Every person may apply to the Constitutional Court as of 1 September
As of 1 September, individual constitutional complaints can be filed with the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania. This means that every natural or legal person may apply to the Constitutional Court if he or she believes that the laws or acts of the Seimas, the President of the Republic, or the Government on the basis of which a decision violating his or her constitutional rights or freedoms was adopted are in conflict with the Constitution, and the person has exhausted all legal remedies.
An individual constitutional complaint grants every person the right to directly contest a law or another legal act violating his or her constitutional rights or freedoms before the Constitutional Court once the person believes that decisions adopted by the highest state authorities have violated these rights or freedoms. According to the President of the Constitutional Court, Dainius Žalimas, it is also important that, if the Constitutional Court declares the contested legal act in conflict with the Constitution, this legal act can be applied neither to the person who has contested it nor to all other persons.
“Therefore, people have acquired even more possibilities for participating in the governance of the state – they can correct errors made by politicians. On the other hand, before adopting their decisions, the members of the Seimas and other state authority officials will have to more closely assess the quality of these decisions and their possible consequences”, Dainius Žalimas notes.
The President of the Constitutional Court draws attention to the fact that the right consolidated in the Constitution for persons to directly apply to the Constitutional Court is not absolute; individual constitutional complaints are subject to requirements and, if petitions filed by persons do not meet these requirements, they will not be considered.
“An individual constitutional complaint is a new institution in Lithuania; therefore, we would ask that people, before beginning to prepare it, become carefully acquainted with the requirements. Although filing a petition with the Constitutional Court is free of charge for a person, preparing a reasoned complaint in accordance with all requirements will definitely not be a very simple matter. Thus, we would not want people to waste their time, perhaps even spend money on legal consultations, and later receive the answer that their petition does not satisfy the requirements”, Dainius Žalimas says. “First of all, it is necessary to know that a person may apply to the Constitutional Court only regarding his or her own violated rights or freedoms and not regarding the violated rights or freedoms of other people or regarding doubts over the constitutionality of laws or other legal acts in force in Lithuania in general. It is also very important to know that a person may file a complaint with the Constitutional Court not against the decision or judgment itself, or decisions of other state or municipal institutions, but against the law or another legal act that was applied when the decision or judgment was adopted.”
According to Dainius Žalimas, the necessary condition for applying to the Constitutional Court is that the person must have exhausted all other legal remedies effective in his or her particular situation.
“This means that the person had recourse to the mandatory preliminary procedure for the out-of-court consideration of disputes if such a procedure was provided for, applied to a court, and the final and non-appealable decision was adopted in his or her case. Only then may the person apply to the Constitutional Court”, the President of the Constitutional Court, Dainius Žalimas, clarifies.
In addition, it is necessary to know that the Law on the Constitutional Court provides for the time period within which a person may apply to the Constitutional Court regarding his or her violated constitutional rights or freedoms – a petition may be filed not later than within 4 (four) months of the day that the final and non-appealable decision adopted by the court of general competence or administrative court came into force.