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In early 2017 the Hungarian Parliament passed the Code of Administrative Litigation as a beginning of the reform of the central administration. As the final step, the Hungarian Parliament adopted a law on the Administrative Courts on 12 December 2018. The goal of the new legislation was to ’restore the prestige of the administrative courts’ which was abolished in 1949. Since then no separate administrative court system existed, it was integrated into the civil courts.

The reason for the separation now is that administrative law has a different internal logic compared to the civil law. Government experts expect that the new system will be capable of contributing to the development of administrative law and jurisprudence, and outbalancing the dominant position of the public administration in the litigation proceedings.

The legislation sets up 8 regional administrative courts and the ‘administrative high court’. According to the reform, each act of the Hungarian administration that has a legal effect can be challenged, but only before the administrative courts. The regional courts proceed at first instance and the high court proceeds on appeal. In some cases however, for example in proceedings concerning referendums and election procedures, the latter proceeds at first instance.

The opposers of the new court system claim that the Hungarian Minister of Justice will have excessive influence over the judicial system as he will be responsible for the selection of the judges, which could lead to a misuse. Furthermore, they argue that given the fact that these courts will often hear sensitive political cases, with the questionable selection system the judges might be influenced during the procedures.

The new law will enter into force on 1 January 2020.