8 November, 2019
Last month within the framework of the project “The role of judge assistants in effective work organization of the Supreme Court”, Santa Ozola and Madara Senbruna, judge assistants of the Department of Administrative Cases of the Supreme Court, and Elina Purena, judge assistant of the Department of Civil Cases, paid an exchange visit to the Supreme Court of Norway.
During the visit, judge assistants of the Supreme Courts of Latvia and Norway exchanged ideas on how to improve and make the work of judge assistants more efficient. The Supreme Court of Norway employs 23 judge assistants, but the work organization of two supreme courts differs – the assistants are not assigned to judges, but work with the cases allocated to them. Upon receipt of the case before the Supreme Court of Norway, it is handed over to a judge assistant, who checks that all the formal requirements of the cassation complaint have been complied with, and records the details of the case in the court information system. Judge assistants do not perform technical work, such as sending documents, which is carried out by technical secretaries. In contrast to the Supreme Court of Latvia, in Norway judge assistants are rarely involved in drafting court rulings.
Judge assistants are recruited by the Supreme Court of Norway for seven years to ensure that the corps of assistants is made up of young people who are well aware of the latest trends in both law and modern technology. Each new judge assistant is assigned a mentor – one of the experienced assistants or judges. Mentors read all documents prepared by new assistants and review comments on them to ensure the quality of the assistant's work. The participants to the exchange visit acknowledged that it would be useful to introduce such a practice in the Supreme Court of Latvia in order to ensure more effective inclusion of new employees in the work of the court and to promote a better understanding of the specifics of the work of the Supreme Court.
Judge assistants of the Supreme Court of Norway have the opportunity to participate in study visits of approximately two weeks to the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights in order to improve their knowledge of the work organization of these courts.
The visitors met with Cecilie Østensen Berglund, Judge of the Supreme Court of Norway, who pointed out the important role of judge assistants in Norway: judge assistants enable a judge to plan time and work more efficiently, they help to prepare a case for examination, prepare press releases and help judges to get ready for communication with the press, as well as they participate in judges' deliberations because they know the circumstances of the case well.
The participants also visited the Court of Appeal of Borgarting, which is one of the few courts of first and second instance in Norway that employs judge assistants. In contrast to the Supreme Court, judge assistants of the court of second instance also prepare draft rulings and advise parties not represented by a lawyer on general legal issues, such as the statutory requirements for submitting documents to the court.
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 of Latvia 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: email@example.com; telephone +371 67020388