Culture of Complaint and the Pursuit of Self-Determination

The possibilities and limits of the autonomy of Hungarian lawyers under the Dual Monarchy

The modern process of professionalisation in Central and East-Central European societies is often primarily explained by top-down reforms engineered by state actors and governments. In Hungary under the Dual Monarchy, the modernisation and reorganisation of judges’ and law-yers’ associations was enacted in accordance with the spirit of separating the justice system from the civil service. While lawyers won wide-ranging autonomy and a chamber system in 1870, they were dissatisfied with the jurisdiction granted to them, so they relied on the profes-sional press of the era to constantly keep the urgency of reform and the redrafting of regulations on the agenda. Many lawyers were offended by the functioning of the remedial courts, or even that of the lawyers’ disciplinary courts, as well as the – purportedly – different perspective of judges, and the paragraphs of the new criminal code pertaining to lawyers. But the culture of complaint developing on the pages of the legal professional press did not serve to disseminate information or ethical norms, as much as to add to the arguments for autonomy. The examina-tion of the functioning of autonomy and the pragmatic utilization of the ethical codex leads one to infer that lawyers actively used the jurisdiction granted to them, and successfully developed mechanisms that allowed goals that were only indirectly included in the paragraphs to be vali-dated. However, the compatibility of the legal profession with other occupations, the carrying out of disciplinary processes, and thus the development and maintenance of the prestige of the lawyer’s profession was limited, limited in ways that the influence of the bar association could not overcome in the era.

Released: Replika 119–120, 67–74.
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