The Association of Judges accuses the Ministry of Justice of poor cooperation on the judicial map.
Oct 6, 2021 at 9:09 am SITA
BRATISLAVA. The abolition of the four regional courts and their transformation into workplaces will make it difficult for some of the parties to gain physical access to the courts of appeal. This is especially true in criminal cases.
This was stated by the Association of Judges of Slovakia in its opinion on four draft laws on the reform of the judicial map.
Judges have no data
According to the Association of Judges, court proceedings may become more expensive and in certain cases slow down, said František Mozner, President of the Association of Judges of Slovakia, in his opinion.
The association emphasized that they agreed in principle with the objectives pursued by the reform of the judicial map, which were to create better conditions for the specialization of judges at the level of district courts.
This should lead to an increase in the performance, credibility and quality of the judiciary. However, it fundamentally disagrees with the initial thesis of the proposed reform that in order for the random allocation of cases to work, it is necessary that at least three specialized judges or chambers be elected in court.
Under the current legislation, the condition of random assignment is met if the case is to be assigned to one of at least two chambers or single judges.
The association explained that this long-standing practice is also in line with the opinion of the Venice Commission of 2010 and also the opinion of the CEPEJ of 2017.
“Regarding the proposed abolition of small district courts, which is not rejected in principle by the Association of Judges, we consider it problematic that neither from the explanatory memorandum nor from other documents to which it refers and which are available on the Ministry of Justice website Based on the input data and criteria, the estimated numbers of specialized judges in individual basic court agendas in the existing district courts were determined, which is crucial for whether the annulment of a particular district court is factually justified, “the association said.
No involvement in the creation of the court map
With the proposed establishment of municipal courts in Bratislava and Košice the Association of Judges is convinced that by recruiting the district courts concerned to a state appropriate to their idea and composition and by introducing so-called causal jurisdiction in the business agenda, the objectives of the proposed reform can be achieved while maintaining the status quo.
According to the association, these are minimal additional costs compared to the costs associated with the establishment of municipal courts.
The Judicial Association also reproaches the Ministry of Justice of the Slovak Republic that their representative was not involved in the preparation of the first proposal, but also the current proposals for a new court map.
“The European Commission’s Report on the Rule of Law 2021, in the part concerning Slovakia, also expresses concerns in relation to the legislative process, especially regarding the insufficient involvement of relevant entities in drafting legislation,” the association continued, saying that the Ministry of Justice has use, among other things, the knowledge of professional organizations and involve them, especially in work to address issues of a conceptual and legislative nature. The association also has a cooperation agreement with the ministry in this regard.
“From the point of view of the Association of Judges, the procedure of the Ministry of Justice is formal, raising doubts about the real attempt to hear and possibly take into account any factual arguments. This also confirms that the letter to which the President of the Association of Judges of Slovakia asked the Minister of Justice for a meeting at the beginning of August 2021 did not react in any way, “concluded Mozner.