Article title A Gap in Law as the Subject Matter of Constitutional Complaint
Authors

   

Name of magazine Legal journal «Law of Ukraine» (Ukrainian version)
Issue 12/2018
Сторінки [128-147]
DOI 10.33498/louu-2018-12-128
Annotation

Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine of 2016 introduced the mechanism of the constitutional complaint. The normative model of the constitutional complaint chosen by the Ukrainian constitution-maker allows a person, who has exhausted all of the national legal remedies, to appeal to the Constitutional Court of Ukraine (CCU) against constitutionality of law applied in its final decision. The right to appeal to CCU with the constitutional complaint is a constitutional right guaranteed by Part 4, Article 55 of the Constitution of Ukraine, and therefore should be interpreted in the manner ensuring the efficiency of this provision. In this context the question arises whether a gap in law may be the subject matter of the constitutional complaint, since constitutional rights and freedoms may be breached not only as a result of actions of public authorities but also as a result of their omissions.

The purpose of the article is to study the conditions under which a gap in law may be the subject matter of the constitutional complaint.

The issues of gaps in law were marked out as a separate focus of study in the XVIII–XIX centuries with the birth of the modern state and legal system, when the polynormativity of pre-modern society was replaced with the idea of legislative monopoly of the state. Besides, during this period the phenomenon of lacuna legis or a gap in law becomes noticeable. Because legislative monopoly and mononormativity inherent in the modern state supplanted and marginalized other normative orders used by pre-modern jurisprudence.

The article distinguishes between gaps of law and gaps in law. The gap of law means the situation of ultra legem, i.e., a lack of legal regulation of certain social relations. At the same time, the gap in law covers two cases: 1) “gaps in the wording” or “technical gaps” when the legal system does not have legal regulations which a judge may use to resolve a particular case, or when such regulations are incomplete; 2) “axiological” or “evaluative” gaps when an existing legal provision is not appropriate, satisfactory or fair.

Due to its very nature, a gap of law may not be the subject matter of constitutional control and, accordingly, the subject matter of the constitutional complaint. However, a gap in law should be the subject matter of constitutional control under constitutional complaints. After all, in this case we are talking about the quality of “law” in general, as well as about compliance by the state with its positive obligations, in particular. Therefore, gaps in law, whether axiological or technical (explicit, theological, ensuing from conflict of law or real) may be the subject matter of the constitutional complaint if they entail a breach of any of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by Section II of the Constitution of Ukraine.

Since it is impossible to define the contents of law and, accordingly, gaps in law without turning to judicial practice, the concept of “law” for the purposes of Article 1511 of the Constitution of Ukraine should also include the practice of its application by courts. The contents of “law” for the purposes of this article should be determined in accordance with the interpretation given to it by court. This, in fact, is one of the essential reasons for setting the requirement to exhaust all of the national legal remedies.

Gaps in law are the very bridge which, in terms of legal technique and reasoning, connects constitutional rights and freedoms and positive obligations of the state for purposes of the constitutional complaint. In terms of validity of the constitutional right to the constitutional complaint guaranteed by Article 55 of the Constitution of Ukraine, gaps in law may be the subject matter of the constitutional complaint and even more than this – they constitute the legal mechanism which extends constitutional control to positive obligations of the state through the mechanism of the constitutional complaint.

 

Keywords constitutional complaint; gap of law; gap in law; codification; law; Constitutional Court of Ukraine; positive obligation of the state
References

List of Legal Documents
 
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