Code of Administrative Court Procedure Strengthens the Rights of the Public
Today enter in force new codes regulating proceedings before courts, including the new Code of the Administrative Court Procedure. Civil association VIA IURIS was actively participating in its elaboration and achieved that this new code extends in a considerable manner rights of the public in the environmental protection. Moreover new codes require higher quality standards for the courts’ decisions.
Considerable environmental impacts are frequently consequences of illegal decisions adopted by administrative bodies. Such decisions can only be modified or annulled through a court trial. Claimants in these cases are often only local people from affected municipalities or conservationists. As an illustration we can mention various well known cases as for example the case of the waste dump of Pezinok, gold extraction project near to the town of Detva, illegal logging in the nature reservation Smrekovica or construction of small hydroelectric power plants on the Slovak rivers. It latter cases only court decisions could change the illegal approach of the administrative bodies or stop the destruction of the environment. That is the reason why VIA IURIS has been on a long-term basis fighting for the most extensive rights of the public to access the court and that mainly in matters of the environmental protection.
From this perspective the new Code of the Administrative Court Procedure is very important. It regulates proceeding before court when an illegal decision of an administrative body is contested. As states Imrich Vozár, lawyer cooperating with VIA IURIS: “According to the new rules the public will have expressly guaranteed the access to court in matters of the environmental protection. In comparison with previous state the public acquires more possibilities- on the basis of a complaint brought to court by a representative of the public, the court will be allowed to review all administrative decisions and measures, adopted land-use plans of municipalities or illegal inactivity of administrative bodies- in cases when the illegal activity of the administrative bodies would cause the environmental destruction.”
VIA IURIS also appreciates that new Code of the Administrative Court Procedure and new Code of Civil Contention contain provisions regulating requirements related to the content and to the quality of the reasoning of the courts’ decisions. The practice of courts has shown that the insufficiency of the reasoning has been one of the most frequent reasons of annulment of courts’ decisions by the appeal courts or by the Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic. In this context it is very positive that authors of the texts took this negative practice into account and decided to deal with, and accepted thus objections raised by VIA IURIS.
From 1st of July 2016 new process codes will be used. „Only after this date we will see whether these new regulations respond our expectations- improvement of the environmental protection and higher quality of the reasoning of courts’ decisions ,“ concludes Vozár.