The Supreme Court: amendments to the laws, which were not discussed, doesn’t accomplish a purpose and causes problems in application
22 February, 2013
Practice to develop significant amendments to laws with no sufficient discussions, not listening to courts and not taking opinion of those into consideration, which is adopted by executive power and legislative power, is unacceptable, - both judges of the Supreme Court and the Prosecutor General pointed out at the Plenary Session of the Supreme Court.
“Important proposals of amendments to laws, which were not discussed, however, are submitted for third reading. So it was in relation to the Administrative Procedure Law and so we see the same now in relation to those submitted to the law “On Judicial Power”,” Veronika Krumina, the Chair of the Department of Administrative Cases of the Senate indicated. The senator stresses that such amendments, which were not discussed, very often do not become part of legal system, those are not coordinated, and finally those do not achieve a desired aim, but cause unnecessary stress, misunderstanding and problems in application.
V.Krumina has called for very cautious attitude towards proposals of hasty and inconsiderate adoption of decisions related to reduction of number of court instances in administrative proceedings. Results of voluminous study ordered by the State Chancery are not known yet; however, this study will, inter alia, also review the issue about opportunities of reduction of number of court instances and its possible consequences. The senator admitted that even now one must be professional to understand, which proceedings would be appropriate for each administrative case. Taking into consideration Latvian legal situation and distrust of society to public management and judiciary, reduction of number of court instances would mean reduction of control over rule of law, the Chair of the Department of Administrative Cases has indicated.
Aldis Lavins, the senator of the Department of Civil Cases of the Senate, who is representative of the Department of Civil Cases of the Senate in working team dealing with amendments to Civil Procedure Law, also pointed out insufficiency of communication of the legislative and executive power with the Supreme Court in course of legislation procedure. The senator stressed that, firstly, working in team should be constructive rather than broad place for discussions on different topics. Judges can’t afford to spend several hours in discussions that will bring no effect, as their work load is too big.
Gunars Aigars, the Chair of the Chamber of Civil Cases, who is also a member of working team dealing with amendments to Civil Procedure Law, also pointed out that it was not clear, what is procedural status of this team in legislation procedure – does it search for problems or guide proceedings, or polish the draft law, and what is role of judges in this procedure.
Secondly, as the senator A.Lavins indicated, official opinion of the Supreme Court should be asked for in issues related to amendments influencing work of the Senate or court chambers of the Supreme Court directly, and it should be taken into account. When performing exchange of opinions in teams, opinion of one senator as of representative of the Supreme Court is left in minority and it hasn’t been reflected in amendments to the law.
The senator mentioned amendments to the Civil Procedure Law, which were not proclaimed by the President of the State, being given for second review to the Saeima. However, those provide that only Jelgava city court is authorised to review cases on invalidation of decisions of meetings of members of capital companies and that the Senate, not the regional court, will be an instance to file an appeal against rulings of this court. By these amendments to the law, the same as by previous ones, which stated review of small claims in two instances only, an appellate instance has been relieved, but work load of the Department of Civil Cases of the Senate will increase. Prior to adoption of amendments, it should be necessary to assess, if the goal to accelerate adjudication of cases will be achieved in this way, and opinion of the Supreme Court had to be listened to. “Opinion of employees of ministries prevails in team. If opinion of meeting of senators was listened to, arguments and, possibly, results would differ”, A.Lavins indicates.
Zigmants Gencs, the Chair of the Department of Civil Cases of the Senate, in his report indicated that review of cases, passing over the appellate instance, is doubtful solution. It is turned as if to achieve result of proceedings faster and relief of courts of the appellate instance, but actually it occurred on account of the court of cassation instance, increasing number of cases received. Cases have been received in cassation instance, in which imperfections and defects could be avoided in the court of the appellate instance and to put a full stop to proceedings. The cassation instance can not do so, as, when establishing significant violations, the verdict must be quashed and the case must be given to new review. Thus, benefit gained from such new procedure is doubtful. The Senate should decide only on important and principle issues to develop uniform case-law, the Chair of the Department of Civil Cases believes.
Eriks Kalnmeiers, the Prosecutor General, also pointed out the fact that amendments to laws, which were not discussed and assessed sufficiently, previously, cause problems, mentioning amendments to the law “On Judicial Power” about replacement of system of qualification classes of judges with extras as an example, as those amendments do not work still. The Prosecutor General was also concerned about problems that will arouse due to application of voluminous amendments to Criminal Law, which will change punishment policy, as from the 1st of April, when those will become effective. Nobody thought about timely unified training of prosecutors, advocates, judges and creation of unified understanding about application of legal standards – the Prosecutor General has indicated.
Ivars Bickovics, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, when resuming opinions expressed, concluded that legislation procedure, as it has been developed at present, purports not only about lack of communication between executive power and judiciary, but also on purposeful action of executive power in carrying out its goals, not taking account of opinion of judiciary. The Chief Justice mentioned amendments to the law “On Judicial Power”, in which proposals on functions, responsibilities and term of office of chairs of courts appeared in the 3rd reading in the Saeima suddenly, not listening to the opinion of the Board of Justice.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court confirmed readiness of both the Supreme Court and of the Board of Justice to participate in legislative procedure actively within authority of those, and called judges of the Supreme Court not to be passive observers and faultfinders, but to define and to promote their proposals.
Having listened to reproaches and proposals in promotion of legislative procedures, which were heard at the Plenary Session of the Supreme Court, Janis Bordans, the Minister of Justice, admitted that at present, the executive power and the judiciary have lived as if in single closed rooms, failing to leave those rooms to come together and to search for constructive solutions of problems related to court work.
Pavels Gruzins, the Head of the Division of Case-law and the Honoured Judge of the Supreme Court, proposed that individual institutional post, similar to post of the Parliament Secretary existing in ministries, should be created in the Supreme Court for cooperation with committees of the Saeima. Taking into account great load of judges of the Supreme Court, when reviewing cases, this “Parliamentary Secretary” might work either in the Division of Case-law or in direct subordination of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
On the 22nd of February, the Plenary Session or the general meeting of judges of the Supreme Court took place, in which analysis of work of the Supreme Court performed last year was performed and prospects of further operation were indicated.
You may read more about the Plenary Session of the Supreme Court here:
Information prepared by
Rasma Zvejniece, the head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court
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