Opening Event of the Economic Court of Latvia, 31 March 2021

 

Remarks by Angel Gurría,

Secretary-General, OECD

Paris, 31 March 2021

President Levits, Minister Bordans, Chief Justice Strupišs, Prosecutor-General Stukans, distinguished judges of the Economic Court:

I am delighted to address you during the opening session of the Economic Court of Latvia. The creation of this Economic Court is a testament to Latvia’s ambitious agenda to enhance the accessibility and effectiveness of its justice system, as well as an indicator of the strong Latvia-OECD relationship.

It is also in line with the OECD recommendations presented in the 2019 OECD Economic Survey of Latvia and the 2018 OECD Review: Access to Justice for Business and Inclusive Growth in Latvia.

This reform also comes at a crucial time. Businesses and economies have been hard-hit by the COVID-19 crisis. Global GDP contracted by 4.2% in 2020 and SME profits across OECD countries fell by an estimated 40% to 50%. In Latvia, GDP declined by 3.6% in 2020, and SMEs have required significant support from the government. Business legal needs and case backlogs have also dramatically increased due to contractual disputes, employment issues and corporate insolvencies.

The economic specialisation of courts can help Latvia solve these issues and build forward better through fairer, more inclusive and sustainable growth. The experience of OECD Member and Partner countries suggests that specialisation reveals several advantages:

First, specialisation has been observed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness in the resolution of legal issues, as it strengthens responsiveness to the specific legal needs of companies;

Second, specialisation can also enhance the uniformity, predictability and quality of judicial decision making in economic matters, generating a more secure business and investment climate.

Last but not least, as highlighted by the recent OECD Report Performance of the Prosecution Services in Latvia: A Comparative Study (2021), specialisation can promote a more effective prosecution of financial and economic crimes by enabling targeted training and experience of judges in this increasingly complex field.

Dear friends,

We applaud the inauguration of the Economic Court, which places Latvia in a solid position to address the growing needs of businesses, tackle economic and financial crime, and support an inclusive and resilient economic recovery.

The OECD stands ready to continue working with Latvia in its pursuit of a more efficient and effective justice system, promoting access to justice for all in the post-COVID-19 world.

Thank you.

 

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