Judicial Council provides an opinion on the compliance of judges' remuneration with the principle of judicial independence
4 November, 2021
The Judicial Council has assessed the draft law “Amendments to the Law on Remuneration of Officials and Employees of State and Local Government Authorities” in the part on the judiciary and calls on the legislator for a respectful dialogue, as well as draws attention to the fact that the judiciary has not been heard and has not participated in developing the draft law.
The Judicial Council conceptually supports the fact that the draft law developed by the State Chancellery envisages an increase in the remuneration of judicial officials and is based on the principle of balance and hierarchy of branches of state power, equalizing the remuneration of constitutional officials and bringing remunerations of the public sector closer to that of the private sector.
However, the Judicial Council concludes that in view of the model of remuneration of judges proposed in the draft law it is still not possible to verify its compliance with the principle of independence of judges, namely it is impossible to check whether the proposed regulation meets the criteria of remuneration of judges indicated in Constitutional Court judgements, whether the status of a judge and the difference between judge’s position from other positions, as well as the requirements and restrictions imposed on a judge by law have been taken into account, including guaranteeing the independence of a judge through financial security and the inadmissibility of allowances.
The Judicial Council points out that it is not clear according to which criteria an applicable coefficient for a district (city) court judge is determined and whether the system of the fixed monthly salary with a coefficient of 3.2 and 10% long service allowance system would be appropriate for a district (city) court judge in the current economic and social conditions.
The Judicial Council does not understand the numerical and the systemic approach to determining coefficients, even among judges of all levels. The coefficients indicated in the draft law envisage significant differences in the amount of judges' remuneration. The Judicial Council points out that the regulation on the inclusion of long service allowances in the monthly salary should be harmonized for judges of all instances and the differences in the amount of judges' remuneration should be reduced and balanced.
The Judicial Council draws attention to the fact that the determination of the remuneration of prosecutors and the system of coefficients proposed in the draft law also do not provide any justification that it would be appropriate for the status of prosecutors and guarantee their financial security. The Judicial Council has previously called for an increase in the pay gap between judges and prosecutors, and this is included in the draft law. However, this distinction must be clear and justified.
The legislator has the right to disagree with the opinion of the judiciary, however, it must be heard and treated with respect and true understanding, as well as the decision has to be justified, and the adoption of such decision must follow the principle of good legislation, including assessing the compliance of the regulatory framework with the Constitution.
- Decision of the Judicial Council on the draft law “Amendments to the Law on Remuneration of Officials and Employees of State and Local Government Authorities” (in Latvian)
Information prepared by
Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone: +371 67020396, +371 28652211