The beginning of administrative jurisdiction in Lithuania

Darius Urbonas


The article reviews the ideas and legal practice in Lithuania between the two wars (1918-1940) and attempts to disclose the concept of administrative sanctions and their place in the legal system of that time, as well as the basis of activity in the field of administrative jurisdiction. Although these issues were not sufficiently discussed in legal doctrine, vast legal practice demonstrates a significant role of administration in implementation of legal sanctions. It should be noted that already in 1922, the Lithuanian Constitution established the principle of separation of powers, which is the basis of organization of government and the system of law of democratic states. However, already in those days scientists assumed that there is no and there cannot be any strict separation of functions of power. In addition to the typical function of governance, the administration pursues jurisdictional activity that was called “administrational punishment” in the doctrine of that time.
Thus already in that time, specific terminology was used to define jurisdictional activity of administration, emphasizing its idiosyncrasy and independence in the context of criminal law. On the other hand, this independence was conditional because administrative institutions had to comply with criminal legislation while implementing administrative sanctions. There was no legislative act that would unify the process of administrative sanctioning or would set the general basis of application. Thus acknowledging the relatedness of administrative sanctions and criminal penalties, regulations analogous to those of criminal proceedings were used with certain exceptions. Administrative sanctions were imposed for the infringement of the procedure of the stay of foreigners in Lithuania, passports, statistics, holding meetings and events, sanitary, pharmacy, engagement in economic, commercial or professional activity, education, tax, labour, public order and other areas of public life.
In numerous sources of administrative law of interwar Lithuania the major role was given to a monetary fine. Furthermore, legislative acts also provided for administrative sanctions that restricted special rights (e.g. rights allowing engaging in certain activities etc.). The right of administrative punishment was provided for different authorities, from ministers to ordinary policemen; however, the biggest jurisdictional powers were vested in the county governor. We may claim that the growth of jurisdictional powers of administrative authorities in interwar Lithuania was based exceptionally on feasibility arguments. While solving the problems of criminal justice resulting from work overload of courts and aiming to ensure public order in the state and lawfulness in general, administrative sanctions were regarded to be efficient and appropriate measures to achieve these aims. Administrative punishment compensated for the things that were impossible to implement by jurisdictional activities of courts.


administrative jurisdiction; administrative punishment; administrative institution; administrative sanctions

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"Societal studies" ISSN online 2029-2244 / ISSN print 2029-2236