relationships more than required to achieve the objectives of legal regulation;

[...]

(5) effectiveness, meaning that when drawing up a draft legal act, all the possible alternatives of legal regulation must be assessed and the best one chosen, the legal act must provide for the measures allowing for the most effective and economical achievement of legal regulation, proposals received relating to legal regulation must be published and assessed, and legislative actions must be carried out within reasonable time limits [...].”

Thus, under the legal regulation established in Paragraph 2 of Article 3 of the Law on the Legislative Framework, when adopting laws, the legislator must also follow the principles of expediency, proportionality, and effectiveness, among other things, to carry out legislative actions within reasonable time limits.

15.2. Under Article 16 “Assessment of the effect of envisaged legal regulation on the level of corruption” of the Law on the Legislative Framework, an assessment of the effect of envisaged legal regulation on the level of corruption (anti-corruption assessment of legal acts or their drafts) is carried out in the cases specified in the Law on Prevention of Corruption.

15.2.1. Article 8 “Anti-corruption assessment of legal acts and drafts thereof” (wording of 5 June 2008) of the Law on Prevention of Corruption, inter alia, established:

1. The drafter of a legal act shall carry out anti-corruption assessment of a relevant draft legal act, if that legal act envisages regulation of public relations in the field of:

(1) transfer of the right of trust to state or municipal property, transfer of the right of ownership or the right of management of state or municipal property to private persons;

(2) increase of or reduction in income or expenditure of state or municipal budgets due to delegation of the implementation of state or municipal functions to state or municipal enterprises, public establishments or private persons;

(3) payment of subsidies, grants, compensations, rents, allowances, premiums and other benefits from state or municipal budgets;

(4) provision of support from the European Union Structural Funds;

(5) rendering of goods or services through public tenders or concessions;

(6) granting of citizenship by way of exception;

(7) organisation of competitions to hold a position in civil service, establishment, repeal of or change in requirements as to good repute, qualification, performance evaluation and rotation for persons holding positions in civil service;

(8) entering of persons or goods on public registers;

(9) establishment and production of technological protection measures for securities, forms of documents, stamps, official markings as well as production of securities, forms of documents, stamps, officials markings assigned to the level and group of technological protection;

(10) manufacturing, storage of and trade in goods withdrawn from circulation or being in circulation to a limited extent;

(11) provision of goods or services provided under public contracts;

(12) establishment, repeal of or change in product safety requirements;

(13) establishment, repeal of or change in requirements as to qualifications and professional repute of entities of licensed economic commercial activities or economic commercial activities requiring authorisation of state or municipal bodies;

(14) manufacturing, storage, use, acquisition of and trade in excise goods;

(15) investigation into infringements of law, conditions for liability for infringements of law;

(16) land use, territorial planning, construction;

(17) pharmacy and medicine;

(18) other cases, if, in the opinion of the drafter of a relevant legal act, legal regulation envisaged by that legal act may affect the scope of corruption.

2. The Special Investigation Service shall carry out the anti-corruption assessment of the effective or draft legal acts which envisage regulation of public relations as specified in Paragraph 1 of this Article on its own initiative or on the proposal by the President of the Republic, the Speaker of the Seimas, the Prime Minister, a parliamentary committee, commission or political group. [...]”

In this context, it should be noted that Paragraph 1 of Article 8 (wording of 5 June 2008) of the Law on Prevention of Corruption was amended by the Law Amending Articles 5 and 8 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Prevention of Corruption (No IX-904) and Supplementing the Law with Article 101, which was adopted by the Seimas on 27 June 2018; however, the legal regulation consolidated in this paragraph did not change in the aspect relevant in the constitutional justice case at issue.

15.2.2. Therefore, when summarising, in the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, the legal regulation established in Paragraph 1 (wording of 5 June 2008 with the amendment of 27 June 2018) of Article 8 of the Law on Prevention of Corruption, it should be noted that anti-corruption assessment of a draft legal act had and has to be carried out, inter alia, when:

it regulates the relations linked to the increase of or reduction in income or expenditure of state or municipal budgets due to delegation of the implementation of state or municipal functions to state or municipal enterprises, public establishments or private persons (Item 2);

it regulates the relations linked to manufacturing, storage of and trade in goods withdrawn from circulation or being in circulation to a limited extent (Item 10).

It needs also to be noted that, under Paragraph 2 (wording of 5 June 2008) of Article 8 of the Law on Prevention of Corruption, the Special Investigation Service may also carry out the anti-corruption assessment of the effective legal acts which regulate the specified public relations on its own initiative or on the proposal by the subjects specified in this paragraph.

IV

The legal regulation established in Paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the impugned Law and the related legal regulation

16. As mentioned before, the petitioner doubts, inter alia, the compliance of Paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the Law with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, insofar as, by means of the said paragraph, the formula “forest enterprise (enterprises)” is consolidated in Paragraph 1 (wording of 11 July 2017) of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry, from which, according to the petitioner, it is not clear how many forest enterprises should operate.

17. Paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the Law, which amended Paragraph 1 (wording of 30 June 2016) of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry and which, as mentioned before, established the number of forest enterprises (42 forest enterprises) operating in Lithuania, inter alia, prescribed the following: “One or a few forest enterprises shall operate in the Republic of Lithuania under the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on State and Municipal Enterprises [...].”

17.1. Thus, Paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the Law, among other things, establishes that one or a few enterprises operate in the Republic of Lithuania.

Thus, pursuant to Paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the Law, Paragraph 1 (wording of 11 July 2017) of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry does not establish the specific number of forest enterprises operating in the Republic of Lithuania as it was established by the then effective legal regulation consolidated in Paragraph 1 (wording of 30 June 2016) of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry.

17.2. In this context, it should be noted that under Paragraph 21 (wording of 11 July 2017) of Article 2 of the Law on Forestry, a forest enterprise is a state enterprise managing, using, and disposing in trust of state forests and engaged in integrated forestry activities and other type of activities defined in the articles of association of the enterprise.

17.3. As mentioned before, under Paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the Law, a forest enterprise (enterprises) operate(s) under the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on State and Municipal Enterprises. In this context, it should be noted that the Law on State and Municipal Enterprises (wording of 16 December 2003) establishes that a state enterprise is established by the Government by its resolution unless other laws provide otherwise (Paragraph 1 of Article 5), an enterprise has the right to open branches and representative offices in the Republic of Lithuania and foreign states (Paragraph 7 (wording of 16 October 2014) of Article 3), the board takes decisions on the opening of branches and representative offices of the enterprise and termination of their activities (Item 5 of Paragraph 12 of Article 10 (wording of 16 October 2014)).

17.4. Thus, while interpreting Paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the Law, insofar as, under this paragraph, the formula “forest enterprise (enterprises)” is consolidated in Paragraph 1 (wording of 11 July 2017) of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry, in conjunction with Paragraph 7 (wording of 16 October 2014) of Article 3, Paragraph 1 of Article 5, and Item 5 of Paragraph 12 of Article 10 (wording of 16 October 2014) of the Law on State and Municipal Enterprises (wording of 16 December 2003), the conclusion should be made that, depending on the decision of the Government, one or several state enterprises – forest enterprise (enterprises) established by the Government may operate in Lithuania, and the board (boards) thereof has (have) the right to take the decisions on opening branches of the enterprise.

18. In this context, by its resolution (No 647) of 2 August 2017 on the consent to reorganise state forest enterprises, pursuant to Paragraph 3 of Article 2.97 of the Republic of Lithuania Civil Code and Article 18 of the Law on State and Municipal Enterprises, the Government decided to reorganise 42 forest enterprises that operated in Lithuania by way of incorporation – by incorporating them into the state enterprise State Institute of Forest Management, whose name after the reorganisation is the state enterprise State Forests’ Enterprise (Items 2.2–2.3).

19. In summing up the legal regulation established in Paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the Law, insofar as it consolidates the formula “forest enterprise (enterprises)” in Paragraph 1 (wording of 11 July 2017) of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry, and the related legal regulation established in the Law on State and Municipal Enterprises, it should be noted that he formula “forest enterprise (enterprises)”, as consolidated by Paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the Law, means that, under Paragraph 1 (wording of 11 July 2017) of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry, one or a few forest enterprises can operate in the Republic of Lithuania – state enterprises established under the Law on State and Municipal Enterprises managing, using, and disposing in trust of state forests and engaged in integrated forestry activities and other type of activities defined in the articles of association of the enterprise; under this legal regulation, the Government has broad discretion to decide on the number of forest enterprises to be established in Lithuania.

20. As mentioned above, under Paragraph 1 of Article 2, Paragraphs 1 and 4 of Article 3, and Article 8 of the Law, the amendments were made to Paragraph 6 of Article 4, Item 8 of Paragraph 2 of Article 5, and Paragraph 5 of this article, as well as Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 18 of the Law on Forestry; moreover, the formula “forest enterprise” was replaced by the formula “forest enterprise (enterprises)”. It should be noted that from the formula “forest enterprise (enterprises)” consolidated in other provisions of the Law, it is also not clear, how many forest enterprises may operate in Lithuania under the Law on Forestry.

V

The provisions of the Constitution and the official constitutional doctrine

21. In the constitutional justice case at issue, the Constitutional Court, inter alia, investigates the compliance of the Law, which amended the legal regulation established in the Law on Forestry, with Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law in terms of the procedure of its adoption.

22. The Constitutional Court has noted on more than one occasion that the essence of the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law is the rule of law; the constitutional imperative of the rule of law means that freedom of state power is limited by law that must be obeyed by all subjects of legal relations, including the law-making subjects (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 13 August 2007, 8 July 2016, and 29 June 2018).

22.1. The constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law implies various requirements for law-making subjects, including, inter alia, the fact that law-making subjects are allowed to pass legal acts only without exceeding their powers; legal acts must be passed in accordance with the established procedural law-making requirements, including the requirements established by the law-making subject itself; the legal regulation laid down in laws and other legal acts must be clear, comprehensible, and coherent; the consistency and internal harmony of the legal system must be ensured; in order that the subjects of legal relations could act in accordance with the requirements of law, a legal regulation must be relatively stable (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 13 December 2004 and 16 January 2006).

22.2. The constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law is also reflected in Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 of the Constitution consolidating the constitutional principles of responsible governance and the responsibility of state authorities to the public, which provide that the scope of power is limited by the Constitution and that state institutions serve the people (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 12 April 2018).

The Constitutional Court noted that the principle of responsible governance, as consolidated in the Constitution, implies that all state institutions and officials are obliged to follow the Constitution and the law while performing their functions, must properly implement the powers granted to them by the Constitution and laws by acting in the interests of the People and the State of Lithuania (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 19 November 2015, 8 July 2016, and 12 April 2018).

The constitutional principle of responsible governance, which is to be interpreted in conjunction with the imperative obliging state institutions to serve people, as consolidated in Paragraph 3 of Article 5 of the Constitution, implies the publicity and transparency requirements of law-making procedures; such requirements that must be followed, inter alia, by institutions that exercise state power (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 8 July 2016 and 12 April 2018). Compliance with such requirements in the course of passing legal acts is an essential condition for public trust in the state and law, as well as for the responsibility of state authorities to the public; this compliance creates the preconditions for involving the public in the decision-making process related to public interests, inter alia, while providing the opportunity to become familiar with the drafted legislation and other relevant information and, thus, inter alia, to implement the rights, guaranteed to citizens under Article 33 of the Constitution, to participate in the governance of their state, to criticise the work of state institutions or their officials, and to appeal against their decisions (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 8 July 2016).

23. The provisions of the official constitutional doctrine linked to the procedure of adoption of laws are important in the context of the constitutional justice case at issue. The fundamental rules for adopting laws are consolidated in Article 69 of the Constitution, Paragraph 1 thereof prescribes: “Laws shall be adopted at the Seimas according to the procedure established by law” (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 8 November 1993, 28 September 2011, and 15 February 2013).

23.1. Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution is related to Article 76 of the Constitution establishing that the structure and procedure of activities of the Seimas are established by the Statute of the Seimas, which has the force of a law (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 15 February 2013).. The establishment of the procedure of activities of the Seimas also includes the regulation of the legislation procedure (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 18 October 2000, 19 January 2005, and 15 February 2013). When interpreting Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution together with Article 76 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has stated that the legislation procedure may be regulated in the Statute of the Seimas and also in other laws (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 28 June 2001, 19 January 2005, and 15 February 2013).

When establishing the procedure for adopting laws, the Seimas must pay regard to the norms and principles of the Constitution (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 19 January 2005, 15 February 2013, and 19 November 2015).

In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that, under the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 thereof, and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance, while implementing the obligations to regulate legislative procedure consolidated in Paragraph 1 of Article 69 and Article 76 of the Constitution, the Seimas must establish, in the Statute of the Seimas and laws, such a legal regulation governing the legislative process that would ensure the publicity and transparency of this process and would create preconditions for ensuring the quality of laws and other acts of the Seimas.

23.2. The legislation process is the whole-complex of juridically significant acts necessary for the adoption of a law and performed in a certain rigid sequence of logic and time; the following stages of the legislative process are universally recognised: the realisation of the right of legislative initiative, the deliberation of a draft law, the adoption of a draft law, and the promulgation of an adopted law and its entry into force; only with the completion of one stage another starts in consecutive order; the consecutive sequence of stages of the legislative process is essentially consolidated in the Constitution: the realisation of the right of legislative initiative is consolidated in Article 68, the adoption of laws is enshrined in Article 69, and the promulgation of laws and their entry into force is established in Articles 70–72 (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 8 November 1993, 22 February 2008, and 19 November 2015). They do not separately identify the stage of the deliberation of draft laws that is the stage guaranteeing the application of the principles of democracy in the legislative process (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 8 November 1993 and 19 November 2015); however, it is possible to decide on its actual existence from other constitutional norms: Article 71 refers to the right of the President of the Republic to refer a law back “to the Seimas for reconsideration”, Article 72 – to the right of the Seimas “to consider anew and adopt” a law referred back by the President of the Republic (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 8 November 1993). It should be emphasised that the stage of deliberation of draft laws is a necessary stage of the legislative process (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 8 November 1993); an important element thereof is the submission of comments and proposals concerning the draft law, its amendments or supplements (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 8 November 1993, 25 January 2001, and 19 January 2005).

In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that the stage of deliberation of draft laws is particularly important for the implementation of the said requirements of publicity and transparency of the legislative process and the quality requirements for the adopted laws, which stem from the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 thereof, and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance. It should be noted that the purpose of the stage of deliberation of legislative process is to analyse in detail and to assess, at this stage, draft laws submitted to the Seimas and any information concerning them significant for the members of the Seimas when they decide on the adoption of relevant laws, among other things, to assess the opinions of the groups of society, the parties concerned, other state or municipal institutions, and persons with specialist knowledge. It should also be noted that with regard to the requirements of publicity and transparency of the legislative process and the quality requirements for the adopted laws, which stem from the Constitution, the Statute of the Seimas must establish the structural units of the Seimas (inter alia, committees and commissions of the Seimas) which would be entrusted to consider and assess the received comments and proposals concerning the draft laws under deliberation, as well as it must establish internal preventive legal instruments of the Seimas enabling to seek that the laws and other legal acts adopted by it would not be in conflict with the Constitution and would meet the quality requirements for the laws and other acts of the Seimas, which stem from the Constitution.

In this context, it should be noted that by separating the implementation of the right of legislative initiative from the submission of comments, proposals, amendments, and supplements when deliberating a draft law, the Constitutional Court has emphasised that they are separate parts of the stages of the legislative process; the purpose of the right of legislative initiative is to initiate the legislation process; it is implemented by submitting a draft law to the Seimas; the submission of comments, proposals, amendments, and supplements at the stage of deliberation of a draft law should not be considered as legislative initiative, as this initiative has already been implemented (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 8 November 1993, 25 January 2001, and 19 January 2005).

23.3. In the acts of the Constitutional Court, it has also been emphasised on more than one occasion that it is not allowed to ignore any stage of the legislative process or any rule of the adoption of laws consolidated in the Constitution, laws, or the Statute of the Seimas (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 29 September 2010, 15 February 2013, and 19 November 2015); the necessity to pass laws consequently following the stages and rules of the legislative process stems from the Constitution (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 22 February 2008, 15 February 2013, and 19 November 2015).

23.4. As mentioned before, the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 thereof, and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance give rise to the duty of the Seimas to establish such a legal regulation governing legislative process that would, inter alia, create preconditions for ensuring the quality of laws and other acts of the Seimas.

In this context, it should be noted that, as the Constitutional Court noted in its decision of 27 February 2014, the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance imply that in cases when, in the process of law-making, it is necessary to rely on special knowledge or special (professional) competence, the Seimas should receive necessary information from respective state institutions and take account of it.

It should also be noted that, as the Constitutional Court stated in its ruling of 29 September 2010, the Constitution, namely the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, gives rise to the duty of the legislature to establish in the Statute of the Seimas and/or laws such a legal regulation of the legislative process, whereby the obligation would be consolidated for the subjects who have the right of legislative initiative and/or for the Seimas, while preparing and/or adopting at the Seimas the legal acts regulating the relations that can have influence on, inter alia, the criminogenic situation and emergence of negative economic consequences, to carry out a proper assessment of a draft law, inter alia, as regards the negative consequences that might be caused by the legal regulation laid down by an adopted law.

In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that, under the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 thereof, and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance, in order to ensure the quality of the adopted laws, inter alia, the compliance of the legal regulation established therein with higher-ranking legal acts, inter alia, (and first of all) the Constitution, its clarity and consistency, as well as coherence and internal harmony of the whole legal system, the legislative process, especially the stage of deliberation of draft laws, must be regulated so that preconditions would be created for properly assessing the content and consequences of the legal regulation provided for in draft laws while deliberating them. It should be noted that in order to achieve this objective, the legal regulation governing the legislative process must create preconditions for receiving, where necessary, inter alia, the opinion from persons with specialist knowledge and relevant state institutions, which would be substantiated by the performed comprehensive, objective, and impartial assessment of the draft law under deliberation and the possible content and consequences of the envisaged legal regulation, as well as to make a responsible and reasoned assessment of this opinion.

23.5. As mentioned before, the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 thereof, and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance give rise to the duty of the Seimas to establish such a legal regulation governing legislative process that would ensure, inter alia, the publicity and transparency of this process. In this context, Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 33 of the Constitution, which consolidate, inter alia, the rights of citizens to participate in the governance of their state and to criticise the work of state institutions or their officials, should also be mentioned.

In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that, under the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 thereof and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance, in order to ensure the publicity and transparency of the legislative process and the said rights of citizens consolidated in Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 33 of the Constitution, this process, especially the stage of the deliberation of draft laws, must be regulated so that it would create the possibility for society to participate in deliberations of draft laws. It should be noted that, in order to reach this objective, such a legal regulation of the legislative process must be established, under which the draft laws submitted to the Seimas would be made public so that the groups of society and the parties concerned would have enough time to access them and to express their opinion, comments, and proposals concerning these draft laws, which would be assessed in a responsible and reasoned manner.

23.6. The Constitutional Court has held on more than one occasion that, when the Seimas and each member of the Seimas pass laws and other legal acts, they are bound by the Constitution, constitutional laws, laws, as well as the Statute of the Seimas, which has the force of a law (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 22 February 2008, 15 February 2013, and 27 April 2016). The duty of the Seimas to follow the rules of passing laws (such rules are defined in the Statute of the Seimas) is a constitutional duty of the Seimas (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 8 November 1993, 15 February 2013, and 19 November 2015). Any essential violations of the legislative procedure established in laws and the Statute of the Seimas imply the violation of also the provision of Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution, according to which, laws are adopted at the Seimas according to the procedure established by law (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 28 June 2001, 22 February 2008, and 15 February 2013).

When particularising certain aspects of the constitutional duty of the Seimas to follow the rules concerning the stages of the legislative process and the adoption of laws, the Constitutional Court has noted the following:

the compliance of laws and other legal acts adopted by the Seimas with the Constitution is ensured not only by the constitutional control carried out by the Constitutional Court over legal acts adopted by the Seimas, but also by the internal preventive control exercised by the Seimas in the manner established in the Statute of the Seimas, where such control prevents the adoption of laws and other legal acts that could possibly contradict the Constitution or other higher-ranking legal acts; in the cases where the Statute of the Seimas provides that, at a certain stage of the process of legislation, the Seimas internal preventive control of the compliance of laws with the Constitution must be carried out, it must be implemented not in a perfunctory manner, but in reality and efficiently (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 15 February 2013 and 19 November 2015);

if, under the Statute of the Seimas, it is necessary to receive a conclusion from one of the structural subdivisions of the Seimas (inter alia, a committee or commission of the Seimas), it would be constitutionally unjustified that the said conclusion is not submitted because of the fact that this structural subdivision does not fulfil such a duty, is late to fulfil it, etc. Non-implementation of the duty of a structural unit of the Seimas to preliminary assess a draft law as prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas is considered to be an essential violation of the legislative procedure, which also determines the violation of Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 15 February 2013);

if the Statute of the Seimas or laws prescribe that a certain stage (stages) of the legislation process must include the verification of a draft law, then it is necessary, inter alia, to carry out the evaluation of the effectiveness of the regulation of relations that is sought by the relevant law, as well as an assessment whether such a law would give rise to any negative consequences; it would be constitutionally unjustified if there was a failure to carry out such verification at a certain stage of the legislation process (inter alia, in the course of the realisation of the right of legislative initiative or the adoption of laws) or if such verification were carried out not at the due stage (stages) of the legislation process (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 29 February 2010).

It should be noted that the duty of the Seimas to comply with the rules concerning the stages of the legislative process and the adoption of laws, which are established in the Constitution, laws, or the Statute of the Seimas, is not an end in itself; this duty is aimed at ensuring compliance not only with the requirement to adopt laws at the Seimas by following the procedure established by means of a law, which is prescribed in Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution, but also with the requirements of publicity and transparency of the legislative process, as well as the quality requirements for the acts of the Seimas, which stem from Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 of the Constitution and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance.

23.7. When interpreting the provisions of Paragraph 1 of Article 69 and Article 76 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has held that while passing laws, the Seimas may also deliberate them under urgency procedure provided for in the Statute of the Seimas (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 18 October 2000). It should be noted that the deliberation of draft laws under urgency procedure implies the shortening of the stages of the legislative process, especially the stage of deliberation; thus, it also implies the limited possibilities for ensuring that the requirements of publicity and transparency of the legislative process, as well as the quality requirements for laws, which stem from the Constitution, inter alia Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 thereof, and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance, be fulfilled.

In the light of the above, in the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that, while regulating, under Paragraph 1 of Article 69 and Article 76 of the Constitution, the legislative procedure, the Seimas may establish such a legal regulation governing the deliberation of draft laws under urgency procedure, according to which, this urgency procedure would be applied in particular cases when the political, social, economic or other circumstances require to establish, as a matter of urgency, a new legal regulation or to amend the effective legal regulation in order to ensure important interests of society and the state and to protect other constitutional values. It should also be noted that the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 thereof, and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance give rise to the requirement to create preconditions, while regulating the deliberation of draft laws.

23.8. As the Constitutional Court has stated, the provisions of Paragraph 1 Article 69 of the Constitution, under which laws must be adopted at the Seimas according to the procedure established by law, may not be interpreted only in a linguistic or literal manner as meaning that only laws must be adopted in accordance with the procedure established in legal acts; Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution should be interpreted within the context of the overall constitutional legal regulation, by taking into account, inter alia, the mission and functions of the Seimas as legislative power, among other things, the fact that the Seimas adopts not only laws, but also other acts of the Seimas (Articles 67 and 105 of the Constitution) (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 27 April 2016 and 29 June 2018).

In view of this fact, it should be noted that, while implementing the obligations to regulate legislative procedure consolidated in Paragraph 1 of Article 69 and Article 76 of the Constitution, the Seimas must provide for also the legislative procedure of the acts of the Seimas other than laws. As these acts of the Seimas usually do not establish a new legal regulation or amend the effective legal regulation, it should be noted that the legislative procedure of the acts of the Seimas other than laws may be more simple, inter alia, the same as the procedure of deliberation of draft laws as a matter of urgency. However, it should be emphasised that, in any case, when regulating the legislative procedure of the acts of the Seimas other than laws, it is necessary to respect the requirements of publicity and transparency of the legislative procedures, as well as the quality requirements for the acts of the Seimas, which stem from the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 thereof, and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance.

23.9. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that while implementing the obligations to regulate legislative procedure consolidated in Paragraph 1 of Article 69 and Article 76 of the Constitution, the Seimas may also provide for the procedure of deliberation of laws and other acts of the Seimas under special urgency procedure in the Statute of the Seimas. It should be noted that this procedure of deliberation of laws and other acts of the Seimas under special urgency procedure implies that the stages of the legislative process, especially the stage of deliberation, may be shortened even more than while deliberating draft laws and other acts of the Seimas under urgency procedure, i.e. the stage of deliberation, which, as mentioned before, guarantees the application of democratic principles in the legislative process, may become only formal. Therefore, the application of the special urgency procedure of deliberation of laws and other acts of the Seimas provides very limited possibilities to ensure that the requirements of publicity and transparency of the legislative process and the quality requirements for the laws and other acts of the Seimas, which stem from the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 thereof and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance, be followed.

In view of the above, in the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that, while regulating, under Paragraph 1 of Article 69 and Article 76 of the Constitution, the legislative procedure, the Seimas may establish such a legal regulation governing the deliberation of draft laws and other acts of the Seimas under special urgency procedure, according to which, this special urgency procedure could be applied only in exceptional constitutionally grounded cases, where it is necessary to ensure immediately the vital interests of society and the state, for example, while imposing or upon imposition of martial law or a state of emergency, while announcing or upon the announcement of mobilisation, while adopting a decision to use the armed forces in the event of an armed attack and (or) when a need arises to fulfil the international obligations, due to natural disaster or under other extreme circumstances, in the event of such a threat to the security of the state and society, the elimination of which requires the decisions of utmost urgency of the legislature. It should also be noted that the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 thereof, and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance give rise to the requirement to create preconditions, also while regulating the procedure of deliberation of laws and other acts of the Seimas, for ensuring the internal preventive control of the Seimas of the compliance of laws and other acts of the Seimas with the Constitution. It should be emphasised that any different legal regulation under which draft laws and other acts of the Seimas could be deliberated under special urgency procedure not in exceptional constitutionally grounded cases or it would be allowed to adopt draft laws or other acts of the Seimas, which are deliberated under special urgency procedure, without ensuring the internal preventive control of the Seimas of their compliance with the Constitution would be incompatible with the requirements of publicity and transparency of the legislative process and the quality requirements for the laws and other acts of the Seimas, which stem from the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 thereof and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance.

24. In the constitutional justice case at issue, it is also requested to investigate whether the legal regulation established in the Law, which, according to the petitioner, does not establish the number of forest enterprises or the criteria for establishing it, is in conflict with the Constitution.

24.1. It should be noted that the grounds for the regulation of the maintenance of forestry, as of any other economic activity, are consolidated in Article 46 of the Constitution. When interpreting the provisions of this law, among other things, the Constitutional Court has held that:

under the Constitution, the essential conditions for economic activity, as well as prohibitions and limitations that have an essential impact on the said activity may only be established by means of a law (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 31 May 2006 and 15 March 2008);

the duty of the state, consolidated in Paragraph 3 of Article 46 of the Constitution, to regulate economic activity so that it serves the general welfare of the People implies the requirement for the legislature, when regulating this activity, to reconcile different constitutional values, inter alia, those protected under Articles 46 and 54 of the Constitution (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 5 March 2015, 16 December 2015, and 24 May 2018).

24.2. In this context, it should also be noted that, under Article 54 of the Constitution, the state takes care of the protection of the natural environment, wildlife and plants, individual objects of nature, and areas of particular value, and supervises the sustainable use of natural resources, as well as their restoration and increase (Paragraph 1); the destruction of land and subsurface, the pollution of water and air, radioactive impact on the environment, as well as the depletion of wildlife and plants, shall be prohibited by law (Paragraph 2).

The Constitutional Court has noted that land, forests, parks, and water bodies are special objects of ownership, since the proper use and protection of land, forests, parks, and water bodies is a condition for the survival and development of human beings and society, and the basis of the welfare of the People; under the Constitution, the natural environment, wildlife and plants, individual objects of nature, and areas of particular value are national values of universal importance; protecting such values and ensuring their rational use and increase are a public interest; the state is under the constitutional obligation to guarantee such an interest (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 14 March 2006 and 5 July 2007).

24.3. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that the forests that belong to the state by right of ownership are the state property. Under Paragraph 2 of Article 128 of the Constitution, the procedure for the possession, use, and disposal of state property is established by law.

When interpreting Paragraph 2 of Article 128 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has noted that state-owned property is not an objective in itself, but that it should give benefit to society, that it should be used sparingly, subjected to no waste, and managed rationally (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 30 September 2003 and 20 March 2008); the duty arises for the legislature to establish by law all key elements of the possession, use, and disposal of state property (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 23 August 2005). Moreover, in its rulings, the Constitutional Court has held on more than one occasion that it is only the legislature that may establish the manner of, and the conditions for, disposing of state property (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 22 October 1996 and 23 August 2005). 

25. The petitioner impugns the compliance of the legal regulation established in the Law, which, according to the petitioner, does not establish the number of forest enterprises or the criteria for establishing it, with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

It should be noted that legal certainty and clarity is one of the essential elements of the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, which implies that any legal regulation is subject to certain mandatory requirements: a legal regulation must be clear and harmonious; legal norms must be formulated precisely and may not contain any ambiguities; the consistency and internal harmony of the legal system must be ensured; that legal acts may contain no provisions simultaneously regulating the same public relations in a different manner (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 30 May 2003, 13 December 2004, and 15 February 2013).

The Constitutional Court has held that the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law implies the hierarchy of all legal acts and does not permit that substatutory legal acts regulate the relations that may be regulated only by means of a law (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 22 June 2009, 6 November 2013, and 24 May 2018).

26. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that the Constitution, inter alia, Articles 46 and 54 and Paragraph 2 of Article 128 thereof and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law give rise to a duty of a legislature to establish, by means of a law, the essential conditions for forestry management; the legislature must establish a clear and reasoned model of forestry management, inter alia, appropriate subjects responsible for the management of forests belonging to the state by right of ownership, or the criteria for the establishment of such subjects. It should also be noted that, while establishing the legal regulation governing forestry management, the legislature must observe, inter alia, the duty of the state to regulate economic activity so that it serves the general welfare of the People, which stems from Paragraph 3 of Article 46 of the Constitution, by, at the same time, implementing the requirements to, inter alia, ensure proper protection of forests, as well as rational management and use of them as a state-owned property, which stem from Article 54 and Paragraph 2 of Article 128 of the Constitution.

VI

The assessment of the compliance of Article 164 (wording of 3 May 2016) of the Statute of the Seimas with the Constitution

27. The Constitutional Court has held on more than one occasion that, having found that the provisions of a law whose compliance with the Constitution is not impugned by a petitioner, but which regulate part of the relationships covered by an impugned law, are in conflict with the Constitution, the Constitutional Court must state that such provisions are unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court has also held that this should be applied, mutatis mutandis, with regard to the provisions of the legal act – the Statute of the Seimas – that regulate the procedure of the adoption of an impugned law (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 24 January 2014). The implementation of constitutional justice implies that a legal act (part thereof) that conflicts with the Constitution must be removed from the legal system (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 29 November 2001, 22 September 2015, and 2 March 2018).

28. It is obvious from the factual circumstances linked to the adoption of the Law and relevant to this constitutional justice case that this law was adopted by applying the procedure of deliberation of a draft law under special urgency procedure established in Article 164 (wording of 3 May 2016) of the Statute of the Seimas.

29. While interpreting the legal regulation established in Article 164 (wording of 3 May 2016) of the Statute of the Seimas, it has been mentioned that:

the deliberation of a draft law under special urgency procedure provided for in Article 164 of the Statute of the Seimas is a certain special legislative procedure, which is particularly expedited, when, if necessary, the Seimas may adopt a draft law with special urgency – the procedure of adoption of a draft law may be initiated after a break of three hours following its submission (Paragraph 4 of Article 164 (wording of 3 May 2016)), i.e. it creates the preconditions for adopting a draft law on the same day on which it is submitted to the Seimas.

when a draft law is deliberated under special urgency procedure, inter alia, these requirements established in Article 155 of the Statute of the Seimas for the deliberation of a draft law under general procedure do not apply: the conclusions of the Legal Department must be submitted and announced on the website of the Seimas together with the draft law at least three working days before the Seimas sitting (Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 155 (wording of 3 May 2016)); the lead committee must evaluate the received amendments, supplements, and deletions and the conclusions of the Legal Department thereon prior to the adoption of the draft law (Paragraph 4 of Article 155 (wording of 3 May 2016));

Paragraph 4 of Article 164 (wording of 3 May 2016) of the Statute of the Seimas prescribes the special rules for the deliberation of a draft law under special urgency procedure: during a three-hour interval the amendments proposed by the persons having the right of legislative initiative (these amendments must be submitted in writing not later than one hour prior to the commencement of the adoption of the draft) and conclusions of the Legal Department of the Office of the Seimas concerning these amendments may be submitted in writing and the draft must be edited by the Document Department of the Office of the Seimas;

two following conditions are established for the application of deliberation of a draft law under special urgency procedure: (1) there must be a reasoned submission by the President of the Republic, Speaker of the Seimas or his/her Deputy deputising for the Speaker of the Seimas, or the Government (Paragraph 1 of Article 164 (wording of 3 May 2016)); (2) a decision is adopted, at a Seimas sitting held for the submission or deliberation of a draft law, by a majority of votes cast by members of the Seimas, provided that the majority comprises more than 1/4 of all the members of the Seimas (Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 164 (wording of 3 May 2016)).

30. It has been mentioned that, while implementing the obligations to regulate legislative procedure consolidated in Paragraph 1 of Article 69 and Article 76 of the Constitution, the Seimas may also provide for the procedure of deliberation of laws and other acts of the Seimas under special urgency procedure in the Statute of the Seimas; the application of the special urgency procedure of deliberation provides very limited possibilities to ensure that the requirements of publicity and transparency of the legislative process and the quality requirements for the laws and other acts of the Seimas, which stem from the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 thereof and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance, be followed.

In view of the above, in this ruling of the Constitutional Court, it was noted that, while regulating, under Paragraph 1 of Article 69 and Article 76 of the Constitution, the legislative procedure, the Seimas may establish such a legal regulation governing the deliberation of draft laws and other acts of the Seimas under special urgency procedure, according to which, this special urgency procedure could be applied only in exceptional constitutionally grounded cases, where it is necessary to ensure immediately the vital interests of society and the state, for example, while imposing or upon imposition of martial law or a state of emergency, while announcing or upon the announcement of mobilisation, while adopting a decision to use the armed forces in the event of an armed attack and (or) when a need arises to fulfil the international obligations, due to natural disaster or under other extreme circumstances, in the event of such a threat to the security of the state and society, the elimination of which requires the decisions of utmost urgency of the legislature; a different legal regulation under which draft laws and other acts of the Seimas could be considered under special urgency procedure not in exceptional constitutionally grounded cases would be incompatible with the requirements of publicity and transparency of the legislative process and the quality requirements for the laws and other acts of the Seimas, which stem from the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 thereof and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance.

31. It has been mentioned that one of the conditions established in the Statute of the Seimas for the application of the special urgency procedure of deliberation of a draft law is a reasoned submission by the President of the Republic, Speaker of the Seimas or his/her Deputy deputising for the Speaker of the Seimas, or the Government (Paragraph 1 of Article 164 (wording of 3 May 2016)). As mentioned before, the Statute of the Seimas does not establish the cases in which the special urgency procedure of deliberation of a draft law or other act of the Seimas should be applied, i.e. its application exceptionally depends on the submission by the subjects specified in the Statute of the Seimas and the decision of the majority of votes cast by members of the Seimas at a sitting of the Seimas.

Thus, under the legal regulation established in Paragraph 1 of Article 164 (wording of 3 May 2016) of the Statute of the Seimas, draft laws and other acts of the Seimas may be deliberated under special urgency procedure on any grounds submitted by the subjects specified in the said paragraph (the President of the Republic, Speaker of the Seimas or his/her Deputy deputising for the Speaker of the Seimas, or the Government), and not only in exceptional constitutionally justifiable cases, where it is necessary to ensure immediately the vital interests of society and the state in the event of such a threat to the security of the state and society, the elimination of which requires the decisions of utmost urgency of the legislature.

32. In view of the above, it should be held that by means of the legal regulation established in Paragraph 1 of Article 164 (wording of 30 June 2016) of the Statute of the Seimas, insofar as, according to this regulation, draft laws and other acts of the Seimas may be deliberated under special urgency procedure not only in exceptional constitutionally justifiable cases, where it is necessary to ensure immediately the vital interests of society and the state in the event of such a threat to the security of the state and society, the elimination of which requires the decisions of utmost urgency of the legislature, the legislature disregarded the requirements of publicity and transparency of the legislative process and the quality requirements for the laws and other acts of the Seimas, which stem from the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 thereof and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance.

33. In the light of the foregoing arguments, the conclusion should be drawn that Paragraph 1 of Article 164 (wording of 3 May 2016) of the Statute of the Seimas is in conflict with Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 of the Constitution and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance, insofar as, under the established legal regulation, the consideration of draft laws and other legal acts of the Seimas can be subject to special urgency procedure not only in exceptional constitutionally grounded cases when it is necessary to ensure immediately the vital interests of society and the state in the event of such a threat to the security of the state and society, the elimination of which requires the decisions of utmost urgency of the legislature.

VII

The assessment of the compliance of the Law Amending Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Law on Forestry (No I-671) with the Constitution in terms of the procedure of its adoption

34. As mentioned above, the petitioner impugns the compliance of the Law Amending Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Law on Forestry (No I-671) with Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law in terms of the procedure of its adoption.

35. According to the petitioner, after the impugned draft Law was supplemented with new articles, no additional explanatory note was submitted, no impact assessment of the legal regulation envisaged in the draft, as well as no expert or anti-corruption assessment was carried out, i.e. the draft Law was not legally assessed in a proper manner. In addition, according to the petitioner, legislative actions have been performed within an unreasonable term: having substantially amended the draft Law on 11 July 2017, it was adopted on the same day; thus, from this aspect, the arguments of the petitioner are linked to the fact that the Law was adopted under special urgency procedure.

36. The Constitutional Court has held that after it establishes that the impugned legal regulation is unconstitutional from the aspect other than that impugned by the petitioner, the Constitutional Court must state that (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 22 September 2015 and 4 July 2017); the implementation of constitutional justice implies that a legal act (part thereof) that conflicts with the Constitution must be removed from the legal system (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 22 September 2015 and 4 July 2017).

37. As mentioned before, it is obvious from the factual circumstances linked to the adoption of the Law and relevant to this constitutional justice case that:

while deliberating the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) submitted by the group of members of the Seimas (which had been submitted for deliberation at the sitting of the Seimas as draft Law (No XIIP-4291(3))) at the morning sitting of the Seimas on 11 July 2017, the Seimas amended this draft law significantly – supplemented it with new provisions the most of which coincided with the provisions of the draft Law (No XIIP-420) submitted by the Government (i.e. the same articles of the Law on Forestry were replaced by the provisions that were identical or similar according to their content);

such a substantially amended draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) (registered for the adoption as the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(5))) submitted by the group of members of the Seimas was adopted under special urgency procedure on the same day (on 11 July 2017) upon the proposal of the Speaker of the Seimas and without presenting the reasoning of such a proposal;

the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government and the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)) submitted by the members of the Seimas were not considered as alternative either by the Committee on Environment Protection, which had been appointed as the lead committee for the consideration of both draft laws, or at the sitting of the Seimas; the Committee on Environment Protection did not make the decision to join these draft laws into one; the Committee on Environment Protection rejected the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government without any arguments and without having assessed the conclusions of the independent expert evaluation concerning this draft law that had been presented, as well as the conclusions, comments, and proposals presented by other consultants, specialists, also subjects having the right of legislative initiative, additional committees designated by the Seimas, and the state and municipal institutions and establishments; these conclusions, comments, and proposals were also not deliberated at the morning sitting of the Seimas on 11 July 2017, in which it was decided to appoint another lead committee for the consideration of the draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government;

on 11 July 2017, the same day when the impugned Law was adopted under special urgency procedure, the Legal Department only assessed the provisions of draft Law (No XIIP-4291(4)) whereby it was proposed to amend the legal regulation established in Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry (i.e. the amendment of the same provision of the Law on Forestry whose amendment was proposed by the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(2)); the Legal Department did not assess the received proposals of the members of the Seimas, which had been presented during the break made while deliberating the draft law under special urgency procedure.

38. While assessing whether the Law is in conflict with the Constitution in terms of the procedure of its adoption, it should be noted that, as mentioned before:

the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law implies various requirements for law-making subjects, including, inter alia, the fact that law-making subjects are allowed to pass legal acts only without exceeding their powers; legal acts must be passed in accordance with the established procedural law-making requirements, including the requirements established by the law-making subject itself;

the duty of the Seimas to observe the rules of the adoption of laws that are defined in the Statute of the Seimas is the constitutional duty of the Seimas; any essential violations of the legislative procedure established in laws and the Statute of the Seimas imply the violation of also the provision of Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution, according to which laws are adopted at the Seimas according to the procedure established by law;

it is not allowed to ignore any stage of the legislative process or any rule of the adoption of laws consolidated in the Constitution, laws, or the Statute of the Seimas; the duty of the Seimas to comply with the rules concerning the stages of the legislative process and the adoption of laws, which are established in the Constitution, laws, or the Statute of the Seimas, is not an end in itself; this duty is aimed at ensuring compliance not only with the requirement to adopt laws in the Seimas by following the procedure established by means of a law, which is prescribed in Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution, but also with the requirements of publicity and transparency of the legislative process, as well as the quality requirements for the acts of the Seimas, which stem from Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 of the Constitution and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance;

when regulating the legislative procedure under Paragraph 1 of Article 69 and Article 76 of the Constitution, the Seimas may establish such a legal regulation governing the deliberation of draft laws and other acts of the Seimas under special urgency procedure, according to which, this special urgency procedure could be applied only in exceptional constitutionally grounded cases, where it is necessary to ensure immediately the vital interests of society and the state, for example, while imposing or upon imposition of martial law or a state of emergency, while announcing or upon the announcement of mobilisation, while adopting a decision to use the armed forces in the event of an armed attack and (or) when a need arises to fulfil the international obligations, due to natural disaster or under other extreme circumstances, in the event of such a threat to the security of the state and society, the elimination of which requires the decisions of utmost urgency of the legislature; the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 thereof, and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance give rise to the requirement to create preconditions, also while regulating the procedure of deliberation of laws and other acts of the Seimas, for ensuring the internal preventive control of the Seimas of the compliance of laws and other acts of the Seimas with the Constitution;

any different legal regulation, under which draft laws and other acts of the Seimas could be deliberated under special urgency procedure not in exceptional constitutionally grounded cases or it would be allowed to adopt draft laws or other acts of the Seimas, which are deliberated under special urgency procedure, without ensuring the internal preventive control of the Seimas of their compliance with the Constitution would be incompatible with the requirements of publicity and transparency of the legislative process and the quality requirements for the laws and other acts of the Seimas, which stem from the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 thereof and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance.

39. Taking into account the said relevant factual circumstances linked to the adoption of the Law, it should be held that:

the impugned Law was adopted while applying, upon the proposal of the Speaker of the Seimas, the procedure of deliberation of special urgency without the reasons substantiating the application of this procedure, thus, inter alia, without the existence of such a threat to the security of the state and society, the elimination of which required the decisions of utmost urgency of the legislature;

while adopting the impugned Law under special urgency procedure, no preconditions were created for the Legal Department to assess all the provision of the draft Law (draft Laws Nos XIIP-4291(4) and XIIP-4291(5)), inter alia, the received proposals of the members of the Seimas concerning the draft Law, which were submitted during the break made during the deliberation of the draft Law under special urgency procedure;

the impugned Law was adopted under special urgency procedure by changing its draft (the draft Law (No XIIP-4291(3)) submitted by the members of the Seimas and considered by the Committee on Environment Protection) in essence, i.e. by supplementing it with new provisions analogous to the provisions of another draft law (draft Law (No XIIIP-420) submitted by the Government) during one day of its deliberation under special urgency procedure so avoiding the stage of deliberation of the said another draft law (draft Law (No XIIIP-420), i.e. the consideration and assessment of the conclusions of the independent expert evaluation concerning this draft law that had been presented, as well as the conclusions, comments, and proposals presented by other consultants, specialists, also subjects having the right of legislative initiative, additional committees designated by the Seimas, and the state and municipal institutions and establishments).

40. In the light of the afore-mentioned provisions of the Constitution and the official constitutional doctrine, it should also be held that:

by adopting the impugned Law under special urgency procedure in the absence of such a threat to the security of the state and society, the elimination of which requires the decisions of utmost urgency of the legislature, the legislature did not follow the requirement to deliberate draft laws and other acts of the Seimas under special urgency procedure only in exceptional constitutionally grounded cases, where it is necessary to ensure immediately the vital interests of society and the state in the event of such a threat to the security of the state and society, the elimination of which requires the decisions of utmost urgency of the legislature, thus, also the requirements of publicity and transparency of the legislative process and the quality requirements for the laws and other acts of the Seimas, which stem from the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 thereof and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance;

by adopting the impugned Law under special urgency procedure without creating preconditions for the Legal Department to assess all the provisions of the draft, the legislature did not follow the constitutional requirement to ensure, when applying special urgency procedure of deliberation of draft laws and other acts of the Seimas, the internal preventive control of the Seimas of the compliance of laws and other acts of the Seimas with the Constitution, thus, also the quality requirements for the laws and other acts of the Seimas, which stem from the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 thereof and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance;

by adopting the impugned Law under special urgency procedure and so avoiding the stage of deliberation of the said another draft law, i.e. the consideration and assessment of the conclusions of the independent expert evaluation concerning this draft law that had been presented, as well as the conclusions, comments, and proposals presented by other consultants, specialists, also subjects having the right of legislative initiative, additional committees designated by the Seimas, and the state and municipal institutions and establishments, the legislature disregarded the constitutional requirement not to ignore any stage of legislative process or rule of the adoption of laws, which is consolidated in the Constitution, laws or Statute of the Seimas, thus, also the requirement established in Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution to adopt laws at the Seimas under the procedure established by means of a law, and the requirements of publicity and transparency of the legislative process and the quality requirements for the laws and other acts of the Seimas, which stem from Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 of the Constitution and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance.

41. With regard to the arguments set out, the conclusion should be made that, in terms of the procedure of its adoption, the Law is in conflict with Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 and Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance.

42. Having held this, the Constitutional Court will not further examine in the constitutional justice case at issue whether the Law is, in terms of the procedure of its adoption, in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law in other aspects specified by the petitioner linked to non-existence of the additional explanatory note to the draft Law and impact assessment of the legal regulation envisaged in the draft, as well as expert or anti-corruption assessment.

VIII

On the formula “forest enterprise (enterprises) as consolidated in the Law Amending Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Law on Forestry (No I-671)

43. As mentioned before, the petitioner doubts, inter alia, the compliance of Paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the Law with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, insofar as, by means of the said paragraph, the formula “forest enterprise (enterprises)” is consolidated in Paragraph 1 (wording of 11 July 2017) of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry, from which, according to the petitioner, it is not clear how many forest enterprises should operate.

44. Having held, in this ruling of the Constitutional Court, that, in terms of the procedure of its adoption, the Law is in conflict with Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 and Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance, the Constitutional Court will no longer investigate the compliance of the provisions of Paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the Law and other provisions of the Law with the Constitution in the aspect impugned by the petitioner, insofar as these provisions consolidate the formula “forest enterprise (enterprises)”.

45. In this context, attention should be drawn to the fact that, as mentioned before, the formula “forest enterprise (enterprises)”, which was consolidated by Paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the Law, means that, under Paragraph 1 (wording of 11 July 2017) of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry, one or a few forest enterprises can operate in the Republic of Lithuania – state enterprises established under the Law on State and Municipal Enterprises managing, using, and disposing in trust of state forests and engaged in integrated forestry activities and other type of activities defined in the articles of association of the enterprise; under this legal regulation, the Government has broad discretion to decide on the number of forest enterprises to be established in Lithuania. It has also been mentioned that from the formula “forest enterprise (enterprises)” consolidated in Paragraph 1 of Article 2, Paragraphs 1 and 4 of Article 3, and Article 8 of the Law, which amended Paragraph 6 of Article 4, Item 8 of Paragraph 2 of Article 5 and Paragraph 5 of this Article, and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 18 of the Law on Forestry, it is also not clear, how many forest enterprises may operate in Lithuania under the Law on Forestry.

In this respect, it should also be noted that, as it has been held in its ruling of the Constitutional Court, the Constitution, inter alia, Articles 46 and 54 and Paragraph 2 of Article 128 thereof, and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law give rise to a duty of a legislature to establish, by means of a law, the essential conditions for forestry management; the legislature must establish a clear and reasoned model of forestry management, inter alia, appropriate subjects responsible for the management of forests belonging to the state by right of ownership, or the criteria for the establishment of such subjects; while establishing the legal regulation governing forestry management, the legislature must observe the duty of the state to regulate economic activity so that it serves the general welfare of the People, which stems, inter alia, from Paragraph 3 of Article 46 of the Constitution, by, at the same time, implementing the requirements, inter alia, to ensure proper protection of forests, as well as rational management and use of them as a state-owned property, which stem from Article 54 and Paragraph 2 of Article 128 of the Constitution.

IX

On the official publication of the ruling of the Constitutional Court

46. By this ruling of the Constitutional Court, the Law Amending Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Law on Forestry (No I-671) has been declared to be in conflict with the Constitution.

Under Paragraph 1 of Article 107 of the Constitution, a law (or part thereof) may not be applied from the day of the official publication of the decision of the Constitutional Court that the act in question (or part thereof) is in conflict with the Constitution.

47. It has been held in the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court that, under the Constitution, the Constitutional Court, having assessed, inter alia, what legal situation might arise after a ruling of the Constitutional Court becomes effective, may establish the date of the official publication of that ruling; the Constitutional Court may postpone the official publication of its ruling if this is necessary to give the legislature time to remove the lacunae legis that would occur if the relevant ruling of the Constitutional Court were officially published immediately after its public pronouncement at the hearing of the Constitutional Court and if such lacunae legis constituted the preconditions for denying in essence certain values defended and protected by the Constitution. The said postponement of the official publication of a ruling of the Constitutional Court (inter alia, a ruling by which a certain law (or part thereof) is ruled to be in conflict with the Constitution) is a precondition stemming from the Constitution in order to avoid certain consequences unfavourable to society and the state, as well as to human rights and freedoms, that might arise if the relevant ruling of the Constitutional Court were officially published immediately after it is pronounced publicly at the hearing of the Constitutional Court and if it became effective on the day of its official publication (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 19 January 2005, 6 February 2012, and 29 September 2015).

48. It should be noted that under Paragraph 3 of Article 84 “The Publication and Entry into Force of the Acts of the Constitutional Court and Announcements of the President of the Constitutional Court” (wording of 14 May 2015), taking into account the specific circumstances of a particular case, the Constitutional Court may set a later date for the publication of its ruling by which a certain legal act (part thereof) is declared to be in conflict with the Constitution or laws.

49. Under the Constitution and the Law on the Constitutional Court, upon the official publication of this ruling of the Constitutional Court, from the day of its official publication, the Law Amending Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Law on Forestry (No I-671), which amended the legal regulation established in the Law on Forestry and which has been declared to be in conflict with the Constitution by this ruling of the Constitutional Court, will not be able to be applied.

Therefore, if the Constitutional Court’s ruling in this case were officially published immediately after its public pronouncement at the hearing of the Constitutional Court, there would appear regulatory gaps and uncertainties of the legal regulation established in the Law on Forestry due to which the management and maintenance of forestry could be disrupted.

Taking account of the fact that a certain period of time is necessary to remove the said regulatory gaps and uncertainties of the legal regulation established in the Law on Forestry, this ruling of the Constitutional Court is to be officially published in the Register of Legal Acts on 2 December 2019.

X

On the legal consequences of declaring unconstitutional Paragraph 1 of Article 164 (wording of 3 May 2016) of the Statute of the Seimas

50. Paragraph 1 of Article 102 of the Constitution stipulates that the Constitutional Court decides whether the laws and other acts of the Seimas are in conflict with the Constitution and whether the acts of the President of the Republic and the Government are in conflict with the Constitution and laws. The Constitutional Court ensures the supremacy of the Constitution in the legal system and administers constitutional justice.

As the Constitutional Court has held on more than one occasion, it carries out constitutional judicial control; the Constitutional Court is the institution of constitutional justice; while deciding, within its competence, on the compliance of lower-ranking legal acts (parts thereof) with higher-ranking legal acts, inter alia (and, first of all), with the Constitution, and exercising its other constitutional powers, the Constitutional Court – an individual and independent court – administers constitutional justice and guarantees constitutional legality and the supremacy of the Constitution in the legal system.

In this context, it should be noted that the concept of constitutional justice, which stems from the Constitution, implies not a perfunctory and nominal constitutional justice, but such final acts of the Constitutional Court that are not unjust according to their content; otherwise, without creating the possibility for the Constitutional Court to adopt, in accordance with the powers conferred upon it, such a final act that would meet the criteria of justice, the supremacy of the Constitution in the legal system would not be guaranteed and the administration of constitutional justice and the ensuring of constitutional legality would be prevented; the powers of the Constitutional Court to administer constitutional justice and to ensure constitutional legality are inseparable from the imperatives of the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, inter alia, from the requirements of the protection of legitimate expectations, legal security, justice, and reasonableness (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 19 June 2018).

51. As mentioned before, under Paragraph 1 of Article 107 of the Constitution, a law (or part thereof) may not be applied from the day of the official publication of the decision of the Constitutional Court that the act in question (or part thereof) is in conflict with the Constitution.

In this context, it should be noted that Paragraph 1 of Article 107 of the Constitution consolidates the general rule that the legal force of decisions passed by the Constitutional Court is prospective (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 30 December 2003 and decisions of 19 December 2012 and 21 March 2019). It should also be noted that Paragraph 1 of Article 107 of the Constitution gives rise to the presumption of the constitutionality of legal acts and the legitimacy of the consequences of their application: as the Constitutional Court has held on more than one occasion, the provision of Paragraph 1 of Article 107 of the Constitution that a law (part thereof) may not be applied from the day of the official publication of the decision of the Constitutional Court that the act in question (part thereof) is in conflict with the Constitution, means that, as long as the Constitutional Court has not adopted a decision that a certain legal act (part thereof) is in conflict with the Constitution, it is presumed that such a legal act (part thereof) is in compliance with the Constitution and that the legal consequences that have appeared on the basis of the act in question are legitimate (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 30 December 2003 and 25 October 2011, and its decision of 21 March 2019).

52. Therefore, in the light of the said imperatives of the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, inter alia, the requirements of the protection of legitimate expectations, legal security, justice, and reasonableness, as well as of the imperative of the balance of constitutional values and the presumption of constitutionality and legitimacy of legal acts, it should be noted that, when implementing constitutional justice and ensuring constitutional legality by the Constitutional Court in adopting rulings in considered cases, the stability of the legal system may not be violated and the confidence in subjects of legal relationships may not be lost by the legal acts adopted in the state.

Thus, the fact that it was held in this ruling of the Constitutional Court that Paragraph 1 of Article 164 (wording of 30 May 2016 ) of the Statute of the Seimas is in conflict with the Constitution, insofar as, under the established legal regulation, the consideration of draft laws and other legal acts of the Seimas can be subject to special urgency procedure not only in exceptional constitutionally grounded cases when it is necessary to ensure immediately the vital interests of society and the state in the event of such a threat to the security of the state and society, the elimination of which requires the decisions of utmost urgency of the legislature, may not in itself be the grounds for impugning the compliance of the laws and other acts of the Seimas, were adopted by applying special urgency procedure prior to the publication of this ruling at the hearing of the Constitutional Court, with the Constitution only due to the fact that the above-mentioned special urgency procedure of deliberation was applied not in the exceptional constitutionally grounded case where it was necessary to ensure immediately the vital interests of society and the state in the event of such a threat to the security of the state and society, the elimination of which required the decisions of utmost urgency of the legislature.

53. At the same time, it needs to be emphasised that, from the day of publication of this ruling of the Constitutional Court at the hearing of the Constitutional Court, under Paragraph 1 of Article 164 (wording of 3 May 2016) of the Statute of the Seimas, the special urgency procedure should be applied for the deliberation of laws upon a reasoned submission by the subjects specified in this paragraph (the President of the Republic, the Speaker of the Seimas or his/her Deputy deputising for the Speaker of the Seimas or the Government) only in exceptional constitutionally grounded cases where it is necessary to ensure immediately the vital interests of society and the state, for example, while imposing or upon imposition of martial law or a state of emergency, while announcing or upon the announcement of mobilisation, while adopting a decision to use the armed forces in the event of an armed attack and (or) when a need arises to fulfil the international obligations, due to natural disaster or under other extreme circumstances, in the event of such a threat to the security of the state and society, the elimination of which requires the decisions of utmost urgency of the legislature. A different interpretation of this ruling of the Constitutional Court that the special urgency procedure of deliberation of laws and other acts of the Seimas, under Paragraph 1 of Article 164 (wording of 3 May 2016) of the Statute of the Seimas, could allegedly be applied from the publication of this ruling of the Constitutional Court at the hearing of the Constitutional Court until its official publication in the Register of Legal Acts not only in these exceptional constitutionally grounded cases when it is necessary to ensure immediately the vital interests of society and the state in the event of such a threat to the security of the state and society, the elimination of which requires the decisions of utmost urgency of the legislature, would be incompatible with the concept of constitutional justice and constitutional legality.

54. In this ruling of the Constitutional Court, among other things, it has been held that, while regulating, under Paragraph 1 of Article 69 and Article 76 of the Constitution, the legislative procedure, the Seimas may establish such a legal regulation governing the deliberation of draft laws under urgency procedure, according to which, this urgency procedure would be applied in particular cases when the political, social, economic or other circumstances require to establish, as a matter of urgency, a new legal regulation or to amend the effective legal regulation in order to ensure important interests of society and the state and to protect other constitutional values.

In this ruling of the Constitutional Court, it has also been held that, under Paragraph 2 of Article 162 (wording of 9 November 2004) of the Statute of the Seimas, one of the conditions established in the Statute of the Seimas for the application of the urgency procedure of deliberation of a draft law is a reasoned submission by the President of the Republic, Speaker of the Seimas or his/her Deputy deputising for the Speaker of the Seimas, or the Government; the application of this procedure exceptionally depends on the submission by the subjects specified in the Statute of the Seimas and the decision of the majority of votes cast by members of the Seimas at a sitting of the Seimas.

It should be noted that the legal regulation established in Paragraph 2 of Article 162 (wording of 9 November 2004) of the Statute of the Seimas is not a matter for an investigation in the constitutional justice case at issue. However, it should also be noted that, from the day of publication of this ruling of the Constitutional Court at the hearing of the Constitutional Court, under Paragraph 2 of Article 162 (wording of 9 November 2004) of the Statute of the Seimas, special urgency procedure should be applied for the deliberation of laws upon a reasoned submission by the subjects specified in this paragraph (the President of the Republic, the Speaker of the Seimas or his/her Deputy deputising for the Speaker of the Seimas, the leader of the opposition of the Seimas, the lead committee, a political group or the Government) only in those cases when the application of this procedure would be reasoned in exceptional cases, when the political, social, economic or other circumstances would require to establish, as a matter of urgency, a new legal regulation or to amend the effective legal regulation in order to ensure important interests of society and the state and to protect other constitutional values. A different interpretation of this ruling of the Constitutional Court that the urgency procedure of deliberation of laws, under Paragraph 2 of Article 162 (wording of 9 November 2004) of the Statute of the Seimas, could allegedly be applied from the publication of this ruling of the Constitutional Court at the hearing of the Constitutional Court without reasoning this application in exceptional cases, when the political, social, economic or other circumstances would require to establish, as a matter of urgency, a new legal regulation or to amend the effective legal regulation in order to ensure important interests of society and the state and to protect other constitutional values, would be incompatible with the concept of constitutional justice and constitutional legality.

XI

On the legal consequences of declaring unconstitutional the Law Amending Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Law on Forestry (No I-671)

55. Under Paragraph 1 of Article 107 of the Constitution, a law (or part thereof) may not be applied from the day of the official publication of the decision of the Constitutional Court that the act in question (or part thereof) is in conflict with the Constitution.

55.1. As mentioned above, under the Constitution and the Law on the Constitutional Court, upon the official publication of this ruling of the Constitutional Court, from the day of its official publication, the Law Amending Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Law on Forestry (No I-671), which amended the legal regulation established in the Law on Forestry and which has been declared to be in conflict with the Constitution by this ruling of the Constitutional Court, may not be applied.

Thus, upon the official publication of this ruling of the Constitutional Court, inter alia, Paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the Law, which amended Paragraph 1 (wording of 30 June 2016) of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry by establishing that the forest enterprise (enterprises) operate(s) in the Republic of Lithuania instead of the specific number of forest enterprises (42 forest enterprises) formerly established in the said paragraph, will not be able to be applied.

55.2. In this context, it should be noted that by its resolution (No 647) of 2 August 2017 on the consent to reorganise state forest enterprises, pursuant to Paragraph 3 of Article 2.97 of the Civil Code and Article 18 of the Law on State and Municipal Enterprises, the Government decided to reorganise 42 forest enterprises that operated in Lithuania by way of incorporation – by incorporating them into the state enterprise State Institute of Forest Management, whose name after the reorganisation is the state enterprise State Forests’ Enterprise. Therefore, this ruling is based on the provisions of other laws (Paragraph 3 of Article 2.97 of the Civil Code and Article 18 of the Law on State and Municipal Enterprises), not only on the provisions of the Law on Forestry.

55.3. As mentioned above, when interpreting Paragraph 1 of Article 107 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has disclosed the content of the presumption of the constitutionality of legal acts and the legitimacy of the consequences of their application, which stems from the Constitution: the provision of Paragraph 1 of Article 107 of the Constitution, whereby a law (part thereof) may not be applied from the day of the official publication of the decision of the Constitutional Court that the act in question (part thereof) is in conflict with the Constitution, means that, as long as the Constitutional Court has not adopted a decision that a certain legal act (part thereof) is in conflict with the Constitution, it is presumed that such a legal act (part thereof) is in compliance with the Constitution and that the legal consequences that have appeared on the basis of the act in question are legitimate (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 30 December 2003 and 25 October 2011, and its decision of 21 March 2019).

55.4. As mentioned above, upon the official publication of the ruling of the Constitutional Court in this case, there would appear regulatory gaps and uncertainties of the legal regulation established in the Law on Forestry, inter alia, due to the legal regulation established in Paragraph 1 (wording of 11 July 2017) of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry. Among other things, this means that, upon the official publication of this ruling of the Constitutional Court, the former legal regulation, which was established in Paragraph 1 (wording of 30 June 2016) of Article 7 of the Law on Forestry, under which 42 forest enterprises operated in Lithuania, would not be automatically restored. Therefore, if the legislature did not take measures to remove the regulatory gaps and uncertainties of the legal regulation established in the Law on Forestry, after this ruling of the Constitutional Court is officially published, the model of the management of forestry, inter alia, the fact of how many forest enterprises could operate, would be unregulated by means of a law.

55.5. As mentioned above, in the light of the imperatives of the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, inter alia, the requirements of the protection of legitimate expectations, legal security, justice, and reasonableness, as well as of the imperative of the balance of constitutional values and the presumption of constitutionality and legitimacy of legal acts, when implementing constitutional justice and ensuring constitutional legality by the Constitutional Court in adopting rulings in considered cases, the stability of the legal system may not be violated and the confidence in subjects of legal relationships may not be lost by the legal acts adopted in the state. In the constitutional justice case at issue, the public interest to ensure the stability of the legal regulation on forestry so that the management and maintenance of forestry would not be disturbed should be emphasised.

Thus, in the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that, in the light of the said constitutional imperatives, inter alia, the interests of the stability of the legal regulation, the above-mentioned government resolution (No 647) of 2 August 2017 on the consent to reorganise state forest enterprises, which, as mentioned before, was adopted pursuant to the provisions of not only the Law on Forestry but also of other laws (Paragraph 3 of Article 2.97 of the Civil Code and Article 18 of the Law on State and Municipal Enterprises), should be considered as effective also upon the official publication of this ruling of the Constitutional Court.

55.6. Thus, the fact that, in this ruling of the Constitutional Court, it was held that the Law Amending Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Law on Forestry (No I-671) was in conflict with the Constitution does not, in itself, provide a basis for impugning the constitutionality of the government resolution (No 647) of 2 August 2017 on the consent to reorganise state forest enterprises.

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

ruling:

1. To recognise that the Law Amending Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 18, and 19 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Forestry (No I-671) (Register of Legal Acts, 14-07-2017, No 12233), is, in terms of the procedure of its adoption, in conflict with Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 5 and Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance.

2. To recognise that Paragraph 1 of Article 164 (wording of 3 May 2016; Register of Legal Acts, 06-05-2016, No 11395) of the Statute of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania is in conflict with Paragraphs 2 and 5 of Article 5 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance, insofar as, under the legal regulation established therein, the consideration of draft laws and other legal acts of the Seimas may be subject to special urgency procedure not only in exceptional constitutionally grounded cases when it was necessary to ensure immediately the vital interests of society and the state in the event of such a threat to the security of the state and society, the elimination of which required the decisions of utmost urgency of the legislature.

3. This ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania must be officially published in the Register of Legal Acts on 2 December 2019.

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

Justices of the Constitutional Court: Elvyra Baltutytė
                                                                      Gintaras Goda
                                                                      Vytautas Greičius
                                                                      Danutė Jočienė
                                                                      Gediminas Mesonis
                                                                      Vytas Milius
                                                                      Daiva Petrylaitė
                                                                      Janina Stripeikienė
                                                                      Dainius Žalimas