Bickovics: the balance of power and professional independence is not self-interest, but the guarantee of right to a fair trial
8 September, 2018
“Each judge in the courtroom is the face of the judicial system of Latvia for those people who have turned to the court and have come to the court often only once in a lifetime”, Ivars Bickovics, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Chair of the Council for the Judiciary, reminded to all judges at the Latvian Judges’ Conference.
Looking back at the centenary of the judicial system to which this conference is dedicated, Ivars Bickovics emphasized that in 1918 the judicial system of newly established Latvia was set up rapidly and on strong foundation and today's judges can be proud of how decisive their predecessors were, how selflessly lawyers got involved in the establishment of their own country and the establishment of democratic institutions.
On the other hand, in retrospect to the events of the 90s in the judiciary, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court called them "the second birth", in which each choice defined a further development of the judicial system. The adoption of the Law "On Judicial Power", the establishment of a three-tier court system, the creation of administrative courts, the transition to a pure three-instance judicial system, and the completion of the territorial justice reform this year are the most fundamental steps in improving the judicial system.
Ivars Bickovics as the Chair of the Council for the Judiciary addressed the role of this relatively new institution. During the first eight years of its existence, the Council for the Judiciary has developed and improved a dialogue on the role of judges in a democratic country, and has expressed the position of the judiciary on various issues, for example: an analysis of the selection procedure for judicial candidates and the training of new judges; the planned reform for the integration of land registry office judges in district (city) courts; discussion on the implementation of the "advocates' process"; opinion on the transfer of cases to other courts; the issue of remuneration of judges and court employees; assessment of the insolvency proceedings in courts. The transfer of judges' career issues under the Council’s competence was emphasized by the Chief Justice as particularly significant results of the work of the Council.
One of the future challenges, as noted by the Chief Justice, is the work of the judicial self-governing bodies, as the role of these institutions and also their responsibility for the development of the judicial system will only increase. In its part, the Council for the Judiciary will continue its work on substantive topics addressed this year, such as the selection of candidates for the position of a judge, the selection of court chairmen, extraordinary evaluation of judges' professional activities, specialization and distribution of cases in the courts.
The guiding principle of the Council for the Judiciary is guaranteed by Article 92 of the Satversme (Constitution) – everyone may defend their rights and legitimate interests in a fair court. The independence of the judicial system and of each judge is an important guarantee of this right. "Therefore, when we defend balance between the powers and the distribution of competencies, and demand the funds necessary for the optimal functioning of the judicial system, we do not do this in the name of selfish interests, but we think about how we can, in the public interest, carry out what is required of us by law and the Satversme," said Ivars Bickovics concluding his speech.
Information prepared by
Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court
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