At the Conference of the Latvian Association of Journalists of 23 March Anita Zikmane, Head of the Division of Case-law and Research, encouraged to look at court findings as a resource for journalist’s work and as an opportunity for the public to know their rights.

A representative of the Supreme Court was invited to tell the journalists how court rulings and case-law summaries can become practical support for media.

"When preparing a news article or conducting research, it is important for journalists to have reliable and objective additional information. The court findings, expressed both in rulings of Latvian courts and international courts, can surely be a valuable resource. By comparing these findings and results, it is possible to form a qualitative and substantiated conclusions," said Anita Zikmane.

She pointed to the latest summaries of the case-law of the Supreme Court, which are published on the website of the Supreme Court and could be useful in media work – case-law in cases arising from the labor law, eight compilations in the field of social rights, as well as the case-law on the legal relationship regarding the management of residential buildings, as well as the protection of consumer rights.

Court rulings are available free of charge on the Latvian Courts Portal; Supreme Court rulings having legal significance are systematized on its website. The total number of rulings is high – almost 60,000 rulings of Latvian courts and equal number of international courts’ rulings are issued during a year, thus it is impossible to use them without systematizing and compiling.

Compilations of case-law contribute to the uniformity of court practice. They identify the regulatory framework of the field of study, select and systematize the most important court findings, as well as identify potential problems of interpretation of legal provisions and detect the non-uniformity of court practice. The right to a fair trial is also the right to uniformity of court practice, however the court practice evolves and different cases having different factual legal compositions may also have a different result. However, the court must justify any deviation from the case-law.

Anita Zikmane also drew attention to a certain controversy, which is seen by the media and the court as the most important aspect of the court ruling. It is common practice to believe that the message is the most important thing for the public, but from the court's point of view findings of the court are also very important. The reports of the Supreme Court on cases examined are often those in which it would have been useful for the public to know not only the results, but also the court findings. For example, findings on the procedure for granting the benefit to the sick child care, the calculation of the paternity benefit for the father working for two employers, the calculation of the personal income tax for the sale of immovable property, if it consists of several units, on the liability of board members, on prohibition to dismiss an employee because he/she refuses to receive an envelope salary. "Undoubtedly, the public has the right to be informed about important events, including court cases. But the public would deserve to know about these cases also from the point of view of court findings."

The Supreme Court appreciates the interest of the Latvian Association of Journalists in creating the journalists' understanding regarding the court work and is open to further cooperation.

 

Information prepared by

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

E-mail: rasma.zvejniece@at.gov.lv, telephone: +371 67020396, +371 28652211