A case initiated with respect to procedure for examining cases of administrative violations at the court of first instance and the norm that regulates the procedure for adopting a decision to refuse initiation of appellate legal proceedings
On 28 September 2017, the 3rd Panel of the Constitutional Court initiated case “On Compliance of Section 213 and the Seventh Part of Section 28920 of the Latvian Administrative Violations Code with the First Sentence of Article 92 of the Satversme of the Republic of Latvia”.
Section 213 of the Latvian Administrative Violations Code (hereinafter – the Code): “The district (city) court judges shall examine cases of administrative violations provided for in Sections 531 (if the violation has been committed by an official), Section 1494 (7), Section 1495 (5), Section 14915 (3), (4), (5), (7) and (8), Section 1554 (2), Section 1558, Section 1654 (1), Section 16617, Section 1732, Section 1743 (1) and (2), Section 1745, Section 175–1754, Section 17510, Section 177, Section 178, Section 1905, Section 1906, Section 200, Section 2001, Section 2012–2019, Section 20139–20142, Section 2041, Section 2042 (1) and Section 20417 (except for the matters regarding employment legal relationship) of this Code.
Section 28920 (7) of the Code: “If judges recognise unanimously that none of the grounds for initiating appellate legal proceedings referred to in Section 28917 (3) of this Code are present, the judges shall adopt a decision on refusal to initiate appellate legal proceedings. The decision shall be drawn up in a form of resolution, indicating the judges, who adopted the decision. The decision shall not be subject to appeal. The submitter of the appellate complaint shall be informed about the decision.”
Norm of Higher Legal Force
The first sentence of Article 92 of the Satversme: “Everyone has the right to defend his or her rights and lawful interests in a fair court.”
The case has been initiated on the basis of an application by Raimonds Bētiņš. The applicant has been made administratively liable and had been imposed a fine. On the basis of the contested norm, the judgement in the case of administrative violation was adopted by a judge of a first instance court. The applicant has submitted an appellate complaint against the judge’s judgement. However, three judges of the appellate instance court have adopted a decision to refuse initiation of appellate legal proceedings, which has been drawn up in the form of a resolution.
The applicant holds that the contested norms place disproportionate restrictions upon his right to a fair trial, enshrined in the first sentence of Article 92 of the Satversme. Allegedly, it follows from Section 214 of the Code that the court reviews particular cases of administrative violations in a procedure that complies with examination of a case in an institution. I.e., the court is said to assume, in fact, the role of prosecution. Section 28920 (7) of the Code, in turn, is said to violate the right to accessibility of a court and the right to a reasoned ruling.
The Constitutional Court has requested the Saeima to provide a reply on the facts of the case and legal substantiation by 28 November 2017.
The term for preparing the case is 28 February 2018. The Court shall decide upon the procedure and the date for hearing the case after the case has been prepared.
Linked case: 2017-24-01