Constitutional Court invalidates administrative court law

January 13, 2017

Hungary’s Constitutional Court voted 14-1 on Friday to throw out a law passed by the National Assembly, declaring it unconstitutional. The court’s opinion concurs with that of President of Hungary János Áder (pictured), who refused to sign the law and forwarded it to the court for review in December.

Áder argued that the law’s passage in parliament by a simple majority was insufficient. The law would have created a new independent court, the Government Administrative High Court, but because the formation of a new court requires the modification of a cardinal law, a two-thirds parliamentary majority is required. The Constitutional Court examined the case in an unscheduled proceeding and returned its verdict in an unusually short time.

In addition to the manner in which the bill was passed on December 6, Áder objected to the provision according to which the Capital City Court would serve as an autonomous state administrative organ responsible for adjudicating lawsuits related to the administrative activities of the Government Office (kormányhivatal). He worried that the new court would take powers away from existing ones, and would decide on all politically sensitive cases regarding the legality of government decisions, as well as on appeals against state actions, election cases and public information lawsuits.

The proposed court was not popular with judges either: a 32-page analysis of the law by the National Judicial Office stated that there would be no professional, legal or budgetary justification for the restructuring of the judiciary, and such a measure would “destroy a proven, accomplished judicial system.”