Within the program of the European judicial exchange program the judges and prosecutors from Spain, Austria, Italy, Poland and Romania visited the Supreme Court on May 29. They met with the Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Court Gunars Aigars and learned about the Latvian court system and the role of the Supreme Court in it, as well as visited the museum of the Supreme Court and the premises of the Court Palace.

G. Aigars told about the Latvian three-tier court system in which the Supreme Court has two functions: appellate in the court chambers and cassation in the Senate. In many countries the Supreme Court functions only as the cassation instance.

As there were judges from various court levels in the group, they were especially interested in the subordination of the courts of lower levels, their relationship with the executive power and the Supreme Court. They were informed about the coming change of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and G. Aigars told that along with this event the issue of the role of the Supreme Court in the Latvian court system and the role of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in it has also been highlighted – whether he is just the head of the Supreme Court or the highest person and the symbol of the Latvian court system in whole.

The colleagues from the European countries were interested also in the career possibilities of the Latvian judges and the role of the judicial self-management bodies – the Judicial Qualification Panel, the Judicial Disciplinary Panel and the Ethical Commission.

Questions were raised also regarding the specialized courts – commercial courts, military courts, etc. Unlike some European countries, Latvia does not have such courts. The cases under the competence of such courts are heard in the court sessions of administrative cases or civil cases.

The issue of adoption of a decision by the court was also discussed: in what cases – by a majority of votes, in what cases – by consent. G. Aigars explained about the confidentiality of the deliberation room, namely - that the matters discussed there may not be disclosed, and that in Latvia the judges cannot afterwards write their own separate opinion.

The group of judges and prosecutors of the EU countries arrived in Latvia for a training visit within the framework of the project of further training of judges funded by the European Commission. During this visit, the Latvian Judicial Training Center has arranged meetings with representatives of various law institutions. This is already the third group of judges and prosecutors visiting the Supreme Court within the training project.


Information prepared by

Head of the Division of Communications of the Supreme Court Rasma Zvejniece

E-mail: rasma.zvejniece@at.gov.lv, telephone: 7020396, 28652211