Legal Certainty – Protected Values and Partial Objectives: The Case of the Czech Republic
Legal certainty is an essential prerequisite for individuals’ autonomy, as lack of certainty prevents the planning of future activities and making rational decisions. As other key legal principles, it comprises an axiological quality which influences the interpretation of legal rules and the application of statutory laws. Thus, it should be adhered to by all branches of state power. Its objective is to promote several values that are all important for the protection of human rights: the rule of law, protection of legitimate expectations, general trust in law, prevention of arbitrary decision-making, inadmissibility of retroactivity. However, in some legal systems, the concept of legal certainty is slightly different. These differences also influence the extent and limits of legal certainty as it may not mean total rigidity and prevent necessary changes in statutory laws and decision-making. The reasonable balance is influenced by its axiological content. The article analyses the interpretation practice of the Czech Constitutional Court with the aim to determine the partial values inherent to the principle and categorise them according to their importance. Several partial objectives were determined by qualitative analysis. The quantitative analysis indicates that the key partial objectives include protection of the values comprising a general trust in the law, individuals’ legitimate expectations, and a certain degree of predictability of laws, administrative practice and courts’ decisions (uniformity, transparency, internal consistency and stability). Having identified these values, further research may be conducted as to how and to what extent expectations should be upheld.
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