Civil legal expert examination in Latvia: Situation
Extract from the final Eurexpertise report
All rights reserved EEEI © 2012
- Linda STRAZDINA, Assistant to the First President of the Supreme Court
- Philippe JACQUEMIN, Expert, EEEI Vice-President
- Béatrice DESHAYES, Avocat & Rechtsanwältin – Partner HW&H
Other administrative order
I. Procedural rules in calling for an expert examination
I. 1) On the initiative of
In civil law, the expert examination is determined if the litigation calls for it.
Appointment is by joint agreement between the parties.
I.2) Mandatory expert examinations
No, only in criminal trials.
I. 3) Decision-maker
If the appointment does not satisfy the court or if the litigants disagree, the magistrate makes the decision.
I.4) Is a pre-trial expert examination possible ?
II. Choice and appointment of the expert(s)
II. 1) Register
Two kinds of experts :
– state legal experts, holding a qualification valid for five years
– private experts holding accreditation from the government in the case where no legal expert had the necessary skills.
II. 2) Oath
For state experts, once only ; for private accredited experts, every time.
II. 3) Choice of the Expert
II. 4) Participation by the parties in the appointment process
Appointment by consensus (the judge has the final decision if the litigants’ choice does not fulfil the conditions set by the Court)
II. 5) Nationality
Given the qualification or accreditation required, it seems clear that the choice of the expert is biased towards (or even imposes) nationality
II. 6) Recusal by the litigant parties
II. 7) Expert’s withdrawal (refusal of a mission)
Yes : not competent, not independent…
II. 8) Possibility of adding another expert
The judge can appoint an expert panel that will jointly sign the report and is collectively responsible for it.
II. 9) Possibility of being assisted by a colleague
Yes, but only the appointed expert will sign the report and is responsible for its content.
III. Definition of the expert’s mission
III. 1) Who determines the mission ?
In civil law, the litigants may request an expert examination from the court and suggest what questions they would like the expert to answer.
III. 2) Type of mission
The expert cannot be assigned with determining legal facts.
IV. Progress of the expert’s mission
The expert’s mission is set by the code of procedure in question.
IV. 1) Judge supervision
When carrying out his mission, the expert is independent.
IV. 2) Form of contradictory procedure
This principle bears no relation to the expert’s work.
IV. 3) Participation in the hearing
The expert can be called in to offer precisions or additional information to his report and/or answer questions from the players in the trial.
V. Close of the expert examination
V. 1) Does conciliation put an end to the expert’s mission ?
V. 2) Form imposed on the report
YES. The report must be written.Itmust answer all the questions asked, describe the process that was followed,the methods used, and the measures taken by the expert to reach hisconclusions.
V. 3) Does the report put an end to the expert’s mission ?
No, the expert can be asked to provide more details or more information in his report and/or to answer questions during the hearing.
V. 4) Is there an imposed structure for the report ?
He must answer all the questions asked, describe the process followed, the methods used and meas-ures taken to reach his conclusions.
V. 5) Is a preliminary report mandatory ?
V. 6) Is the judge bound by the expert’s conclusions ?
NO, the expert’s report is evidence that has no higher value than other pieces of evidence.
V. 7) Possibility of a second opinion
VI. Funding for the expert examination
VI. 1) Security-Payment
VI. 2) Determining the amount of payment due
VI. 3) Possibility of additional payment
VI. 4) Determining fees and costs
In civil law, for “private” expert examinations, the fees and costs are set by mutual understanding.
For legal expert examinations, the fees are set by a ruling of the Council of Ministers.
VI. 5) Possibility of contesting the fees
VII. Expert liability within proceedings
VII. 1) Are there any laws governing expert examinations ?
YESVII. 2) Expert liability
Civil and criminal
VII. 3) Mandatory insurance for the expert
VIII. The expert’s status
VIII. 1) Existence of selection criteria (accreditation)
The accreditation and certification procedures are not specified.
VIII. 2) Classification of skills
There is a classification of expert skills set by each state based on the area of expertise and methods used.
For other fields, the experts are classified along the usual skills in matters of expert opinions.
VIII. 3) Required qualifications
VIII. 4) Grant of accreditation
By the Justice Department
The requirements to apply for legal expert accreditation are set by the law which states, beyond the need to be independent, the expert’s duties :
- to give an objective and scientifically based opinion on all his missions,
- to refuse any mission outside of his area of knowledge,
- to carry out his mission according to the Code of Procedure, acknowledged methods, scientifically approved and authorised by the Council of legal experts,
- to only communicate the results to the persons allowed to receive them (confidentiality),
- to respect the person, especially a child, who might be the object of his expert examination,
- to regularly maintain his level of skills.
An expert commission can be created to cover more than one specialty.
VIII. 5) Possibility of accrediting a legal person
No, the expert is a natural person, there is no private expert structure in Latvia.
VIII. 6) f) Validity period for the accreditation
VIII. 7) Regular assessment tests
There is a supervising institution (“Board of legal experts”) which periodically organises acreditation, decides on potential suspensions or strikes from the register, supervises and controls the activity of legal experts.
Accredited experts are represented by an association : the “Latvian Association of Independent Experts” : http://lnea-sia.landingpage.zl.lv/
VIII. 8) Supervision of the expert’s mission
Qualitative and quantitative
VIII. 9) Expert’s activity report
VIII. 10) Code of ethics
VIII. 11) Good practice
Yes, a guide to good practice has been published for experts of the various specialisations, but it is not compulsory.
VIII. 12) Possibility of penalties
In administrative and civil law : possible punishment with a fine
VIII. 13) Laws governing the expert’s status
- Experts Companies
http://lnea-sia.landingpage.zl.lv/ : Latvijas Neatkarīgo Ekspertu Asociācija (Lettish association of independent experts)