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TI Latvia Wins a “Strategic Suit” Aimed at Frightening Local Residents

Illegal constructions stopped

The Vidzeme District court of the city of Rīga today rejected a demand from “Dzelzavas centrs” Lmtd that two residents of Dzelzavas Street, Sandra Pumpure and Jeļena Poikāne, pay the company 30,000 lats in compensation for their lawsuit filed with the Administrative District Court seeking a repeal of a construction permit that was issued by the Rīga Construction Board.

Kristaps Markovskis, a TI Latvia legal analyst who represented the local residents in court, said that “in appealing the construction permit before the Administrative Court, the women made use of their subjective rights in the public arena, and in no sense could anyone say that this case was based on malicious misuse of civil law. From the very beginning it was clear that the petition from the company would be rejected from the systemic view. That’s why the court should not even accept petitions like this if they are based on the concept of public law.”

In the international literature, frivolous suits of this kind are known as “strategic suits”, and these are often used against civic initiatives, non-governmental organisations and groups which defend certain interests. That applies to an organisation of people who own buildings in Dzelzavas Street and protested against the construction of an office building in their residential area. TI Latvia cannot understand why the court accepted the petition in the first place, because lawful defence of one’s rights cannot create losses which must be compensated to someone else.

“Dzelzavas centrs” Lmtd sought civil damages from Sandra Pumpure and Jeļena Pokāne, arguing that the two women should compensate the company for losses which it incurred when construction processes stopped. The two women represented the interests of local residents in appealing the permit that had been given for the construction of a retail and office centre, and that is why the work stopped until the case was heard by the Administrative Court. The Vidzeme District Court went so far as to mortgage the flats of the two women as security for the possible damages that might have to be paid but in October 2006, the Rīga Regional Court overturned that ruling without any opportunity for further appeal.

This case is very similar to that of Enesa Saburova, who appealed a construction permit issued by the Rīga Construction Board to a company called “N&J” Lmtd. It wanted to put up a building in the interior yard of the structure at Brīvības gatve 352. In that case, too, construction work stopped. In June 2006, the Senate of the Supreme Court ruled that the construction permit was illegal. “N&J” Lmtd also demanded compensation from Enesa Saburova, and in that case, too, her property was mortgaged by a court. In January of this year, “N&J” Lmtd. withdrew its suit.

For any press enquiries please contact

Kristaps Markovskis
T: 29588908