Latvia's shopping malls turn to Constitutional Court

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Latvia's largest shopping centers have prepared applications for the Constitutional Court in regard to prohibition to work, the Real Estate Developers Alliance (NĪAA) said May 27.

In their application, the shopping malls dispute the regulation which, from April 7, creates an unequal situation among players in the retail sector and negatively affects sellers, room lessors, the state economy and certain groups of society. Applicants shall indicate the non-conformity of this trade ban with the rights of the person to property and equality guaranteed by the Constitution and shall ask the Constitutional Court to declare it invalid.

The Cabinet regulations currently in force since April 7 foresee working restrictions for those shopping malls in Latvia, the total area of which is more than 7,000 square meters. Only shops of certain groups of goods with separate external entrances are allowed to open in such malls, but all other shops are denied access. On the other hand, all shops outside the big malls can operate freely, subject to safe trading requirements. Shopping malls have repeatedly indicated that this creates an unequal, anti-competitive and discriminatory situation in the sector and has now referred to the Constitutional Court.

"The decision taken at the beginning of April to allow individual retailers and shopping centers with an area of up to 7,000 square meters to open has created an absurd and unfair situation in the sector. The distortion of competition and the ban on retailers' activities have now resulted in an average of 55% of the projected revenue losses (..). However, it is the big malls that are the most epidemiologically secure shopping place compared to the small, poorly ventilated shops, and this has also been confirmed by the measurements of air quality (CO2 levels) by researchers at Riga Stradiņš University. However, the arguments and science-based facts of the malls have unfortunately not been heard, so we have now taken a step further by appealing to the Constitutional Court in order to bring about a renewal of fair competition in the sector," said Mārtiņš Vanags, chairman of the NĪAA board.


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