Titulinė skaidrė
Teismo sudėtis
Salė
Vytis
Lt
Lt

Court news

Content updated: 25-08-2017 13:57

The provision of the Law on Waste Management consolidating one of the grounds for revoking the validity of a licence for organising waste management is not in conflict with Constitution

30-05-2017

By its ruling adopted today, the Constitutional Court has recognised that Item 6 of Paragraph 19 of Article 3423 of the Law on Waste Management, which consolidates one of the grounds for revoking the validity of a licence for organising waste management, is not in conflict with Constitution.

Item 6 of Paragraph 19 of Article 3423 of the Law on Waste Management, which was ruled to be not in conflict with Paragraphs 1, 2, and 3 of Article 46 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, provides that the validity of a licence for organising the management of product and/or packaging waste (hereinafter referred to as the licence) is revoked where the licence holder has been warned of the possible suspension of the validity of the licence three times in the last two years.

In this ruling, the Constitutional Court noted that, in regulating the economic activity of organising waste management, to ensure which is in the public interest under the Constitution, the state must balance different constitutional values, including those protected under Articles 46, 53, and 54 of the Constitution: freedom of individual economic activity and economic initiative; freedom of fair competition; and the protection of human health and the environment from harmful effects; the state must also ensure that the constitutional imperative to regulate economic activity so that it serves the general welfare of the nation is observed. Taking account of this, the legislature is obliged to lay down such conditions for the activity of organising waste management and such effective control measures that would prevent damage caused by inappropriately managed waste to the environment and human health.

The Constitutional Court has held that, in regulating the licensed economic activity in the area of organising waste management, the legislature must, under the Constitution, establish not only the necessary requirements that must be complied with by economic operators that seek to obtain licences to engage in the said activity, but also the requirements that must be followed by persons who hold such licences, as well as the grounds and procedure for revoking the validity of issued licences. The freedom of economic activity of an operator that has violated the rules of the licensed economic activity not only may but, as a rule, must be limited with due regard being given to the principle of proportionality (stemming from the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law), according to which freedom of economic activity may not be limited more than necessary in order to achieve the constitutionally significant objectives of protecting human health and the environment. One of such measures applied to limit the economic activity of organising waste management may be the revocation of the validity of the licence for those operators that grossly and/or repeatedly (systematically) violate the conditions established for the activity of organising waste management under the laws.

In this ruling, the Constitutional Court noted that the legal regulation, which is impugned by the petitioner, under which the validity of a licence is revoked after a warning of the possible suspension of the validity of the licence has been issued for the third time in the last two years, should be regarded as an effective measure aimed to prevent the possible damage by inappropriately managed waste to the environment and human health; this measure is applied to those economic operators who have repeatedly (systematically) (three times in the last two years) violated the conditions of the activity of organising waste management as established by laws and, as a result, have been issued warnings of the possible suspension of the validity of their licence. Thus, having established this legal regulation, the legislature implemented its duty, stemming from Paragraph 3 of Article 46, Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 53, and Article 54 of the Constitution, while establishing the conditions and effective control measures applicable to the economic activity of organising waste management, to regulate this economic activity so that it serves the general welfare of the nation and creates the conditions for protecting human health and the environment from the possible harmful effects.

The Constitutional Court emphasised that, under the impugned legal regulation, the validity of a licence may be revoked only in those cases where the preceding two warnings are legitimate and reasonable, i.e. they have not been annulled by a court decision. Only if the impugned and related legal regulation is interpreted in this way (i.e. if a warning of the possible suspension of the validity of a licence is understood as an independent measure, which may be appealed against in a court and must not be imposed for minor infringements), can the impugned provision of Item 6 of Paragraph 19 of Article 3423 of the Law on Waste Management be considered not in conflict with the principle of proportionality, which stems from the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, and not denying freedom of economic activity, guaranteed under Paragraph 1 of Article 46 of the Constitution, or the support by the state for economic efforts and initiative that are useful to society, as ensured under Paragraph 2 of the same article.

At the same time, the Constitutional Court noted in this ruling that the interpretation of the impugned provision of Item 6 of Paragraph 19 of Article 3423 of the Law on Waste Management may lead to ambiguity. Therefore, the Constitutional Court stated that the provision of Item 6 of Paragraph 19 of Article 3423 of the Law on Waste Management should be modified to lay down clear grounds for revoking the validity of a licence.