The Slovenia Times

Top court orders adjusting judge pay for 10 years of inflation

The Constitutional Court determines how much judge pay should be raised. Photo: Tamino Petelinsek/STA

Slovenian judges will see their salaries raised by about a quarter under a decision issued by the Constitutional Court after the government failed to implement its previous ruling mandating that the salaries in the judiciary should be raised to the level of those in the other two branches of government.

The court ruled in June 2023 that the salaries paid to judges are so low they jeopardise the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers, ordering the legislator to tackle the matter by 3 January 2024.

However, the ruling has not been implemented to this day despite protests and go-slow strikes staged by judges and prosecutors as the government has been insisting it will tackle judiciary pay as part of comprehensive wage reform in the entire public sector, which is yet to be finalised.

Following up on its earlier decision, the Constitutional Court has now decreed that judges' pay be raised by an amount corresponding to the total rise in consumer prices in the past decade.

The judges will receive higher salaries in September, when they receive their monthly pay for August, along with the difference in back pay starting from 3 January this year.

The court's decision, issued on 5 June, determines that salaries should be raised in a way that takes the pay brackets valid on 1 June 2012 and adjusts them for inflation recorded between that day and 31 December 2023.

A calculation using the calculator available on the website of the national Statistical Office, shows this amounts to 26.2%.

Decision to have a ripple effect

The court made a point of noting that the rise affecting only regular judges and judicial officials will create specific imbalances when comparing the raised salaries to those of other judges, including Constitutional Court judges, as well as of ministers, MPs and other state officials.

Thus the salary of the president of the Supreme Court will for instance exceed those of the country's top officials, the court said.

"However, this is a necessary consequence of the constitutional requirement to ensure that judges are protected against a substantial fall in the real value of their salaries," the court wrote in the ruling that was adopted in a 5:3 vote.

"Tackling these imbalances will have to be the job of the government and National Assembly," the decisions reads, with the court arguing that by going any further it would have undermined the principle of separation of powers, which had been the very basis for its ruling.

Welcoming the decision, which was issued at the initiative of the Judicial Council, the president of the Slovenian Judges' Association, Vesna Bergant Rakočević, said it was "unheard of that salaries failed to get adjusted all the way since 2012".

In their first reaction to the news, public sector trade unionists indicated that the decision will affect the ongoing talks on pay reform, including by perhaps using inflation as a reference.

Prime Minister Robert Golob responded by saying he was a persistent believer in the rule of law. While saying he was not yet familiar with the details, he argued that so far all decisions had been thoroughly examined by the government and then implemented to the best of its abilities. "I'm confident this will also be the case this time," he added.

President Nataša Pirc Musar expressed the hope that the government will implement the decision as soon as possible.

Prosecutors' salaries are pegged to those of judges, which means they should benefit from the rise as well.


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