State hires expensive law firm to fight for a lost cause

The National Office For The Judiciary (OBH) is still fighting the lawsuit of forcibly retired judges – even after losing the case. More precisely, the Office hired a law firm (Pál és Kozma Ügyvédi Iroda) to represent its interests for a fee of 30.000 HUF an hour.

Atlatszo.hu managed to obtain the contract (pdf, Hungarian) that the National Office For The Judiciary (OBH) signed with a law firm regarding the legal proceedings about the forced retirement of judges who reached retirement age. The Constitutional Court has earlier repealed the law, which means judges cannot be forced to retire. In the light of the court’s ruling, it is highly questionable why it would make sense for the state (the OBH) to keep fighting these lawsuits – and especially to pay a third party for representation in the cases. Even the European Union Court has ruled last autumn that such a forced retirement of judges was unlawful, so there isn’t really a way to dispute the cases. The only sensible solution would be to come to an agreement with the judges outside of court, since the continuation of the lawsuit is a heavy financial burden for both the courts and the judges pursuing it.

Even if we disregard the fact that the proceedings seem irrational, we are still left wondering why the National Office For The Judiciary (OBH) hired a third party when it could easily use its own resources to manage the cases. The outsourcing of this task is also incomprehensible given that there is nobody who would be more familiar with the legal background of the lawsuits than the OBH. The structure of the contract is also problematic: the representative law firm’s interest is clearly to prolong the proceedings as much as possible, based on the fact that it gets paid on an hourly basis.

Read the full story in Hungarian here.

Translation by Orsolya Gulyás