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REGIONAL SEMINAR ON ADMINISTRATIVE LAW (RIGA, LATVIA, 27-28 MAY 2015)

The Latvian Presidency of the EU Council hosted a regional seminar on Administrative Law on 27-28 May 2015 in Riga, co-organised by the Platform and GIZ. This two-day event, included a one-day regional seminar and a day of visit of Latvian institutions, including the Saeima (Parliament) of Latvia, the Regional Administrative Court of Latvia and an administrative institution, the State Revenue Service. The seminar aimed at deepening the dialogue and exchanges of experience on administrative law, and at sharing experience from countries of the European Union as well as from other post-Soviet countries that have already issued Administrative Procedure and Process Laws based on the European model, thereby providing support to the countries on their road to more compliance with the rule of law.

Fifty representatives of national state institutions, the judiciary and academia, European and Central Asian experts, had the opportunity to share best experience and propose ideas for reformation of the administrative law and administrative procedure in the Central Asian countries, contributing to strengthening rule of law in the region.

As the Central Asian States have achieved different levels of development and integration into their domestic law of the European models of administrative justice, all the participants gained a better understanding of the benefits of administrative law and the way it should be implemented, as a result of the seminar. The countries the most advanced in their administrative law reform were encouraged to further promote their on-going reform by creating specialised administrative juridiction and/or develop their administrative process law when their Administrative Procedural Code has already been enacted.

The participants agreed on the fact that reforming the laws governing the general administrative procedure is a key aspect for sustainable economic development and the improvement of the business climate, but also on the fact that their effective implementation was necessary to ensure legal security, notably for investments. Across the themes evoked were the need to strengthen independence in the field of administrative justice, including the need for judges to be nominated for permanent positions, to guarantee that everyone has de facto possibility to make an appeal to the administrative courts, and the importance to ensure professional qualifications for judges, their impartiality, expertise and continued education.

On 28 May, several examples of best pratices were presented and the participants were explained how citizens may lodge a claim in an administrative court against a wrongful act of an administrative agency. Mr Gunārs Kūtris, Former Chairman of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia, Member of Legal Affairs Committee of the Saeima, engaged into a debate with Central Asian delegates where the challenges to develop an administrative procedure distinct from the civil procedure, to ensure the accountability of state entities and their agents, or the creation of distinct specialised administrative courts were detailed.

At the end of the two-day seminar, the participants agreed on a communiqué stressing the applicability to administrative justice of the “right to a fair trial” that is embedded in the European Convention on Human Rights. It was decided to enhance dialogue and exchanges through a series of national seminars and events to be implemented by the EU – Central Asian Rule of Law Platform during the period from 2015 – 2017. A press release and a press report were prepared.