The Latvian judicial system is governed by the Constitution of Latvia of 1920 that has been amended in 1993 in order to correspond with the Law on Judicial Power.
The judiciary in Latvia is made of district (city) courts, regional courts and the Supreme Court. The district courts act as first instance bodies and regional courts act as first instance and appellate bodies, while the Supreme Court acts only as an appellate body.
District (municipal or city) courts in Latvia
There are 35 Latvian district courts that are subject to the Act on Civil Procedures, the Act on Criminal Procedures and the Act on Administrative Procedures. The city courts have jurisdiction over civil, criminal and administrative issues. Civil and administrative matters will be trialed by one judge, but in some cases three judges can hear administrative disputes. Criminal cases in municipal courts in Latvia will be trialed by a judge and two assessors.
Regional courts in Latvia
The six Latvian regional courts are: Riga Regional Court, Kurzeme Regional Court, Latgale Regional Court, Vidzeme Regional Court, Zemgale Regional Court and the Regional Administrative Court.
The regional courts in Latvia act as first instance bodies for criminal and administrative matters according to the legislation, but also the role of courts of appeal in civil, administrative and criminal disputes where district courts have failed to decide or a single judge has heard the case. As a first instance civil and criminal disputes will be heard by a single judge.
The Supreme Court of Latvia
The Supreme Court in Latvia is divided into the Senate and two chambers: the Chamber of Civil Cases and of Criminal Case. Every chamber has its own chair and judge. The chambers rule as appellate bodies in matters concerning first instance trials in regional courts and the proceeding are usually conducted by three judges.
The Supreme Court Senate has the role of a court of cassation and rules over decisions made in both district and regional courts. The Senate can also issue rulings in cases of decisions made by the State Audit Office according to the State Audit Office Act, Section 55. The Senate comprises a chair and senators.
The Senate is divided into three departments: the Department of Civil Cases, the Department of Criminal Cases and the Department of Administrative Cases.
The Administrative Court was enabled in February 2004 and incorporated at municipal level, regional level and within the Senate in the Supreme Court.
The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia was instituted in 1996 when the Constitutional Court Law was empowered. The Constitutional Court is made up of 7 judges elected for 10 years by the parliament.
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