24 February, 2020
In February, in the framework of the project “The role of judge assistants in effective work organization of the Supreme Court”, Mikelis Zumbergs, judge assistant of the Department of Administrative Cases, Sanita Jefimova and Agnese Adgere, judge assistants of the Department of Criminal Cases, and, Elina Purena, judge assistant of the Department of Civil Cases, visited Sweden for the exchange of experience.
Representatives of the Supreme Court had the opportunity to gain an insight into the Swedish judicial system by visiting the Administrative Court of Appeal in Stockholm, the Supreme Court of Sweden and the Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden.
The work of judge assistants in the Supreme Court of Sweden and in the Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden is divided into two stages: reporting on cases to judges to determine whether there is a legal issue in a case, as well as dealing with cases accepted by the court to be adjudicated on the merits. The assistant shall also participate in the hearing, if any, and shall serve as the registrar of the hearing.
There is no pronounced specialization in the supreme courts of Sweden, namely, both judges and assistants work on all categories of cases. Quarterly reports are presented to a president of a court on cases under examination for the longest periods of time (usually over six months). It should also be noted that the number of judge assistants is twice that of the judges, that is, there are 16 judges and approximately 30 judge assistants in each of the supreme courts, as well as some legal advisers.
The Latvian delegation came to a conclusion that the work of judge assistants in the supreme courts of Sweden and in Latvia is similar to that it is based on an employment contract and that cooperation between judges and assistants is relatively informal and thus flexible. The main difference is that the assistants in Sweden have a greater responsibility, as they do not deal only with the cases of a particular judge under his or her direct supervision and in accordance with the tasks assigned by him or her, but independently review specific cases, presenting a complete draft decisions to the judicial panel. Judge assistants concluded that there are a number of examples to be taken from the experience of the Swedish supreme courts, such as the increase in the number of judge assistants in the Supreme Court so that a single judge can review more cases; a regular reporting to court management on the reasons why the oldest cases have not yet been dealt with could be introduced; judge assistants could be granted more functions and responsibilities as well as the possibility to work remotely, thus increasing work efficiency and saving resources.
The Supreme Court is implementing the project “The role of judge assistants in effective work organization of the Supreme Court” in 2019 and 2020. The project is prepared by the Administration of the Supreme Court and supported by Nordic and Baltic Mobility Programme for Public Administration. The aim of the project is to provide mutual experience exchange between judge assistants from the Supreme Courts of Latvia and Nordic countries.
Information prepared by
Janis Supe, Project Manager of the Supreme Court
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; telephone +371 67020388