How to proceed? - Hungary
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- 1 Do I have to go to court or is there another alternative?
- 2 Is there any time limit to bring a court action?
- 3 Should I go to a court in this Member State?
- 4 If yes, which particular court should I go to in this Member State, given where I live and where the other party lives, or other aspects of my case?
- 5 Which particular court should I go to in this Member State, given the nature of my case and the amount at stake?
- 6 Can I bring a court action by myself or do I have to go via an intermediary, such as a lawyer?
- 7 To initiate the case, who exactly do I apply to: to the reception office or the office of the clerk of the court or any other administration?
- 8 In which language can I make my application? Can I do it orally or does it have to be in writing? Can I send my application by fax or by e-mail?
- 9 Are there special forms for bringing actions, or, if not, how must I present my case? Are there elements that have to be included in the file?
- 10 Will I have to pay court charges? If so, when? Will I have to pay a lawyer right from the introduction of my application?
- 11 Can I claim legal aid?
- 12 From which moment is my action officially considered to have been brought? Will the authorities give me some feedback on whether or not my case has been properly presented?
- 13 From which moment is my action officially considered to have been brought? Will the authorities give me some feedback on whether or not my case has been properly presented?
1 Do I have to go to court or is there another alternative?
Claims for overdue payments may be enforced by an order for payment, whereas claims specified by law can only be enforced by an order for payment. Such out of court proceedings are handled by civil law notaries. See the topic “Order for payment” procedures.
Alternative dispute resolution procedures are available in Hungary. See the topic Alternative dispute resolution.
2 Is there any time limit to bring a court action?
Time limits for bringing court action vary according to the case. For example, in the case of property claims there is no time limit for bringing action and nor is a limitation period applicable. By contrast, there is no time limit for bringing an action for non-contractual damages but such action is subject to the general limitation period (5 years) that the court takes into consideration in the proceedings if invoked by the other party. For other claims, the time limits for bringing court action are laid down by law.
It is therefore recommended to clarify the issue of time limits with a lawyer, a legal adviser or the Citizens Advice Bureau.
3 Should I go to a court in this Member State?
The issue of jurisdiction, determining the Member State whose courts have competence in the various types of cases with a foreign dimension is specified by the law of the European Union, the relevant international conventions and Hungarian private international law rules.
Relevant EU legislation which is generally applicable in commercial and civil matters includes Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 and the new Lugano Convention (published by Decision No 2009/430/EC), Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 in matrimonial matters and matters of parental responsibility and Regulation (EC) No 4/2009 in matters relating to maintenance.
Where neither the legislation of the EU nor the bi- or multilateral conventions to which Hungary is party apply, jurisdiction is determined based on the provisions of Decree-Law No 13 of 1979 on private international law.
4 If yes, which particular court should I go to in this Member State, given where I live and where the other party lives, or other aspects of my case?
See the topic Jurisdiction of the courts – Hungary.
5 Which particular court should I go to in this Member State, given the nature of my case and the amount at stake?
See the topic Jurisdiction of the courts – Hungary.
6 Can I bring a court action by myself or do I have to go via an intermediary, such as a lawyer?
Any person who, under the rules of civil law, has full capacity as well as authority to validly give instructions regarding the subject-matter of the case, may proceed in court actions in person or by proxy. A legal representative will proceed on behalf of parties not having the capacity to act in a lawsuit and on behalf of legal persons.
Under Act III of 1952 on the Code of Civil Procedure (‘the CCP’) it is generally not obligatory to involve a legal representative in the proceedings. The CCP lists the cases where it is obligatory to involve a legal representative. These are typically appeal procedures to be conducted before higher courts (the Curia of Hungary, i.e. the supreme court of Hungary and regional courts of appeal) and proceedings falling within the competence of regional courts as courts of first instance. With some exceptions, a lawyer must be involved in all stages of the proceedings in these cases, and if a case is brought without a legal representative it has no legal effect. The CCP also specifies who may act as a legal representative. The parties’ legal representatives are typically lawyers and law firms.
In cases where it is not obligatory to involve a legal representative, the application initiating the proceedings may be submitted by an authorised representative (for example a lawyer) appointed by the party or his/her legal representative. The rules on who may be an authorised representative and who may not are laid down in the CCP.
7 To initiate the case, who exactly do I apply to: to the reception office or the office of the clerk of the court or any other administration?
The application has to be submitted directly to the court which has jurisdiction and competence to hear the case. Under the CCP, parties not having a legal representative may submit their application orally and have it registered in the court records at any district court or the regional court which has jurisdiction in the case.
8 In which language can I make my application? Can I do it orally or does it have to be in writing? Can I send my application by fax or by e-mail?
The official language of court proceedings is Hungarian. During the proceedings, however, the parties and other persons involved in the trial, with the exception of the members of the court, are entitled to use their mother tongue or a regional and minority language other than the official language of the proceedings to the extent defined in international conventions, irrespective of their knowledge of Hungarian and the level of their Hungarian.
By signing the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, Hungary became obliged to allow with regard to Croatian, German, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Romani and Boyash:
- the party appearing before the court in person to use his or her regional or minority language without having to pay extra costs to do so,
- documents and evidence to be submitted in a regional or minority language, with the help of interpreters and translations, if necessary.
The court is obliged to ensure that all parties and other persons participating in the trial have the right to use their own language by employing an interpreter or a translator. Accordingly, the court assigns an interpreter or employs a translator to participate in the trial by providing certified translations of submissions (applications) drafted in a language other than Hungarian.
The application must be submitted by post or in person (during opening hours in the administration office or any time during working hours by placing it in the collector box set up at the entrance of the court), in a written form at the court bringing proceedings in the trial. However, parties not represented by a lawyer may also submit their application orally before any district court or the regional court having jurisdiction in the case and have it registered in the court records.
Applications may not be submitted by fax.
For information regarding the possibility of electronic submission, see the topic Automatic processing.
9 Are there special forms for bringing actions, or, if not, how must I present my case? Are there elements that have to be included in the file?
There are no forms available for submitting applications in writing.
Action must be brought by means of an application, i.e. a written submission containing the claim. The application must always specify the court in which proceedings are being brought; the name, permanent address and function in the proceedings of the parties and the representatives of the parties; the right the claimant wishes to enforce; the facts and the evidence supporting the claim; the data from which the jurisdiction of the court can be established; and an explicit request (claim application) for a ruling by the court.
It must be noted whether there has been mediation in the dispute between the parties. The phone number, fax number and e-mail address of the claimant, if any, must be included in the application.
There may be some extra requirements in certain proceedings, depending on the nature of the case (e.g. in matrimonial matters the application must include evidence that the marriage was entered into and information on any children born to the marriage).
Documents (or a copy of the documents) cited as evidence by the claimant or required to establish the jurisdiction and competence of the court, or which are needed to provide evidence of other circumstances to be considered by the court, must be attached to the application. If legal representation is obligatory, proof of the right of representation must be provided. A fee, which is laid down in a separate law, must be paid when submitting the application.
In legal disputes between companies having a legal personality, an attempt must be made to settle the dispute out of court before an application is submitted, unless the parties draw up a joint record of their difference of opinion. In these cases the claimant must attach to the application the written representations of the parties or the document serving as evidence of his or her effort to settle the dispute out of court.
The application and its annexes must be submitted in one more copy than the number of parties involved in the proceedings.
For information regarding submitting applications electronically, see the topic Automatic processing.
10 Will I have to pay court charges? If so, when? Will I have to pay a lawyer right from the introduction of my application?
It is obligatory to pay court charges in civil proceedings. The amount of court charges payable in each of the proceedings is laid down in Act XCIII of 1990 on Duties. Court charges have to be paid when submitting the application. If the charges are not paid or are not paid in full, the court calls on the party concerned to correct the deficiency, failing which the application will be rejected. If a party with a legal representative fails to meet its obligation to pay court charges, the court will reject the application without issuing a call to correct deficiencies and a writ of summons.
This does not apply if the party is exempt from paying court charges or from paying the court charges in advance.
Exemption from court charges means either that the person obliged to pay court charges is exempted from paying, or that exemption is granted in view of the subject-matter of the case. Personal exemption from court charges means that the party is exempt from paying in advance and bearing these charges. The Act on Duties specifies which legal entities may be granted exemption from the charges. These include the Hungarian State, municipalities, budgetary agencies and churches.
If an exemption is granted due to the subject-matter of the case, both parties are exempted from paying court charges irrespective of their income or financial situation. An exemption is granted due to the subject-matter of the case in, for example, appeals against decisions on exemption from court charges or from paying court charges in advance, counterclaims filed in a divorce case and requests for corrigenda or supplements to decisions.
Exemption from paying court charges in advance represents a lower level of benefits. The parties are exempted only from paying the charges in advance. In this case, the charges are paid at the end of the procedure by the party ordered by the court to do so. An exemption from paying court charges in advance may be granted to an individual or due to the subject-matter of the case.
Parties may be granted a personal exemption from paying court charges in advance if the advance payment of the charges would mean a disproportionate burden for the party in view of his or her income or financial situation, especially if the charges exceed 25 % of the taxable pro capita income of the party and his or her spouse and children living in the same household in the previous tax year.
Irrespective of their income or financial situation, the parties are granted an exemption from paying charges in advance due to the subject-matter of the case in, for example, proceedings relating to the civil law protection of persons or claims brought for damages caused in the exercise of administrative powers.
A party exempted from costs is also exempted from paying court charges. Exemption from costs may be granted to persons or in view of the subject-matter of the case. The party concerned is exempted from paying court charges in both cases. The types of cases in which an exemption from paying costs may be granted due to the subject-matter of the case are specified by legislation. Personal exemption from costs may be granted to persons whose income and financial standing mean they are not in a position to bear the cost of the proceedings.
A party exempted from paying costs in advance is also exempted from paying court charges in advance. An exemption from paying costs in advance may also be granted to persons or in view of the subject-matter of the case. The parties are granted an exemption from the payment of costs in advance in, for example, proceedings to establish paternity or the parent-child relationship, or proceedings for the placement or handing over of children or the right to maintain personal relations and direct contact with the child.
If a party is granted a partial exemption from costs, he or she will be granted a personal exemption from the advance payment of costs not covered by the partial exemption.
Under the Act on Lawyers, a lawyer is entitled to charge a fee for his or her services and to the reimbursement of his or her costs, the amount and date of payment of which are freely negotiated by the party and the lawyer. The exemption from costs includes requests for approval of representation by an advocate, if permitted by law. Representation by an advocate is authorized by the legal aid service.
Please also consult the topic Legal aid.
11 Can I claim legal aid?
Natural persons whose income and financial standing mean they are not in a position to bear the cost of the proceedings will, upon request, be fully or partially exempted from paying these costs. Exemption from the payment of costs includes the following benefits: exemption from court charges; exemption from the advance payment of costs incurred in the procedure and, unless otherwise provided by law, their payment in general; exemption from the obligation to pay a deposit for the costs of proceedings; requests for authorisation for representation by an advocate, if permitted by law. Parties may be granted full exemption from costs on an exceptional basis and only if it can be reasonably assumed that the party otherwise could not bring court action due to the expected costs involved. The criteria relating to income and financial standing which a party must meet in order to be fully exempt from costs are specified by law.
If a party is granted partial exemption from costs, he or she will be granted an exemption from the advance payment of any costs not covered by the partial exemption.
With some exceptions, the benefit of exemption from the cost of bringing court action can be granted to foreign citizens only on the basis of reciprocity or international agreements concluded by the Hungarian State. Citizens of the European Union and non-EU citizens legally residing in the territory of a Member State may be granted an exemption from costs subject to the conditions applicable to Hungarian citizens. These citizens, as well as foreign legal persons registered in the EU Member State, cannot be obliged to pay a deposit for the costs of proceedings. The exemption from costs in this case also includes the costs of travelling to the location of the hearing, provided that the party has a statutory obligation to attend the hearing in person. If a person submits a request for exemption from costs on the standard form specified in Article 16 of Directive 2003/8/EC in accordance with the provisions of the Directive, and the request also includes application for legal representation by an advocate, the court sends a copy of the request to the legal assistance service responsible for assigning an advocate, together with a copy of its final decision on the request for exemption from costs.
Please also consult the topic Legal aid.
12 From which moment is my action officially considered to have been brought? Will the authorities give me some feedback on whether or not my case has been properly presented?
As a general rule, the action is officially considered to have been brought when the application arrives at the court and is filed by the court office.
The question of when an application is officially considered to have been brought is of particular importance in cases where there is a legal time limit for bringing an action. Such time limits differ in terms of both the duration they cover and the conditions based on which applications are considered submitted in time.
As regards procedural time limits, the CCP states that the consequences of missing a time limit do not apply if a submission to the court is sent as registered mail at the latest on the last day of the time limit. However, unless the law provides otherwise, this rule does not apply to the calculation of the statutory time limit for submitting applications. Applications are considered submitted in time if they arrive at the court at the latest on the last day of the time limit set for submitting applications.
Applications submitted after the deadline are automatically rejected without issuing a writ of summons if the time limit set for submitting applications is a limitation period expressly provided by legislation, if the party does not provide evidence to justify the delay or if the evidence provided is not conclusive.
It is therefore recommended to consult a legal adviser, a lawyer or a Citizens Advice Bureau in order to clarify when an application is considered to have been officially brought in time.
If a party not represented by a lawyer submits an application or any other request initiating proceedings orally before a district court or the regional court having jurisdiction in the case and it is registered in the court records, the representative of the court provides the party with appropriate guidance and calls on him or her to correct deficiencies, if any, without delay. Otherwise the court does not inform the parties of the mere fact that the proceedings have been started. Once it has received the application, the court examines whether it contains all the elements required by law. If the application of a party employing a legal representative does not contain all the necessary elements, if the authorisation of the legal representative has not been attached or if the party did not pay the costs of the proceedings, the court will reject the application without issuing a writ of summons. In other cases, if the application is not complete the court asks the party to remedy the deficiency or, in order to have a trial as soon as possible, takes intermediate measures (e.g. it obtains documents from other authorities).
The court decides the date of the hearing at the latest within 30 days of receipt of the application at the court. If the date of the hearing can only be set after measures are taken by the court (e.g. a call to remedy deficiencies), the time limit for setting the date of the hearing is calculated from the date on which the measures were taken. The court issues a writ of summons to the parties by the final date of the specified time limit, and a copy of the application or, in the case of an oral application, a copy of the record made of the application, is also sent to the parties. The parties are therefore informed of the start of proceedings by receiving this writ of summons.
For information on the electronic submission of applications and their confirmation, see the topic Automatic processing.
13 From which moment is my action officially considered to have been brought? Will the authorities give me some feedback on whether or not my case has been properly presented?
The court sets the day of the hearing as described in section 12 and issues a writ of summons for that date to the parties. In addition to serving the application, the court calls upon the defendant to respond to the application in writing by the day of the hearing or, in any event, to make an oral statement no later than the day of the hearing or the deadline set by the court. The party may receive further information at the trial, depending on the individual characteristics of the proceedings.
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Last update: 16/10/2017