At the sitting of chairs of departments convened by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the issue of the Department of Administrative Cases on jurisdiction of a case is resolved, recognizing that the claim for compensation for the material damage caused by state official’s failure to act shall not be subject to review by the administrative court, if this failure to act is recognized as a criminal offense. Then the person who committed the criminal offense is primarily responsible for the damage caused, and this person is held liable in accordance with the procedure established by the Criminal Procedure Law and the Civil Procedure Law.

The question about the jurisdiction was raised in a case concerning an application to the Administrative District Court asking the State Forest Service to pay compensation to the Applicant for material damages. The application states that the unlawful failure to act by the forestry unit resulted in the unlawful cutting of trees in the property belonging to the Applicant. The unlawfulness of failure to act by the forestry unit is recognized by a court judgment in a criminal case; the judgement has entered into force.

The decision adopted at the sitting of chairs of departments provides an explanation: if the non-material damage is inflicted on a person in the result of an offense committed, then the primary procedure for the compensation of such damage is regulated by the Criminal Procedure Law. The possibility of claiming and obtaining moral and material compensation is guaranteed to a person to whom a damaged has been caused in the result of an offense committed.

The Criminal Procedure Law provides that the victim can also deal with the issue of compensation under the civil procedure. If the victim believes that the compensation does not cover all the damage caused, he/she has the right to claim compensation in accordance with the procedures specified in the Civil Procedure Law.

Consequently, in the event of a criminal offense, the person who committed the criminal offense is primarily responsible for the damage caused. However, this does not mean that a public person whose official has committed a criminal offense cannot be held liable. A public person can take subsidiary responsibility as an employer, on the basis of Section 1782 of the Civil Law. If one does not give the necessary attention to choosing servants and other employees and does not make sure, first of all, of their abilities and usefulness in fulfilling their duties, then he/she shall be liable for the damage they caused to a third person. Consequently, the victim has the right to appeal against the official's employer under the civil procedure.

The Administrative Procedure Law and the Law on Compensation for Losses Caused by State Administration Institutions regulate the procedure for compensation for damages or losses incurred by an administrative act, actual action or other acts of the institution in the field of public administration subject to examination under administrative procedure. The purpose of these laws is not to provide compensation to the victim for damage or losses caused by a criminal offense committed by a public official.

Sittings of chairs of departments of the Supreme Court, in which an issue of jurisdiction of a case submitted by a judge or court is decided, in accordance with Section 50, Paragraph five of the Law "On Judicial Power", shall be convened by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who participates in these sittings having voting rights.

 

See the decision adopted at the sitting of chairs of departments here

 

 

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