In accordance with the judgment of the Constitutional Court of 14 June 2018 in the case No 2017-23-01 "On the compliance of the second and third parts of Section 573 of the Criminal Procedure Law with the first sentence of Article 92 of the Satversme (Constitution) of the Republic of Latvia", an examination of the legality of rulings of the Department of Criminal Cases under the cassation procedure shall be carried out by the composition of three judges and the refusal to initiate cassation proceedings shall be motivated.

The second part of Section 573 of the Criminal Procedure Law was challenged in the Constitutional Court; the provision stipulates that a judge appointed by the chair of the Department of Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court shall decide whether the ruling should be examined under cassation procedure. The third part of Section 573 of the Criminal Procedure Law was also challenged, which states that the decision is to be written in the form of a resolution, and it is not subject to appeal.

The Constitutional Court recognized the second and third parts of Section 573 of the Criminal Procedure Law non-compliant with the first sentence of Article 92 of Satversme (Constitution) of the Republic of Latvia, insofar as these parts provide that the issue of initiating legal proceedings in a criminal case before a court of cassation is decided unilaterally without providing the legal reasoning of the court for refusal to initiate cassation proceedings in a criminal case.

The Constitutional Court acknowledged that one of the principles guaranteeing the impartiality of the court is collegiality, which falls within the scope of the first sentence of Article 92 of the Satversme. Thus, in order to ensure the observance of the principle of impartiality in the court of cassation, the principle of collegiality shall be observed at the stage of initiation of cassation proceedings in criminal cases.

The Constitutional Court also acknowledged that observance of the principle of a democratic state governed by the rule of law is ensured only if the person is informed of the motives of the court regarding the considerations specified in his/her cassation complaint. The Constitutional Court stresses that the court's motives, which are included in the refusal to initiate cassation proceedings in a criminal case, should be sufficient for a person to understand why the cassation proceedings has not been initiated following the consideration of the arguments presented in the complaint.

The Constitutional Court points out that until the legislator has improved the legal framework regarding the acceptance of a cassation complaint, the rights of persons to a fair trial are ensured by directly applying Article 92 of the Satversme and the findings contained in this judgment.

Text of the judgement is available on the website of the Constitutional Court:

http://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/web/viewer.html?file=http://www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/2017-23-01_Spriedums.pdf#search=2017-23-01

 

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 2865221