The European Commission has published already the fourth report on rule of law in the European Union “Summary of European results in justice” (The 2016 EU Justice Scoreboard), which includes analysis of efficiency and independence of the system of justice in 28 Member States of the European Union. Summarised data about Latvia show positive trend regarding significant indicators of efficiency: length of proceedings, backlog of cases, and implementation of digital solutions in work of courts.   

“In the report of the European Commission, Latvian court system received positive evaluation. Decrease of length of adjudication of cases and of backlog of cases has been a result of several complex reforms of court system, which were consistently implemented during several years. I am satisfied about the received highest assessment of issue of communication of courts with the public. Cooperation between courts and representatives of media will be improved and court rulings will be explained also in future to strengthen public trust to judiciary in Latvia” Dzintars Rasnacs, the Minister for Justice, stresses.

In the report of the European Commission, Latvia holds the 16th place in total in respect of length of proceedings with result of approximately 180 days, which at average are necessary to adjudicate a case.  However, the longest terms of proceedings are in Italy, where 400 days are necessary to adjudicate a case, in Malta – nearly 600 days, and Cyprus, where adjudication of one case takes approximately 900 days or approximately 2.5 years.  

In respect of terms of proceedings in insolvency cases, Latvia holds the 12th case – approximately 1.5 years are necessary to adjudicate one case; in Lithuania, approximately 2.3 years are necessary for adjudication of one case, and 3 years – in Estonia. The longest term of adjudication of cases of this category exists in Slovakia, reaching 4 years.  

Backlog of cases pending in courts in Latvia decreases as well – Latvia holds the 4th position in respect of this indicator, significantly outpacing Lithuania and Estonia, where the opposite trend, namely, the increase of backlog, has been observed. Similar indicators concern adjudication of complex cases and administrative cases, and decrease of backlog thereof, namely, number of cases adjudicated in courts exceeds number of cases received. In respect of this indicator, Latvia holds the 5th place among 28 Member States of the European Union.  

For the first time, the report includes data of Eurobarometer concerning perception of independence of the judiciary by public and businessmen. Inhabitants of Latvia mainly provided the assessment “rather good” or “rather bad” on the independence of Latvian judiciary. People reason their opinion with concerns regarding interference with work of courts or pressure imposed to judges to implement any economic interest, or to try to influence the judiciary.  

The report also includes the analysis of the assessment of judges’ work carried out by judges themselves. Latvia holds the lowest position regarding the indicators of judges’ self-assessment.  In general, low assessment given by judges acknowledges necessity to strengthen the independence of the judiciary, when passing amendments to the law “On Judicial Power” prepared by the Ministry of Justice and supported by the Cabinet of Ministers, in the Parliament. Foregoing amendments were elaborated to implement recommendations of the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption(GRECO) on strengthening of judicial independence from the legislative power and executive power.  

It is significant that, from among 17 evaluated Member States of the European Union, Latvia has received the highest evaluation for developed on-line systems, which provide to public general up-to-date information on the legal system in the country. Moreover, Latvia is among those Member States of the European Union, where the electronic communication between the court and advocates is available, and court rulings are available for public in electronic form.

 

Additional information:

           Member States of the European Union participated in acquisition of data during the elaboration of the fourth report more actively than in previous year; the report includes several new quality indicators, and more detailed analysis of particular fields is provided, showing several positive indicators and achievements, comparing to the previous year.

            Statistical data and information on reforms, which refer to period 2010-2014, provided by the Member States is used in the report.

 

Ksenija Vitola

D.d. of the Head of the Communication and Technical Supply Department of the Ministry of Justice

Telephone: 6703686; e-mail: Ksenija.Vitola@tm.gov.lv