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Which law will apply? - Hungary

Please note that the original language version of this page Hungarian has been amended recently. The language version you are now viewing is currently being prepared by our translators.

1 Sources of the rules in force

1.1 National rules

The applicable law is governed by International Private Law Decree-Law No 13 of 1979. However, this applies only if no European Union regulation or international treaty contains provisions concerning the applicable law.

1.2 Multilateral international conventions

Information on this may be found primarily on the Link opens in new windowwebpage of the Hague Conference on Private International Law.

1.3 Principal bilateral conventions

- Treaty between Hungary and Czechoslovakia on legal assistance (Czech Republic, Slovakia)

- Treaty between Hungary and Yugoslavia on legal assistance (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro)

- Treaty between Hungary and Bulgaria on legal assistance

- Treaty between Hungary and Poland on legal assistance

- Treaty between Hungary and Romania on legal assistance

- Treaty between Hungary and the Soviet Union on legal assistance (Russia, Belarus, Moldova)

2 Implementation of conflict of law rules

2.1 Obligation of the judge to apply conflict of law rules on his own initiative

If a legal relationship has a substantial foreign element (for instance, one of the parties is a foreign national), the Hungarian court or competent authority dealing with the case is obliged to consider in each case, on its own initiative, the law of which State is to be applied.

2.2 Renvoi

If a foreign law applies based on the International Private Law Decree-Law, the substantive rules of the specified foreign law directly governing the issue at hand are applicable. As a rule, the international private law rules of the foreign law relied upon are not applicable. Therefore if they refer to the law of a third State, this must be disregarded, whereas if they refer to Hungarian law, Hungarian substantive law applies.

2.3 Change of connecting factor

Hungarian law lays down different rules for each type of legal relationship regarding what happens when a connecting factor changes over time. There is no general rule on this.

2.4 Exceptions to the normal application of conflict rules

A foreign law must not be applied if it is contrary to Hungarian public order. However; where the socio-economic system of a given foreign State is different from that of Hungary, this is not sufficient for the foreign law to be disregarded. If the foreign law is contrary to public order, Hungarian law applies.

A foreign law is not applicable if the foreign connecting factor is artificially or fraudulently created by the parties in order to evade the law that would otherwise be applicable (known as a fraudulent connecting factor). In such cases the law otherwise applicable according to the International Private Law Decree-Law applies.

Instead of the law applicable under the International Private Law Decree-Law, the applicable law may be Hungarian law, if requested jointly by the parties, or – if a choice of law is possible – the law that is chosen.

2.5 Proof of foreign law

The court handling the case takes steps to gather information on the contents of foreign law it is not familiar with. It has several options for doing this. Based on an international convention binding on Hungary, it may address a request to the competent authorities of the parties to the given convention to obtain the contents of the foreign law, but it may also consult the minister of justice, who will provide any information available on the contents of the foreign law. The International Private Law Decree-Law also allows the court to obtain an expert opinion or to take into account evidence submitted by the parties.

If the content of the applicable foreign law cannot be established, Hungarian law applies.

The minister of justice issues certificates on Hungarian law and case law for use abroad.

3 Conflict of law rules

3.1 Contractual obligations and legal acts

The International Private Law Decree-Law applies to legal relationships not subject to Link opens in new windowRegulation (EC) 593/2008 (Rome I Regulation).

The law applicable to the contract is the law chosen by the parties for the entire contract or just a part of it at the time the contract is concluded or later. The choice of law must be explicit or established from the provisions of the contract or the circumstances of the case with sufficient certainty. In the absence of a choice of law the applicable law is to be established on the basis of the International Private Law Decree-Law.

For contracts concluded at a stock exchange, auction, or following an invitation to tender, the law of the State where the stock exchange is located or the auction or invitation to tender took place is applicable.

The law applicable to the articles of association is the law of the State where the company conducts its activities. Articles of association establishing a legal person are governed by the personal law applicable to that legal person.

The law applicable to the existence and extent of securities-based obligations is the law applicable to the place of performance. The creation, transfer, termination and enforcement of contractual rights and obligations arising from bonds issued on the basis of a public loan must be assessed according to the personal law applicable to the issuer. If the security confers a right to dispose of goods, the rule of conflict of laws relevant for in rem relationships applies to the effects of rights in rem. If the security entails membership rights, the creation, transfer, termination and enforcement of rights and obligations arising from the security must be assessed according to the personal law applicable to the legal person.

For other contracts, in the absence of a choice of law, the law to which a contract is most closely connected - according to the essential elements of the given contractual relationship - must be deemed applicable.

Contract law covers every element of a contractual obligation, such as the conclusion of a contract, its material and formal validity, its contractual effects, agreements securing the contract, liability for claims against the contract, transferability by assignment and assumption.

If a contract is formally invalid under the relevant law, the court considers the contract valid if it is valid according to the law of the State of the court handling the case or the law of the State where it was concluded or where the intended legal effects are to apply.

The law otherwise applicable to a claim applies to the prescription of the claim.

The rules on contracts apply mutatis mutandis to unilateral statements.

3.2 Non-contractual obligations

The International Private Law Decree-Law applies to legal relationships not subject to Link opens in new windowRegulation (EC) 864/2007 (Rome II Regulation).

The law applicable at the time and place of the activity or negligence causing the damage applies to non-contractual liabilities. If more favourable to the person sustaining the damage, the law of the State where the damage occurred applies. If the domiciles of the person causing the damage and the person sustaining the damage are in the same State, the applicable law is the law of that State. If culpability is a condition for liability under the law of the place of the activity or negligence causing the damage, the capacity to incur liability in tort may be established either under the personal law applicable to the person causing the damage or the law of the place of infringement. The issue of whether the behaviour causing damage infringed traffic or other safety rules is determined under the law of the place where the behaviour causing the damage occurred.

If the activity or negligence causing the damage took place on a registered vessel or aircraft, the law applicable to the act causing the damage and its consequences is the law of the State under whose flag or insignia the vessel or aircraft was operating at the time of the infringement outside State territory.

3.3 The personal status, its aspects relating to the civil status (name, domicile, capacity)

The legal capacity and, in general, status of persons, as well as their personality rights must be determined according to the personal law applicable to them. A person’s name is governed by the personal law applicable to them. However, when registering the name at birth, at the request of the person concerned the law of another State of which he or she is also a national applies.

The law applicable at the time and place of an infringement are applicable to claims arising from the infringement of personality rights, but if Hungarian law is more favourable to the person injured regarding compensation or redress, the claim must be assessed according to Hungarian law.

The personal law applicable to a person is the law of the State of which he or she is a national. A change of nationality does not affect the former personal status or the rights and obligations arising from it. If a person has more than one nationality and one of these is Hungarian, the applicable personal law is Hungarian law. The personal law applicable to a person who has more than one nationality, none of which is Hungarian, or of a stateless person is the law of the State where they are domiciled or the law of Hungary, if they also have a domicile in Hungary. The personal law applicable to a person who has more than one domicile abroad is the law of the State with which they are most closely connected. The personal law applicable to a person whose personal law cannot be determined on the basis of the above and who does not have a domicile is determined by their habitual residence. The personal law applicable to a person whose places of habitual residence include Hungary is Hungarian law.

Domicile means the place where the person resides permanently or with the intent to remain indefinitely. Habitual residence means the place where a person resides for an extended period without intending to remain indefinitely.

Hungarian law is applicable to persons with asylum status in Hungary; this does not affect their former personal status or the rights and obligations arising from it.

The law applicable to the economic activity and personal capacity of an individual is the law of the State on the territory of which the economic activity has been authorised. If authorisation for the economic activity is not required or the activity has been authorised in more than one State, the applicable law is the law of the State where the principal place of business of the economic activity is located.

The legal capacity and personal and economic rights and obligations of foreign nationals and stateless persons are generally speaking governed by the same rules applicable to Hungarians. A non-Hungarian citizen lacking capacity or with limited capacity under the personal law applicable to them must be deemed to have capacity with regard to their economic transactions conducted in Hungary to satisfy their everyday needs, if they would have capacity under Hungarian law. A non-Hungarian citizen lacking capacity or with limited capacity under the personal law applicable to them, but who would have capacity under Hungarian law must be deemed to have capacity with regard to their other economic transactions as well, if the legal consequences of those transactions are to take effect in Hungary.

The law applicable to declaring a person dead or missing or recording their death is the personal law applicable to the person concerned. If a Hungarian court declares a non-Hungarian citizen dead or missing for domestic legal purposes, or records the death of such a person, Hungarian law applies.

The legal capacity, economic role, personal rights and legal relationships between the members of a legal person must be determined under the personal law applicable to it. The personal law applicable to a legal person is the law of the State in which the legal person is registered. If the legal person is registered in more than one State or is not required to be registered under the law applicable at the place of business designated in the articles of association, the applicable personal law is the law applicable at the place of business designated in the articles of association. If the legal person does not have a place of business designated in its articles of association or has several places of business and is not registered under the law of any State, the applicable personal law is the law of the State where its principal place of business is located.

3.4 Establishment of parent-child relationship, including adoption

3.4.1 Establishment of parent-child relationship

The law applicable to establishing paternity or maternity or rebutting the presumption of paternity is the personal law applicable to the child at the time of birth. Acknowledgement of paternity of the child must be determined according to the personal law applicable to the child at the time of the acknowledgement, while acknowledgement of a child conceived, but not yet born must be determined according to the personal law applicable to the mother at the time of the acknowledgement. An acknowledgement cannot be deemed formally invalid if it is formally valid under either Hungarian law or the law in effect at the time and place of the acknowledgement.

3.4.2 Adoption

The conditions for adoption must be assessed in accordance with both the personal law applicable to the adoptive parent and that of the person to be adopted at the time of the adoption. A Hungarian national may adopt a non-Hungarian citizen, or a non‑Hungarian citizen may adopt a Hungarian national with the authorisation of the Hungarian public guardian authority or the authorisation of a foreign authority approved by the Hungarian public guardian authority. The public guardian authority may authorise or approve the adoption only if it also complies with the conditions specified under Hungarian law.

The personal law applicable to the adoptive parent at the time of adoption or disruption of adoption applies to the legal effects of the adoption and to disruption of the adoption and the legal effects of disruption.

If the personal law applicable to the adoptive spouses is different at the time of the adoption or its disruption, the applicable law is:

(a) the last personal law applicable to both spouses, or in the absence of such;

(b) the law of the State where the common residence of the spouses was at the time of the adoption or its disruption, or in the absence of such;

(c) the law of the State of the court or other authority handling the case.

3.5 Marriage, unmarried/cohabiting couples, partnerships, divorce, judicial separation, maintenance obligations

3.5.1 Marriage

The substantive conditions for a valid marriage must be assessed according to the personal law applicable to both persons to be married, if such law exists at the time of their marriage. If the personal laws applicable to them differ at the time of the marriage, the marriage will be valid only if the substantive conditions are met in accordance with the personal laws applicable to each of them. The law applicable to the formal validity of the marriage is the law in effect at the time and place of the marriage. These rules apply mutatis mutandis to the existence or non-existence of a marriage.

If a non-Hungarian citizen wishes to contract a marriage in Hungary, he or she has to certify that there is no impediment to the marriage under the personal law applicable to him or her. In justified cases the government office may waive the requirement to provide such a certificate. A certificate or request for waiver is not necessary if no certificate is required to be issued under the personal law applicable to the person to be married. The marriage cannot be contracted in Hungary if there is an insurmountable impediment to the marriage under Hungarian law.

If a Hungarian national or a stateless person living in Hungary wishes to contract a marriage abroad, the government office (or a Hungarian representative authority abroad in the case of a Hungarian national living abroad,) certifies that there is no impediment to the marriage under Hungarian law.

3.5.2 Unmarried/Cohabiting couples and partnerships

The rules concerning marriage apply to the establishment and validity of a registered partnership and its legal effects, with the following exceptions.

It is not an impediment to the establishment or validity of a registered partnership if the personal law applicable to a future partner in a registered partnership does not recognise same-sex registered partnerships, provided that:

(a) the non-Hungarian future partner in a registered partnership certifies that there would be no impediment to marriage under the personal law applicable to him or her (in justified cases the government office may waive this certification requirement), and

(b) at least one of the future partners in the registered partnership is a Hungarian national or domiciled in Hungary, in which case Hungarian law applies to the legal effects of the registered partnership.

The law applicable to the dissolution of a registered partnership is the law of the State:

(a) where the habitual residence of the partners in the registered partnership is at the time the action or application initiating the procedure for dissolution of the relationship is submitted, or in the absence of such;

(b) where the last habitual residence of the partners in the registered partnership was, if this habitual residence ended not longer than one year before the action or application is submitted, provided that one of the partners in the registered partnership still resides in that State at the time the action or application is submitted, or in the absence of such;

(c) where both partners in the registered partnership were nationals at the time the action or application was submitted.

If it is not possible to determine the applicable law on the basis of the above and if the personal law applicable to a partner in the registered relationship does not recognise same-sex registered partnerships and therefore Hungarian law was applied with respect to the legal effects of the relationship, the law of the State of the court or other authority handling the case applies.

3.5.3 Divorce and judicial separation

Here the applicable legislation is Link opens in new windowRegulation (EU) 1259/2010 (Rome III) . The spouses may choose a law according to Articles 5 to 7 of the Regulation until the expiry of the deadline set by the court at the first hearing. Such an agreement is valid if its form is in accordance with Article 7(1) of the Regulation.

3.5.4 Maintenance obligations

Here the applicable legislation is the Link opens in new windowHague Protocol of 23 November 2007 on the Law Applicable to Maintenance Obligations.

3.6 Matrimonial property regimes

The law applicable to the matrimonial property relationship of the spouses, including matrimonial property agreements, is the personal law jointly applicable to the spouses at the time of the assessment. If the personal laws applicable to them differ, the last personal law applicable to both of them, or in the absence of such, the law of the State of their last common residence applies. If they did not have a common residence, the law of the State of the court or other authority handling the case applies.

A change in the personal law applicable to the spouses does not affect property consequences, including matrimonial property agreements, that arose validly on the basis of a previous law.

3.7 Wills and successions

An estate is to be assessed on the basis of the law that was the personal law applicable to the deceased at the time of his or her death.

A disposition of property upon death is to be assessed on the basis of the law that was the personal law applicable to the deceased at the time of his or her death. The disposition of property upon death (and its revocation) is formally valid if it complies with Hungarian law, or

(a) the law in effect at the time and place where and when the disposition of property upon death was drawn up or revoked, or

(b) the law which was the personal law applicable to the deceased when the disposition of property upon death was drawn up, at the time this was revoked or at the time of the deceased’s death, or

(c) the law in effect at the domicile or habitual residence of the deceased when the disposition of property upon death was drawn up, at the time this was revoked or at the time of the deceased’s death, or

(d) the law applicable at the place where the immovable property is situated in the case of a disposition of property upon death concerning immovable property.

Link opens in new windowRegulation (EU) 650/2012 applies to persons dying on or after 17 August 2015.

3.8 Real property

The law of the place where the property is located applies to ownership, other rights in rem, liens and possession. The law of the place where the property is located is the law of the State where the property is located at the time of the fact giving rise to the legal effect.

3.9 Insolvency

Article 4 of Link opens in new windowRegulation (EC) 1346/20000 determines the applicable law.


The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Last update: 16/10/2017