UPDATE: A Guide to the Lithuanian Legal Research

By Elona Norvaišaitė

Elona Norvaišaitė has worked as a reference librarian at the Law and Politics Reading Room of the Information Center of the National Library of Lithuania. In the period of 2006-2012, she worked as an information specialist at the Library of the European Parliament. Elona presently works at the Library of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania.

Published September/October 2017

See the Archive Version!

1. The Lithuanian Legal System

1.1 Background

The Republic of Lithuania (Lietuvos Respublika) is an independent democratic parliamentary republic. The foundation of the social system is enforced by the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania , adopted in 1992 by a referendum, which also establishes the rights, freedoms, and obligations of citizens. Under that law, sovereign state power is vested in the people of Lithuania and is exercised by the President of the Republic, the Seimas (Parliament), the Government, and the Courts.

The Lithuanian legal system is generally based on the legal tradition of continental Europe. Since restoration of Lithuania's independence in 1990, the legal system has been reformed to meet the demands of the modern open economy. The EU law became a part of the Lithuanian legal system on 1 May 2004.

European e-Justice Portal – Information on the Lithuanian legal system and an overview of the Lithuanian law .

1.2 Types of Legislation

In the Lithuanian legal system, the principal body of law is statutory. Substantive branches of the law are codified in codes.

The legal and regulatory system includes the following:

All regulatory acts, including laws, must comply with the Constitution. All international treaties and conventions must be implemented in Lithuania; however, the ones ratified by the Seimas prevail over national laws.

More information about the Lithuanian legislative system and the legislative procedure can be found online.

1.3 The Court System

The National Courts Administration gives an overview of the Judicial System of the Republic of Lithuania .

Council of Europe - The European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ): Evaluation of European Judicial Systems ; Country profile: Lithuania (scroll down the page to read on: Recent developments in the judicial field); European Judicial Systems - Efficiency and Quality of Justice , 2016.

2. Sources of Law

2.1. Lithuanian

2.1.1 Printed Sources

The Legal Information Department of the Centre of Registers publishes codes of the Republic of Lithuania, various collections of the Lithuanian legal acts, law textbooks, etc.

There are other legal information publishers as well.

2.1.2 Free Internet Sources

The full text of Lithuanian laws is available in the official database of the Seimas. The database contains legal acts of the Seimas, the Government, and other executive bodies and institutions of the Republic of Lithuania.

The drafts of the legal acts of different ministries can be found at the Government’s homepage, the section called Teisės aktų projektai (Select the link of the relevant ministry).

Register of Legal Acts: Teisės aktų registras (TAR) – is the state register of the legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania.

2.1.3 Commercial Internet Sources

The legal portal INFOLEX provides the commercial legal acts retrieval system – INFOLEX Teisės aktai .

The legal information retrieval systemLITLEX has two versions:LITLEX IntRAnet and LITLEX IntERnet.

The commercial database provides full-texts of Lithuanian laws. The texts of laws are only in Lithuanian, and the database is available only to subscribers.

2.2 English

2.2.1 Printed Sources

The monthly "Parliamentary Records", the Official Gazette in English, was available to subscribers from 1992 to 1999. There is no paper copy anymore, so the translations of the laws in English can be retrieved from the database of the Seimas.

2.2.2 Free Internet Sources

A great amount of Lithuanian laws in English can be retrieved from the database of the Seimas - Legal Acts of Lithuania .

Not all the amendments and supplements to the legal acts are translated into English.

When searching for the translations of various legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania, it is useful to open the English internet site of the relevant Ministry of the Republic of Lithuania and to choose the link called "Legislation" or "Legal Acts", etc., and where available to find a list of the main legal acts in the field of the responsible ministry, for example:

3. Lithuanian Courts and Case Law, Court Rulings, Decisions

The system of courts, their competence and the system of court organization and administration, as well as the system of self-governance of courts, the status of judges and their appointment, career, and other issues related to the judicial activities are regulated by the Constitution the Republic of Lithuania, the Law on Courts and other legal acts.

The court system of the Republic of Lithuania is made up of the courts of general jurisdiction and the courts of special jurisdiction.

The National Courts Administration website provides the information on the Judicial system of the Republic of Lithuania, General Meeting of Judges, Judicial Council, Judicial Court of Honour, Judicial Ethics and Discipline Commission, Contacts of Courts, Statistics, Reports, etc.

E-Service Portal of Lithuanian Courts

Reports of courts on ongoing lawsuits

Public search of judgements

3.1 The Constitutional Court of the Republic Lithuania

The Constitutional Court was established in 1993. Its status and the procedure for the execution of its powers are defined in the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania . The decisions of the Constitutional Court on issues assigned to its jurisdiction by the Constitution are final and may not be appealed.

Rules of the Constitutional Court

Annual Reports

3.2 The Supreme Court of Lithuania

The Supreme Court is the only court of cassation instance for reviewing effective judgments, decisions, rulings and orders of the courts of general jurisdiction. It forms the uniform judicial practice for the application of laws.

The Supreme Court's internet site provides information about the competence and functions of the Court , judges , etc.

3.3 The Court of Appeal of Lithuania

The Court of Appeal is appeal instance for cases heard by regional courts as courts of first instance. It also hears requests for the recognition of decisions of foreign or international courts and foreign or international arbitration awards and their enforcement in the Republic of Lithuania, as well as performs other functions assigned to the jurisdiction of this court by law. The Chairman of the Court of Appeal organizes and controls the administrative activities of the regional courts and their judges in accordance with the procedure prescribed by law. [1]

The Court of Appeal of Lithuania internet site provides information about the Court, history of the Court of Appeals and its role in the judicial system of the country; information for the participants of the proceedings about the petitions for appeal; recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments; arbitration awards in the Republic of Lithuania, etc.

3.4 The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania

The Supreme Administrative Court is first and final instance for administrative cases assigned to its jurisdiction by law. It is appeal instance for cases concerning decisions, rulings and orders of regional administrative courts, as well as for cases involving administrative offences from decisions of district courts. The Supreme Administrative Court is also instance for hearing, in cases specified by law, of petitions on the reopening of completed administrative cases, including cases of administrative offences. The Supreme Administrative Court develops a uniform practice of administrative courts in the interpretation and application of laws and other legal acts.[2]

The Supreme Administrative Court’s internet site provides information about the Court, the administrative courts, statistics , annual reports, a survey, etc.

3.5. Case Law, Court Rulings, Decisions

3.5.1 Lithuanian

3.5.1.1 Printed Sources

Since 2006, the Constitutional Court has been publishing the bulletin " Konstitucinė jurisprudencija ". In addition to other materials, the bulletin publishes the Constitutional Court’s rulings and decisions.

The Constitutional Court published two books which present in a systemic manner the official constitutional doctrine that has been formed in the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court from the very beginning of its activities till 2014:

Since 1995, the Supreme Court of Lithuania has been issuing the bulletin "Teismų Praktika" ("Court Practice") . The bulletin includes the rulings found by the Divisions of the Supreme Court as being the most important, methodological material—summary reviews of the court practice, summaries of the judgements passed by the European Court of Human Rights, and other information. The bulletin also presents information about the most significant events in the activities of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Administrative Court is responsible for developing a uniform practice of administrative courts in the interpretation and application of statutes and other legal acts. The Supreme Administrative Court periodically issues its bulletin under the title " Lietuvos vyriausiojo administracinio teismo biuletenis ".

3.5.1.2 Free Internet Sources

The full text of the rulings (nutarimai), decisions (sprendimai) and conclusions (išvados) of the Constitutional Court from 1993 on, presented by the year, are available at the Court’s official internet site.

The website of the Supreme Court gives access to the rulings passed by the Supreme Court. The rulings, issued in the Lithuanian language, can be found by following the link - Teismo nutartys (Court rulings). The bulletin "Teismų Praktika” ("Court Practice") is published in the Lithuanian language. It is also available on the website of the Supreme Court of Lithuania by following the link - Biuletenis "Teismų praktika" .

The Supreme Administrative Court's homepage has a section: Teismų praktika (Court Practice), where it is possible to find the Court’s bulletin „ Lietuvos vyriausiojo administracinio teismo biuletenis “; the recent Court practice reviews ; the Court practice summaries .

3.5.1.3 Commercial Internet Sources

Infolex.PraktikaCourts practice search engine integrated with the legal acts and other documents of the Republic of Lithuania.

3.5.2 English

3.5.2.1 Printed Sources

The Constitutional Court publishes the thematic collections of the Court’s rulings and decisions on actual topics:

The rulings and decisions of the Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court, as well as the overviews of case-law, are not translated into English.

3.5.2.2 Free Internet Sources

Rulings, decisions and conclusions of the Constitutional Court in English.

4. Legal Portals

4.1. Infolex.lt

The target audience of the Lithuanian legal portal INFOLEX is not only Lithuanian professional lawyers, but also the wider public. The portal has the main page and separate sections: Teisės aktai (Legal acts), Teismų praktika (Court practice). Every section has various subdivisions.

4.2. Teisingumas.lt

The mission of the legal information portal Teisingumas. lt is spreading comprehensive and relevant legal information to legal professionals and to the wider public. The portal Teisingumas collects, organizes and publishes the public information provided by the Ministry of Justice and its institutions.

5. Parliamentary Information

The Parliament of Lithuania, the Seimas, is a one-chamber parliament. The Seimas is vested with the supreme legislative power. The Seimas consists of 141 MPs who are elected for a four-year term by the universal, equal, direct suffrage and secret ballot. The Seimas elects its Chairpersons and Deputy Chairpersons.

The internet site of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania provides current information on the Seimas concerning its work and history; members and political groups; committees and commissions; public and international relations. In this site you can also find lists of the latest legal acts, projects and other documents by following the link Teisėkūros naujienos ( Latest developments ).

The Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the Statute of the Seimas are presented in the website’s section " Legal acts ". Access to the Register of Legal Acts is free.

The Lithuanian Parliamentary Mirror is an illustrated journal in English (since 1997), which represents the Lithuanian Seimas abroad. Parliamentary Mirror No. 4(152) is the last printed publication.

Since 2012 the printed magazine has been replaced by an electronic publication — The newsletter .

6. Presidential Information

The President of the Republic is the Head of State. The President represents the State of Lithuania and performs all the duties that he or she is charged with by the Constitution and laws. The citizens of the Republic of Lithuania elect the President of the Republic of Lithuania on the basis of the universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot for a five-year term. One can find more information about the history, the Presidential functions , the legal framework of the Office of the President on the President of the Republic of Lithuania’s internet site . The website provides information on Presidential activities , Press Releases , etc.

7. Government Information

The Government is the highest authority of executive power. It is comprised of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers . The President of the Republic of Lithuania, with the approval of the Seimas, appoints the Prime Minister. Ministers are appointed by the President of the Republic on the nomination of the Prime Minister.

On the Government of the Republic of Lithuania’s internet site you can find information about the Government Constitutional obligations , the Programme of the Government , theMinistries, Agencies, etc.

Often it is very helpful on the internet page of a ministry or a government institution to search for legal acts related to that ministry or institution by following the link - Teisinė informacija (Legal information) or Teisės aktai (Legal acts), etc.

See the Ministries of the Republic of Lithuania .

See the Agencies and Other Institutions.

Lithuania ONLine website maintains lists of the websites of the Lithuanian ministries and their departments: Government Institutions.

8. Local Authorities Information

Local self-government is organized on the basis of the administrative and territorial division of Lithuania.

Lithuania is divided into 10 counties ( apskritys), which are further subdivided into 60 municipalities ( savivaldybės).

9. Lithuania and European Union

10. Legal Research Institutes, Centers

11. Legal and Other Cent ers

12. Legal Profession

13. Legal Education

14. Law Libraries

15. Law Journals

The law schools of Lithuania issue their own law journals, most of which have their own internet sites. Several Lithuanian legal scientific-practical journals also have their electronic versions.

"Teisė" – "Law"

Since 1957 Vilnius University Faculty of Law has published a journal " VU mokslo darbai. Teisė " ("VU scientific papers. Law") which represents the legal science in Lithuania and abroad. It is a quarterly publication. The articles are published in Lithuanian and other languages. The electronic archive (full-text articles since 2008)

"Jurisprudencija" – "Jurisprudence"

Mykolas Romeris University publishes the scientific journal "Jurisprudencija” – "Jurisprudence" . The journal has been published since 1993. Four volumes are published per year. Articles are published in Lithuanian, English, German and French. The internet version of the journal "Jurisprudencija" with the full-text articles and summaries in Lithuanian and English can be found in the Archive . The archive has search functions by category, by title/author and by year of publication.

"International Comparative Jurisprudence"

The research journal focuses on theoretical and practical approaches to the wide range of political, legislative, social, economic, and other issues of law. It emphasizes the comparative analysis of international jurisprudence as well as the international aspects of national law of countries across the world. Articles are published in English; Two issues are published per year. See Archives .

"Baltic Journal of Law and Politics"

Vytautas Magnus University Faculty of Law in cooperation with Vytautas Magnus University Faculty of Politics and Diplomacy has been publishing a scientific periodical " Baltic Journal of Law & Politics " since 2008. The journal is published online. Its publisher is a German company De Gruyter acting through its owned Polish company Versita. The language of the journal is English.

The journal in De Gruyter platform.

"Teisės problemos "– "Legal Issues"

The Law Institute of Lithuania publishes the quarterly scientific journal " Teisės problemos " ("Legal Issues").

The abstracts and the full-text of the articles are available at the Archive of the journal published in the Law Institute’s website. The archive can be browsed by the issue and by subjects.

16. Law Dictionaries

16.1 Multilingual

16.2 English-Lithuanian

16.3 German-Lithuanian

17. Legal Publishers

The main legal publishers in Lithuania are:

18. Legal E-Guides

19. Law E-Articles, E-Books, etc.

Mykolas Romeris University E-Books platform for e-books published by the Lithuanian publishers.

20. Legal News

21. Miscellaneous