Shopping centers turn to Constitutional Court to contest government regulation allowing few stores to operate at malls

  • 2021-05-27
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Valmiera shopping center Valleta filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court on behalf of large shopping centers of Latvia today, the Alliance of Real Estate Developers told LETA.

The complaint contests the Cabinet of Ministers regulation that was amended on April 7, creating unequal conditions and impacting retailers, shopping malls, the national economy and specific social groups.

The Cabinet Regulation on Epidemiological Safety Measures for the Containment of the Spread of COVID-19 Infection was amended on April 7, introducing restrictions on shopping center of more than 7,000 square meters in area, where only certain stores are allowed to operate as well as stores that have individual entrances. All other stores across Latvia are allowed to operate.

The complaint points that there has been a significant violation of shopping centers' property rights guaranteed by the Constitution, preventing them from receiving income from already concluded rent agreements and making it practically impossible to rent premises to new customers. Second, large shopping centers' right to equality before the law, enshrined in the Constitution, has also been violated as the regulation makes the owners of large shopping centers uncompetitive with other retailers, because restrictions that apply to large shopping centers do not apply to other shopping centers and stores.

There is no objective and reasonable basis for such unequal treatment, says the complaint, noting that it is equally possible to ensure epidemiological requirements for safe retail both at large shopping malls and at other retail venues. In addition, retailers who continue to do business outside large shopping centers are not only avoiding competition with large shopping centers but, as demand for specific goods increases, they have the opportunity to increase prices.