In this edition of Legal News, you can read about the current population census in Slovakia, the most recent changes in the Slovak employment law, as well as about the legislative changes to the prescription of ownership rights. You will also learn about important decisions of the Slovak Supreme Court dealing with domain names as well as the Czech Supreme Court on the prohibition of retail during the pandemic. Last but not least, we will talk about prospective changes to the institute of custody in on-going criminal investigations.
What is going on?
Population census, also known as the population and housing census, was first carried out in Sweden in 1748. In the territory of present-day Slovakia, it was performed only two decades later, in 1784 within the so-called “inventories” of the population. The first modern census took place at the end of the 19th century, and from modern history, we can mention the last joint Czechoslovak census, which took place in 1991. From that date, the expected frequency of the census is every ten years – this year, in 2021, there is another third census in the history of the modern Slovak Republic.
This is, however, not just another arbitrary decision made by the heads of our state. Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council No. 763/2008 defines the frequency and framework of the information required by the European Commission on behalf of Eurostat, its statistical office. In addition, the legal basis for the population census in the Slovak Republic is Act No. 223/2019, on population and housing census in 2021, as amended. For the first time, the census will be done almost exclusively by electronic means.
Why is it important?
The way of how the census is performed, in electronic form, is quite a milestone. It provides many benefits and is even more valued nowadays, during the pandemic.
On the other hand, to ensure the completeness and complexity of the data, it was also necessary to establish a framework of fines, which were defined as the best way to actually “make people” to count themselves in. The census is mandatory for residents. From an etymological standpoint, an obligation is “something that must be done, the necessity to do something.” For an ordinary citizen, this means that if he or she does not participate and decides to not “count” himself, herself or his or her child, he or she may be fined up to EUR 250 within two years of the detection of such violation. This amount will then be put to the state budget or a municipality budget. However, especially in the case of the former, it will not be an immense contribution – the state budget, approved by the National Council last December, amounting to more than EUR 15 billion, will provide municipalities carrying out the census with a subsidy. Likewise, census assistants or mayors will be financed from the state budget, all in the amount determined by the Statistical Office’s measure.
What will happen next?
The data provided by the Slovak residents during the census are evaluated by the Statistical Office, and its results are intended to contribute to the improvement of life in our country. The importance of the collected data may be divided into two categories: the first is the creation of a basis for predicting demographic development, the second is the creation of a basic framework of up-to-date information that will be used by public authorities when planning their policies. From the statistics, for example, the Ministry of Transport and Construction will be able to evaluate where the population density is highest, and based on this knowledge can build (or attempt to start building) traffic infrastructure which may currently be absent. It is also important to deploy schools, health facilities, and services for the elderly. All this must be supported by relevant data that can only be obtained through a nationwide census.
However, residents should not have to worry that the information they provide about themselves will be misused. Anyone acquainted with the statistics during the census shall be bound by the obligation of professional secrecy. The information shall be made available only at the explicit request and, moreover, the non-confidential part only.
Falath & Partners
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