SOME Slovak courts are now taking extensive summer holidays even though many complain that Slovakia’s judiciary is rife with excessive delays and extended court procedures.

The Sme daily reported on July 11 that several Slovak courts have announced they will be taking complete holidays in July and August, among them the district courts in Trebišov, Kežmarok, Banská Bystrica, and that the country’s Constitutional Court based in Košice plans only one public session in the summer. Other courts have planned significantly fewer court sessions over the summer months, Sme added.

“All judges, apart from the time when they are on their proper holidays, will continue fulfilling their work duties,” the Constitutional Court’s chairperson, Ľubica Mackovičová, told Sme, but nevertheless the court has scheduled only one public session during the summer, on July 28.

Sme wrote that the courts stated that many attorneys and witnesses are on holidays as well in the summer months and this would make holding court sessions complicated.

“Apart from judges, attorneys and participants in the proceedings are on holiday, and thus ordering dates of sessions would be rather counter-productive,” the spokesperson of the Regional Court in Prešov, Michal Drimák, told Sme, even while adding that all courts are working over the summer.

Important members of the Slovak parliament do not appear to object to the arrangements. Neither Martin Poliačik of Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party nor Robert Madej of Smer party, two members of the constitutional affairs committee of parliament, expressed any concern. They told Sme, however, that they expect judges to use the summer months to study files and to examine evidence.

Slovakia’s law on judges mentions holidays only once, stating that a judge is to take at least two of his or her six weeks of holiday over the summer months, Sme wrote, adding that no other law apparently defines other aspects of judicial holidays.

The daily noted that lengthy court procedures are a serious problem in the Slovak judiciary and that during 2010 alone the Constitutional Court ruled that the state had to pay €700,000 in damages for delays by lower courts and that the state had lost cases before the European Court for Human Rights due to procrastination.