Hungarian Judicial Council, a stakeholder in judicial reform package, disagrees with several points of draft

February 01. 2023. – 12:42 PM



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The draft law does contain several elements of the previous legislative proposals of the National Judicial Council (Országos Bírói Tanács, OBT) and the expectations of the EU Council Decision on the Hungarian Recovery Plan, but in its current form it does not meet these expectations on a number of points – this is the opinion of the National Judicial Council on the draft law intended to amend the Justice Laws.

We reported on Monday, citing 444, that the judicial reform package, through which the government hopes to gain access to EU funds, only appears to meet the Brussels Commission's demands. The reform package, unveiled on 18 January, contains a number of tricks designed to ensure that the appointments to the National Judicial Office (Országos Bírói Hivatal, OBH) are no longer subject to substantive control by the OBT and that the Curia is filled with people loyal to the leaders elected by the government majority.

For example, the right of the National Judicial Council (OBT) to give its opinion on the suitability of candidates should be fully guaranteed and made compulsory. The present draft is a step backwards even compared to the current situation, according to the OBT. Also included in the resolution is a demand for a conflict of interest rule to prevent judicial leaders appointed by the President of the National Judicial Office (OBH) and subject to his or her employer's authority, and their relatives, from being members of the National Judicial Council.

In addition, according to the OBT, the law must stipulate that the council – exclusively from among its elected members – shall elect its president and vice-president immediately after the new law comes into force, as well as that they take office immediately.

The OBT also proposed amendments to some thirty paragraphs of the draft law, and listed its "additional proposals not included in the draft" over three pages.

As is known, the European Commission expected substantive changes in the Hungarian judicial system on four points, namely:

  • the role and powers of the National Judicial Council (OBT) must be strengthened;
  • the independence of the Curia judges should be strengthened in order to protect them from political influence;
  • obstacles which prevent Hungarian judges from referring cases where they perceive a conflict between domestic and EU law to the Court of Justice of the European Union should be removed;
  • the possibility for public authorities to challenge final judgments in the Constitutional Court should be abolished.

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