Hana Marvanová, Councilor for Legislation, (STAN) set the goal of saving on external lawyers when she took office. However, spending is only falling off. In 2018, when the current coalition led by Mayor Zdeněk Hřiby (Pirates) joined, it gave the municipality 130.5 million crowns for the work of lawyers, in 2020 it was 111.4 million. “There is a reduction there, but we will see what comes out of last year’s figures,” said Marvan, who pushed for a reform of the use of legal services about a year before the end of her term.
After many years, the list of law firms from 2004 was abolished at the municipality, from which the union directors had to choose if they needed any external lawyers. If you wanted to outsource the work, they had to ask the Prague Council for an exception. “The list was criticized as outdated, there were offices with which there was no good experience, and the cooperation was problematic,” says Marvan. Since last October, union directors have had a freer hand. However, the use of external lawyers is overseen by the newly established Legal Support Department, which was also in charge of the Office’s anti-corruption agenda.
“The aim is to gradually transfer work to experts at the municipality. It’s already happening, but it can’t be done all at once. The municipality has a huge amount of this agenda, which is very specialized, “said Marvanová, according to whom complex matters are assigned. Not only litigation is challenging, but also, for example, the processing of contracts for large projects such as metro D. “But we are already dealing with a number of things internally,” Marvanová recalled the case with the Gold Happy Day casino, which sued the councilor directly. “Prague was represented in the dispute by a municipal lawyer, so the city did not cost the dispute,” Marvanová said.
Expenditures for external legal services do not swell not only because of the municipality itself, but also because of the management companies that manage its property on behalf of the city. “Management companies are not motivated to save on legal services due to the setting of contracts, there are no limits. To recover a hundred or a few in rent can be able to manage a thousand with its own internal strength, “said Marvan, according to which contracts with these companies need to be revised. The historical and transport company had high costs for lawyers, but it has its own budget.
The high operating expenditures of the municipality have long been criticized by the opposition composed of the ODS and YES, which criticized this year’s budget as low-investment and low-traffic-oriented. “The budget for 2022 is full of unconceptual spending of public money, unnecessary investments and reserves for pre-election bribery of selected groups of the population of Prague,” the chairman of the ODS deputies, Zdeněk Zajíček, did not spare criticism.
The government is also trying to save on external consultants and lawyers. The government office and all ministries spent a total of 283 million crowns in 2020, each year the amount decreases by tens to hundreds of millions of crowns. Former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) started savings on lawyers and advisers as Minister of Finance.