It is with great sadness and genuine respect that the Supreme Court says farewell to the first Chief Justice of the restored Supreme Court of Latvia, Gvido Zemribo (December 26, 1932 –  August 6, 2021).

"It is the duty of a judge to always find out the truth and never betray it" – these words were written by Gvido Zemribo in the judge's oath when drafting the law "On Judicial Power". On the 25th anniversary of the Senate, he also entered these words in the Honorary Book of the Chief Justices of the Supreme Court.

It was his belief and wish for future generations of judges – to always administer justice fairly; to not only draw up lawful judgments, but also to work in a way so that people could understand them and trust the court.

Gvido Zemribo became a judge of the Supreme Court in 1962, he was the Chairperson of the Chamber of Civil Cases and the Deputy Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. In 1985 he was elected Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; he headed the Court during the National Awakening and the restoration of the country's independence. The Supreme Court was not divided like other law enforcement institutions at the time and was a strong support for the new state. Only 12 days after the restoration of independence, the Supreme Council confirmed Gvido Zemribo as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Latvia. "When I was elected to this position, I realized that it was not my only duty to lead the Court and ensure that cases were adjudicated in accordance with the law. My duty was much greater – to build the new judicial system, a democratic system, to restore the values ​​that existed before the occupation. And I must say, as Shakespeare's Hamlet once said, "Oh, what a curse you have to raise up what has been overthrown!" – stated Gvido Zemribo when remembering the historical time.

And he carried out this task – he headed the drafting of the law “On Judicial Power”, making it much more extensive than the traditional laws on the judiciary. The law also includes constitutional values ​​– the principles of separation of powers and independence of a judge, as well as the basic principles of administration of justice. The law also comprises the foundations for the renewal of the cassation instance (the Senate) in the Supreme Court.

The practical formation of the Senate took place without the direct participation of Gvido Zemribo, because in 1994 he was appointed Ambassador of Latvia to Denmark, later also to Iceland. However, Gvido Zemribo maintained a genuine interest in everything related to the name of the Senate throughout the following years. He was the living history of the Supreme Court, the connection between the beginning and the present. After completing his mission as an ambassador and while working as a sworn advocate, he had his own vision of the judiciary. Sometimes it was critical, but he always kept in mind the idea of authority of the court.

Gvido Zemribo's contribution to the formation and development of the Latvian judicial system has been awarded with the Order of the Three Stars and the 1st degree Honorary Badge of the Justice System. We believe he was also pleased to experience together with the Supreme Court the centenary of the Latvian Senate and the 25th anniversary of the renewed Senate. The ideas of Gvido Zemribo, laid in the foundations of the Supreme Court, live and evolve, and the Court will keep memories of the founder of the restored Latvian justice system.

Our deepest condolences to Gvido Zemribo's children and other relatives.


Information prepared by

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

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