Judicial conference listens to reports of executive power, the Board of Justice and institutions of judicial self-government
5 November, 2012
“The second year of operation of the Board of Justice has strengthened role of this institution in balancing relations among executive power, judiciary and legislator, opinion and proposals of the Board of Justice were heard and taken into account more seriously than it was in the first year of its operation”, summarised Ivars Bickovics, the Chair of the Board of Justice and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in Latvian Judicial Conference on the 2nd of November.
In his report, the Chief Justice informed about issues reviewed by the Board of Justice in its second operation year.
Great part of work consists of issues on judicial careers, in which decisions are made by the Board of Justice – determination of court for execution of duties of a judge, execution of duties of a judge in period of vacancy, transfer of judges, prolongation of judicial term of office, appointment of chairpersons of courts and their deputies in their posts. I.Bickovics pointed out a discussion about transfer of judges of Land Registers to post of judges of district (city) courts, namely, if statement of Judicial Qualifications Committee is necessary in this case. The Board of Justice admitted that after amendments were made to the law “On Judicial Power”, including departments of Land Registers into composition of district (city) courts, statement is necessary.
Agenda of the Board of Justice included issues about transfer of vacant judicial posts of rural district courts to Riga city district courts. Not contravening fact that load of judges in district courts differs and the greatest load exists in Riga courts, the Board of Justice believed that situation is to be evaluated in general, taking into account also reform of court system launched providing implementation of “pure court instances”, so that all cases would be heard in district (city) courts as in the first instance. The Board of Justice believed that increase of number of judges in Riga city courts was necessary, not decreasing number of judges in other district courts, so it proposed the Saeima to grant finances to form five additional places of judges in Riga regional court district (city) courts.
The Board of Justice approved several laws and regulations significant for operation of judges, for example, regulation of Judicial Conference, providing opportunity of e-conference, however, the conference has already been organised successfully twice. The Chairman of the Board of Justice indicated regulation of Judicial Qualifications Committee as another important regulation, as it contains new procedure of evaluation of professional operation of judges that will become effective as from January, 2013.
I.Bickovics also analysed statements given by the Board of Justice about draft laws regulating operation of court system. The Board of Justice supported gradual implementation of “pure court instances” and determination of maximum age of 70 years for execution of duties of judges working in all court instances, giving up prolongation of judicial term of office when reaching this age. However, the Board of Justice didn’t support amendments to the law “On Prevention of Conflict of Interest in Activities of Public Officials” that would bind a judge to ask permission to operate in professional associations. As wages of judges were included in unified system of remuneration of public officials and employees of state and municipal institutions, the Board of Justice supported concept drafted by the Ministry of Justice to replace extras for judicial qualification classes with extras for time spent in the post of a judge.
During Judicial conference, reports were also given by heads of institutions of judicial self-government – Peteris Dzalbe, the Chairman of Judicial Disciplinary Committee, Visvaldis Sprudzans, the Chairman of the Commission on Judicial Ethics, and Gunars Aigars, the Chairman of Judicial Qualifications Committee.
Janis Bordans, the Minister of Justice, also called his allocution as a type of report given by executive power to judiciary. The minister informed about work that was done in a year and marked further reforms, pointing out at the same time that these reforms should be finished as soon as possible. In her turn, Kristine Strada-Rozenberga, the Dean of the Faculty of Law of the University of Latvia, asked judges, by means of self-respect and honest work, to decrease legal nihilism prevailing in Latvia.
In the second part of the conference work of Latvian courts was analysed according to the European Convention on Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and in the third part work was organised in sections according to law branches.
The second and the third part of conference was organised by the Supreme Court in coordination with the Faculty of Law of the University of Latvia. In work of law sections representatives of prosecutor’s office, advocacy and notary, as well as lecturers of the University of Latvia participated.
Information prepared by
Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court
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