23 February, 2007
The report Plenary Session of the Supreme Court evaluated the work of the previous year as rather voluminous, sufficiently qualitative and significant for the judiciary. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Andris Gulans at the closure of the Plenary Session expressed gratitude to the whole staff of the court, especially noting the huge work load of the Chamber of Civil Cases, creativity and the high level of quality requirements of the Department of Administrative Cases, contribution of the Division of Case-law in creation of uniform court practice, as well as the determined work of the Administration regarding improvement of working conditions and efficiency of work of the Supreme Court.
The work of the previous year in the Departments of the Senate was analyzed by their chairmen – the Chairman of the Department of Civil Cases of the Senate Martins Dudelis, the Chairman of the Department of Criminal Cases of the Senate Pavels Gruzins and the Chairman of the Department of Administrative Cases Valerijans Jonikans, the work accomplished by the Chambers was evaluated by the Chairman of the Chamber of Civil Cases Gunars Aigars and the Chairman of the Chamber of Criminal Cases Ivars Bickovics. Survey on the work of the Division of Case-law was presented by the Head of the Division Zigrida Mita. The Head of the Administration of the Supreme Court Anita Kehre spoke about the work of the Administration.
The main problem in the Supreme Court stressed by the Chairmen of the Departments and the Chamber of Civil Cases is the disastrous increase of number of cases received by the Supreme Court. During six years the number of cases heard by the Supreme Court has increased by 85%, but even more – the number of pending cases. That, as the heads of the structural units of the Supreme Court noted, may be explained, firstly, by the overload of judges of the Supreme Court. The staff of assistants to the judges has been expanded, however, the number of judges is not completed even to the extent allowed by the funding allocated by the state because it is impossible due to the lack of premises. Secondly, the cases under review become more complicated, bulkier, they require specific knowledge, complicated expertise which have not been performed in the first and second instance courts. Thirdly, the standards of procedural law the fulfillment of which require a lot of time from judges. Fourthly, the level of work of lower instance courts which is not always professional, and devaluation of the appellate procedure. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court admitted that such increase of the work load threatens normal functioning of the Supreme Court.
“However, the goal of the Supreme Court is not and may not be only the increase of number of the reviewed cases. Our work, to the same extent, is also the development of a uniform court practice, academic, scientific work. Overload of the Supreme Court is not the issue of the court itself, it is the issue regarding goals which the state wishes to achieve in the court policy. Therefore it is also the issue of the Ministry of Justice and the state legislation”, said the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He considers that it is necessary to convene a separate Plenary Session of the Supreme Court which would work out proposals for the prospective “Law on Judiciary”, he also called the senators and judges to submit actively and prove suggestions for the necessary amendments to the Civil Procedure Law and the Criminal Procedure Law what could make the work of the Supreme Court more efficient.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court asked the judges to think about the quality of their work also in everyday work, thus thinking about the prestige of the Supreme Court, as well, which is evaluated during the court hearings and by the prepared rulings, the quality of adjudications, and the fulfillment by the Supreme Court of one of its functions – the development of a uniform court practice.
The report Plenary Session of the Supreme Court was also attended by the Prosecutor General Janis Maizitis and the Minister of Justice Gaidis Berzins. The Minister of Justice expressed hope regarding the settlement of the matter of the premises of the Supreme Court when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs moves to other premises. He asked the Supreme Court to show initiative regarding amendments to the legislation to relieve its work and so that its judges could use their experience not only in reviewing cases, but also in academic work. At the end of the Plenary Session Andris Gulans reminded that in the summer of 2008 his term in the office of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court expires, and announced that after the end of the term he will not apply for the position of the chief of the court. In accordance with the law, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is confirmed in the position for the term of seven years by the Saeima (Parliament) upon a proposal of the Plenary Session of the Supreme Court. Gulans held this position for two terms already. He urged the judges to start thinking already now who would be advanced to the position of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Information prepared by Division of Communications of the Supreme Court
Author: Rasma Zvejniece, Head of the Division of Communications of the Supreme Court
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