21 October, 2008
The increasing workload of the courts is a problem not only in Latvia, but in the entire European Union. To decrease the workload of the courts various possible ways of out of court dispute processing are promoted in the member states of the European Union. It was also the theme for discussions of the Conference of the Presidents of the Supreme Courts of Justice, the Attorneys General and the Procurators General of the member states of the European Union.
The agenda of the Conference included discussions regarding the jurisdiction and mediation of the arbitration courts what is one way of out of court dispute processing in the field of civil law, as well as regarding plea bargaining and other possibilities for out of court regulation of criminal law relations. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Ivars Bickovics considers that it was significant that the discussions were attended not only by practitioners – judges and prosecutors, the opinion regarding these problems and methods was expressed also by academicians recognized in Europe – the academic staff of the Vienna, Frankfurt and Bologna universities. The conclusion was unequivocal – the future perspective for decreasing the workload of the courts is the development of alternative out of court dispute processing and implementation both in civil disputes and criminal cases.
The situation in Latvia within the context of the discussed theme was evaluated by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as rather progressive and developed. For the resolution of civil disputes there is a sufficiently strong alternative – the arbitration courts, in its turn, several possibilities for resolving criminal cases have been introduced and simplified in the new Criminal Procedure Law. However, mediation is a new method in the Latvian jurisdiction, it does not have an official judicial regulation yet, and this is a field for work in the future. The experience of other European countries shows that with the help of mediation not only social and family conflicts, but also serious disputes of commercial nature of big international companies may be processed.
The conference “Alternative possibilities for dispute processing” was held on October 16-17 in Vienna. The conference was attended by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Ivars Bickovics and the Prosecutor General Janis Maizitis.
Information prepared by
Head of the Division of Communications of the Supreme Court Rasma Zvejniece
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