The title of the Senate and senators is not only a title; it is historical succession, if we speak about continuity of Latvian State of 1918. If there has been the Saeima – instead of Parliament, Satversme – instead of Constitution, Satversme court instead of Constitutional Court, then why particular branch of power – judiciary – has been deprived of this historical title of the Senate? Thus at Judges’ Conference, which took place on November 1,  said Ivars Bickovics, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Chair of the Board of Justice, when presenting report on work of the Board of Justice since last Judges’ Conference, which was organised last November.

Proposal of the Board of Justice to keep historical title of the Senate to cassation instance, as well as 21 other proposals of the Board of Justice to the draft law “On Judicial Power” was not taken into account by the legislator.

Both this position and mechanism of implementation of so called “clear” three-level court system and how structure of the Supreme Court has been reformed do not purport about proper attitude. In opinion of the Board of Justice, such significant changes like liquidation of Court Chambers and restructuring of organisation of work and functions of the Supreme Court related to that should be established in fundamental provisions of the law, not in transitional provisions, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court stressed.

I.Bickovics indicated that , ka lat year was period of commencement of reforms in court system – the legislator adopted significant amendments to the law “On Judicial Power”, system of remuneration of judges was changed and assessment of professional activity of judges was commenced. It has also been reflected in work and decisions of the Board of Justice. Since last Judges’ Conference the Board of Justice held 23 sessions, and 96 decisions were adopted by the Board of Justice.  

The Chair of the Board of Justice in his report in detail analysed decisions, which contained conclusions of the Board on draft laws related to court system. The most important amendments were those to the Law on Remuneration of Officials and Employees of Public and Municipal Institutions, which include judges’ wages to uniform remuneration system. The Chair of the Board of Justice indicated – thus, the balance between remuneration of lawyers of public institutions and that of judges has not been provided. In 2013, amount of extras and bonuses paid to employees of state administration makes additional 47.9% of remuneration, but legal regulation has not been amended in relation to judges and prosecutors.

The second most important draft law, upon which conclusion of the Board of Justice was provided, are already mentioned voluminous amendments to the law “On Judicial Power” of June, 13. Acknowledgement of the fact that several mechanisms of implementation of amendments do not operate as expected has been expressed as, for example, letters of employees of more than ten courts, which are received also in the Board of Justice, containing objections against delegation of responsibility to anonymize court rulings to assistants to judges. The Board of Justice will review this issue at next session on November, 11. 

On Friday, November 1, 360 from 559 judges of the Supreme Court, regional courts, district (city) courts and Land Registry offices participated at Judges’ Conference. Members of the Board of Justice, judges of the Constitutional Court and Judges Emeritus were also invited to attend the conference.  

Judges were addressed by Kristine Strada-Rozenberga, the Dean of the Faculty of Law of the University of Latvia, and Janis Bordans, the Minister of Justice. Heads of institutions of judicial self-government – Gunars Aigars, the Chair of the Judicial Qualification Committee and Visvaldis Sprudzans, the Chair of the Judicial Ethics Commission, presented their reports about work performed during the year.  

Irena Kucina, the deputy state Secretary on Court of the Ministry of Justice, explained the most important amendments to the law “On Judicial Power” – mechanism of management of length of case adjudication terms is implemented; functions of chairs of courts are detailed; uniform calculation of terms of office of chairs of courts is established; availability of court judgements is extended;  linking of the docket with planning of load of advocates is determined; regulation on dismissal of judges from the office is amended; maximum age for a judge is unified; legal ground of reform of the Supreme Court and distribution of authorities among court instances (clear court instances) is provided and terms of implementation of reform are set;  organisation of work of investigation judges is amended.  

 

These and other materials of the Judges’ Conference will be published in “The Supreme Court Bulletin” this year.

 

Information prepared by

Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court

E-mail: rasma.zvejniece@at.gov.lv, telephone: 67020396, 28652211