The new Civil Procedure Code of Hungary – What the changes mean for us?
The new Civil Procedure Code of Hungary came into force 1 January 2018 and – we can say – it has brought numerous changes.
At the time of delivering this code the aim was to create a procedure which not only fits into the international practice but establishes a framework for a more professional one.
To achieve this objective the legislator made changes even on a basic level. Two major general principles brought into being are principle of concentration of actions and court inducements.
Principle of concentration of actions says „The court and the parties shall aim to ensure that all facts and evidence required for determining the case is made available within a timeframe so that a judgment can be delivered in the dispute after one hearing only.” The prime aim of this adjustment is to restrain causeless continuance of litigations and to achieve a more reasonable litigation structure.
Court inducements states that „With a view to facilitating the concentration of actions, the court shall offer support, in the manner and by way of the means provided for in this Act, to enable the parties to fulfill their procedural obligations.” With this general principle the legislator wanted to emphasize that attaining an effective civil action is not only the parties’ duty but liability of the courts too.
Other notable change has occurred within the statement of claim. The main purpose of this change is to improve the efficacy and celerity of litigations. For this, the legislator excepts the plaintiff to submit to the court a claim, which should be profound enough for the court to adjudicate or bring in a court order similar to the claim.
According to data provided by courts there were 4833 received civil and economic litigations between 1 January 2018 and 31 January 2018. The new Civil Procedure Code says that the court shall – in the absence of a request for remedying deficiencies – reject the statement of claim if it does not contain compulsory content elements and/or formal requirements. From the received 4833 statement of claim there were only 100 where the court rejected it in absence of a request for remedying deficiencies.
Last but not least there is another very important alteration. The new Code introduced mandatory legal representation. It says that „In judicial proceedings legal representation is mandatory, unless an act provides otherwise.” In cases where district courts hear and determine cases in the first instance the Code does not demand mandatory legal representation. Cases like that are actions concerning civil status, guardianship actions, matrimonial actions and in actions relating to property, where the amount in dispute does not exceed thirty million forints, or where the value of the claim based on property rights cannot be determined.
Otherwise legal representation is mandatory in actions like industrial property rights, actions relating to the formation and lawful operation of legal persons, actions based on the legal relationships of members (former members) initiated between companies and their members (former members) and actions for damages or for the payment of restitution connected with the exercise of public authority.
It is therefore concluded that, the new Civil Procedure Code is approaching the international standards by increasing efficacy. It is in the future that the new Code will be adapted to this aim but it can be said that there is bigger expectation in contrast to the parties’ statements and mandatory legal representation becomes standard.
Dobos István attorney at law (ügyvéd; Budapest)