European Commission > EJN > Taking of evidence and mode of proof > Latvia

Last update: 19-10-2007
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Taking of evidence and mode of proof - Latvia

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. The burden of proof I.
1.
a) Who has to prove what to whom (who has the burden of proof)? a)
b) Are there rules which exempt certain facts from the burden of proof? In which cases? Is it possible to rebut these presumptions by producing evidence? b)
2. What requirements are laid down for the weight of evidence (requirement for evidence) ? 2.
II. The taking of evidence II.
3. Evidence that the court takes without being requested to by either party 3.
4. How is the evidence introduced in the case? 4.
a) How is the evidence introduced in the case a)
b) In which cases can the court reject evidence? b)
5.
a) What are the various means of evidence? a)
b) Difference between an expert witness statement and a written expert opinion b)
c) Does certain evidence have greater weight as evidence than other evidence? c)
d) Are there rules that state that certain circumstances require certain types of proof? d)
6.
a) Do witnesses have a legal obligation to testify? a)
b) In which cases can a witness refuse to give evidence? b)
c) What sanctions are taken against someone who refuses to testify? c)
d) Persons who are not allowed to testify d)
7. How are witnesses questioned? Can evidence be given by videoconference? 7.
III. Weight of evidence III.
8. Where evidence has not been obtained legally by a party, are there restrictions placed on the court in reaching its judgment? 8.
9. As a party to the case, will my own statement count as evidence? 9.

 

I. The burden of proof

1.

a) Who has to prove what to whom (who has the burden of proof)?

Each party is responsible for proving the facts on which its claims or its defence are based. The claimant must substantiate his or her claims and the defendant must substantiate his or her defence.

Evidence is submitted by the parties to a case and other participants in the case. Where it is not possible for the parties or other participants to submit evidence, on their reasoned request the court may call for evidence.

b) Are there rules which exempt certain facts from the burden of proof? In which cases? Is it possible to rebut these presumptions by producing evidence?

Where the court acknowledges that a fact is universally recognised no evidence is required.

Furthermore, facts established as a result of a valid ruling in a given civil case do not need to be proved repeatedly when hearing other civil cases involving the same parties.

A ruling in a criminal case is only binding on a court hearing a case concerning the civil liabilities of the person to whom the criminal ruling applies in respect of the occurrence of the criminal act or failure to act and whether it was perpetrated or permitted by the same person.

Facts that are regarded as established pursuant to legislation do not need to be proved. Such an assumption may be disputed under general procedures.

A party does not have to prove facts which have not been disputed by the opposite party under the Act on Civil Procedures.

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2. What requirements are laid down for the weight of evidence (requirement for evidence) ?

A court's assessment of evidence is founded on integrally, fully and objectively verified evidence evaluated during court sessions in accordance with legal awareness based on the rules of logic, scientific conclusions and observations gained from experience. In its ruling the court must explain why a certain piece of evidence was given priority over another and why it considered that certain facts were proved but others were not.

II. The taking of evidence

3. Evidence that the court takes without being requested to by either party

The Act on Civil Procedures lays down that the parties are responsible for submitting evidence, but the Act provides for certain cases where the court may request evidence on its own initiative (for instance where adjudication involves a child's interests). If the court considers that no evidence has been submitted in respect of certain facts on which one of the parties is basing its claims or its defence, the parties are informed of this and where necessary a period of time is fixed for the provision of such evidence.

4. How is the evidence introduced in the case?

a) How is the evidence introduced in the case

Written and material evidence is submitted to the court by the parties to the case. Where a party makes reference to oral evidence the court invites the witnesses indicated by the parties to a court session to hear their testimonies.

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b) In which cases can the court reject evidence?

The court only allows evidence provided for under legislation and of relevance to the case. The court can refuse to accept evidence submitted later than seven days before the court hearing, unless the judge has laid down a different period within which evidence must be submitted. During adjudication of a case evidence may be submitted on the reasoned request of a party to the case or a participant in the case where this does not hinder the hearing, if the court has accepted the reasons for the failure to submit evidence on time, or where the evidence relates to facts which have emerged during the course of the hearing.

Witness statements based on information of an unknown source or information provided by other persons where such persons have not been questioned cannot be used as evidence.

5.

a) What are the various means of evidence?

  1. Statements by the parties and third persons that include information about the facts on which their claims or defence are based are considered evidence where these are confirmed by means of other evidence examined and assessed in court;
  2. testimonies by witnesses and experts;
  3. written proof – documents or other texts in which information on facts that are relevant to the case is recorded by means of letters, digits and other written symbols or using other technical means, and any corresponding recording media (audio or video tapes, diskettes etc);
  4. material evidence.

b) Difference between an expert witness statement and a written expert opinion

There is no substantial difference since testimonials provided by experts are evidence and written statements by experts are also considered evidence.

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c) Does certain evidence have greater weight as evidence than other evidence?

No evidence has a predetermined significance as far as the court is concerned, but in its ruling the court must explain why a certain piece of evidence was given priority over another and why it considered that certain facts were proved but others were not.

d) Are there rules that state that certain circumstances require certain types of proof?

Yes. Facts which according to legislation can be proved only through certain means of evidence cannot be proved using any other means of evidence.

6.

a) Do witnesses have a legal obligation to testify?

A witness who has been summoned to court cannot refuse to provide evidence except where specified under legislation.

b) In which cases can a witness refuse to give evidence?

  1. Relatives in a direct line of a party to the case, first and second degree collateral relatives, spouses and first degree relatives by marriage and family members of the parties.
  2. Guardians and custodians of the parties and any persons in the guardianship or custody of the parties.
  3. Persons who are involved in a different legal dispute with one of the parties.

c) What sanctions are taken against someone who refuses to testify?

A witness who is at least 14 years old and refuses to give evidence for reasons which are considered invalid by the court or who intentionally gives false evidence is subject to the provisions of the Criminal Code.

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Where a witness fails to appear in court after receiving a summons from the court or from a judge and cannot justify this failure to appear, the court is entitled to impose a fine of up to LVL 40 or to enforce a court appearance.

d) Persons who are not allowed to testify

  1. Members of the clergy with regard to circumstances about which they have been made aware during the course of a confession and persons who, in connection with their profession or post, are not entitled to disclose information with which they have been entrusted, with regard to this information;
  2. minors with regard to circumstances involving evidence against their parents, grandparents, brothers or sisters;
  3. persons who as a result of physical or mental incapacity are unable to perceive circumstances which are of significance to the case in an appropriate manner;
  4. children up to the age of seven years.

7. How are witnesses questioned? Can evidence be given by videoconference?

Persons summoned as a witnesses must appear in court and must provide honest testimonies relating to circumstances known to them. Witnesses must respond to questions posed by the court and case participants. The court can question a witness in situ if the witness is unable to appear in court as summoned for reasons of illness, old-age or disability, or for other valid reasons. The specific procedure for questioning witnesses by videoconference is not laid down in legislation.

III. Weight of evidence

8. Where evidence has not been obtained legally by a party, are there restrictions placed on the court in reaching its judgment?

The fact that evidence has not been obtained legally must be proved by the party disputing the piece of evidence in question. This party must bring a separate action to dispute the evidence. A party to the case may also submit a reasoned application claiming that written evidence has been forged. The person submitting this claim can ask the court to exclude the evidence in question and notify the public prosecutor about the forgery. The court can engage a specialist or request further proof to verify an application relating to forged written evidence. However, if the court finds that the participant has brought the dispute without justification it can impose a fine.

9. As a party to the case, will my own statement count as evidence?

Statements by the parties and third persons that include information about facts on which their claims or defence are based are considered evidence where these are confirmed by means of other evidence examined and assessed in court. Where one party acknowledges facts on which the contesting party is basing its claims or defence the court can recognise these fact as proven if it is in no doubt that this acknowledgement is not the result of fraud, violence, threats or deceit or that it is not being used to conceal the truth.

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Last update: 19-10-2007

 
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