The time has come to bring to a conclusion the work related to setting up an administrative high court, candidate for justice minister László Trócsányi said at his pre-appointment hearing before the Justice Committee of Parliament held on 14 May 2018.

The appointment of the politician, who is planning to continue his job with the same group of ministers of state, was supported by the government-party members of the committee.

Mr Trócsányi said the time has come to bring to a conclusion the work related to setting up an administrative high court. He highlighted it will have been 70 years next year that the supreme administrative court was abolished as in 1949 the communist dictatorship closed down all organisations which provided the framework for the rule of law.

He said he is proud that eight regional administrative courts have come into being; at the same time, he sincerely regrets that they have not yet been able to set up an administrative high court and that they have failed to reach the necessary compromise on this issue.

“I believe the time has come now to bring this work to a conclusion”, he stated. Mr Trócsányi stressed that judicial independence is the “fixed star of democracy”. He rejected views that they sought to create “a surreptitious administrative agency” which is not based on the principles of the rule of law. “I reject this all the more because I have invested in this four years of work, and I also have 20 years of theoretical knowledge behind these efforts”, said the Minister who believes that the Ministry will continue to remain open to consultations in the future as well.

He highlighted that ever since the fall of communism administrative litigation has always been treated as “a step-child” in the administration of justice, “it was attached to different branches of the judiciary”, there was no professional organisation in charge of it. However, with the coming into being of the relevant code Hungary has finally entered the gates of Europe. He drew attention to the fact that the system of administrative courts functions well in several countries in Europe. He sincerely hopes that they will be able to make progress on the issue on the basis of consultations with parties.

Mr Trócsányi said another task of the next term will be to keep on the agenda and to solve step by step the legal representation of the state, and in the long run we must achieve that the legal representation of the state should be as professional as that of a large company. He observed that the Treasury Legal Directorate which was in charge of this service was also abolished in 1949.

He highlighted that a further fundamental responsibility of the Justice Ministry is to protect Hungary’s sovereignty and constitutional identity in light of the fact that there are major battles under way regarding which powers should belong to the European Union and which to the nation states.

He said in evaluation of the challenges the Hungarian legal system is facing that the world phenomenon that there is “an incredible quantity” of legislation in force is also true in Hungary. Codification training is therefore a priority, and a goal for the future is that legislation should be dealt with by professionals in the interest of improved interpretation and the better readability of legal rules.

He promised the continuation of a stringent penal policy, but at the same time victim protection is also a priority. In private law he sees the issue of legal competitiveness as a question to be addressed, and therefore in his view insolvency procedures as well as the rules of liquidation, bankruptcy and voluntary dissolution should be reconsidered and a standard register must be created for legal entities. He said it is equally important to strengthen legal culture because he believes that today citizens know little about the law.

Mr Trócsányi highlighted that the Justice Ministry will continue to remain an open institution, and promised to seek to maintain close cooperation with the various organisations also in the future, including the Justice Committee, political parties, the branches of the judiciary and representatives of the legal faculties of universities, as well as to engage in a constitutional dialogue with the Curia and the Constitutional Court. “I live in the spirit of cooperation”, said the Minister who encouraged members of the committee to listen to one another’s arguments in the next four years as well.

He said that also in the future the same four ministers of state will work with him: Parliamentary State Secretary Pál Völner, Minister of State for Judicial Relations Mariann Vízkelety, Minister of State for Public Administration Zoltán Molnár and Minister of State for EU and International Judicial Cooperation Krisztián Kecsmár.

In answer to questions, Mr Trócsányi described as “fake news” press reports claiming that every judge who was already in the administration of justice before 1990 would be sent to retirement and that they would do away with the Curia and it would merge with the Constitutional Court. He stressed the Ministry’s influence over the operation of courts is “practically zero".

In response to the Fidesz suggestion that with its ruling the Curia took a mandate away from the government parties, Mr Trócsányi said he is always cautious when discussing the merits of specific judgements. He has only ever done so once, in the Biszku Case.  He said in reply to an MSZP question related to the practice of the National Office of the Judiciary regarding the appointment of judges that after seven years it is well worth looking into the functioning of the system with due caution and prudence. Any conclusions can only be drawn in light of an evaluation.

He said in answer to a question concerning a European prosecution service that this organisation envisages a federal Europe; at the same time, Hungary believes in a Europe of nation states, and this is therefore a theoretical debate.

The committee accepted Mr Trócsányi’s ministerial appointment with seven votes for (Fidesz, KDNP) and four against (Jobbik, MSZP, DK).

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)