European Commission > EJN > Jurisdiction of the courts > Lithuania

Last update: 12-07-2006
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Jurisdiction of the courts - Lithuania

If you want to initiate legal proceedings in civil or commercial matters, you will have to identify the court that is competent to deal with your case or, in other words, has jurisdiction. If you use the wrong court or if there is a dispute over the question of jurisdiction you run the risk of a considerable delay in the proceedings or even of a dismissal of your case because of a lack of jurisdiction.



 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. Should I apply to an ordinary civil court or to a specialised court? A.
B. Where the ordinary civil courts have jurisdiction how can I find out which one I should apply to? B.
I. Is there a distinction between lower and higher ordinary civil courts and if so which one is competent for my case? I.
II. Territorial jurisdiction (Does the court of city/town A or of city/town B have jurisdiction for my case?) II.
1. The basic rule of territorial jurisdiction 1.
2. Exceptions to the basic rule 2.
a) When can I choose between the court in the place where the defendant lives (court determined by the application of the basic rule) and another court? a)
b) When do I have to choose a court other than that in the place where the defendant lives (court determined by the application of the basic rule)? b)
C. Where specialised courts have jurisdiction how can I find out which one I have to address? C.

 

Preliminary remarks:

  • The description should be limited to the jurisdiction of first instance courts, based on the assumption, amongst others, that information on the court that has jurisdiction for an appeal is usually provided by or available at the first instance court that has handed down the decision
  • The explanation of the system of jurisdictional rules should not go into too much detail but rather focus on those situations that are most significant in terms of their practical relevance for the users of this web site
  • It should be clarified that, generally speaking, the rules of jurisdiction described in this sheet apply
    1. in purely internal cases;
    2. in cross-border cases involving a defendant domiciled in an EU Member State for the determination of the specific competent court in the Member State designated by the rules of Community law;
    3. in cross-border cases involving a defendant domiciled outside the EU unless an international agreement (such as the Lugano Convention) provides otherwise

A. Should I apply to an ordinary civil court or to a specialised court?

In MS where not all civil and commercial matters are comprehensively dealt with by ordinary civil courts but where specialised independent courts have jurisdiction for certain fields of law (e.g. labour courts) the demarcation of competence should be described.

Article 12 of the Law on Courts of the Republic of Lithuania provides for the following system of courts: integral system of courts of the Republic of Lithuania consists of courts of general competence specialized courts.

Courts of general competence (courts of first instance – county and district courts) examine all civil cases, that is, disputes in connection with or arising out of civil, family, labour, intellectual property, bankruptcy, restructuring and other private relationships; courts also hear cases in accordance with extraordinary legal proceedings and applications regarding acceptance and enforcement of judgements by foreign courts and arbitration courts in the Republic of Lithuania (Article 22 of the Civil Procedure Code).

Specialized, that is, administrative courts (administrative county courts) hear administrative cases arising out of administrative legal relations.

B. Where the ordinary civil courts have jurisdiction how can I find out which one I should apply to?

I. Is there a distinction between lower and higher ordinary civil courts and if so which one is competent for my case?

Civil cases are heard by district and county courts as the first instance courts (Article 25 of the Civil Procedure Code)

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Article 26 of the Civil Procedure Code consolidates a general rule that all civil cases are heard by district courts. Articles 27 and 28 provide for exceptions to the general rule and set down jurisdiction of certain cases within county courts and exclusive jurisdiction within Vilnius County Court.

The majority of MS know the distinction between a lower and a higher first instance ordinary civil court. Wherever this is the case the demarcation of jurisdiction by

  • A threshold related to the value of the claim at issue and/or County courts, as the first instance courts, hear civil cases where the amount of a plaint exceeds one hundred thousand Litas, except for family legal relationship cases regarding distribution of property (section 1 of Article 27 of the Civil Procedure Code)
  • Other factors determining jurisdiction irrespective of the value of the claim at issue should be outlined.
  • County courts, as the first instance courts, also hear the following civil cases (Article 27 of the Civil Procedure Code):
    • regarding copyright non-property legal relationships;
    • regarding civil public tender legal relationships;
    • regarding bankruptcy and restructuring;
    • according to interim bank administrator application on reducing the authorised capital of the bank;
    • where one of the parties is a foreign country or state;
    • according to plaints regarding compulsory selling of shares (dividends, interest);
    • according to the plaints regarding investigation of a legal entity's activities;
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    • other civil cases, which are heard by county courts as the first instance courts following the laws.

Only Vilnius county court, as the first instance court, hears the following civil cases (Article 28 of the Civil Procedure Code):

  • regarding disputes provided for under the Law on Licensing of the Republic of Lithuania;
  • regarding disputes provided for under the Law on Trademarks of the Republic of Lithuania;
  • regarding adoption according to applications of foreign citizens to adopt a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania residing in the Republic of Lithuania or a foreign country;
  • other civil cases, which are heard solely by Vilnius county court as the first instance court following the effective laws.

II. Territorial jurisdiction (Does the court of city/town A or of city/town B have jurisdiction for my case?)

1. The basic rule of territorial jurisdiction

Presumably the domicile/habitual residence of the defendant, to be briefly described, including the basic rule applying to legal persons.

A claim is brought to a court according to the defendant's place of residence. A claim against a legal entity is brought according to the domicile of a legal entity, indicated in the register of legal entities. In cases when the defendant is a state or a municipality, the claim is brought according to the domicile of an institution representing the state or a municipality (Article 29 of the Civil Procedure Code).

2. Exceptions to the basic rule
a) When can I choose between the court in the place where the defendant lives (court determined by the application of the basic rule) and another court?

This section should comprise an explanation of the non-exclusive special rules of territorial jurisdiction, usually related to the nature of the case, its cause of action.

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Jurisdiction can be determined at the plaintiff's choice in the following cases (Article 30 of the Civil Procedure Code):

  1. A claim against a defendant, whose place of residence is unknown, may be brought according to location of its property or his last known place of residence.
  2. A claim against a defendant, who does not possess a place of residence in the Republic of Lithuania, may be brought according to location of his property or last known place of residence in the Republic of Lithuania.
  3. A claim related to the activities of a branch of a legal entity may also be brought according to the location of the branch.
  4. A claim for alimony award and affiliation may also be brought according to the plaintiff's place of residence.
  5. A claim for damages suffered because of damaging natural person's health, taking away life, may be brought according to the plaintiff's place of residence or place where the damage was suffered.
  6. A claim for damage done to persons' property may be brought according to the plaintiff's place of residence (domicile) or the place where the damage was done.
  7. A claim for damage suffered because of imposing unlawful conviction, unlawful application of custody measures, unlawful detention, unlawful application of procedural means of constraint, unlawful administrative punishment – arrest, as well as because of damage suffered due to unlawful actions of a judge or a court upon hearing a civil case, may be brought according to the plaintiff's place of residence.
  8. A claim for damages suffered after the collision of ships and for recompense for aid and rescue provided at sea as well as in all other cases when a dispute arises because of relations of shipping by sea, may be also brought according to the defendant’s ship’s location or ship registration port.
  9. A claim on agreements and contracts that have venue of enforcement specified may be also brought according to the venue of agreement or contract enforcement.
  10. A claim related to acting as a guardian or property administrator, may be brought also according to the residence place of a guardian, custodian or residence place or domicile of property administrator.
  11. A claim on consumption agreements also may be brought according to the user’s place of residence.

Besides, a claim against several defendants residing or located in different places shall be brought according to the place of residence or domicile of one of the defendants at the discretion of the plaintiff (Part 1 of Article 33 of the Civil Procedure Code).

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The description should cover at least the rules on

  • Contractual matters (specific rules for certain types of contracts such as contracts of employment?)

    A claim regarding agreements, where place of implementation is indicated, can be brought according to the place of residence or domicile of the defendant or according to the place of implementation of the treaty at the discretion of the plaintiff. A claim regarding consumption agreements can be brought according to the place of residence or domicile of the defendant or consumer.

    • Matters relating to maintenance

      A claim regarding adjudgements of maintenance can be brought according to the place of residence or domicile of the defendant or the plaintiff at the discretion of the plaintiff.

    • Matters relating to tort
    • The pursuit of civil claims for damages in criminal proceedings

      A civil claim for damages in criminal proceedings can be brought for hearing under rules of jurisdiction established in the Civil Procedure Code of the Republic of Lithuania, if the claim has not been brought or decided while hearing the criminal case.

      Etc.

b) When do I have to choose a court other than that in the place where the defendant lives (court determined by the application of the basic rule)?

This section should give an account of the exclusive rules of special jurisdiction.

Sections 1-2 of Article 31 of the Civil Procedure Code of the Republic of Lithuania establish the following exceptions to the general territorial jurisdiction, which are obligatory to the plaintiff when initiating legal proceedings:

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  1. Claims for tangible rights to real property, regarding use of real property, except for applications regarding distribution of spouses’ property in the cases of dissolving marriages, regarding recognising seizure on real property to be void shall be under the jurisdiction of a court in the same location as the real property or the main part thereof.
  2. Devisor creditors’ claims submitted before inheritors have accepted a heritage shall be under the jurisdiction of a court in the same location as the heritage or the main part thereof.

Besides, according to parts 2-4 of Article 33 of the Civil Procedure Code of the Republic of Lithuania:

  • A counterclaim, irrespective of its jurisdiction, shall be submitted to the court where the initial claim had been heard. If submission of a counterclaim changes the specific jurisdiction of a case, the court, which is hearing the initial claim, shall transfer the entire case matter to be heard according to specific jurisdiction.
  • If one of the plaintiff’s claims must be brought according to the regulations of extraordinary jurisdiction, then the claim shall be filed following the rules of extraordinary jurisdiction.
  • If one of the plaintiff’s claims is under the jurisdiction of a county court, all claims shall be heard in a county court.

Choice-of-court agreements (including contractual clauses), conditions for their validity and their effects

Parties may change the territorial jurisdiction of a case after a written agreement between or among them. However, extraordinary and specific jurisdiction may not be changed by agreement between or among the parties (Article 32 of the Civil Procedure Code of the Republic of Lithuania).

Jurisdiction of a court exclusively based on the appearance of the defendant

A court transfers a case for hearing in another court after passing a ruling if the defendant, whose place of residence was not previously known, asks to transfer his case to a court of his place of residence (section 2 of part 2 of Article 34 of the Civil Procedure Code of the Republic of Lithuania).

C. Where specialised courts have jurisdiction how can I find out which one I have to address?

For the specialised court branches the description of the rules on jurisdiction should, as far as appropriate, follow the same structure as section B. Where the jurisdictional rules are essentially the same this should be made clear and should be followed by an explanation of the exceptions to that rule.

Specialized administrative courts operating in the Republic of Lithuania do not hear civil cases, therefore, in our opinion, rules on their jurisdiction and exceptions to those rules are not subject of this questionnaire.

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Last update: 12-07-2006

 
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