Hungary’s new National Court Office (OBH) will provide services, exert control and have managerial functions, its head, Tunde Hando, said at a conference on legislation and public administration reform in Kaposvar (SW Hungary) on Friday.
In her lecture on Hungary’s new judicial structure, Hando said that the earlier system, including the now defunct National Judicial Council (OIT), had been unable to adequately manage the financial and human resources of the law courts. Judges and courts were unevenly burdened, while the lack of transparency across the judicial system had also elicited a lot of criticism, she said.
The new model is based on the separation of central management and professional control, as reflected in the act on judicial organisations, Hando said.
Hando said that her position provided more room for manoeuvre than that of the former OIT head and it also ensured a clear distinction between management and professional control.
“All that I do is entirely separated from the [actual] court procedures,” she said.
Hando referred to critical remarks over her authority to transfer procedures from one court to another, and said this power would be only used in exceptional cases in order to alleviate overburdened courts. She added that cases would be reassigned in consultation with the heads of courts effected. She also said that such powers had been introduced a year ago and the former OIT head had used it on 11 occasions, and “nobody raised objections”.
Earlier on Friday at a separate event in Budapest, the rotating president of the National Judicial Council OBT, Rita Szabo Toman, said that the OBT would act as the National Court Office’s (OBH) “conscience”.
Speaking at a ceremonial session, the OBT head said the new rules governing the judicial system would guarantee the independence of judges, whose protection, she said, was the primary duty of her organisation.
Justice Ministry State Secretary Robert Repassy said at the same event that the amendment to the law on the justice system had been submitted to parliament a week ago, incorporating the observations of the Council of Europe’s advisory body, the Venice Commission, as well as those of the Association of Hungarian Judges, in order to further broaden the OBT’s monitoring powers over the OBH, which sees to matters such as appointing judges and assigning them to cases.
Hando, the head of the OBH, confirmed that the OBT’s job was to monitor her office.