Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law: extended court composition and dissenting conclusions of senators of the Senate Department of Criminal Cases
4 November, 2022
On November 3, the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law initiated by the Supreme Court came into force. The amendments provide that henceforth there exists a possibility to examine cases in an extended composition of the Department of Criminal Cases and a senator will be able to add his or her dissenting conclusions to a ruling. At the same time, amendments to the Law relieve the cassation instance from reviewing the appeals of the judgements adopted by a first instance court in the agreement proceedings.
The responsibility of the cassation instance to review the appealed unenforced judgements of the first instance court, which are adopted during the agreement proceedings, is excluded from Section 569, Paragraph two of the Criminal Procedure Law. Henceforth, these judgements can only be appealed before the court of appeal.
Furthermore, judgements in criminal cases, where an agreement has been concluded for the application of coercive measures to legal entities, can be appealed before the court of appeal, and not before the cassation court.
This will reduce the workload of the Senate Department of Criminal Cases and will give an opportunity to fully enforce its right of examining the most complex cases in an extended composition, strengthening the case law on the legal issues addressed. The addition to Section 586 of the Criminal Procedure Law provides the following: if the Court, while examining a case in the composition of three senators, establishes that the case should be examined in an extended composition, it decides on referring the case for examination in the extended composition.
When advancing the proposal for enshrining in the Law the possibility of the extended composition in the cassation instance, the Senate Department of Criminal Cases emphasized that the examination of complex legal issues in the extended composition would significantly contribute to the creation of a uniform and stable case law.
Whereas, the amendments to Section 587 of the Criminal Procedure Law provide that a judge who, when examining the case in the extended composition, has a dissenting opinion on the application of legal norms, within five working days following the delivery of a judgement, has the right to express his/her dissenting conclusions in writing, which can be then attached to the case and are publicly available. The dissenting conclusions shall stimulate legal discussion and ensure the development of legal thought.
The opportunity to examine the case in the expanded composition, as well as for the senator to write dissenting conclusions has already existed until now in civil proceedings and administrative proceedings. Henceforth, this will also be possible for criminal proceedings.
This is only a part of the extensive amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law, which was adopted by the Saeima (parliament) on October 6 and entered into force on November 3. The amendments also envisage the improvement of the criminal procedure regulation for the imposition of coercive measures on the legal entity. As well as the provisions of the law are amended in order to improve the efficiency of the criminal proceedings.
Information prepared by
Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court
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