At the sitting of the Council for the Judiciary on January 22 and on February 5, having heard the opinions and suggestions for further action in the area of ​​insolvency matters related to litigation and the development of the judicial system as a whole, it was decided – although since 2014 significant changes have been made to legal framework and legal proceedings – to carry out an in-depth study of the decisions adopted by the first instance court in insolvency matters between 2008 and 2014.

The study will be carried out in two directions.

First, the Council for the Judiciary calls on the Supreme Court in cooperation with experts in the field of justice, to collect and analyze cases on insolvency and legal protection, in which protests have been satisfied from 2008 to 2014 and, if necessary, also carry out random investigations into cases in which the protest has not been submitted.

Secondly, the Council for the Judiciary calls on the Ministry of Justice, in cooperation with the Court Administration, to carry out an examination of the specialization of judges and the distribution of cases regarding insolvency matters in first instance courts from 2008 to 2014.

Having heard information and opinions provided by the Department of Civil Cases and the Division of Case-law and Research of the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Justice, the Judicial Qualification Committee, the Judicial Disciplinary Committee and the Judicial Ethics Committee, the Council for the Judiciary recognized that since 2014 there have been significant positive changes to the legal framework and conduct of proceedings in matters of insolvency. For example, the regulatory framework has been changed several times, the Advisory Council in Insolvency Matters has been restored, a new system of selection of judges has been established, a periodic review of the professional activity of all judges has been introduced, and the ongoing judicial territorial reform will ensure that, when determining the specialization of judges, it is possible to fully observe the principle of randomness in distribution of cases. The further improvements and development of the system should be continued; therefore, the Council for the Judiciary has put forward a number of concrete tasks without waiting for the results of the research.

The Council for the Judiciary invites the Judicial Qualification Committee, in cooperation with the Court Administration, to develop and submit the necessary draft amendments to the content and procedure of the evaluation of judges' professional activity, in particular regarding the scope of information to be evaluated. Taking into account the workload of the Judicial Qualification Committee, the Council for the Judiciary invites the Court Administration to strengthen the capacity of the Judicial Qualification Committee by conducting an evaluation of all judges' professional activity in Latvia.

The workload of the Judicial Qualification Committee could increase even more, as the Council for the Judiciary have supported the necessity of amendments to the Judicial Disciplinary Liability Law, providing the Judicial Disciplinary Committee with the right to determine the extraordinary evaluation of the professional activity of a judge in cases when in the course of examination of disciplinary case, doubts arise as to the lack of professionalism of a judge.

The Council for the Judiciary considers that the improvement of the selection system of judges should be further improved and the procedure for the selection of judges focused on inclusion of highly qualified, professional candidates in the judicial system should be developed.

Although, due to the reform of courts, the courts of first instance will have a higher number of judges and to ensure the random distribution of cases will be much easier, the Council for the Judiciary emphasizes this aspect particularly and therefore calls on the chairs of the courts, when determining the specialty of judges, to ensure the adherence to the principle of the random distribution of cases.

The Council for the Judiciary emphasizes the responsibility of each judge in shaping the reputation of the judicial system and public confidence in the judiciary, therefore, several points of the decision are focused directly on this aspect. Judges of the Court of Appeal and the Cassation Court are invited to inform the chair of the court, when reviewing lower court decisions and finding signs of a disciplinary offense, who, in turn, may initiate disciplinary proceedings when assessing these signs. The Judicial Qualification Committee, the Judicial Disciplinary Committee and the Judicial Ethics Committee are called upon to cooperate more actively with the Council for the Judiciary in improving the efficiency of the judicial self-governing bodies and identifying and resolving issues of relevance to the judiciary.

Finally, the Council for the Judiciary calls on every judge to comply with ethical standards, strengthening public confidence in the courts and the rule of law in the country.

Ivars Bickovics, Chair of the Council for the Judiciary, appreciates that first effective steps have been taken to investigate the conduct of insolvency proceedings, and the Council for the Judiciary will return to this issue as the summary of insolvency cases will be created and a review of distribution of cases and specialization of judges will be carried out.

 

Decision of the Council for the Judiciary No 49 “On evaluation of conduct of insolvency proceedings

 

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