Not only those who strive to live an ecological lifestyle and take environmental measures, but also those who create and provide an appropriate legal framework for protecting the environment care for the environment. Veronika Krumina, Chair of the Department of Administrative Cases of the Supreme Court, when addressing the members of the meeting of the Working Group on Environmental Law of the Association of European Administrative Judges, said that there is also the opportunity for and duty of judges to care for the environment.

In Latvia, cases in the sphere of environmental rights are heard by administrative courts, and in these cases every member of the public can apply for a popular appeal before the administrative court. "This is one way of demonstrating at the legal level that environmental protection is of common value to the whole society. By foreseeing such an opportunity, the legislator of Latvia has emphasized that the environment needs enhanced legal protection and opted for a very open approach by introducing Article 9 of the Aarhus Convention into the national law," said Veronika Krumina.

However, the Chair of the Department acknowledged that the system of administrative sanctions in the field of environmental rights in Latvia is rather complicated. The administrative court deals only with issues arising from an administrative act, an actual deed or a public contract, while administrative sanctions for environmental offenses are heard by courts of general jurisdiction.

Veronika Krumina illustrated the topicality of administrative sanctions in the field of environmental rights with a recent example from the practice of Latvia when a fire broke out in an illegal waste storage facility and the government had to allocate 700 000 euros to clean the fire area. "This example provides reflections on inter-institutional cooperation in the flow of information, the role of prevention measures, environmental pollution and the effectiveness of sanctions in a situation when the merchant has no funds," indicated the Chair of the Department.

This year's meeting of the Working Group on Environmental Law of the European Association of European Administrative Judges (AEAJ) was held in Riga on September 7 and 8. Its subject was "Administrative sanctions in the field of the environment". The meeting was organized in cooperation with the European Commission, the Faculty of Law of the University of Latvia and the Latvian Association of Administrative Judges.

 

Information prepared by

Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme
E-mail: rasma.zvejniece@at.gov.lv, telephone: +371 67020396, +371 28652211