Kaunas Regional Court was first mentioned on 26 November 1883, as one of the courts of Russian Empire having started its activities in the territorial unit of the Empire – the province of Kaunas (otherwise Guberniya). At that time Kaunas Regional Court acted as the first instance court hearing civil and criminal cases, such as murders, smuggling/trafficking, thefts, money falsification, disobeyance of the authorities.
Beginning of the activities of the Lithuanian Kaunas Regional Court is considered to be the interwar period. 15 December 1918 is considered the date of the establishment of the courts of independent Lithuania, however Kaunas Regional Court was the first regional court, which in December 1918 already carried out its activities that continued until 1940.
In January 1919, Kaunas Regional Court established itself in a three-storey building situated in the end of Nikolay Avenue (present Laisvės lane) where at present Kaunas District Court is operating. In the beginning the composition of the court was not big – a chairman Prof. V. Mačys, two court members – K. Preisas and K. Oleka, and 7 clerks. In 1920, 7 more court members were assigned and the court office was divided into two offices - for criminal and civil cases with a secretary, 2 secretary assistants and 5 clerks working in each.
To the competence of the regional court, as the court of first instance, were assigned civil cases when the sum of the claim exceeded 1448,10 Eur (5000 Lt), and criminal cases where for committed crimes the following punishments could be imposed: penitentiary, a fine of more than 724,05 Eur (2500 Lt), or a prosecuted claim exceeding 1448,10 Eur (5000 Lt). As an appellate instance the Regional Court tried cases heard in the Justice of Peace and appealed against and also acted as an administrative court with the right to solve issues related to non-inclusion of a person into the list of electors, to failure to pay fines, etc. It was possible to lodge an appeal in cassation against the decisions of the regional court with the Supreme Tribunal of Lithuania.
Having passed the Law on Court System in 1933, the composition and functions of the regional courts were set. The Regional Court consisted of the Chairman, chairmen of the Civil Cases Division and the Criminal Cases Division and judges.
During the period from 1918 to 1940, the following prominent lawyers in those days held the office of the Chairman of the Court:
• Prof. Vladas Mačys (1918–1922);
• Simanas Petrauskas (1922–1926);
• Juozas Grigaitis (1926–1933);
• Andrius Dubinskas (1934–1938);
• Karolis Žalkauskas (1939–1940).
The fatal year 1940, when the Soviet Union occupied and annexed Lithuania, also had the fatal consequences to the court system: the courts having operated during the period from 1918 to 1940 were liquidated.
After the restoration of Lithuanian Independence and having adopted the Law on Courts of the Republic of Lithuania and having started the reform of court system, activities of regional courts, including Kaunas Regional Court, were resumed On 1 January 1995.
Today Kaunas Regional Court is one of five regional courts operating in Lithuania. It consists of the Civil Cases Division and the Criminal Cases Division. The court is run by Nerijus Meilutis, Evaldas Gražys holds the office of the Chairman of the Criminal Cases Division and Mindaugas Šimonis is the Chairman of the Civil Cases Division.
The Chairman of the Regional Court supervises the administrative activities of the relevant district courts and judges following the order provided for in the laws.
The Regional Court is the first instance court for hearing criminal and civil cases, assigned by law to its competence, and the appellate instance for judgements, decisions and rulings of district (local) courts.
1. The following civil cases are assigned by law to the competence of the Regional Court as the first instance court:
a) when the sum of the claim exceeds 43000 Eur, except for family cases and cases of employment relationships as well as cases for compensation of non-property damage;
b) regarding copyright non-property legal relationships;
c) regarding civil public tender legal relationships;
d) regarding bankruptcy and restructuring;
e) where one of the parties is a foreign country or state;
f) according to complaints regarding the compulsory selling of shares (dividends, interest);
g) according to the complaints regarding the investigation of a legal entity’s activities;
h) regarding compensation of property and non-property damage caused by violating established rights of patients;
i) other civil cases, which according to the laws are heard by regional courts as the first instance court (Art. 27 of the CPC of the Republic of Lithuania);
2. The Regional Court is the first instance court for hearing criminal cases, where persons are charged of committing serious and very serious offences with exception of the cases provided for in the Criminal Procedure Code of the Republic of Lithuania and also cases, where the accused at the moment of commission a crime held the position of the President of the Republic of Lithuania, members of Parliament or Government, judges of the Constitutional Court, and other judges or prosecutors;
3. The Regional Court is an appellate instance for decisions, judgements, sentences, rulings and orders of district (local) courts;
4. The Regional Court performs other functions assigned to its competence by law.