At its meeting of October 29, having considered the issue of the operation of the judicial system and persons belonging thereto during the state of emergency declared in the country due to the spread of Covid-19, the Judicial Council stated that the requirement for judges and other judicial officials to be vaccinated is legal and liability for failure to fulfil the specified obligation shall be assessed within the framework of regulatory enactments regulating the relevant profession.

Judges and the Judicial Council refrain from expressing an opinion on legal issues concerning the content and application of the Cabinet of Ministers Order No 720 “On the declaration of the state of emergency”, as such conduct could create preconditions for doubts about the impartiality and independence of the court at the moment when the court may have to adjudicate the relevant cases on the merits.

However, the role of the Judicial Council is to strengthen the independence of the judiciary and to represent the judiciary in dialogue with the legislature and the executive, as well as to strengthen public confidence in the judiciary. Therefore, the Judicial Council is obliged to express an opinion on the implementation of the judicial function during the state of emergency and to explain to the public the conditions for the performance of duties of judges, court employees and persons belonging to the judicial system after November 15 this year.

The Judicial Council points out that the requirement contained in Clause 5.3 of the Cabinet of Ministers Order, which imposes an obligation on any official of a state or local government institution, including judges, court employees and persons belonging to the judiciary to present certificate confirming the fact of vaccination against Covid-19 or recovery from the virus, shall be deemed to be legal and valid as long as it does not expire in any of the ways prescribed by law.

The fact that the judiciary treats this requirement responsibly is evidenced by the fact that above 95 percent of the judiciary and persons belonging thereto currently are vaccinated, have started vaccination or have recovered from the virus.

At the same time, the Judicial Council points out that the failure to fulfil the specified obligation by judges, court employees and officials belonging to the court system shall be resolved in accordance with the regulatory framework of the respective field.

Non-compliance of employees with the performance of official duties and discharge shall be assessed within the framework of the Labour Law.

The failure to comply with the obligation by prosecutors and the  representatives of free legal professions (sworn notaries and sworn bailiffs) shall be assessed within the framework of regulatory enactments regulating the respective professions.

Whereas, the office of a judge, the requirements to be set for this office, discharge from office is regulated by the Constitution and the Law on Judicial Power. If a judge is unable to present the certificate confirming the fact of vaccination against Covid-19 or recovery from the virus after 15 November this year, only such legal consequences as provided for in the Constitution and the Law on Judicial Power may occur, i.e., each case shall be assessed individually in accordance with the regulations on judicial disciplinary liability.

The opinion of the Judicial Council on the performance of the duties of the judiciary and person belonging thereto during the state of emergency (in Latvian)

 

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