The Council for the Judiciary supported the project for reorganization of district (city) courts in the courts districts of Riga, Kurzeme, Vidzeme and Zemgale. Project is prepared by the Ministry of Justice, according to which the territorial reform of courts in Latvia will be completed in 2018.

Starting from 15 January 2018, Riga Northern District Court will be reorganized by joining it to the Riga City Vidzeme District Court.

From 1 February 2018, Talsi District Court and its Land Registry Office, Kuldiga District Court its Land Registry Office, Saldus District Court and its Land Registry Office, and Ventspils Court and its Land Registry Office will be reorganized, adding them to Liepaja Court and, respectively, to its Land Registry Office, changing the name of the court – Kurzeme District Court and, accordingly, the Land Registry Office of Kurzeme District Court.

As from 15 February 2018, Aluksne District Court and Land Registry Office, Gulbene District Court and Land Registry Office, Madona District Court and Land Registry Office, Cesis District Court and Land Registry Office, Limbazi District Court and Land Registry Office, and Valka District Court and Land Registry Office will be reorganized, by joining them to the Valmiera District Court and the Land Registry Office, and changing the name of the court to – Vidzeme District Court and, accordingly, the Land Registry Office of Vidzeme District Court.

From 1 March 2018, Tukums District Court and Land Registry Office, Dobele District Court and Land Registry Office, Bauska District Court and Land Registry Office, Aizkraukle District Court and Land Registry Office, Jekabpils District Court and Land Registry Office, and Ogre District Court and Land Registry Office will be reorganized by joining them to Jelgava Court and Land Registry Office, and changing the name of the court to Zemgale District Court and, accordingly, Land Registry Office of Zemgale District Court.

It is planned to create one parental court in each court district, except in Riga, ensuring the functioning of this court in all locations of the former courts. A similar solution is provided for the Land Registry Offices – one Land Registry Office, ensuring its operation in all locations of previous Land Registry Offices. Riga district will have four district courts – Pardaugava Court, Vidzeme District Court, Latgale District Court and Riga District Court.

During the sitting of the Council for the Judiciary there were more extensive debates on the inclusion of Ogre District Court in Zemgale District Court, which was objected by the Chair of Riga Regional Court. The Council for the Judiciary took into consideration the arguments put forward by the Chair of Zemgale Regional Court and President of the Association of Judges, and the desire of judges of Ogre District Court to change the court district, which has been discussed extensively among the courts and chairs of the courts. The reorganization is coordinated with the prosecutor's office and the police. The decision will also affect the affiliation of certain notaries' offices and bailiffs' sections to the particular court district, therefore the reorganization plan contains several tasks related to these issues.

Territorial reform of courts is promoted by the Ministry of Justice with the aim of addressing such issues related to raising the efficiency of the judiciary as: unequal court workload and diverse duration of proceedings of the same type of cases, ensuring principle of randomness in distribution of cases, as well as due to small number of judges the specialization of judges is impeded or impossible.

During the sitting of the Council for the Judiciary, Chairs of Kurzeme, Vidzeme and Zemgale Regional Courts expressed the readiness of the courts to comply with the reform requirements, although majority do not support the judicial reform, they simply reconcile. The main concern is access to justice by the parties to the proceedings, the provision of specialization of judges, organizational issues, technical support and the labor prospects of court employees.

Originally, the judicial reform was introduced in Riga court district, merging Riga City Vidzeme District Court and Riga City Central District Court, as well as joining Sigulda Court and Jurmala Court to Riga District Court. From 1 February 2016, the reform was introduced in the Latgale court district by creating two district (city) courts –  Rezekne Court and Daugavpils Court, to which courts of Balvi, Ludza, Preili and Kraslava were annexed. Since the beginning of the reform, currently there are 26 district (city) courts in Latvia out of 34 district (city) courts of general jurisdiction. At the end of the reform, there will be nine first instance courts of general jurisdiction in Latvia.

The Council for the Judiciary adopted the decision in the sitting of 12 June, 2017. See information about all issues reviewed at the sitting here.

 

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