As if the Slovak justice system wasn’t bad enough, now hundreds of judges could be soaking up around EUR 70 million of taxpayers’ money by suing the court system over remuneration discrimination, reports daily Hospodarske Noviny.
There are a total of seven hundred judges claiming compensation for being paid too little, and they could have no resistance from the top paid public official in the country last year, Supreme Court chairman Stefan Harabin.
The dam looks set to burst now after eleven Supreme Court judges were awarded compensation in excess of EUR 100,00 each, thanks also to the fact that the Supreme Court itself apparently did not appeal, question or contest the decisions.
The whole dispute broke out because judges sitting at the Specialised Court were given higher salaries to compensate for the difficulty and sensitive nature of the cases that they were dealing with. Other judges felt discriminated against and so are claiming for the difference (around EUR 4,300 per month).
The Ministry of Justice, which is naturally fighting against the lawsuits, was not allowed entry to the proceedings, and so they went through smoothly in favour of the claimants, i.e. the Supreme Court judges. The 11 judges will therefore rake in a total of around EUR 1.15 million.
For some reason the Regional Court of Bratislava also did not intervene, surprising given that if ruled in favour of justice minister Lucia Zitnanska’s initial appeal, and this was apparently because the chair of the Appelate court was on holiday.
Supreme Court chairman Harabin had earlier recommended the plenum of the Supreme Court not to appeal against the claims, possibly a case of looking after one’s own.
The whole process seems to have been orchestrated from the Supreme Court, with the first instance decision coming from former top official there, Patricia Skotnicka, who was awarded the case of former colleagues on the day she became a judge.
All very curious, but whatever the outcome, the judges are hardly doing badly when the difference in salaries alone is as much as EUR 4,300.