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System of the Lithuanian jurisdiction

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published on 4 May 2021 | reading time approx. 4 minutes




International jurisdiction

Lithuania as an EU-Member state follows the Brussel Ia Regulation as regards jurisdiction provisions in disputes involving foreign EU member states, therefore in most cases the law unified for all Europe according to the EU regulations regarding the jurisdiction in civil matters applies in Lithuania.

 

Principally, the courts of the member state in which the defendant has his place of residence are authorized on an international basis in case of complaints.

 

In all other cases the general rule for the determination of the jurisdiction, is that the lawsuit should be filed according to the seat of the defendant. There are however certain exceptions to this rule, for example in family law cases or where the property or the property related right in dispute is in Lithuania.
  

Recognition and enforcement of European titles and foreign arbitral awards

In accordance with Brussels Ia Regulation, the judicial decisions issued in a member state are acknowledged by the other member states without the necessity of any specific proceedings. A review of the judicial decision in the corresponding member state does not take place in the matter. With Brussels Ia Regulation having entered into force, the validation process (exequatur) has been abolished.

  

The recognition and enforcement of court titles from non-EU countries is regulated either by bilateral agreements or by the general rules laid down in the Lithuanian code of civil procedure. The general rules for the recognition sets out certain criteria which must be evaluated by the court, e.g. if the title is enforceable in the issuing state, if there is no violation of ordre public etc.

 

Enforcement measures of recognized and enforceable foreign titles do not differ from the enforcement of domestic titles and are regulated by the Lithuanian code of civil procedure and other related legal acts. In practice, a title of execution (e.g. a verdict or a settlement deal) as well as a certificate in compliance with Art. 53 Brussel Ia Regulation must be presented in order to achieve the enforcement.

 

In Lithuania, the recognition and declaration of the enforceability of a foreign arbitral award follows the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. Provided that the foreign arbitral award is acknowledged and declared as enforceable, the compulsory execution proceedings themselves comply with the corresponding national law.
 

Structure

There are three branches of courts in Lithuania. They are divided into

  • the ordinary jurisdiction, responsible for all types of legal proceedings with respect to civil and criminal cases,
  • administrative courts and
  • the constitutional court.

 

There are also certain obligatory pre-court institutions, as the labor dispute commission which decides on labor disputes.

 

As a general rule, a verdict pronounced by a court can be submitted to the next higher court for review (stages of appeal). For this purpose, an appeal must be lodged. If a verdict of the 1st instance is appealed against, the next higher court must review the entire case once more in the 2nd instance. Its verdict can be contested as well by means of another appeal of revision. In this case, the Supreme court must examine whether all legal provisions have been applied correctly. The Supreme court however only examines and determines the appeal on the matter of law and not the factual background of the case.

  

The stages of appeal of the five branches of court are structured as follows:

  1. Ordinary jurisdiction: District Court, Regional Court, the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court
  2. Administrative jurisdiction: Regional administrative court, Supreme Administrative Court
  3. Constitutional jurisdiction: The Constitutional court of the Republic of Lithuania

 

Legal costs

Legal costs are the direct expenditures of the parties accruing from the prosecution of a legal dispute. Legal costs are distinguished between court fees and extrajudicial fees, however when deciding on the distribution of these expenses between the parties they are treated as one cost amount.

 

The court fees concerning the ordinary jurisdiction include the fees of the court itself as well as the so-called expenses; expenses for witnesses, legal experts etc. The extrajudicial fees primarily consist of the fees for the attorney-at-law, bailiff, and own expenses of the respective party.

 

The courts in Lithuania usually do not recognize the pre-trial costs as court expenses and do not reimburse them from the opposing party.
   

Obligation to bear costs/reimbursement of costs

Having clarified the question of what scope of legal costs arise within the framework of the individual branches of court, it is worth considering which party bears the costs at the end of the judicial procedure in the next step.

 

In its judgement concluding the procedure, the court determines which party bears the legal costs. The legal costs arising during the judicial procedure are both the court fees and the extrajudicial fees of the parties involved. Provided that the plaintiff is successful in his legal proceedings, the respondent bears all the court fees in its entirety including the reimbursable expenses of the plaintiff accruing in the process. However, if the plaintiff is not successful, he does not only bear his own expenses, but also the court costs and the reimbursable fees of the respondent. If the plaintiff is only partially successful in the judicial procedure, the legal costs are either allocated proportionally or abolished.

 

There are exceptions applicable to the employment, family and other related cases where the court can deviate from the general rule of process cost distribution among the parties court that deviate from the general regulations.

 

The fees for the representation of and  consultation of an attorney-at-law are reimbursed up to certain amount laid down in the order of the Minister of Justice, depending on what consultations and actions were performed in the proceedings.

 

Average duration of legal proceedings

There is no generally binding answer as to how much time legal proceedings may consume.

 

The official courts statistics shows, that the average duration of proceedings in civil matters in the first instance is 95 days in 2019, which is slightly lower in comparison to 2018. The shortening of the procedural duration can be correlated to the growing use of IT in the courts, especially with the use of the e-courts system, which allows to electronically submit the claims and all related documents and materials to the court and the opposing parties.

 

In the Regional Courts the average duration of civil proceedings was 231 days in 2019 and 178 days for reviewing the appeals of first instance cases. In the Court of Appeal the average case duration was 254 days in 2019 and in the Supreme Court 135 days respectively.

   

Provisional legal protection

Provisional legal protection is granted within all branches of court. All types of provisional legal protection have in common that they do not finalize a decision and generally do not permit the creation of a fait accompli (prohibition of the anticipation of the principal matter). Such being the case, they ensure the efficacy and viability of a subsequent decision in the principal proceedings. Provisional legal protection can only be claimed for the time during which a right within the framework of the principal matter is being claimed or is (still) valid to be claimed. The standard of review is reduced during provisional legal protection. Merely so-called summary (approximate) review takes place. Nevertheless the claimant must present the evidence an hand, so that the court can identify during its preliminary review the plausibility of the claim.

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