Inhabitants actively turns to court also during the emergency situation 06.05.2020
During the emergency situation the work organisation of courts is adjusted to the precaution and security measures determined in the state, more and more using digital technologies and holding the court hearings in a remote regime. The statistics of judicial work summarized by the Ministry of Justice shows that the amount of statement of claim to be received by courts during the emergency situation has not decreased.
The number of statements of claim received by the courts of first instance in civil cases and administrative cases is only by 4% less during the emergency situation than during the same time period in 2019. While, the number of civil cases received by regional courts is even by 14% bigger than in 2019. The number of criminal cases received by courts during the period of emergency situation has decreased in comparison with the time period in 2019. When performing analysis of performance results of court, it was concluded that examination of administrative violation cases and administrative cases is provided during the emergency situation without any delays and the number of examined cases even exceeds the number of received cases, which means that shortening of the queue of cases pending at courts or decrease of accumulation is ensured.
Continuity of the work of courts is provided during the emergency situation. Organization of the judicial work is adjusted to the circumstances of emergency situation (restriction of mutual direct contacts, remote work regime, expanded activities in the electronic environment). It is determined in Latvia during the emergency situation, the same as in other countries and also international court, that court hearings in presence are held only in cases, which cannot be examined remotely (by using a video conference) or in writing and being related to significant violation of rights of a person or objective urgency.
Besides, also the range of cases is expanded during the emergency situation, which can be examined by a court in a written procedure, besides making sure before that in each particular case, whether it will be possible to comply with procedural rights of the participants of the proceeding in full. In turn, considering also the conclusions of the European Court of Human Rights that a person has the right to be heard in person in at least one of court instances, with regard to criminal cases, there are limited possibilities existing in the first instance to try the case in a written procedure. If the trial of the relevant criminal case is possible in a remote regime, the judge decides on the trial of the case by using a video conference.
Since declaration of the emergency situation, more than 250 court hearings have already taken place in a video conference regime. In order to expand the infrastructure of video conferences, the Court Administration has found a possibility to provide as a temporary solution the video conferencing equipment also in several authorities - Riga Orphan’s and Custody Court, Riga Psychiatry and Narcology Centre etc. In addition to the available digital tools, when evaluating the nature of the particular case and establishing the readiness of the involved persons, courts use also on-line based video communication tools. At the same time the Ministry of Justice is currently performing active work, in order to establish and eliminate possible risks that the use of such solutions could cause to the course of the relevant proceeding or rights of persons (verification of the personal identity, information safety etc.), thus, causing pre-conditions for use of such solution for settlement of certain issues also after the end of the emergency situation.
The statistical data of courts, summarized by the Ministry of Justice, indicated that examination of civil cases, administrative violation cases and administrative cases is provided without any delays also during the emergency situation. The number of civil cases examined by district (city) courts and the number of examined administrative cases (both, in the court of first instance as well as appellate court) even exceeds the number of received cases by 9% - 30%. The Ministry of Justice emphasizes that accumulation of civil cases, administrative violation cases and administrative cases caused by emergency situation is not planned either for district (city) court or regional courts. In turn, a minor accumulation of pending cases might establish in relation to criminal cases. The above-mentioned cases will be examined according to the priority order as soon as the precaution measures determined in the state will be eased.