4 April, 2014
Responding to complaint of the association „Latgalu savineiba” on the judge, who left the appellate complaint submitted in Latgalian language without progress, Ivars Bickovics, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, does not see any violations in judge’s actions and rejected initiation of disciplinary proceedings.
The association had asked to subject the judge of the Administrative regional court to disciplinary liability for the fact that the appellate complaint was left without progress and term for elimination of imperfections was determined – to submit the appellate complaint in accordance with requirements of the State Language Law, i.e., in literary Latvian language. It has been indicated in the application of the association that Latgalian written language is also meant to be the state language and the judge should know and use Latgalian language in such amount, which is necessary to perform his or her professional and vocational duties. In opinion of the association, afore mentioned judge does not have a good command of the state language, namely, Latgalian language.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, when responding to the application of the association, drew attention to the fact that Latvian literary language is denotated as the state language in the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia and in the State Language Law. Public institutions, inter alia courts, accept and examine documents received from individuals in the state language only. The law also establishes that in official communication Latvian language shall be used, observing effective standards of literary language. Thus, in field of official communication the legislator wanted to limit variety of linguistic forms, giving advantage to one form – that of the literary language.
The State ensures preservation, protection and development of Latgalian written language as historical variety of Latvian language. However, it does not follow from the State Language Law that it should be used in official communication. Moreover, in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Law, proceedings shall take place in state language, meaning Latvian literary language.
At the same time, the Supreme Court has repeatedly stressed in its rulings that observance of norms of procedural law has not been end in itself and each norm is created to ensure reaching of some expedient goal. In respect of observance of requirements of the state language, the Supreme Court recognized that, observing the fact that communication with public institutions in the state language is one of mandatory preconditions, lack of command of the state language may cause inability to implement one’s human rights. That is why the court in each concrete case should consider the question, if the demand to file documents in the state language would not cause complete inability to implement right to accessibility of the court, which is ensured by the Constitution, and it should be assessed, if the person has opportunities to ensure submission of documents in the state language, for example, if he or she has a good command of Latvian language him or herself. The decision to leave procedural document, which does not comply with requirements of the State Language Law, without progress may be appealed, if the person objectively is unable to execute afore mentioned functions and thus he or she is prohibited implementation of his or her rights. In concrete case, no circumstance was indicated in the application, which would objectively prohibit the association to process procedural documents in Latvian literary language.
In other cases, procedural document in Latgalian language would be allowed insofar as a court could understand the meaning of this document. If the procedural document processed in Latgalian language excessively makes it difficult for comprehension or raises doubts on correct comprehension of its content, it shall be left without progress to process it in Latvian literary language. Moreover, the attention should be pointed at observance of rights of other participants of the case. Even if the court could understand content of the document submitted in Latgalian language, rights of other participants of the case to familiarise with content of documents in Latvian literary language, which are guaranteed by the law, should be observed. Acceptance of documents in Latgalian language may be admissible only if other participants of the proceedings agree to it.
The opinion of the Supreme Court concords to explanation of Latgalian Saeima of the Legal Bureau of the Saeima (Parliament) published this week regarding use of Latgalian language in the Saeima. The lawyers of the Saeima also turn attention to the fact that in accordance with the State Language Law, Latvian language should be used in official communication, observing effective norms of literary language, and the deputy as the official shall use literary form of Latvian language in official communication, inter alia in deputy’s speeches and in official correspondence with individuals and institutions, in the territory of Latvia.
Information prepared by
Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court
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