The government will raise judges’ and prosecutors’ pay in three instalments: From 1 January judges will receive a 32 per cent pay rise on average, while prosecutors 21 per cent, to be followed by 12 and 13 per cent pay rises in 2021 and 2022, respectively, Justice Minister Judit Varga announced at a press conference held on Wednesday in Budapest.

The Minister indicated that they will ask Parliament’s Justice Committee to submit the relevant proposed legislative amendment.

She said Hungarian judges are the second worst paid judges in the EU, the judiciary last received a comprehensive pay rise in 2004. From 2016 the salaries of judges increased slightly in three stages, while in the case of prosecutors there was a pay adjustment in 2018.

Mrs Varga recalled that upon her appointment as minister she made a promise to address the issues related to the pay of the judiciary, and now – thanks to the economy’s outstanding performance – she can deliver on that promise.

The Minister highlighted that from 2020 with the 32 and 21 per cent pay rises, respectively, they will “level” the pay of judges and prosecutors, and in 2021 and 2022 they will increase them further at the same rate.

At the press conference, Chief Prosecutor Péter Polt stressed that with this government decision, the remuneration of judges and prosecutors will be raised to the European Union’s level, and this is in line with the responsible jobs that judges and prosecutors perform.

He said it is important that there should be identical incomes in the two organisational units. He highlighted that the decision is not just a simple pay rise, but is also about the modernisation of the judiciary and making the administration of justice more complete. The Chief Prosecutor took the view that the pay rise will also have a beneficial effect on possible transfers between the two organisations.

Árpád Répássy, Vice President of the National Office for the Judiciary recalled that both the Fundamental Law and the law on the status of judges provide that a dignified salary is one of the most important pillars of judicial independence. He took the view that with the pay rise “the government will make judicial independence stronger than ever before”.

He also drew attention to the fact that not only the remuneration of judges will increase; they will also address a number of problems that exist in the current pay system. He mentioned as an example that the new system will better motivate young lawyers to become judges. The new system will likewise better reward the work of judges with experience of many years as well as the responsibility of senior judges. As a result, it is to be expected that there will be more candidates for jobs at higher courts.

The Vice President described the pay rise as historic in its significance, pointing out that “it is a fundamental principle” that judges and prosecutors should receive equal pay.

Mr Répássy thanked judges for their performance in the past few years which keeps the Hungarian judiciary in Europe’s vanguard.

According to the information of the Ministry of Justice, the decision will concern almost three thousand judges and two thousand prosecutors. In 2020, the pay rise of judges will amount to HUF 9.5 billion, while that of prosecutors to HUF 4.5 billion. The National Office for the Judiciary will make a contribution worth HUF 3 billion to the former, while the prosecution service will cover HUF 1.5 billion of the latter sum. The remaining amount will be paid from the central budget.