25 September, 2008
Judges in Latvia more and more frequently face the issues of the application and interpretation of the European Union law. This was the theme of the international seminar on the application of the European Union law in the national courts which was held in Santander, Spain. The Senator Jautrite Briede of the Department of Administrative Cases of the Senate participated in this seminar.
In the seminar, judges discussed the application of the law standards and directives of the European Union, taking into account that the methods of interpretation of the law standards in the member states may differ. The Senator Briede notes that it was stressed that although the national law is the starting point for all the interpretations, the Community law always has to be taken into account, and a judge has to verify the compliance of a national standard with the European Union law.
The issue of different approaches to legal matters by a professor of a university and a judge was also discussed at the seminar although several participants of the seminar who hold both the position of a judge and a lecturer at the university pointed out that this difference is not so significant.
Besides, the seminar offered analysis of the problems of an individual when protecting his/her rights related to the Community law in the court of another member state as the individual does not have enough knowledge of the law standards of such country. A judge should provide assistance to an individual of another member state especially regarding the matters related to the observance of the terms.
The discussion was also held regarding the mutual relations of the Convention of the European Community Law and the European Convention of Human Rights. The conflicts between the necessity to obtain and store personal data with the goal to ensure public security and the protection of private life are especially topical.
During the debates regarding the prejudicial questions it was indicated that a question should be asked as abstract as possible so that when interpreting the respective Community law standard, the response of the Community Court could be used also by the courts of other countries. The seminar provided also other useful directions and suggestions to make these questions more efficient.
Special attention was paid to the law having both administrative and commercial nature, namely, competition law, and the law related to regulation of electricity, gas, mail and telecommunications. In some countries these are regulated by the administrative court, in others – the court of general jurisdiction, there are also other differences. The judges have acknowledged that they do not like such cases as they are publicly sensitive, besides, in such cases not only legal matters, but also economic and even technical matters have to be evaluated. The Senator Jautrite Briede mentions the practice of the Lithuanian Supreme Court, namely, it has declared that the court cannot control the economic assessment, but can just evaluate the fact whether the procedure and the freedom to act has been violated. It is possible to re-evaluate the economic assessment of an establishment only due to an obvious mistake. The Lithuanian Court has defined that an obvious mistake is a mistake if it is seen not just by the specialists but also by a person having no special knowledge in economy, for example, a judge.
A representative of the Court of the European Community analyzed the court practice regarding the limits of the court evaluation, and indicated to several judgments of this court in which the court has limited its scope of evaluation, and has evaluated only the process of clarification of facts and the validity of the decision. In several cases, however, the Court of the European Community has evaluated economic matters and has interfered the economic field, for example, the judgment of January 31, 2008, in the case of Centro Europa 7.
The Senator Jautrite Briede finds the seminar in Santander as useful because it was a chance to extend knowledge, as well as to find the judgments of the Court of the European Community relating to the respective issues.
The seminar was organized by the Highest Administrative Court of Spain and the International University “UIMP” in cooperation with the Association of the Highest State and Administrative Courts of the European Union.
Information prepared by
Head of the Division of Communications of the Supreme Court Rasma Zvejniece
E-mail: email@example.com, telephone: 7020396, 28652211