Member State law - Latvia
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In this section you will find information about the legal system in Latvia.
Sources of law
Latvia is part of the continental European legal order. The most important sources of law are the external written laws implementing the Latvian legal order.
External laws and regulations govern legal relations between bodies governed by public law and individuals or entities.
Types of external legal acts and their hierarchy of legal effect:
- Constitution of the Republic of Latvia (Constitution);
- other laws;
- Cabinet Regulations;
- The provisions of the Bank of Latvia, the Financial and Capital Market Commission and the Public Utilities Commission (in the Latvian legal order these provisions have the same legal value as the regulations issued by the Cabinet);
- Compulsory local authority regulations.
European Union law applies in accordance with the place of the place in the legal precedence of the external legislation. The case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union should also be taken into account by the institutions and courts when applying European Union law.
The rules of international law, whatever their source, shall be applied in accordance with their place in the legal order of the external legal force. In the event of a discrepancy between the international law rule and the Latvian law of the same legal force, the rule of international law shall apply.
The binding regulations of the municipalities are binding on all individuals and legal entities within their respective administrative territory.
External legislation and other legislation shall be published in the Official Gazette Latvijas Vēstnesis. The official publication shall be public and binding. Nobody can invoke the ignorance of legal acts or official notices published in the official journal.
Entities entitled to issue external legal acts:
- The people of Latvia — the right to legislation (1/10 shares the right to submit a draft law to the Saeima; the right to take part in the referendum),
- The Saeima (Parliament), the legislative authority,
- The Cabinet of Ministers: the right to legislate,
- The Bank of Latvia, the Financial and Capital Market Commission and the Public Utilities Commission — the right to legislate,
- local authorities — the right to legislate.
An internal regulatory act is an act issued by a body governed by public law for the purpose of determining its own internal conduct or arrangements for its own account or for the interpretation of the arrangements for the application of an external legislative act in its field of activity. Internal laws and regulations shall not be binding on individuals. Thus, when an institution takes a decision relating to a private individual, its decision cannot rely on the internal regulatory act.
Types of internal laws and regulations:
- rules of procedure, rules of procedure — institutions, collegiate bodies set up by the institution or body and organisation of work;
- recommendations: lay down the procedures for the exercise of discretion provided for in laws and regulations with the aim of ensuring uniform treatment in the case of uniform cases. In certain cases recommendations may be waived if there are sufficient grounds for doing so;
- instructions on the application of the principles of external law or general law;
- internal rules — laying down the procedures for the adoption of the management decision, the performance of the duties of management officials and other servants, rules on behaviour, protection of employment within the institution, and any other matter relating to the functioning of the institution.
The types of internal legislation are equal in terms of legal effect. If there is an inconsistency between internal laws and regulations, the act which is issued by a higher authority or an official shall apply.Where the official detects a contradiction between the internal laws and regulations issued by institutions or officials of the hierarchical level, it shall apply:
- the general rule of law, in so far as this is without prejudice to a specific provision;
- the latest internal legislation, if both provisions are general or specific. The date of adoption of the internal regulatory act is decisive.
Entities authorised to issue internal laws and regulations:
- The Cabinet;
- Member of the Cabinet;
- derived public body;
- the Head of the Authority;
- Head of the department of the institution.
Types of legal sources — description
Types of legal sources:
- laws and regulations — legislation containing legislation which lays down legal provisions, enters them into action, changes them or repeals it. Laws and regulations shall be divided into external laws and regulations and internal laws and regulations;
- general principles of law — written (statutory) or unwritten framework governing the objective law of a public life;
- customary legal provisions — behavioural rules that have developed as a result of long-standing actual use. Customary law applies where the law or other external legislative regulation does not provide for an appropriate regulation of the matter, as well as for the interpretation of legal provisions;
- case law — a body of judicial decisions, which contains abstract legal opinions of an abstract nature and which judges in other cases may use in their reasoning;
- the legal doctrine, the existing body of scientific knowledge, which provides clarification of the legal provisions, their origin and application. Legal doctrine is used extensively in the reasoning of judicial and public administrations’ decisions.
The hierarchy of sources of law
Primary sources of law
- legislation: a source of law of a higher legal force. Laws and regulations shall be applied in accordance with their place in the legal order of the legal force of the external legislation;
- general principles of law — a source of law which applies when the matter in question is not governed by an external law. They are also used in the interpretation of laws and regulations. General principles of law do not, in terms of legal force, rank pari passu;
- customary law: where a law or other external legislative regulation does not provide for an appropriate regulation of the matter, as well as for the translation of legal provisions.
Secondary sources of law
- case law — Court judgments which, according to the rules of procedure, are binding on the courts dealing with claims. Such judgments are enforceable, mandatory for all and treated with the same respect as the law.
The Constitutional Court’s judgments are binding on all national and local authorities, institutions and officials, including the courts, and natural and legal persons. A provision (act) recognised by the Constitutional Court as non-compliant with a legal provision of a higher legal force shall be deemed null and void from the date of publication of the Constitutional Court’s judgment, unless the Constitutional Court provides otherwise.
If the Constitutional Court has declared an international agreement that has been signed or concluded by Latvia to be unconstitutional, the Cabinet must immediately take steps to amend, denounce, suspend or withdraw from the agreement.
The decision of the Constitutional Court on the termination of proceedings in which the law is interpreted shall be binding on all national and local authorities, bodies and officials, courts and natural and legal persons.
- law doctrine is widely used in the reasoning of judicial and national regulatory decisions. The legal doctrine has no legal effect and is not universally binding.
The institutional system
Entities authorised to issue external laws and regulations
The Saeima and the people of Latvia in their peoples’ voting rights — the right to legislative activity.
The Cabinet may issue external laws — regulations, in the following cases:
- on the basis of the authorisation contained in the Act;
- to approve or suspend the operation of an international agreement or draft thereof, unless otherwise provided for in the Constitution or in the Constitution;
- where the law of the European Union so requires and the relevant question by law is not regulated. Such rules cannot limit the fundamental rights of a private individual.
The Bank of Latvia, the Financial and Capital Market Commission and the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission — the right to have external legislation (regulations) issued only on the basis of a statutory mandate in matters falling within its competence.
Local authorities — the right to have statutory or external legal acts based on Cabinet regulations (binding provisions).
Process for the creation of regulatory acts
This section provides an overview of the procedures for drafting laws and regulations.
Submission of draft laws to the Saeima
Draft laws may be submitted to the Saeima by the President of the Republic, the Cabinet of Ministers, the Saeima’s committees, at least five Members, and in cases and in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia, one-tenth of the electorate.
Consideration and adoption of draft laws in the Saeima
The Saeima [Parliament] considers the draft laws in three readings. Two readings include draft laws that are considered urgent, the state budget, amendments to the national budget and draft laws providing for the approval of international treaties.
A draft law shall be deemed adopted and become law if it is dealt with in three readings or, in the cases referred to above, in two readings and, taken as a whole, by an absolute majority of the component Members present.
Advertising of laws
The texts of the laws adopted by the Saeima shall be forwarded to the President of the Republic.
The President promulgates the laws adopted by Parliament not less than ten days after and no later than on the twenty-first day after their adoption. This Law shall enter into force 14 days after the date of its publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Latvia Latvijas Vēstnesis if no other deadline is provided in law.
Right to suspend the promulgation of the Law
The President of the Republic is concerned with the right to ask for a second examination of the law or to suspend the publication of the law for a period of two months.
The law of the President of the Republic uses its own initiative and the suspension of publication of the law on its own initiative, at the request of not less than one third of his or her parliamentary term. This right may be exercised by the President or one third of the Members of the Saeima within ten days of the adoption of the law by the Saeima.
Under these arrangements, the law is being put to the referendum if not less than one tenth of the voters request it during the signature collection process. But if no such request is received within two months, the law is published. However, the referendum shall not take place if the Saeima re-votes the law in question and the adoption of the vote is not less than three quarters of all the Members of the Saeima.
The adoption by the Saeima and by the President of the State may, if at least half of the number of electors participating in the last parliamentary elections take part, overturn the referendum if at least half the number of voters in the last parliamentary term takes part and a majority vote in favour of the abolition of the law.
However, all laws cannot be put to a referendum. The budget and the laws on borrowing, taxes, customs, rail tariffs, government of war, declaration of warfare and start-up, peace building, declaration of peace and its closure, mobilisation and demobilisation thereof, and foreign exchange contracts cannot be made available for vote by the People’s vote.
Entry into force of the Law
This Law shall enter into force 14 days after its publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Latvia in the absence of any other deadline laid down by law. The date of entry into force of this Law shall begin with the day following that of its publication.
Annulment of the lawThe Law shall expire in the following cases:
- subject to the entry into force of the law on recognition of the relevant law as having expired
- where another provision of the transitional provisions of the law entered into force, which provides for the loss of force of the law in question;
- where the judgment of the Constitutional Court has entered into force, which provides for recognition of the relevant law as having expired;
- the passage of the force of law over time when the law was adopted on a thin basis.
Submission of a draft Cabinet Regulation to the Cabinet of Ministers
A member of the Cabinet of Ministers is entitled to submit a draft regulation to the Cabinet of Ministers by a member of the Cabinet of the Minister.
The heads of other state and local government institutions, as well as non-governmental organisations and social partner organisations, shall be entitled to submit draft legislation to the Cabinet Committee meeting or at a Cabinet session only through the member of the Cabinet who is politically responsible for the sector, sector or sub-sector concerned.
Consideration and adoption of a draft Cabinet Regulation
Draft regulations submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers are advertised and discussed at the meeting of State Secretaries. Upon convocation, the draft Cabinet Regulation shall be forwarded to the competent ministries and, where appropriate, to the other competent authorities. The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Finance give an opinion on all draft legislation. Representatives of non-governmental organisations may also submit opinions during conciliation.
The draft harmonised rules shall be examined in a meeting of the Cabinet, but not agreed at a meeting of State Secretaries or in a meeting of the Cabinet Committee. The projects which have been agreed upon are subject to a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers. Should the draft rules be approved at the meeting of the Cabinet, this shall be deemed to have been adopted and become Cabinet Regulations.
Advertising of Cabinet regulations
Cabinet Regulations shall be promulgated by publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Latvia Latvijas Vēstnesis.
Entry into force of the Cabinet Regulation
Cabinet Regulations shall enter into force on the day following their publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Latvia in the absence of any other deadline for entry into force.
Declaration of Cabinet Regulations
Cabinet Regulations shall cease to have effect in the following cases:
- entry into force of the Cabinet Regulation on the invalidation of the relevant Cabinet Regulations;
- in the event that the final issue rule of the Cabinet of Ministers has entered into force, which provides for the invalidation of the relevant Cabinet Regulations;
- where the law on the basis of which the relevant Cabinet Regulation has been issued does not lapse;
- when the judgment of the Constitutional Court has entered into force, which provides for the invalidation of the relevant Cabinet Regulations;
- the timing of the period of validity of the regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers when regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers have been taken on a temporary basis.
Rules of the Bank of Latvia, the Financial and Capital Market Commission and the Public Utilities Commission
The procedure for the promulgation, entry into force and the loss of force of the rules of the Bank of Latvia, the Financial and Capital Market Commission and the Public Utilities Commission is the same as that of the Cabinet of Ministers Regulations, entry into force and loss of force.
Local authorities’ issued regulatory enactments (binding provisions);
Submission of draft local authorities’ regulations to the municipal council
Draft rules for local authorities in the municipal council may be submitted by the council president, the council of the council, the council of the town council, the initiator of the extraordinary meeting and the managing director of the city or civil parish.
Consideration and adoption of draft local authorities’ regulations
The draft regulations binding on local authorities are adopted and become binding rules, provided that more than half of the members of the municipal council in the presence in question vote in favour and the law does not provide otherwise.
The council shall send written and electronic communications to the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, which shall assess the legality of the binding regulations adopted by the municipality within three working days of receipt of the binding regulations and send the relevant opinion to the local authority within three working days following the signing of the binding regulations and shall send them by electronic means within three working days of their signing.
If the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development’s opinion does not object to the adopted binding rule’s rule of law or to the municipality within the time limit set by the Law, no opinion has been delivered, the municipality declares the adopted binding rules.
Upon receipt of an opinion from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development justifying the illegality of binding rules or parts thereof, the municipal council shall specify the binding provisions as set out in the opinion, and the binding provisions specified. Where a municipal council does not agree with the opinion in full or in part, the Council shall provide adequate justification in its decision and issue binding rules. The binding rules shall be forwarded to the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development within three working days of being signed in writing and in electronic format.
Launch of binding rules for local authorities
The Republic of Latvia’s City Council shall publish the binding rules and the explanatory memorandum in the Official Gazette Latvijas Vēstnesis. The municipal council shall publish the binding regulations and their explanatory memorandum in the official gazette Latvijas Vēstnesis (from 06.11.2015) or in a local newspaper or a free edition.
The Municipal Council shall adopt binding rules laying down the place of publication of the binding rules and published in the official gazette Latvijas Vēstnesis. The municipal council shall change the place of publication of the binding rules at intervals not exceeding one year. The mandatory provisions of local or regional authorities shall be published on the website of the local authority upon their entry into force. Also, access to the binding rules of the municipal council is ensured in the municipal council building and in the municipality or city administrations.
Entry into force of binding provisions on local authorities
The binding rules shall enter into force on the day following their official publication in the declared expenditure if they do not specify another date of entry into force.
Invalidation of local authorities’ binding regulations
The local authorities’ binding regulations lapse in the following cases:
- the entry into force of binding rules on the recognition of the relevant binding rules in the event of lapsed;
- where the closing rule for other binding provisions entered into force, which provides for the invalidation of the relevant binding provisions;
- the expiry of a higher statutory provision on the basis of which the relevant binding rules were issued;
- if the judgment of the Constitutional Court has entered into force, which provides for the invalidation of the relevant binding provisions;
- a binding provision shall apply for the duration of time if the binding rules are adopted for a certain period of time.
Official Journal of the Republic of Latvia Latvijas Vēstnesis
The Official Gazette Latvijas Vēstnesis is the official gazette of the Republic of Latvia and the information published therein is an official publication.
- The official publication is publicly available and legally binding.
- Nobody can invoke the ignorance of legal acts or official notices published in the official journal.
Since 1 July 2012, the official publication of the official publication is provided by means of the official publication of the official journal “Latvijas Vēstnesis” at https://www.vestnesis.lv. Information published on https://www.vestnesis.lv before 1 July 2012 is informative. The official publication of this information is available in the form of the newspaper “Latvijas Vēstnesis”.
Consolidated Laws, Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers and other laws and regulations are available on the Latvian legislation website at http://www.likumi.lv/. All published consolidated rules of law are of an informative nature. The site is maintained by the official publisher VSIA Latvijas Vēstnesis.
The official gazette Latvijas Vēstnesis (as in the previous Official Gazette Latvijas Vēstnesis) was issued by VSIA Latvijas Vēstnesis (Latvijas Vēstnesis).
The official publisher works in accordance with the requirements of the international standard ISO 9001: 2015 (quality management) and ISO 27001: 2013 (information security).
Is access to the database free of charge?
Official Journal of the Republic of Latvia “Latvijas Vēstnesis” shall be available free of charge. Access to the electronic archive of the publications of the newspaper “Latvijas Vēstnesis” is also free of charge. Likewise, free access is also provided for the website of consolidated legislation.
This is a machine translated version of the content. The owner of this page accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to the quality of this machine translated text.
Last update: 22/10/2019