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Information on the changes in the judicial field in the Republic of Lithuania

Amendments in the Law on Courts

The need to change the Law on Courts was the consequence of the decision of May 9th 2006 of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania where it stated that some provisions of the Law are unconstitutional. It took two years to change the Law on Courts of the Republic of Lithuania. As there were disagreements on various issues concerning the judicial system, it was decided to make basic changes and continue with drafting a new Law on Courts. Therefore the amendments in the Law on Courts were made by the law of July, 2008. In drafting these amendments much attention has been given to improve quality of judicial system and increase public confidence in it.

The procedure of selection of judges, their appointment was changed. It was established that the Selection Board of Candidates to Judicial Offices shall be composed from seven persons: three members shall be judges and four – members of the public. Selection of candidates to judicial vacancies at a district court shall be announced and organised by the Office of the President of the Republic.

Ensuring the quality of the activities of judges and public confidence, the new Chapter of the Law on Courts on the evaluation of the activities of judges was added, the procedure of disciplinary liability was improved.

The Judicial Ethics and Discipline Commission and any person knowledgeable of the action when disciplinary liability should be applicable to a judge from now on also have the right to make a motion for instituting a disciplinary action. The Judicial Ethics and Discipline Commission from now on is an institution of judicial self-governance deciding the issues of instituting disciplinary actions against judges. Two members of this Commission are representatives of the society.

The Judicial Court of Honor now consists of 9 members instead of seven. It hears the disciplinary cases not in the chambers of three judges, but it is established that a meeting of the Judicial Court of Honor shall be valid if attended by not less than seven members of the Judicial Court of Honor and decisions are taken by simple majority vote.

Besides the final acts of courts and annual reviews of court practice of the Supreme Court and Supreme Administrative Court, decisions of international judicial institutions, the decisions of the Judicial Court of Honor which have become effective shall be published in disciplinary cases in a separate column of internet web site of the National Court Administration, except where this would prejudice state, official, commercial secret or the protection of the person’s private life. This will guarantee the publicity and hopefully lead to increase of public confidence in justice system.

In order to ensure that all levels of courts are represented at the Judicial Council, the number of members was increased and instead of 15 members, the Judicial Council now consists of 21 members:
1) by virtue of their office - the Chairman of the Supreme Court, the Chairman of the Court of Appeals, the Chairman of the Supreme Administrative Court;
2) Judges elected by the General Meeting of Judges: three from the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Administrative Court each, three from all regional courts, three from all regional administrative courts and three from all district courts.

The General Meeting of Judges took place on 14th November 2008 where new members of the Judicial Council were elected for four year term. The Judicial Council of the Republic of Lithuania is composed of judges.

In order to improve the quality of judiciary and increase the public confidence in court system the regulation of the court system still needs to be improved. But the amendments of the Law on Courts that were made on July, 2008 were important in guaranteeing that the provisions of the Law on Courts are in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

New functions of the National Courts Administration

The new Law on National Courts Administration which regulates the activities of the National Courts Administration has been adopted on 15th July, 2008. All functions of the National Courts Administration which were split in different legal acts were integrated into one Law. The Law regulates the enlarged functions of the National Courts Administration, its’ structure, etc.

Remuneration system of judges

The Law on remuneration of judges of the Republic of Lithuania has entered into force on 15th November, 2008. It is the result of long debates and finally the system of remuneration of judges is clearly regulated by the Law.

It established that the salaries of all judges of the Constitutional Court should be uniform, therefore the coefficient rate was established, which is multiplied by the basic amount. The salary of judges of courts of general and special jurisdiction consists of basic salary and seniority bonus. The coefficient rates of judges are also multiplied by the basic amount and the seniority bonus is 3 % of basic salary of a judge for every three year.