Legal System in Lithuania
Lithuania has a Roman legal system. Legal precedents are subordinate to laws but also recognised. Laws are drafted and adopted by the Parliament. Institutions and municipalities may adopt regulations that do not contradict the laws adopted by the Parliament.
Republic of Lithuania is an independent democratic state. The foundation of social system is enforced by the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, adopted in 1992, which also establishes the rights, freedoms and duties of citizens. Under the law, sovereign state power is vested in the people of Lithuania and is exercised by the Parliament, the President of the Republic, the Government and the Courts.
Lithuanian legal system is based on the legal traditions of continental Europe. During Soviet occupation Lithuanian legal system was altered to conform to that of the USSR, but since 1990 the imposed norms and practices have been eradicated.
Recent years were important in the reforming the legal system. In 2001, a new Civil Code came into effect. During recent years such important codes as the Civil Procedure Code, the Criminal Code, the Code of the Execution of Penalties, the Criminal Procedure Code and the Labour Code were re-enacted by the Parliament. Lithuanian laws have been harmonised with the EU in order to become a member state in 2004.
Types of Legislation
In Lithuanian legal system the principal law is statutory. Substantive branches of law are codified:
- Administrative Violations Code
- Civil Code
- Civil Procedure Code
- Criminal Code
- Criminal Procedure Code
- Code of the Execution of Penalties
- Labour Code (English and Russian translations are available)
- Railway Transport Code
- Road Transport Code (English and Russian translations are available)
- Inland Waterway Transport Code
Legal and regulatory system
Regulatory acts, including laws, must comply with the Constitution. International treaties and conventions automatically become part of the Lithuanian legal system from the moment of accession. Treaties and conventions ratified by the Seimas prevail over internal laws, whether enacted at the moment of ratification of such treaty or convention or later. The law enters into force upon its promulgation by the President and its publication in the Official Gazette.
- Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania
- constitutional laws
- resolutions of the Parliament and the Government
- decrees of the President;
- acts of other governmental institutions and local municipal authorities
The Court System
The Lithuanian court system consists of courts of general jurisdiction, dealing with civil and criminal matters - Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, district and local courts. The system of specialised administrative courts was established to hear administrative cases. It consists of the Supreme Administrative Court and administrative district courts.
The Supreme Court judges are appointed by the Parliament and judges of the Court of Appeals are appointed by the President after being approved by the Parliament. All judges of district and local courts are appointed by the President of Lithuania.
In the early stages, Lithuanian law did not recognise the doctrine of precedent. Its elements have been gradually introduced due to the need to ensure consistency in the interpretation of law. Currently, the court hearing a case is obliged to take into consideration the published decisions of the Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court.
The Constitutional Court of Lithuania is not a part of the overall court system but is a separate judicial body with authority to determine whether laws and other acts are in conformity with the Constitution and if the legal acts adopted by President and the Government conform to the Constitution or the rest of the legal framework.
Judges of the Constitutional Court serve a nine year term. They are appointed by the President (three judges), the Chairman of the Parliament (three judges) and the Chairman of Supreme Court (three judges).
The unicameral Parliament has 141 members who are elected for a four year term. Of all members, 71 members of this legislative body are elected in single member constituencies and other 70 are elected by nationwide vote. A party must receive 5% of the national vote to be eligible for any of the national seats in the Parliament.