The main problems of lengthy court proceedings in Latvian courts are the organization of the proceedings, the role of judges in the management of the proceedings, the actions of other persons involved in the proceedings and mutual co-operation, as was concluded by the Judicial Council when assessing the working group’s report on reasons for lengthy court proceedings.

Each procedure – civil, criminal and administrative procedure – has its own specific problems, but, as both the working group and the experts point out in the report, the judge is the manager and facilitator of all procedures. Therefore, the main emphasis should be put on the training of judges.

The Chair of the Judicial Council and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Aigars Strupiss points out that “training of judges is the primary emphasis of the Judicial Council. This is a training not so much in legal matters and legal nuances, but in the management and organization of the court proceedings, as well as in the effective use of the tools already in the procedural laws in order not only to manage the proceedings qualitatively, but also to deal with procedural hooligans and procrastinators.”

Anita Zikmane, the coordinator of the working group established by the Supreme Court and the head of the Division of Case-law and Research, pointed out at the meeting of the Judicial Council that the average length of proceedings in Latvian courts is not excessive, it is only that the examination of certain cases last disproportionately long. The working group did not focus only on these cases, but analyzed the efficiency of the work of the courts more broadly. Anita Zikmane described the main causes of the lengthy proceedings regarding each procedure.

The smooth handling of civil cases is most often hindered by the submission of counterclaims and the repeated return of the case at first and second instance courts. The effects of the 2008 economic crisis, which led to an influx of cases into the courts, are still being felt.

Administrative cases are objectively becoming increasingly complex due to the large amount of evidence. The completion of administrative proceedings is also significantly affected by the return of cases to first and second instance courts for reconsideration. One of the reasons is also the suspension of the proceedings due to other legal proceedings in the same case, including the application to the Constitutional Court or the submission of an application for a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

In turn, the speed of adjudication of criminal cases is influenced by the number and behavior of the parties to proceedings, as well as the amount of case files. Absence of witnesses and accused persons from hearing is a significant obstacle to the proceedings.

Solutions for streamlining court proceedings include not only training of judges in efficient organization and management of court proceedings, but also disciplining the parties to proceedings, considering it also within the framework of professional ethics of advocates and prosecutors, as well as educating parties to proceedings and especially public administration specialists. Another problem that needs to be addressed is the quality of opinions of specialists and experts summoned by the courts. It is also pointed to the improvement of the overall management of the judiciary, such as the efficient management of the resources of judges and staff ensuring the possibility to temporary transfer them to serve in other courts, as well as the introduction of new technologies combined with staff training in their effective use.

The working group submitted three reports to the Judicial Council on each of the regulations governing the judicial proceedings (administrative, civil and criminal), which also included suggestions to the Judicial Council on how to resolve the problems. In addition to the reports, the former judge of the General Court of the European Union Ingrida Labucka has prepared commentary.

In fulfilling the task given by the Judicial Council, the Office of the Latvian Representative before International Human Rights Institutions has also prepared a detailed report on Latvian cases before the European Court of Human Rights, as well as general findings of the European Court of Human Rights regarding the issue of lengthy court proceedings.

At its meeting on November 13, the Judicial Council welcomed the work of the working group and took note of its reports for further action. The report of the working group will be sent to the Saeima (Parliament), the Prime Minister and all institutions mentioned in the report, whose activities are related to court proceedings.

The report of the working group and all prepared materials are available on the website of the Supreme Court in the section of the Judicial Council: see here (in Latvian)

The decision was adopted by the Judicial Council in its sitting on November 13.



Information prepared by

Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court

E-mail:, telephone: +371 67020396, +371 28652211