18 February, 2020
In 2019, the Supreme Court showed positive developments regarding all key indicators, namely, the number of cases received decreased by 5%, the number of cases examined increased by 5%, and the backlog of cases decreased by 9%. Maintaining such dynamics and reducing the time needed for examination of cases should also be a priority for 2020 as stated by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Ivars Bickovics on 17 February at the Plenary Session on annual report of Court’s performance.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court noted that the workload of senators is also decreasing; if a few years ago it was more than 100 cases per year, last year one senator on average handled 81 cases in the Department of Civil Cases, 86 cases in the Department of Administrative Cases and 98 cases in the Department of Criminal Cases. The chairs of the Senate’s departments indicated that the optimal workload for a judge in cassation instance would be no more than 75 cases a year.
The chairs of Senate’s departments drew the attention of the Plenary Session to the poor quality of performance of the lower courts; the percentage of judgments annulled due to procedural shortcomings, especially due to poor quality of verification of proof, is rather high. The reason for this could be the workload of judges or insufficient qualification. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court invited the senators to participate in the professional development of lower court judges by giving lectures at the Latvian Judicial Training Centre and organizing seminars in the Supreme Court or visiting regional courts. As well as he encouraged to use the opportunity provided by the Law On Judicial Power and the Judicial Disciplinary Law to refer a judge to an extraordinary assessment of professional performance.
Having summarized the problems mentioned in the reports of the chairs of departments, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court also pointed out other possibilities for reducing the workload of departments. For example, by reducing resource use in departments when handling complaints unrelated to judicial proceedings, relieving the Supreme Court of a function uncharacteristic of the cassation instance, namely, the function of accepting special operations, and providing the Supreme Court employees with remuneration appropriate to cassation court.
The Chief Justice welcomed the Supreme Court's communication with the public in terms of the provision of information on cases examined at the Senate and events that have already become a tradition such as Days of First-year Students and Media Day, and last year's novelty – participation in the Conversation Festival “Lampa” and Business Survey. "Such activities positively contribute not only to the Supreme Court but to the judiciary as a whole," the Chief Justice emphasized.
Information prepared by
Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court
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