Last week within the framework of the project “The role of judge assistants in effective work organization of the Supreme Court”, Sanita Jefimova, assistant to the Chair of the Department of Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court, Madara Senbruna, judge assistant of the Department of Administrative Cases, and Reinis Odins, legal research counsel of the Department of Civil Cases visited Iceland.

The purpose of the visit was to gain experience and exchange ideas on how the work of judge assistants can be improved and made more efficient. The work of judge assistants plays an important role in the administration of justice, as assistants provide essential support to judges in analysing case files and preparing draft rulings.

The Supreme Court of Iceland is much smaller than the Supreme Court of Latvia – it has only six judges and three judge assistants. Unlike in Latvia, in Iceland, judge assistants are not assigned to a single judge, but in the form of projects they are involved in the examination of specific cases and are responsible for analysing a specific case, preparing a draft ruling, as well as for preparing press releases on the ruling.

The procedure for filing a cassation complaint in the Supreme Court of Iceland is different from that in Latvia, namely, in order to file a cassation complaint, a party must first obtain permission from the Supreme Court to file a complaint. This allows for a significant reduction in the number of pending cases, as full cassation complaints are lodged only in legally significant cases. Assistants to judges are responsible for reviewing these permits and preparing draft rulings. In the first nine months of 2019, there were 259 requests filed to the Supreme Court of Iceland to allow appeals against judgments of the appellate court.

During the meeting, Icelandic colleagues spoke about the idea of ​​introducing an institute of a deputy judge to relieve judges of small claims and non-complex cases, as is the case in Canada and Norway. Assistants to judges having appropriate experience who have passed an examination could become deputy judges.

During the meeting, it was concluded that the situation in Latvia and Iceland is similar in the field of communication and public confidence building. In Iceland, only 40% of the population currently trusts the judiciary. The assistants to judges explained this by the judges' refusal to speak to the public and the media. The Latvian delegation told Icelandic colleagues about Latvia's experience in establishing contacts with the public.

The Supreme Court is implementing the project “The role of judge assistants in effective work organization of the Supreme Court” in 2019 and 2020. The project is prepared by the Administration of the Supreme Court of Latvia and supported by Nordic and Baltic Mobility Programme for Public Administration. The aim of the project is to provide mutual experience exchange between judge assistants from the Supreme Courts of Latvia and Nordic countries.  

 

Information prepared by

Janis Supe, Project Manager of the Supreme Court

E-mail: janis.supe@at.gov.lv; telephone +371 67020388