Importance of the Council for the Judiciary in promotion of rule of law and necessity to strengthen its authority are pointed out at the Conference
8 September, 2014
“Establishing of the Council for the Judiciary had fundamentally important in promotion of rule of law in our country and it has a potential to become a powerful and authoritative tool within representation of the judiciary,” Solvita Aboltina, the Speaker of the Saeima (Parliament) said at Latvian Judges’ Conference on 5 September, when assessing the first quadrennial term of work of the Council for the Judiciary.
The Speaker of the Parliament pointed out that preconditions are created for optimal functioning of the Council for the Judiciary and success in further work will be determined by how actively the Council for the Judiciary will be able to identify and to solve problems within the system, how often it will show initiative in solving of important issues related to court system and if it will be able to create new ideas with certainty, offering concrete suggestions in solving of thereof.
Ivars Bickovics, the Chairman of the Council for the Judiciary and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, also pointed out that establishment and activity of the first Latvian Council for the Judiciary had been an important step in strengthening of rule of law and further development of Latvian court system. “To ensure fundamental claim that the Council for the Judiciary must be independent, it must be granted constitutional status and assessment must be made, if present composition – eight officials and seven elected judges – is the most optimal choice”, Ivars Bickovics referred to guidelines introduced in documents of international institutions (You may read report by the Chairman of the Council for the Judiciary here)
Gaidis Berzins, the Minister of Justice, remembered caution, with which new Council was established in 2010, reasoning incredulity with limited authorities of the Council to decide on issues related to promotion of judicial careers and its close connection with the executive power. The Minister believes that during quadrennial term of activity the Council for the Judiciary was able to strengthen its role of a manager of the judiciary, and its contribution to both belonging to the judicial system and society was significant. The Minister also pointed out that “The Council for the Judiciary has a great potential, and opportunities of extension of its authorities also are not exhausted” – he sees those in respect of procedure of selection, appointment and removal of Chairs of district (city) courts and Chairs of regional courts, transfer of judges not only in courts of the same level, but also in those of higher or lower level and in other issues related to judicial career. Gaidis Berzins stressed that scope of the Council for the Judiciary should also include extensive and detailed assessment of cases, which cast reflection on judiciary in general.
Janis Grinbergs, the Chair of Latvian Council of Sworn Advocates, in his turn said that the Council for the Judiciary does not feel much heard and confrontation is observed instead of mutual dialogue – the Council for the Judiciary as the institution representing the judiciary does not feel sufficiently heard and authoritative in relationships with the legislator and the executive power, and it often in is turn shows the idleness of the Council itself, efficiencies in organisation of its work and argumentation of opinion expressed. The Chair of the Council of Sworn Advocates believes that it is necessary to extend functions and authorities of the Council for the Judiciary, thus strengthening its authority in relationships with other branches of power and acquiring real independence of the judiciary. At the same time, he is satisfied about activity of activity of the Council for the Judiciary as of collegial institution of representatives of judges and persons belonging to judicial system – prosecutors, advocates, notaries, bailiffs, which promotes unity, commonwealth and joint growth of court system.
Different opinion was expressed at the Conference by Ilma Cepane, the Chair of the Legal Affairs Committee of the Saeima. She believes that establishing of the Council for the Judiciary justified itself only partly: “When establishing the Council for the Judiciary, the legislator hoped that it would pay attention also to the “shadow side” of the judiciary, not acting mainly only as “trade union”. Unfortunately, in these four years the Council for the Judiciary turned a blind eye to “shadow side” of the judicial system.” As examples, the Head of the Legal Affairs Committee of the Saeima mentioned complaints filed by businessmen and organizations representing them, in which judges are blamed for unfair application of legal provisions and even for intentional violation of law in concrete insolvency proceedings, and for insufficiently severe practice of application of the Law on Disciplinary Liability of Judges.
“Existence of th-e Council for the Judiciary is not a purpose itself” – Andris Berzins, the President of the State said in his speech read by the legal adviser at the Judges’ Conference, pointing out that work of the Council for the Judiciary also further should promote cooperation and discussion in different fields of power and should increase quality of decisions and solutions selected in field of judiciary.
Judges, who were selected as candidates to offices of members of the Council for the Judiciary, pointed out these and other topicalities in work of the Council for the Judiciary. Judges’ Conference elected six judges, who will work in the Council for the Judiciary next four years.
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Information prepared by
Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court
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