The Annual Latvian Judicial Conference was held on Friday May 13, 2005 at the auditorium of the cinema “Riga”. The second part – seminars on various topics – took place at the Supreme Court. Judges of the Riga Regional Court refused to participate in this conference. Their announcement was submitted by the Chief Justice of the Riga Regional Court Janis Muiznieks.

The conference was opened by the reading of the greetings from the President of Latvia Vaira Vike-Freiberga. The Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis gave a speech in which he apologized that the judicial power received insufficient support from the government of Latvia. He promised significant improvements in the state budget for 2007.

Reports on the development problems of the judicial system were offered by the Minister of Justice Solvita Aboltina and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Andris Gulans.

Mr. Gulans, in trying to find an answer to the question what was the guiding force for the development of the judicial system in past years, had to conclude that there has not been a guiding force. It explains why many important questions of the judicial system, such as development of procedural legislation, continued education, a professional and well-considered selection of candidates for judges, salaries, technical support and supplies, and organizational matters, have developed slowly and without a definite system or coordination.

“The question about the judicial power as a political problem to government has been addressed only on two occasions - first, as a Reform of the Judicial System when all government entities underwent reorganization in the early 1990s, and second, in relation to Latvia’s joining of the European Union”, was Mr. Gulans’ opinion. At the end of his speech, Mr. Gulans invited everybody to support the idea to form a Council of Judicial Matters in Latvia. A complete text of Mr. Gulans’ speech can be found at the Supreme Court’s website www.at.gov.lv under the section “The Chief Justice “.

The accomplishments of the past year were also analyzed by the leaders of the judicial self-governance institutions – the Judicial Disciplinary Committee and the Qualifications Committee. Two applications to dismiss colleagues from their positions were received in the last year. It was determined at the judicial conference that a special conference will be held in the fall to organize new elections of this self-governance institution.

The Chief Judge of the Riga Center District Court Velga Gailite participated in the debate about inner communications within the judicial system. The Chief Judge of the Administrative District Court of Riga Aldis Lavins elaborated on the question that is important to the Administrative Courts regarding administrative court judges’ representation on the Qualifications and Disciplinary Committee.

The conference passed a resolution to ask the Saeima (Parliament) of Republic of Latvia and the Cabinet of Ministers to allot additional funding in the budget already this year to gradually increase salaries of the court employees, according to the Regulation No. 960, “Regulations on Salaries of Employees of the Prosecutor’s Office and the Courts”.

In the second part of the conference, judges and justices participated in one of the four seminars in accordance with their specialization.

The Justice of the Senate Department of Civil Cases Ilgars Zigfrids Septers lead the discussion for the judiciary involved in civil matters on the application in practice of the “Law on Mandatory Insurance Against Third Party Liability by Owners of Motor Vehicles”. They also listened to the interpretation by the Deputy Director of the International Judical Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Justice Dagnija Palcevska of the Council of European Union Regulation “On Jurisdiction and Recognition and Execution of Judgments in Marriage Cases and Cases of Parents’ Responsibility for Children”. The Associate Professor of the Police Academy Andrejs Judins lead the discussion with the judges and justices involved in criminal law matters on the court practice regarding imposition of penalties for multiple criminal offences and after multiple judgments against the same accused. The Prosecutor of the Department of International Cooperation of the Office of Prosecutor General Maris Strads talked about the European arrest warrant.

The members of the Supreme Court Senate lead the seminar for administrative court judges. They discussed matters of current interest related to the implementation of the principle of impartial investigation, actions against administrative decisions and the application of the law “On Administrative Procedure”.

The Director of the Department of Land Registry Inese Kalnina lead a discussion of the judges of the Department of the Land Registry regarding their status, their place in the court system and their future plans.