On March 12, at its meeting the Judicial Council supported the proposals of the Department of Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court Senate for amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law and called on the Ministry of Justice to forward these proposals to the Saeima (parliament) for approval.

In order to align the cassation procedure in criminal cases with the cassation procedure in civil and administrative cases, the proposal of the Department of Criminal Cases is to supplement Chapter 54 of the Criminal Procedure Law “Examination of a Case According to Cassation Procedures” with the possibility to hear criminal cases in oral proceedings not only in a composition of three judges but in an extended composition, too. As well as to establish the right of senators to express dissenting opinions in cases heard in an extended composition, as it is possible in civil and administrative proceedings.

The extended composition of the court and the dissenting opinions of the senators will promote the development of legal thought and the formation of stable case law, as well as will facilitate the opportunity of the Senate to express a unified majority opinion.

The second proposal of the Department is to amend the procedure specified in the Criminal Procedure Law, according which a decision made at first instance court in the settlement process of a natural person shall be appealed, as well as in the settlement process on the application of coercive measures to a legal person. At present, such decisions of the court of first instance can be appealed in the cassation instance; the proposal of the Department of Criminal Cases is to transfer the responsibility of examination of appeals to the appellate  court.

The Department points out that transferring the responsibility to review a complaint or protest against a decision of a court of first instance to a court of appeal will not restrict the right of a person or prosecutor to appeal a decision of a court of first instance in the settlement process, but will streamline the handling of such cases. It would also streamline the workload of the Department of Criminal Cases of the Senate, which will increase with the introduction of an extended composition and the institute of dissenting opinion of senators.

There is also no reason to fear that the handling of complaints in several regional courts will interfere with the creation of uniform case law. The Supreme Court has already established stable case law and provided interpretation on unclear legal issues when considering complaints and protests in the settlement process. The legislator has also eliminated the shortcomings previously established in case law in accordance with the procedures specified in the Criminal Procedure Law, which apply to this process.

However, if the appellate court faces issues related to the interpretation of legal provisions in the settlement process, it is possible to inform the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who has the right to convene a general meeting of the Department of Criminal Cases of the Senate to discuss topical legal issues and ensure uniform case law.



Information prepared by

Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court

E-mail: rasma.zvejniece@at.gov.lv, telephone: +371 67020396, +371 28652211