Key facts of the case:
The applicant served as the director and board member in three companies (respondents) until he was released from the office in all three companies and the employment relationship between the applicant and defendants was terminated. The applicant claims to have continued to work as the advisor to the new board members for several months after that. The respondents claimed that the employment relationship was terminated completely and the applicant did not continue to work in either of the companies afterwards. This was also evident from the documents submitted to the Register of Enterprises where the changes in the said employment relationship were noted. The applicant sued the companies on the grounds of not having received salary for the months after his release from office when he continued to work. His claim was rejected, to which he appealed. In his notice of appeal he asked to be exempt from the payment of court expenses, including the reimbursement for the respondents’ legal aid, based on the Civil Procedure Laws of Latvia (Section 43), whereby plaintiffs are exempt from the said expenses in claims regarding the recovery of work remuneration and other claims of employees arising from legal employment relations and asked for the expenses to be covered by the respondents. He substantiated his claim by stating that according to the Civil Procedure Laws of Latvia legal persons can be represented by their officials and that for the respondents as legal persons the use of legal aid is a right and not an obligation.
Outcome of the case:
The Court clarified that there is a difference between court expenses and expenses necessarily incurred for the purposes of conducting a case as formulated by the Civil Procedure Laws of Latvia (Section 33). While the applicant is right to claim that he can be exempt from the court expenses, he cannot be exempt from the expenses necessarily incurred for the purposes of conducting the case, which includes expenses for the assistance of advocates. Furthermore, the Court stated that it is erroneous to claim that the use of legal aid or advocate is not an obligation and therefore can be done without as it is a constitutional right to use the said services if the respondent wishes so. Consequently, the applicant shall bear the costs of the respondents’ expenses for use of advocate since the Court ruled in the respondents’ favour.
The aim of the legislator, when establishing in the Constitution of Latvia everyone’s right to legal aid as an integral part of the right to a fair court, was to ensure all persons in a civil procedure, in administrative proceedings, in criminal proceedings and in the Constitutional Court proceedings, timely, accessible and qualitative legal help. It is based on one of the most important principles of national and international law - the principle of justice. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union Article 47, paragraph 2, stipulates that everyone has the right to receive counseling, as well as the right to defense and representation. Thus, the right to qualified legal representation is a fundamental right of a person (both physical and legal) that ensures the exercise of other rights.
Likumdevēja mērķis, nosakot Satversmē ikviena tiesības uz juridisko palīdzību kā tiesību uz taisnīgu tiesu neatņemamu sastāvdaļu, bija nodrošināt visām personām kā civilprocesā, tā administratīvajā procesā, kriminālprocesā un Satversmes tiesas procesā savlaicīgu, pieejamu un kvalitatīvu juridisko palīdzību. Tas balstās uz vienu no svarīgākajiem nacionālo un starptautisko tiesību principiem – taisnīguma principu. Eiropas Savienības pamattiesību hartas 47.panta otrā daļa noteic, ka ikvienam ir tiesības saņemt konsultāciju, kā arī tiesības uz aizstāvību un pārstāvību. Tādējādi tiesības uz kvalificētu juridisko pārstāvību ir personas (gan fiziskās, gan juridiskās) pamattiesības, kas nodrošina citu tiesību īstenošanu.