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14 April, 2008

The Judicial Disciplinary Panel applies punishment not in every case

The Judicial Qualification Panel has managed to dispel the view that it is a punitive institution the only goal of which is to punish – it was stressed in the report of the Chairman of the Disciplinary Panel Andris Gulans at the conference on April 11. Out of seventeen disciplinary cases brought in 2007, in eight cases the Panel applied punishment – reprimand, in four cases – a warning. For the first time in one of the cases an unusual measure of punishment was imposed – decrease of the amount of salary for 20% for a period of one year. However, three disciplinary cases were just heard at the meeting, and in one event the disciplinary case was terminated.
14 April, 2008

Judicial Qualification Panel conferred 80 qualification grades

In the period from March 2007 till April 2008, 13 meetings of the Judicial Qualification Panel were convened in which 208 cases were reviewed. It was reported by the Chairman of the Judicial Qualification Panel Gunars Aigars at the judicial conference on April 11. For conferring a qualification grade, 80 judges were certified – for 25 more than in the previous report period. Ten judges – one from the Supreme Court and nine – from the regional courts – received the highest – the 1st qualification grade. The 2nd qualification grade was conferred to 37 judges – one from the Supreme Court, nineteen from the regional courts and seventeen from the district (town) courts, the 3rd grade was conferred to 14 judges – two judges from the regional courts and twelve – from the district (town) courts, 4 judges from the district (town) courts were conferred the 4th qualification grade, and 12 judges – the 5th qualification grade. In one case it was declined to confer a qualification grade.
11 April, 2008

The Judicial Ethical Commission established by the judges of Latvia during the annual conference

At the conference on April 11 the judges of Latvia established a new judicial self-management body – the Judicial Ethical Commission and elected ten members of the Ethical Commission.
11 April, 2008

Judicial Commission accepts the draft decision of the Saeima on advancement of Lavins to the Supreme Court

On April 10, the Chairman of the Administrative Regional Court Aldis Lavins was supported by the Judicial Commission of the Saeima (Parliament) regarding his confirmation in the position of a judge of the Supreme Court. The Judicial Commission will prepare a draft decision to be accepted by the Saeima. Aldis Lavins was born in 1973, in 1996 he graduated from the Latvian Academy of Police with the diploma of a lawyer, afterwards he received his master’s degree in law. He worked in the Economic Police, in the Department of Civil Law of the Latvian Academy of Police and the Legal Department of the State Treasury. In 1999, the Saeima appointed Aldis Lavins in the position of a judge of the Riga City Zemgales district court, in 2002 he was confirmed in the position of a judge without the limitation of the term of office. In 2003, A. Lavins was confirmed in the position of a judge of the Panel of Civil Cases of the Riga Regional Court. In 2004, administrative courts were established in Latvia, and the Saeima confirmed Aldis Lavins in the position of a judge of the Administrative Regional Court starting from February 1, but on March 31 A. Lavins was appointed in the position of the Chairman of the Administrative Regional Court.
9 April, 2008

Parliamentarians convinced on lack of premises in the Supreme Court

The visiting meeting of the sub-commission of the Judicial Commission of the Saeima (Parliament) was held on April 8 in the Supreme Court. The Head of the Judicial Commission Vineta Muizniece, the Head of the sub-commission Solvita Aboltina, other members of the commission and the Minister of Justice Gaidis Berzins examined the critical situation regarding the premises in the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Andris Gulans and the Head of the Administration Anita Kehre highlighted the problem. At the end of 2007, there were 1604 pending cases what is the biggest ever remainder of cases in the history of the Supreme Court. To speed up reviewing of the cases, it is necessary to increase the number of judges of the Supreme Court. However, new judges cannot be invited as the court lacks premises. The number of the Supreme Court judges determined by the Saeima is 53, but in 2008 there are only 47. It is not a problem of the Supreme Court only as when the state does not ensure proper conditions for reviewing cases in the Supreme Court in due terms, the trials are postponed to more and more longer period, and people find grounds to file complaints with the European Court of Human Rights. Thus, the state may have to pay more assets in compensations when such cases are lost.
9 April, 2008

At the conference the judges of Latvia will form the Commission of Judicial Ethics

On Friday, April 11, the judges of Latvia will gather for the annual conference in the Riga House of Congresses the central issue of which will be approval of the regulations of the Commission of Judicial Ethics and election of the commission. The amendments to the law “On Judicial Power” adopted in the Saeima (Parliament) on April 3, 2008, stipulate the Commission of Judicial Ethics which is collegiate body of judicial self-management the main goal of which is to provide conclusions on the interpretation and violations of ethical standards, as well as to clarify and highlight the standards of judicial ethics. The Commission of Judicial Ethics will consist of 10 members who will be elected by the judicial conference by secret ballot. A judge, Honourary Judge or a person who has been released from the position of a judge due to reaching the maximum age limit for the position of a judge, may be elected a member of the Commission of Judicial Ethics. A nominee to the position of a member of the Commission of Judicial Ethics has to have impeccable reputation and understanding of the role of ethics in the work of a judge, and the issues of judicial ethics.
7 April, 2008

The Constitutional Court confirms the doubts of the Senate: the prohibition to decrease the amount of tax penalty only once in three years or in a year does not comply with the Constitution

On April 3, the Constitutional Court passed the decision in the case No.2007-23-01 “On compliance of the words “not more frequently than once in three years” of the first part of Article 331 of the law “On taxes and duties” (in the wording of the law of April 13, 2000) with Article 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia”. In accordance with the disputed regulation - the words “not more frequently than once in three years of the first part of Article 331 of the law “On taxes and duties” (in the wording of the law of April 13, 2000)” – in cases when a tax payer has appealed a decision of the State Revenue Service on violation of the tax laws, the penalty may be decreased but not more than in the amount of 70 per cent and not more frequently than once in three years. The disputed regulation in 2004 was replaced by a new one which stated that the penalty may be decreased not more often that once a year.
4 April, 2008

The law states the competence of the general meeting of judges of the court chamber and the department of the Senate

A new institution – the general meeting of judges of the court chamber of the Supreme Court and the department of the Senate is defined in the law “On Judicial Power”. On April 3, the Saeima (Parliament) supplemented the law with the additional Article 491 “General meeting of judges of the Court chamber and the department of the Senate” stating that it is a collegiate institution which is convened by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to settle current law issues. He presides at the general meeting of the Court chamber and the department of the senate, as well.
4 April, 2008

In future the Plenary Session shall not decide on the appointment of Supreme Court judges in structural units

The amendments to the law “On Judicial Power” adopted on April 3 state the procedure under which the judges and senators in the Supreme Court are appointed in specific court chambers or the departments of the Senate. If the Saeima (Parliament) has confirmed a new judge of the Supreme Court, then the structural unit in which the judge will hold his/her position will be determined by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by his/her order.
4 April, 2008

Commission of Judicial Ethics stipulated by the law

On Thursday, the Saeima (Parliament) approved in the final reading the amendments to the law “On Judicial Power” which stipulate introduction of a new article in the law regarding the Commission of Judicial Ethics. The amendments were passed by 54 parliamentarians voting for, six – against, and 12 parliamentarians abstained. Next week, on April 11, at the Latvian Judicial Conference it is expected to elect the Commission of Judicial Ethics, as well as to approve the regulations of the commission. The amendments to the law state that the Commission of Judicial Ethics is a collegiate judicial self-management institution the principal goal of which is to provide conclusions on the interpretation and violations of ethical standards, as well as to clarify and highlight the judicial ethical standards.