31 July, 2020
On 30 July, in order to prepare a report to the Judicial Council on the possibilities of speeding up court proceedings, a discussion on time limits for hearing administrative cases took place in the Supreme Court. The issues of improving the quality of procedural documents, educating the participants in the proceedings, improving the management of court proceedings and increasing the capacity of the court were discussed.
The administrative procedure begins in an institution. Consequently, to a large extent, its quality depends primarily on an efficient and high-quality administrative procedure in the institution. In order to improve the administrative procedure in the institution, as well as to promote effective representation of institutions in legal proceedings, the participants of the discussion agreed to call on the Latvian School of Public Administration to expand the curriculum on quality administrative procedure in the institution, including training on quality representation in court. In particular, the skills of officials in preparing a high-quality administrative act need to be strengthened.
The issue of inadequate quality of opinions of medical experts has been raised by the working group. In cases involving medical issues, expert opinions are relatively often not properly substantiated and do not give an idea of how an expert has come to a particular conclusion. Consequently, the administrative court is not able to exercise adequate control over the lawfulness of an administrative act issued by an institution. There is a need for a wider discussion of judges and experts on the justification of opinions, as well as the involvement of the Ministry of Health in providing appropriate training for experts.
Improving the skills of judges throughout a judge's career is a central element in streamlining court proceedings. The Latvian Judicial Training Centre should include practical training regarding procedure management in the curriculum, and such training should be provided throughout the professional career.
Dialogue, discussions, training and the sharing of experience and good practice among courts are also important in improving the skills of judges. The participants of the discussion agreed on the need for further discussion among administrative judges on improving the quality of court decisions, including the development of more concise descriptive parts of decisions, wider use of videoconferencing and application of other technological solutions in court proceedings.
It was also acknowledged that there was a need for a broader discussion on the exemption of judges from the examination of formal criteria for the admissibility of applications and complaints (whether a state fee, security deposit is paid or power of attorney, etc. has been submitted).
In order to reduce short-term stockpiling of cases, it is important to create a flexible system so that human resources can be temporarily involved or redeployed if necessary. The possibility of involving highly qualified support staff in the courts needs to be expanded.
Representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Council of Sworn Advocates, judges, senators and a representative of the office of the representative of Latvia in international human rights institutions participated in the discussion in the Supreme Court. The discussion was organized by a working group set up at the Supreme Court at the request of the Judicial Council to assess the factors influencing the length of proceedings, including discussions and hearing opinions of experts.
Information prepared by
Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone: +371 67020396, +371 28652211