Human Rights Guide


Case No 2002-21-01

Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia
20 May 2003


Latvian laws provided that for elected positions in the institutions of higher education (such as professor, associate professor, docent or administrative positions) and in state supported scientific research institutions the mandatory retirement age is 65.


The applicants had all reached 65 years of age and had lost the possibility to work in their respective scientific research institutions and institutions of higher education.

Court’s ruling

The Constitutional court reminded that Article 106 of the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia guarantees for everybody the right to choose employment and workplace according to their abilities and qualifications. Furthermore this article prohibits the state to add additional requirements for particular professions save the ones that are connected with the necessary skills and qualification.

The Court also analyzed international and EU law and soft law documents and came to conclusion that the standard of human rights reject the previously used practice to prohibit the participation in the labour market for persons above certain age limit. It also rejected the argument that some state officials and judges have age cap. They must not be considered in equal situation with the applicants, as they are not employed by labour agreement, but with civil service agreement, and they actually can continue to work on the same conditions after they reach the age limit if they receive the permit. It was not the case with the applicants.

Although the Court did agree that the legitimate aim of this limitation is the well being of the society through well-developed academic and scientific field, it found that the limitation cannot be considered proportionate. Firstly it pointed out that if the only requirement for a person wishing to take up a position as a scientist or professor would be the age instead of the qualification, then the science and institutions of higher education are not going to be able to develop fruitfully. Secondly, different people age differently, therefore an overall presumption about mental capacities cannot be applied.

Because of the abovementioned reasons the Constitutional Court found that the regulation providing the mandatory retirement age for certain positions in institutions of higher education and scientific institutions is not compatible with Article 106 of the Constitution.

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