18 February, 2020
Management of the Supreme Court at the Plenary Session: (from left) Aigars Strupiss, Chair of the Department of Civil Cases, Peteris Dzalbe, Chair of the Department of Criminal Cases, Ivars Bickovics, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Veronika Krumina, Chair of the Department of Administrative Cases, Marika Senkane, Secretary of the Plenary Session
At the Annual Plenary Session on the report of Supreme Court's performance Peteris Dzalbe, Chair of the Department of Criminal Cases of the Senate, while speaking about the ongoing reforms of the judicial system when "one reform has not yet been completed, another reform has already been announced", criticized the idea of establishing the Economic Court. "It is not clear how it will fit into the judicial system enshrined in the Satversme (constitution), moreover, this court is focused on the past, not the future," emphasized Peteris Dzalbe.
The Chair of the Department of Criminal Cases noted that the transition from crimes committed in physical world to virtual crimes is ongoing, but courts and other judicial authorities are not ready to detect, investigate and prosecute such crimes. Therefore, the forces, energy and finances for the creation of the Economic Court should be directed toward the future rather than the past.
The Chair of the Department of Criminal Cases also noted a number of initiatives of the Department to make the judicial system more efficient, putting particular emphasis on the initiative to invite officials from the State Revenue Service and the Prosecutor General's Office to share views on tax cases with the Supreme Court. As a result, the general meeting of the Department of Criminal Cases of the Senate passed two decisions, namely, "On Interpretation of Legal Provisions for Prevention of Money Laundering" and "On Compensation for Damage Caused to State in Tax Evasion Cases".
The Department of Criminal Cases has also sent proposals to the Ministry of Justice Criminal Procedure Law Improvement Working Group on amendments to the Law, having reviewed the types of cases pending in the Supreme Court. "In our opinion, some of the cases do not correspond to the essence of the cassation instance, for example, cases on the modification or revocation of a coercive measure of a medical nature, cases on the imposition of a sentence to be executed in Latvia on a person convicted abroad, cases reviewed without the verification of proof," indicates Peteris Dzalbe. Several proposals of the Department of Criminal Cases have been incorporated into draft laws and are being considered by the Saeima (parliament).
The Senate also promotes the development of law through the compilation of case law. The Chair of the Department of Criminal Cases informed about the topics updated in 2020. Together with the Division of Case-law and Research of the Supreme Court, studies are planned on employment related offenses, money laundering, tax offenses, the imposition of coercive measures on a legal person, and on liability under the Criminal Law for cybercrime. The Department of Criminal Cases will also summarize findings in tax cases and will examine the conception of pre-arranged groups of individuals, by distributing roles, in theft cases, and will gather findings on annulled and modified decisions of lower courts.
In 2019, the Department of Criminal Cases of the Senate received 764 cases, reviewed 783 cases; the ratio of adjudicated cases is 102%. The number of pending cases at the end of the year was 141, all of which were received in 2019. The average length of proceedings was 87 days.
Information prepared by
Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court
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