Cassation in the interest of the uniform application of the law

Cassation decisions are important both in terms of monitoring the correct application of the law in given cases and in terms of creating new law. It is often the Supreme Court which has the final say in legal questions of the utmost social importance.

Sometimes, however, such urgent legal questions remain outside the terms of reference of the Supreme Court. This is because of the peculiar nature of appeals in cassation: it is the uniformity and development of justice as a whole which is at stake, yet whether an application for such an appeal is made depends on individual interests. Only if the losing party in a case believes that an appeal in cassation can be won and is therefore prepared to devote time and money to lodging such an appeal can the Supreme Court pass judgment. If no appeal in cassation is lodged it cannot assess the legal question involved, no matter how important it may be.

Cassation in the interest of the uniform application of the law is intended to solve this problem. When it is in the public interest to address a particular legal question, the Procurator General is empowered by law to lodge such an appeal in cassation to the Supreme Court. The Procurator General receives requests from the public prosecution service, other courts, government and semi-government agencies, businesses, individuals and lawyers. What those making the request often fail to realize is that even in those cases where the Supreme Court quashes a judgment in the interest of the uniform application of the law, the rights and the position of the parties, as established in the judgment that has been quashed, do not change. The unsuccessful party remains unsuccessful and the successful party successful.