A court system of the Republic of Lithuania is made up of courts of general jurisdiction and courts of special jurisdiction. Administrative courts fall into the latter category.
Courts of general jurisdiction hear civil and criminal cases assigned to their jurisdiction by law.
A district court is first instance for civil, criminal cases and cases of administrative offences which are assigned to its jurisdiction by law. Judges of a district court also execute functions of a pre-trial judge as well as other functions assigned to a district court by law.
A regional court is first instance for civil and criminal cases assigned to its jurisdiction by law, and appeal instance for judgements, decisions, rulings and orders passed by district courts.
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, international courts and arbitration awards and their enforcement in the Republic of Lithuania, as well as performs other functions assigned to its jurisdiction by law.
The Supreme Court of Lithuania is the only court of cassation instance which reviews effective judgements, decisions, rulings and orders passed by courts of general jurisdiction. One of the main functions of this court is developing a uniform court practice in the interpretation and application of laws and other legal acts.
Unlike the courts of general jurisdiction that hear criminal cases and consider disputes arising from civil, labour, family and other legal relations of private nature, administrative courts consider disputes that arise in the sphere of public and internal administration. Thus at least one of the parties to the proceedings is the State, a municipality or a State or municipal institution, an agency, a service, or a public servant. The competence of administrative courts is regulated by the Law on Administrative Proceedings. Lithuanian system of administrative courts consists of the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania and two regional administrative courts (Vilnius Regional Administrative Court and Regional Administrative Court of Regions which has four chambers – Kaunas, Klaipėda, Šiauliai and Panevėžys).
Administrative courts consider complaints (applications) concerning:
• lawfulness of legal acts passed and actions performed by the entities of public administration (e.g. ministries, departments, inspections, services, commissions), also the legality and validity of refusal by the said entities to perform the actions within the remit of their competence or delay in performing the said actions;
• compensation for material and moral damage inflicted on a natural person or organisation by unlawful acts or omission in the sphere of public administration by state or municipal institutions, agencies, services and their employees;
• payment, repayment or exaction of taxes, other mandatory payments and levies, the application of financial sanctions and the tax disputes (disputes with the State Tax Inspectorate);
• office-related disputes, where one of the parties is a public or municipal servant possessing the powers of public administration;
• violation of the election laws and the Law on the Referendum;
• complaints by aliens regarding the refusal to issue permits for residence and work in Lithuania or withdrawal of such permits as well as complaints about the status of the refugee;
• other cases prescribed by the Law on Administrative Proceedings.
A regional administrative court is the court of special jurisdiction established for hearing complaints concerning administrative acts and acts of commission or omission (failure to perform duties) by entities of public and internal administration. Regional administrative courts hear disputes in the field of public administration, deal with issues relating to the lawfulness of regulatory administrative acts, tax disputes etc. Before proceedings in an administrative court, individual legal acts or actions taken by entities of public administration may be disputed in the pre-trial procedure. Where such procedure takes place, disputes are investigated by municipal public administrative dispute commissions, district administrative dispute commissions and the Chief Administrative Dispute Commission.
The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania 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. The Supreme Administrative Court develops a uniform practice of administrative courts in the interpretation and application of laws and other legal acts.