After discussions and listening to opinions, the Council for the Judiciary voted for further elaboration of amendments to laws to establish unified appellate instance to appeal against decisions of disciplinary committees of persons associated with court system and of institutions and officials responsible for review of disciplinary cases. It has been envisaged that not only decisions in disciplinary cases rendered by the Judicial Disciplinary Committee, but also those of persons associated with court system – advocates, prosecutors, bailiffs and notaries – might be appealed in the Disciplinary Court of the Supreme Court in future.

The Council for the Judiciary had conceptually supported establishment of unified appellate instance for all officials of a court system, at the same time preserving autonomy for each institution in initial review of disciplinary infringement. Work group established by the Ministry of Justice has begun to elaborate model of unified disciplinary committee of officials of the judiciary and familiarised the Council for the Judiciary with it.  

The Council for the Judiciary, having supported development of the Disciplinary Court as unified appellate instance for all court system, pointed out that it must be considered whether such expanded institution and procedure, which had not existed previously, would need new particular law and description of processes rather than amendments to existing laws. The Council for the Judiciary also drew attention of the ministry to the fact that representatives of the Disciplinary Court and the Administration of the Supreme Court should be listened to, when further elaborating reform of system of disciplinary responsibility, and finance and human resources must be provided for new system.  

It must be noted that justified objections against unified model of review of disciplinary cases of persons associated to court system were expressed by the Department of Administrative Cases and the Department of Civil Cases of the Supreme Court, Marite Zagere, the Chair of the Disciplinary Court, Latvian Association of Judges, Association of Administrative Judges and several members of the Council for the Judiciary. Judges point out that establishment of particular Disciplinary Court, which is not an independent institution, but which is convened in the Supreme Court to review particular cases, was related to particular status of judges, due to which it was impossible to review judges’ disciplinary cases as administrative cases or as other disciplinary cases. If unified appellate instance for review of disciplinary cases of all individuals associated to a court system was established on the basis of existing Disciplinary Court, it would be in contrary to purpose of the establishment of the Disciplinary Court and particular procedure of foundation and operation of the Disciplinary Court following from this purpose. Proposed model should not be supported also from organisational point of view, as transfer of review of disciplinary cases of all individuals associated to a court system to the appellate instance established on the basis of the Disciplinary Court would be excessive burden for judges of the Supreme Court, who are elected to the Disciplinary Court and execute their duties in the Disciplinary Court in addition to their direct vocational duties. Representatives of courts point out that there is no objective justification to amend current provisions, when decisions adopted in disciplinary cases of judges and prosecutors may be appealed to the Disciplinary Court, and those of notaries, bailiffs and advocates – to court under procedure stipulated in the Administrative Procedure Law.

 

The decision was adopted in the sitting of the Council for the Judiciary of 9 February. See information on all issues reviewed in 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: 67020396, 28652211