From August 21 to 24, employees of the Supreme Court – Maksims Minejevs, the legal research counsel of the Department of Civil Cases, Liene Āķe and Zane Skrastiņa, judge assistants of the Department of Civil Cases, as well as Līga Dāce and Laura Vigupe, judge assistants of the Department of Administrative Cases – paid a working visit to Helsinki in order to participate in experience exchange meetings in the Supreme Courts of Finland and in courts of other levels.

The representatives of the Supreme Court had the opportunity to learn about the Finnish judicial system, gaining an insight into the work of the Helsinki District Court, the Helsinki Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court of Finland and the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland. The Latvian delegation was introduced to the structure and work organization of each judicial institution, paying special attention to the duties of the court support staff.

In the Supreme Courts of Finland, similar functions to those of judge assistants and legal research counsels are performed by advisers (referendaries). Since referendaries are state officials granted with the guarantees typical of the position of a judge, the responsibility of referendaries in administration of justice is generally greater than in Latvia, and it is considered among the most prestigious legal positions in the country. One of the most valuable benefits for the representatives of the Supreme Court is the gained insight into the practical aspects of the referendary’s work organization, which is characterized by independence, structure and consistency.

In the lower courts of Finland, representatives of the Supreme Court were introduced to the training programs for candidate judges, which are aimed not only at attracting quality personnel to the judicial system, but also serve as a place for the exchange of experience between professionals of the courts and other legal specialists. The Latvian delegation was interested to learn that the Finnish judicial system is generally more flexible than Latvian, for example, judges of the first instance court have the opportunity to temporarily leave their post and work as advisers in the Supreme Courts. Also, the flexibility of the judicial system was clearly visible at the hearing of a first instance court, which took place in a more informal atmosphere than the court hearings in Latvia.

During the visit, it was also established that the Finnish judicial system is currently facing similar challenges to those of the Latvian judicial system, such as work organization in post-pandemic conditions and digitalization of legal proceedings. However, the Latvian court system is currently in a higher digitalization phase than Finland, where, for example, rulings are still only signed by hand.

During the informative meetings, the Latvian delegation also introduced its Finnish colleagues to the work of the Supreme Court of Latvia.

The visit was co-financed by the Office of the Nordic Council of Ministers in Estonia.

The visit is part of the project " Exchange of knowledge, experience and best practices between Latvian and Nordic Supreme Court staff on effective work organisation", based on the agreement concluded between the Supreme Court and the Office of the Nordic Council of Ministers in Estonia on participation in the Nordic-Baltic Mobility Programme "Public administration".

Information prepared by Baiba Kataja, the Press Secretary of the Supreme Court

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