open access

Abstract

Although both the Lithuanian authorities and Lithuanian courts had already started to apply EC law well before accession, the quality of application of EC law and the frequency of its use have only improved within the last two years. Nevertheless, there is still room and need for improvement in this area before proper application of EC law in all sectors is achieved. This article analyses some cases decided by the Lithuanian authorities and the highest Lithuanian courts for both administrative and general jurisdiction, mainly in the fields of competition law and intellectual property law. Summarising the application of EC law by the Lithuanian Supreme Court in the area of civil jurisdiction, particularly intellectual property rights, on the one hand, and the Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court and the Lithuanian Competition Council, with a special focus on competition law, on the other, the authors contend that the application of EC law in the areas under consideration is far from ideal. In most cases, courts have not yet developed a general view of Community law as a sui generis system of law. There are still difficulties in distinguishing between EC law and ordinary international law. Instead of referring to the specific nature of EC law, which is accepted in both constitutional jurisprudence and national legislation, courts treat EC law as something analogous to international law. The principles set forth by the ECJ concerning the ‘ideal’ application of Community law by the national judiciary have apparently not yet been fully comprehended by Lithuania’s courts. While they seem to have learned that supremacy must be given to EC law, in most cases they are unable to consistently incorporate reasoning based on such supremacy into their judgments. However, when these two ‘pioneer’ fields of EC law application are analysed, it is obvious that changes are gradually occurring. The first examples of application by both supreme courts were very poor ones, lacking a systematic approach to application and insufficient in both quality and quantity. The development of case law in trademark disputes permits a more positive evaluation, while in the area of competition law EC law has begun to be applied much more purposefully. ECJ case law is being referred to, and arguments by the parties based on EC law are given due consideration. Still, these two areas represent the most well-developed ones, while similar progress has not yet been seen in other fields of EC law. Hopefully, satisfactory practice in the fields considered here will spill over into a more general awareness of EC law and, accordingly, its proper application. Since ‘the will’ to apply EC law seems to exist on the part of national courts and institutions, ‘the way’ to apply it correctly must also be found. For the moment, the way is time, training and practice.