When implementing reform of court system and continuing transfer to so called system of “clear court instances”, gradual elimination of the Supreme Court Chambers has been performed. At the end of last year amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law and to the Civil Procedure Law were adopted, which envisage to reduce flow of cases in chambers and to give cases to regional courts gradually. Amendments became effective as from January 1, 2014.

Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law

Already since July 1, 2012, new cases have not been given to regional court as to the first instance court, thus all cases have been initially reviewed by district (city) court and regional court has been the appellate court in all cases. The Chamber of Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court continues to review cases appealed under procedure of appeal, which were received in regional courts as the first instance courts until July 1, 2012. 

To ensure that the Supreme Court shall not review criminal cases under appellate procedure anymore and shall function as cassation instance only, the Saeima (the Parliament) on December, 19, in final reading adopted as immediate amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law, stating that:   

  • In cases heard in a regional court as in the first instance court, ruling appealed under appellate procedure after January 1, 2014, shall be reviewed by the same regional court as the appellate instance court;
  • Cases, which had been transferred for review in the Chamber of Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court before December 31, 2013, but in which court investigation is not commenced before June 30, 2014, shall be transferred for review to a regional court as the appellate instance court;  
  • Cases, in which court investigation is commenced in the Chamber of Criminal Cases, but which are not reviewed before December 31, 2014, shall be transferred for review anew to a regional court as the appellate instance court;
  • Cases, which had been transferred for review in the Chamber of Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court and in which decision on reprieve of criminal proceedings was adopted, after January 1, 2015, shall be transferred to a regional court as to the appellate instance court;
  • Cases reviewed in the Chamber of Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court, in which rulings are reversed in cassation instance after January 1, 2014, shall be transferred to a regional court as to the appellate instance court.

Pursuant to amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law of December 19, complaints against admissibility of extradition of an individual to foreign state and complaints against decisions of the Prosecutor’s General Office on extradition of an individual to the member state of the European Union, which had been previously heard by the Chamber of Criminal Cases, would further be reviewed by the Supreme Court, and in new wording of the law that should be understood as the Department of Criminal Cases.

Amendments to the Civil Procedure Law

On December 19, the Saeima in final reading also adopted amendments to the Civil Procedure Law, which resume transition to system of “clear court instances” in civil procedure.

Continuing advancement to gradual elimination of activity of the Chamber of Civil Cases of the Supreme Court, amendments to the law establish that as from 2014, district (city) courts will also review civil cases arising from liability law, if sum of the claim exceeds EUR 201 000 (LVL 150 000).

Previously, such cases were subjected to regional courts as the first instance courts, and the Chamber of Civil Cases of the Supreme Court reviewed those as the appellate instance court.  As from 2014, regional courts will not receive new cases as the first instance courts anymore, but will only continue to review cases commenced.  

 

Transition to so called system of “clear court instances”, ensuring that district (city) court shall hear all cases as the first instance court, regional court shall review cases under appellate procedure, and the Supreme Court – under cassation procedure. Previous procedure stated that a regional court reviews cases of particular categories as the first instance court, correspondent chamber of the Supreme Court – as the appellate instance court and the Senate of the Supreme Court – as cassation instance court. During transition to new system, it has been envisaged to reject from court chambers in the Supreme Court fully. The law states that the Chamber of Criminal Cases shall remain in the Supreme Court until December 31, 2014, and the Chamber of Civil Cases – until December 31, 2016.

 

Information prepared by

Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court

E-mail: rasma.zvejniece@at.gov.lv, telephone: 67020396, 28652211