The draft amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure:
The draft amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure provide that the appeal in a written procedure must be examined no later than within one year from the appeal acceptance day in appeal court. Currently, appeal proceedings in certain instances continue more than 1 year. Due to long proceedings legal entities may become bankrupt or liquidated, they may not have enough assets to satisfy the creditor's claim. The draft amendments would ensure a faster process and increase persons’ confidence in the courts.
The draft amendments to the Law on Tobacco Control:
The draft amendments to the Law on Tobacco Control (hereinafter - the "Law") propose to enable to obtain a license to engage in the retail sale of tobacco products in shorter period, to establish requirements for legal entities and branches of foreign legal persons which have to be met when trying to obtain licenses, as well as to lower restrictions for persons which committed an offense for which, under the current regulation, they can not get a license. It should be noted that the draft amendments also broaden the provisions related to the warnings of suspension of the license, license suspension process, termination of suspension and termination of license validity processes.
The draft Law proposes to establish that persons intending to engage in the retail sale of tobacco products have to give a notice of intention to engage in this activity to the licensing authority. Notice of intention, among other things, have to contain information about an entity's compliance with each of the requirements set out in the Law and a confirmation of the payment for issuance of a license. After giving to the licensing authority the necessary documents, which confirm fulfilment of the requirements set out in the Law next day the person can begin to engage in the retail sale of tobacco products. In these cases, the licensing authority of the municipality verifies submitted data and documents within 30-day time limit, and if they find that: (i) the person did not met the requirements at the day of submitting notice of intention to the licensing authority, or (ii) did not provide the required documents or have not made the payment for the license, licensing authority begins termination of license validity or license suspension procedure as provided in the Law and licensing rules.
The draft Law proposes to change the time limit established by the Law within which a license is not issued, if person is (was) convicted by final judgment, court ruling, order, or other statutory authority ruling for the imposition of penalty for tobacco products smuggling, sale, storage or transportation of counterfeit tobacco products as well as tobacco products without purchase or transportation documents or without the excise labels. Current Law on Tobacco Control states, that in such cases, new license shall not be issued to person in general, this means the person is removed from this type of business forever. The draft Law proposes to establish that, in case of the above mentioned violations a new license can not be issued for a period of five years from the effective date of judgment, conviction, court ruling, order, or other statutory authority ruling.
It is also proposed to include a provision requiring that licensees who decide to temporarily (for a period longer than one year) terminate the activity specified in the license or discontinue the activity, shall notify the licensing authority and ask to suspend or terminate the license validity.
The draft amendments to the Law on Administrative Proceedings
Constantly increasing number and variety of the administrative cases determines the need to improve the administrative process. Taking into account the relevant case law and legal regulatory challenges the draft amendments to Law on Administrative Proceedings (hereinafter - the "Law") were prepared.
The aim of the draft amendments is a clearer, simpler, more flexible and more efficient administrative process, therefore, the draft amendments propose to elaborate and improve matters, including but not limited to the jurisdiction, procedural time limits, representation, litigation expenses. The draft Law also proposes to establish model judicial proceedings.
The draft Law proposes to repeal Article 19 of the Law establishing exclusive jurisdiction of Vilnius Regional Administrative Court in a particular category of cases. However, as before the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court as a first instance will continue to examine cases under other laws assigned exclusively to its jurisdiction (for example, under the Law on the Legal Status of Aliens).
For the purpose of clarity of legal regulation, the draft Law proposes to determine the rules of jurisdiction in a single article – Article 31. It is proposed to determine that a complaint (application, statement) shall be filed with the administrative court, in the territory of whose jurisdiction the defendant's registered office (place of residence) is located and if the defendant is a state or municipality - with the administrative court, in the territory of whose jurisdiction the registered office of the defendant representing authority is (the current wording of the Law Article 35 states that the complaint (application) shall be filed with the administrative court, in the territory of whose jurisdiction is the registered office of the public administration body, whose acts and actions (inactions) are appealed).
Article 31 of the draft Law proposes to establish that if the legality of the administrative act or action (inaction) of the entity of public administration, its territorial department, the territorial entity of public administration or an officer, who operates in the relevant part of the territory of the Republic of Lithuania, was verified (reviewed) in the higher by subordination entity of administration and/or any other institution for preliminary extrajudicial investigation of complaints, the complaint would be filed with the administrative court in accordance with the registered office of the entity of public administration, its territorial department, the territorial entity of public administration or an officer, whose administrative act or action (inaction) has been verified (reviewed) in terms of legality.
Additionally, Article 31 of the draft Law proposes to identify the cases, when the claimant can choose which administrative court to apply to. In the cases for compensation of damage caused by unlawful acts of the entity of public administration, in the cases for awarding of pensions or refusal to award the same, and in the cases regarding protection of rights of people with disabilities, the complaint, at the choice of the applicant, could be filed with the administrative court according to the claimant’s place of residence (office) or under the general rules of jurisdiction. In case of office-related disputes, the complaint, at the choice of the claimant, could be filed according to the general rules of jurisdiction or the place where the service is performed, was performed or should have been performed.
The proposed amendments to the legal regulation are intended to make the process more convenient for a person who seeks to defend his rights and legitimate interests in the Administrative Court - the person will in described instances be able to apply to the court, which is closer to his place of residence, therefore time and money costs will be significantly lower.
Procedural time limits
In order to achieve a more coherent and effective regulation of procedural time limits, the draft Law proposes the time limits for performance of procedural actions to be determined by work days, and the time limits for the performance of actions by the participants in the proceedings to be determined by the fixed calendar day. These rules for amendment of time limits do not apply to time limits that are determined by months and years. As it is established in the Law effective at the moment, the twenty-day time limit for adoption and postponed announcement of the court’s ruling shall be changed into the time limit of a duration of fourteen working days, the seven-day time limit for admission of complaints shall be changed into the time limit of a duration of seven working days, and a three-day time limit for the performance of procedural actions regarding to a separate appeal shall be changed into the time limit of a duration of three working days.
The draft Law also proposes to extend some of the time limits for filing complaints: (i) it is proposed that the time limit (instead of the existing time limit of twenty days) for appeal against the decision of the administrative disputes commission or any other institution for preliminary extrajudicial investigation of disputes should be one month. Thereby it would be in line with the time limit for appeal against the action (inaction) or the legal act adopted by the entity of administration; (ii) it is proposed that the time limit for filing an appeal should be one month (instead of the existing fourteen-day time limit).
Representation in the Court
The draft Law, similarly as in the Code of Civil Procedure, proposes to establish an exhaustive list of persons who are able to act as representatives in the administrative proceedings: attorneys at law; assistants to attorney at law, who have a written permission of the attorney at law (supervisor of apprenticeship) to represent in the particular proceedings; persons, who have adequate legal qualifications (the higher education diploma) when they are representing their close relatives or a spouse (life partner), employees of legal persons or civil servants (in the appeal court, persons who have adequate legal qualifications (the higher education diploma)), representing the legal person; trade unions, if they represent the members of the trade union in the cases related to legal service relations.
Attention is drawn to the fact that the importance of university education in law for legal practice was highlighted in the Constitutional Court ruling of 20 February 2008. The Constitutional Court noted that only lawyers who have the necessary professional competence can be entrusted with relevant functions, ensuring that the rights, freedoms and functions of an individual are protected and defended using legal means in the hearing of cases (legal disputes) at courts; professional activity of <...> properly trained, highly qualified lawyers <...> determines the public's confidence in the State and its legal system. On this basis, it is expected that the proposed regulation will lead to a professional representation ensuring a more efficient protection of individuals’ violated rights and interests protected by law.
The draft Law also proposes to improve legal regulation reimbursement of litigation costs by removing an exhaustive list of potential costs. Under the proposed regulation the participating party could adjudge litigation cost regardless of their type if the court recognizes that the incurred litigation costs are reasonable and necessary.
The draft Law proposes to establish that the claim can be secured at any stage of the process, if the person involved is likely to justify his claim and in the absence of the interim measures there may be irreparable or difficult to repair significant damage. In addition, it is proposed to establish provision that the interim measures may be applied also in cases where it is necessary to temporarily adjust the situation regarding the contentious legal relations.
Model judicial proceedings
The draft Law proposes to establish model judicial proceedings. It can be applied if there are more than twenty cases that are similar in terms of law and fact in one or several regional administrative courts or the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania and all of them arise from the recognition that a legal act contradicts the Constitution or laws. One of those cases by the order of the chairman of the court (at the request of the judge or a chamber of three judges) could be announced as model judicial proceedings. In such a case, the other similar proceedings would be suspended. The parties of the model judicial proceedings, the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania and all regional administrative courts would be informed about the order to start the model judicial proceedings (in addition, this information would be published on the website of the court which initiated the execution of model judicial proceedings). The court considering the model case should examine it as soon as possible. After an effective court decision in the model judicial proceedings where the claims of the claimant have been satisfied, other similar individual proceedings would be renewed and heard according to the simplified procedure: by a single judge and during a written proceeding.
The aim of additional amendments is to regulate the adoption of a partial court decision that solves only part of the dispute; a partial decision may be adopted when several claims have been filed in the proceedings and the collected evidence are sufficient for the court to adopt a decision on one or more claims or on part thereof.
Among other things, the draft Law proposes to identify the cases when the court issues the executive document to the debtor without his application: 1) recovery of taxes and other payments into the state budget; 2) recovery of damage caused by unlawful acts of entities of public administration; 3) recovery of amounts related to the office legal relations or payment of pensions.
The draft amendments to the Law on Administrative Disputes Commissions
The draft Law aims to regulate matters regarding conclusion of the settlements and to establish several new concepts, also to provide a status of executive document for resolutions of administrative disputes commission.
In order to improve the pre -trail investigation of administrative disputes, it is proposed that the legal rules regulating the pre-trial investigation procedure in administrative disputes commissions should be transferred into the Law on Administrative Disputes Commissions (hereinafter - “Law”) (currently these legal provisions are set out in the Regulations of administrative disputes commissions).
The draft Law proposes to introduce a few innovations, one of them being the conclusion of the settlement: when disputes are being examined, Administrative Disputes Commission shall propose to conclude settlement; it is proposed to establish the obligatory conditions for settlement as well as the procedure and consequences of its approval.
The draft law defines the concept of the parties, i.e. persons who participate in the proceedings in the administrative disputes commission: the parties shall be the claimant (appellant), the defendant (entity of public administration, whose individual administrative acts or actions (inactions) or delay in performing actions are examined); third parties (i.e. those persons whose rights or duties may be affected by the decision in the case).
Moreover, the draft Law proposes that the decision of administrative disputes commission, which is not appealed within the time limit specified in the Law, would be considered as the executive document. As a result, the implementation procedure of the decisions adopted in administrative disputes commissions would be amended by providing that the commission’s decision which was not implemented and appealed within the time limits provided by the law, as well as the settlement between the parties, which has been approved by the commission, when the decision regarding its approval was not appealed within the time limit provided by law, shall be enforced in the manner prescribed by the Code of Civil Procedure. If the decision of the administrative disputes commission has been appealed, the decision or the settlement approved by the decision would be enforced after examination of the appeal.