According to research from previous years, the operation of the judicial system is not coherent and is, in many ways, inefficient. The functioning of courts is not transparent, and there are no means to enforce their accountability – due to the regulations and structure of administration that existed until 2011. To handle the problems revealed by the researchers, the judicial system had to undergo reforms, and some parts of it still need to be reformed.
The judicial reform of 1997 provided a level of independence for the Hungarian courts that is unique even by international comparison. The assessment of the reform package shows that although independence was provided, the guarantees of accountability and transparency were not secured, and this has increased the risks of abuse. The problem is well known in consolidated democracies as well; there is an ever increasing tension between independence, as a guarantee for the efficiency of judges, and the actual efficiency of their activity.
Transparency International Hungary launched a series of programs in the spring of 2007, with the aim of introducing judicial reforms alongside a wide professional, social, and political consensus. There were many elements in the strategy worked out by the National Council of Justice that originated in the work of Transparency International. In 2010, based on the recommendations of TI and the strategy of the National Council of Justice, the Government introduced a bill aimed at the efficient operation of courts and the speeding up of court proceedings. The amendments came into force in January and March, 2011.
The adoption of the new constitution will bring about changes in the judicial system, as well. The details of this process are still unknown, but Transparency International Hungary will make every endeavor to ensure that the new regulations secure the impartiality and independence of judges and courts, and that they leave the improvements of 2010 untouched, so that their benefits can be applied in practice.
The act amendments submitted as reactions to the criticism by the Venice Commission do not provide sufficient guarantees to protect against corruption risks in the judiciary. Though the proposed measures bring some improvement compared to the legislation in effect, the proposal still leaves problems of the judiciary on the whole unresolved.
As reported in the press release of last Friday of the National Office for the Judiciary (NOJ) several court procedures were reassigned to other courts by Tünde Handó, president of the National Office for the Judiciary.
Transparency International Hungary - along with other NGOs - has called for the position of The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe on the recently introduced amendment to the Constitution related to the powers of the Constitutional Court of Hungary.