17 June, 2014
The Board of Justice listened to information of the Ministry of Justice regarding advancement of so called concept of court houses, which envisages to re-examine previous court catchment areas and to consolidate areas of district (city) courts located within catchment area of a regional court, creating one court of the first instance legally, transforming former courts into court houses. Thus, there would be one district (city) court within catchment area of a regional court instead of five up to ten former district (city) courts.
The goal of the reform is optimisation of work of courts and increase of efficiency, as significant differences in judges’ load have been observed in Latvia. In accordance with data of 2013, number of civil cases and criminal cases examined at the level of district (city) courts per one judge in different courts may differ even more than four times.
Consolidation of district (city) courts located within catchment area of a regional court is envisaged to be performed gradually. Initially, it has been planned to implement reform in Riga court area, consolidating catchment areas of district (city) courts, as a result single court (as a legal unit) would be established, and its catchment area would conform to the territory of the whole Riga court area. This Riga first instance court would have court houses (present district (city) courts located within Riga court area). By combining Riga city court areas, it has been envisaged to use not only judges’ capacity, but also other court resources more rationally, for example, to establish joint archive, to centralise work of chanceries, etc.
Having assessed possible consolidation of areas of courts of Riga court area and Land Registry offices included in composition of courts, the Ministry of Justice sighted an opportunity to include Ogre district court in Zemgale court area instead of Riga court area and to include Sigulda court in Vidzeme court area, thus relieving Riga regional court, which under appellate procedure hears cases falling under jurisdiction of the abovementioned courts.
Alongside with re-examination of catchment areas, it has been envisaged to change institutional possession of Land Registry offices and catchment areas thereof.
In opinion of the Ministry, to which the Board of Justice agreed, reform should be implemented in the rest territory of Latvia after the end of reform of “clear” court instances, additionally performing detailed assessment of accessibility risks and transport infrastructure.
The Ministry informed that concept of reform of district (city) courts has been coordinated with other institutions – the prosecutor’s office, bailiffs, police, etc. – as well.
The issue was reviewed in the sitting of the Board of Justice on June, 16
Information prepared by
Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court
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