CYIL vol. 12 (2021)

Tomáš Holčapek CYIL 12 (2021) Judicial Oversight in Times of a Pandemic Tomáš Holčapek Abstract: This paper focuses on judicial decision-making during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in the area of judicial oversight or review of various restrictive measures adopted in order to protect public health. A pertinent question is how well-equipped courts are to protect individual rights from excessive interference by public authorities at a time when a lot of essential information about nature and severity of the threat, and which counteractions would be the most suitable, is unavailable. Is it a valid point that law is prepared for usual, nonexceptional circumstances, but fails in times of a true crisis? For this purpose, the paper analyses selected case law and evaluates how it approaches a problem which most developed countries are currently attempting to resolve. Resumé: Článek se zaměřuje na soudní rozhodování v čase pandemie nemoci Covid-19, a to zejména v oblasti soudního dohledu či přezkumu rozličných omezujících opatření při- jímaných s cílem ochrany veřejného zdraví. Je třeba klást si otázku, jak dobře jsou soudy vybaveny k tomu, aby v době, kdy chybí řada základních informací o povaze i míře hrozby a o tom, která protiopatření jsou nejvhodnější, chránily práva lidí před nadměrnými zásahy ze strany veřejné moci. Platí, že právo je připraveno na běžné, nevýjimečné situace, ale v čase skutečné krize selhává? Za tímto účelem článek zkoumá vybranou judikaturu a hodnotí, jak přistupuje k problému, který se snaží v současnosti řešit většina vyspělých států. Key words: judicial overview, emergency measures, crisis management About the Author: Tomáš Holčapek, JUDr., Ph.D. is a member of the Department of Civil Law and of the Centre for Medical Law at the Law Faculty, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. He teaches civil procedure and health law. Introduction Theoretically, law has a solution for every situation. In any given set of circumstances, it should be possible to determine what is the correct, legal way of behaviour and what is prohibited. Of course, in real life lawyers do not always agree on the right answer. It is often possible to hold completely opposite views on a certain issue and support them with persuasive arguments. Nevertheless, one of the fundamental pillars of regulation of human society by law is that law is actually capable of being the instrument of such regulation. In other words, that society can conform, by and large, to legal rules, and that those rules reflect the values and intentions which society puts into them in the first place. When a group of humans becomes divorced from the legal system which is supposed to govern it, when its legal norms lose effectiveness because a lot of people start to ignore them or when those rules are unable to keep up with the pace of a radical change in the objective conditions, great dangers arise. A legal system which loses its effectiveness may become irrelevant. But because humans need some rules to live with one another, when law vacates this space, it will quickly become occupied by another set of rules, such as dictates of a strongman of the hour. If we want to live in a free and democratic society, we should be worried whenever rule of law is being pushed aside.


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