21 December, the Constitutional Court instituted proceedings in case of “Compliance of Article 4, section 9 and Article 61, section 1 of Law on Remuneration of Officials and Employees of State and Local Government Authorities with Articles 83 and 107 of the Satversme (Constitution of the Republic of Latvia”. 21. The proceedings were initiated based on application by the Council for the Judiciary.
The contested provisions
Article 4, section 9 of the Law on Remuneration of Officials and Employees of State and Local Government Authorities (hereinafter – Law on Remuneration) states: "Judge’s monthly salary is determined by linking it to salary of highly qualified lawyer of direct public administration institution with an appropriate wage rate. Public prosecutor’s monthly salary is determined by linking it to the district (city) court judge’s monthly salary with an appropriate rate. "
Article 61, section 1 of the Law on Remuneration states: "The district (city) court judge monthly salary is determined by aligning it to maximum amount of monthly salary (12th monthly salary group) of the head of department of direct public administration institution under Annex 3 of the mentioned Law."
Provisions of higher legal force
Article 83 of the Satversme: “Judges are independent and subject only to the law.”
Article 107 of the Satversme: “Every employed person has the right to receive, for work done, commensurate remuneration which shall not be less than the minimum wage established by the State, and has the right to weekly holidays and a paid annual vacation.”
Facts of the case
According to Article 891 of the Law "On Judicial Power", the Council for the Judiciary is a collegial body that participates in the development of policy and strategy of judicial system, as well as in improvement of work organization of the judicial system. It is pointed out in the application that the issues related to remuneration system of judges are contained in policy of the judiciary, thus the Council for the Judiciary has the right to submit an application to the Constitutional Court.
Law on Remuneration was adopted in 2009 and its aim was to achieve equal approach in determining the remuneration for officials and employees of the state and local government authorities. Among other things, the remuneration of judges was equated with maximum amount of monthly salary of the head of department of direct public administration institution.
Article 107 of the Satversme ensures rights of judges to receive commensurate remuneration for work done. At the same time decent remuneration of judges is also contained in the Article 83 of the Satversme in the information on the independence of judges.
The Council for the Judiciary considers that judge shall receive remuneration that is commensurate with its status, functions and responsibilities. When balancing the remuneration of judge with remuneration of the head of department of direct public administration institution, the differences in status, functions and responsibility of judges and employees of direct administration institution were not taken into account. The Council for the Judiciary considers that a number of amendments to the Law on Remuneration resulted in increase of the actual remuneration of employees of public administration, but the actual amount of remuneration of judges during their term of office – is reduced. Thus, there is imbalance in common approach stated in Law on Remuneration in determination of salary and contested provisions no longer comply with Sections 83 and 107 of the Satversme.
The Constitutional Court has invited the institution, which has passed the contested act - the Saeima (Parliament) - to submit a statement of reply to the Constitutional Court including facts and legal basis of the case until February 21.
Deadline for filing a case is 21 May 2017. Te court decides on the type and date of proceedings following the preparation of case files.