Getting acquainted with the study of the Commission for Legal Improvement on performance improvement possibilities of the Council for the Judiciary and after hearing the report presentation, the Council for the Judiciary has approved the need to strengthen the Council's powers, structure and management so that the Council for the Judiciary would have a significant impact on the improvement of the judicial system and it would have a decisive role in the elaboration of judicial policy and strategy.

During the meeting on 13 June of Council for the Judiciary and the State President’s Commission Aivars Endzins, the Chair of the Commission for Legal Environment Improvement, listed a number of options for further actions - amendments to the Law "On Judicial Power" could be monitored by Legal Affairs Commission of the Saeima (Parliament), the Ministry of Justice or the President of the State.

Ivars Bickovics, Chair of the Council for the Judiciary, pointed out that this issue has repeatedly been on the agenda of the Council for the Judiciary, but so far has not gained political support. "It is hoped that such high-level opinions of Commission will be approved and the progress will follow," said the Chair of the Council for the Judiciary.

Commission for Legal Environment Improvementstated that the analysis of the activities of the Council for the Judiciary is focused on three issues – the competence of the Council for the Judiciary, the composition of the Council for the Judiciary, and the management of the Council for the Judiciary.

A. Endzins, Chair of the Commission, pointed out that one of the most important Commission’s proposals is extension of competence of the Council for the Judiciary, giving it the control over all career issues of judges, leaving Saeima the rights (stipulated in the Satversme) to confirm judges in office once – in their early professional career. In opinion of the Commission incorporation of judges' career issues into the competence of the Council for the Judiciary would reduce the executive and legislative power impact on the professional development of judges and the judiciary as a whole.

Another key proposal – capacity building of the Council for the Judiciary, – firstly, by modifying its composition, secondly, by allocating funds.

Commission for Legal Environment Improvementconsidered that the composition of the Council for the Judiciary had to be reviewed. The current pattern where also politicians (the Minister of Justice and Chair of the Legal Affairs Commission of the Saeima) had ex officio member status in the Council for the Judiciary was contrary to the recommendationsof the Consultative Council of European Judges. The Council stressed that councils for the judiciary should not include active politicians, members of the parliament and representatives of the executive power. The Commission considered that in case of extension of the mandate of the Council for the Judiciary in relation to career issues of judges, it should be considered if membership of said officials in the Council is required. There were also discussions on the necessity of inclusion of the Chair of the Constitutional Court in the Council for the Judiciary. At the same time the Commission encouraged to consider the incorporation of public representatives in the Council for the Judiciary as full members who might be selected, for example, of honorary judges or from elected academic personnel, that is, associate professors or professors with doctor's degree. Candidates for public representatives would be nominated by the President of the State.

Regarding the issue of the judicial budget, Commission for Legal Environment Improvement pointed out the need to establish the Council for the Judiciary’s decisive role in shaping the judicial budget, as well as to separate the budget of the Council for the Judiciary. The Commission considered that by the extension of range of functions of the Council for the Judiciary, it was necessary to provide significantly greater involvement of members of the Council for the Judiciary in its work, relieving them from the basic work and providing elected members with compensation. Accordingly, the Council also required targeted action planning and modern and efficient organization of work.

Concluding the meeting of the Council for the Judiciary and the Commission for Legal Environment Improvement, there was unanimous conclusion that the Council for the Judiciary should become independent and collegiate institution representing the judiciary, which would have a real opportunity to improve the functioning of the judicial system. The Council for the Judiciary welcomed the work and proposals of the Commission for Legal Environment Improvement and confirmed its readiness to engage in further discussions and activities on implementation of proposals.

One of the first tasks of the Commission for Legal Environment Improvement was the research and analysis of normative regulations and operation of the Council for the Judiciary. On May 24, the Commission issued a report on the improvement of the performance of the Council for the Judiciary. On June 13, A. Endzins, the Chair of the Commission, and its members, Anita Rodina, Inga Vilka and Valts Kalnins, presented the most important findings to the Council for the Judiciary.

 

Information prepared by

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

E-mail: rasma.zvejniece@at.gov.lv, telephone: +371 67020396, +371 28652211