Friction over lawsuits of 702 judges

The Supreme Court, a continual source of friction (c) The Daily

Slovak judges are claiming in excess of EUR 70 million from the state in compensation for salary discrimination, as their colleagues at the Special Court have received higher salaries.

A total of 702 judges are filing lawsuits to claim for the compensation and the first case, presided over by the District Court of Bratislava I, already awarded EUR 100,000 in damages to 11 Supreme Court judges in December.

The Ministry of Justice has referred to the lawsuits as unsubstantiated and asked the courts not to accommodate them, while head of the Supreme Court, Stefan Harbin, convened a special plenary session of the Supreme Court over the matter.

Harabin set the agenda of the session, and eventually received support recommending that he does not appeal against the lost lawsuits. Harabin therefore endorsed the lawsuits and requested the Supreme Court to approve them. The Ministry of justice, though, is entering the lost lawsuits as a secondary defendant, and will probably do the same with the other pending lawsuits.

A group of Supreme Court judges stormed out of the session in protest, issuing a statement that they had been “forced to leave the plenary session of the Supreme Court, as it fails to satisfy the merits of a fair and lawful action”. They feel that Harabin had no right even to convene the session.

Harabin claims that the best and simplest solution would be if the Special Court judges return the special bonus they were paid, but this is a pretty unlikely outcome. Special Court judges received a special allowance because they deal with particularly sensitive criminal cases and corruption.

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