News

THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REJECTED THE INITIATIVE SUBMITTED BY THE MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT CONCERNING THE REGULATION ON POSTERS

18 December 2018

Fifty-two Members of Parliament initiated the annulment by the Constitutional Court of the amendment of the Act on Townscape Protection. The Constitutional Court rejected the petition and it underlined in its decision, among others: the invalidity under public law of the challenged regulation may not be established, it is not within the scope that requires regulation in a cardinal Act, it is clearly interpretable by the market operators and neither does it violate the freedom of expression.

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CONSTITUTIONAL COURT: THE COURTS HAVE TO EXAMINE IN EACH CASE THE PURPOSE OF THE LAWS

18 December 2018

The Constitutional Court pointed out in its recent decision: the Fundamental Law sets forth as a constitutional obligation of the courts to interpret the laws primarily in accordance with  their purpose, however, the courts may also take into account other aspects. Nevertheless, any weighing by the court that completely excludes the assessment of the purpose of the statutory regulation is contrary to the Fundamental Law.

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CONSTITUTIONAL COURT: THE COURT MUST ASSESS ON A CASE-BY-CASE BASIS THE POSSIBILITY OF TAKING ACTION AS A SUPPLEMENTARY PRIVATE PROSECUTOR IN THE CASE OF FALSE ACCUSATION

18 December 2018

The Constitutional Court underlined: in the case of false accusation, the courts have to individually assess the facts of the case and all circumstances of the concrete case in order to reach a decision in compliance with the Fundamental Law about taking action as a supplementary private prosecutor.

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Judicial vacation at The CONSTITUTIONAL COURT from 21 december 2018 to 4 january 2019

12 December 2018

According to Section 12 of the Rules of Procedure, there shall be a judicial vacation at the Constitutional Court from 21 December 2018 to 4 January 2019 (11+4 days).
According to Section 55 (4) of the Rules of Procedure, the period of the judicial vacation shall not be taken into account when counting the deadlines specified in the Rules of Procedure. At the same time, the judicial vacation shall have no effect on the deadlines laid down in the Act on the Constitutional Court, including the deadline of submitting a constitutional complaint.

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The Constitutional Court adopted a decision in the case of the wrongful removal of children

29 November 2018

The Constitutional Court pointed out in its recent decision: in a procedure related to the wrongful removal of a child, the court should, as far as possible, use all the tools of evidence offered by the parties in the interest of clearly verifying the interests of the minor. A procedure where the clarification of the child’s interests is rendered impossible does not comply with the requirement of fair trial enshrined in the Fundamental Law.

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International meetings with Constitutional Courts and other institutions

13 November 2018

The Hungarian Constitutional Court’s meetings with Constitutional Courts, other institutions and participation in international conferences 2015-2018

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Statistics of the third quarter of 2018

11 November 2018

The latest statistics on the activity of the Constitutional Court

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With regard to debating public affairs, the boundaries of the freedom of expression and of the press are set wider

6 November 2018

The Constitutional Court underlined in its recent decision: a non-offensive recording taken in a public place, including a courtroom, depicting the affected public figure objectively may, in general, be disclosed without consent, provided that it is connected to a report on a publicly challenging event. Upon setting the personality protection limitations of the freedom of expression, the Constitutional Court consistently attributes a decisive significance to the fact whether the subject of the examination is a position expressed in the debate of public affairs.

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Conference for attorneys-at-law at the Constitutional Court

18 October 2018

For the first time in the history of the institution, upon the invitation of the President of the Constitutional Court, as much as one hundred and fifty attorneys-at-law attended attended the conference in the Constitutional Court’s announcement room, organised jointly with the Hungarian Bar Association.

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All NEWS AND EVENTS

LATEST DECISIONS/SUMMARIES

Decision 1483/2017 on rejecting an initiative for posterior norm control

18 December 2018

Summary of the decision: The challenged provisions contain regulations that pertain to the seller of the media advertising surface and the advertiser if the advertiser is a supported person specified in the Act on the budget. The aim of the provisions is to make poster campaigns more transparent and to decrease the risk  of corruption that may result from non-transparent pricing practice.

According to the petitioners, the amendment is invalid under public law as it has been adopted in a manner violating the provisions of the Standing Orders. The Constitutional Court pointed out: the mere violation of any provision of the Standing Orders does not automatically result in the invalidity of the Act under public law. The violation of the Fundamental Law can only be established if the legislative process is in breach of those provisions of the Standing Orders that originate directly from the Fundamental Law. This interpretation is also in compliance with the achievements of our historical constitution. As the Standing Orders contain no rule on the procedure of the legislative committee in the scope challenged by the petitioner, in the present case the violation of the Standing Orders could not have an effect on the invalidity of the rule under public law.

The petitioner challenged in the context of adopting the Act that although the President of the Republic had returned to the Parliament the originally adopted Act, the Parliament adopted a new law with a text different from that of the Act sent originally. The decision emphasizes that the repeated discussion of the Act returned for consideration is an obligation under the Fundamental Law. However, as the President of the Republic returned to the Parliament the originally adopted Act with a request of “discussing it repeatedly in its entirety”, it is not in conflict with the Fundamental Law to amend the returned Act comprehensively.

The petitioners also challenged that, according to the Fundamental Law, several elements of the regulation concerned, namely the economic management of political parties, fell into the scope of regulation in a cardinal Act.  However, the Constitutional Court established that the requirement of regulating the subject matter in a cardinal Act may not be extended to an indirect connection related to the economic management of political parties.

Regarding the due time for preparation, legal certainty has not been violated as the regulation did not render it impossible to adapt to the provisions of the law. In the context of the clarity of norms, the Constitutional Court underlined that the challenged provision of the law does not contain any term that would be uninterpretable by the actors in the market concerned.

The petitioners also raised concerns about the violation of the freedom of expression granted in the Fundamental Law. The Constitutional Court held that the responsible management of public funds and its transparency provided due justification for the necessity of the regulation. Neither can the regulation be regarded as disproportionate since the Act is based on the list price referring to the customary market price between independent parties.

According to the petitioners,  by empowering the government office to carry out the preliminary and ex-post control of the contracts concluded by political parties, the government office shall become entitled to control the economic management of the political parties. To the contrary: as underlined in the decision, only the State Audit Office of Hungary is entitled to control the legality of the economic management of the political parties and the monitoring activity of the government offices is limited only to examining the setting of the price applied in the contract concluded between the seller of the media surface and the advertiser, which ˜– as the case may be – can be a political party.

On the basis of the above, the Constitutional Court rejected the petition. Judge dr. Béla Pokol attached a dissenting opinion and Judge Dr. István Stumpf attached a concurring opinion to the decision.

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Decision 557/2018 on the annulment of a court decision

18 December 2018

Summary of the decision: The Hungarian National Bank as the petitioner filed a constitutional complaint against the judgements of the Curia and the Budapest-Capital Administrative and Labour Court. The background of the case was a supervision carried out by the Hungarian National Bank concerning the operation of an investment company followed by initiating the liquidation of the company and launching an investigation against the member of the company’s board of directors. As a result of the investigation, the member of the board of directors was obliged  in a decision – signed by one of the Bank’s vice presidents acting in a so called “transferred power of issuance” “on the basis of the authorisation by the Financial Stability Board” – to pay a supervisory fine. The fined member of the board of directors requested the annulment of the decision due to the concerns related to issuing the decision. The court of first instance indeed annulled the decision as it held that the vice-president had made the decision in his own name by distracting the Financial Stability Board’s competence. The Curia maintained the effect of the final judgement of the court of first instance and it delivered a final decision in the merit of the question examined on the basis of the constitutional complaint.

In the present case, the Constitutional Court had to examine whether the interpretation of the concept of issuance found in the Curia’s judgement violate or not the petitioner’s right to fair procedure.  In assessing this question, the Constitutional Court analysed the legislative environment, the purpose of the regulation and the facts of the concrete case as well. While according to the Curia, the term issuance is essentially a synonym of signing the decision, the lawmaker clearly indicated an intention to refer to a more flexible decision-making with regard to the amendment of the Act on the National Bank of Hungary. Courts have to interpret the laws by taking into account the purpose of the legal regulations, however, the Curia failed to take into account the the purpose of the legal regulation – despite of being bound to do so under the Fundamental Law. The adopted judicial decision has become an arbitrary one as it left the framework of legal interpretation set forth by the Fundamental Law for the Curia. On the basis of the above, the Constitutional Court established that the Curia’s judgement was in conflict with the Fundamental Law and therefore annulled it.

As noted by the Constitutional Court: the contents of the concept of issuance are different in case of administrative procedures and judicial procedures. At the court, issuance means the the authentication of further copies of the decision made and signed by the judge. On the other hand, in administrative procedures, in particular in the procedures by authorities, issuance also includes the actual decision-making.

Judges dr. Béla Pokol,  dr. Marcel Szabó and dr. András Varga Zs. attached concurring opinions, while Judges dr. Ágnes Czine, dr. Egon Dienes-Oehm, dr. Ildikó Hörcherné-Marosi, dr. László Salamon, dr. Balázs Schanda, dr. István Stumpf and dr. Péter Szalay attached dissenting opinions to the decision.

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Decision 1175/2016 on the annulment of a court decision

18 December 2018

The authorities carried out an investigation against the petitioner of the Constitutional Court’s procedure on the basis of a reporting of crime that had been made earlier. In this procedure, the petitioner  was registered and heard as a suspected person. However, subsequently the authority in charge terminated the investigation due to the lack of a criminal offence. The petitioner then made a reporting of crime based on false accusation against the person who had made the reporting of crime against him. An investigation had been started on the basis of the reporting of crime also terminated by the proceeding authority and the petitioner’s complaint against the terminating decision was rejected. At the same time, the authority informed the petitioner that he might act as a supplementary private prosecutor within sixty days. The petitioner had availed of this possibility, he had submitted charges as a supplementary private prosecutor, but the courts failed to proceed in the merits both on first and second instance levels. According to the courts, regarding the false accusation, the petitioner did not qualify as a victim as in his case the injury caused by the criminal offence was only an indirect one. The petitioner turned to the Constitutional Court by challenging these rulings of the courts.

The Constitutional Court has found the petition well-founded. It established that, both in the former regulation of criminal procedure and in the one presently in force, the lawmaker allowed the intervention as a supplementary private prosecutor – together with the right to turn to court –  only for the victim and only under specific conditions. The courts acting in the individual cases are in charge of examining the qualification as a victim.

According to the Constitutional Court, the proceeding authorities should not have disregarded the fact that the petitioner had initiated carrying out the criminal procedure on the basis of the qualified case of false accusation. Indeed, in this case, the assessment of the directness of the injury requires another approach than in the basic case – elaborated and analysed in details in the case law. In the relevant qualified case of false accusation the falsely accused person was incriminated, i.e. the authority provided him with a well-founded suspicion, his data were entered into the registry and he was heard as a suspect. In the case of the petitioner, the injury caused by the false accusation qualifies as a direct one therefore his quality as a victim is well-founded.

However, in the concrete case, the courts failed to assess these facts with due diligence, thus their decisions restricted the petitioner without due ground in stepping up as a supplementary private prosecutor because of the qualified case of false accusation. Therefore the Constitutional Court judged that the decisions of the courts restricted the petitioner in exercising his right to turn to court that resulted in the violation of the petitioner’s right to fair court proceedings.

Judges Dr. István Balsai, dr. Imre Juhász, dr. Béla Pokol and dr. Mária Szívós attached dissenting opinions to the decision.

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Decision 9/2018 (VII. 9.) on the interpretation of Art E) para (2) and (4), Art Q) para (3) and Art 25 of the Fundamental Law

29 July 2018

The Unified Patent Court is a supranational judicial forum that shall act in the legal disputes relating to the infringement and validity of European patents. The relevant agreement has been signed by 25 Member States of the European Union, including Hungary.
The Government’s motion raises two abstract questions of constitutional law. The first question was whether the Constitutional Court handles the so-called enhanced cooperations similar to the present agreement as part of the EU-law, or treats them as agreements concluded on the basis of international law. In the framework of this review, the Constitutional Court recalled: as established in the Decision No. 22/2016. (XII. 5.) AB, by joining the European Union, Hungary has not given up its sovereignty but it only allowed for the joint exercising of certain powers, accordingly, the maintaining of Hungary’s sovereignty should be presumed in the course of assessing the joint exercising of powers additional to the rights and obligations specified in the founding treaties of the European Union (the so-called presumption of maintained sovereignty).
According to the Constitutional Court, the form of enhanced cooperation should enjoy special consideration under public law. Hungary is free to conclude an international treaty the only states parties of which are Member States of the European Union and which creates an institution that applies the law of the European Union, however, all this shall only become part of the EU-law if its legal basis can be found in the founding treaties. This should be examined by the Government in the case of the concrete cooperation. If in the present case the Government holds that the founding treaties of the European Union have already specified the power related to establishing the institution concerned, the legal basis of the publication of the implementing international treaty shall be Article E of the Fundamental Law, while in other cases the legal basis shall be Article Q of the Fundamental Law.
The other question to be answered concerned the conditions of validity necessary for the publication in case of an agreement under international law. In addressing this, the Constitutional Court first considered that the Unified Patent Court to be set up shall apply in its procedure not only the EU-law but also the national laws of the Member States. The Constitutional Court also recalled that the international agreements establishing judicial fora typically set up a forum with a special function of legal remedy. However, it is a peculiar feature of the international special court set up for specific case-groups that not only the appeal procedure but also the basic case shall be dealt with by the special court. Therefore the operation of such an international forum supplementing the national court structure would result in drawing the relevant legal disputes between private parties off the jurisdiction of the national courts, which would necessarily affect the Fundamental Law’s chapter dealing with the courts in Hungary. The Fundamental Law prescribes, by allowing no exceptions, that the national courts shall decide in all legal disputes of private law. The Constitutional Court concluded from the above that, according to the provisions of the Fundamental Law in force, the international agreement transferring to an international institution the jurisdiction of adjudicating a group of private law disputes may not be published.

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Decision 8/2018. (VII. 5.) on annulling Judgment Pfv.IV.20.773/2016/5 of the Kúria

5 July 2018

The defendant of the case behind the constitutional complaint was the publisher of a national daily newspaper. An article with the title “Investigation under way against bishop” – the person concretely identified by name – “due to coercion” was published in the paper. The diocesan mentioned in the title had been the plaintiff of first order and subsequently he became one of the petitioners of the constitutional complaint. Further in the article the newspaper presented the following: the prosecutor’s office ordered investigation due to the suspicion of the criminal offence of coercion, “related to the acts” of the diocesan and the commissary.
To protect their rights, the plaintiffs turned to the court. In their opinion, the newspaper falsely stated that an investigation had been started against them due to any criminal offence, as in fact they have not been suspected and the investigation took place against an unknown perpetrator. The title of the article was about an investigation against one of them, despite of the fact that they have not been incriminated. After court proceedings of multiple stages, the plaintiffs finally turned to the Constitutional Court with a constitutional complaint. According to the petitioners, the Curia acted contrary to the Fundamental Law when it held permissible for the title of a press article to contain a falsehood.
As underlined by the Constitutional Court: if the whole of the press article provides true information, then the smaller inaccuracies, falsehoods found in certain sentences or terms of the article do not form ground for legal accountability. However, the Constitutional Court holds at the same time that the criteria concerned should be considered differently when they are applied with regard to the title of an article. In the course of the assessment focusing on personality rights, the title of a press article does not form unity with other parts of the article.
Accordingly, the interpretation of the law provided by the Curia does not comply with the criteria of constitutionality in its part stating that the falsehood contained in the title of the article should be assessed in the light of the totality of the article. Therefore the Constitutional Court annulled the challenged judicial decision. There shall be a repeated procedure in the case, as it is still the duty of the court in charge to decide about the lawfulness of the concrete article concerned in the case.
Judges Dr. Attila Horváth, Dr. Béla Pokol, Dr. Mária Szívós and Dr. András Varga Zs. attached concurring opinions to the decision.

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Decision 6/2018 On the right of lawfully settled non-Hungarian citizens to change their names

27 June 2018

Lack of provision for a name-changing process for lawfully settled non-Hungarian citizens violated the right to human dignity and the prohibition of discrimination.

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Decision 34/2017 On annulling Judgment Pfv.IV.20.624/2016/9 of the Kúria and on a constitutional requirement stemming from Article IX.2 of the Fundamental Law

11 December 2017

Publishing a true report on a press conference about issues of public events should not render the press liable for denigration.

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Decision 30/2017 on annulling Section certain provisions of the Act on Public Employment and on the Amendment of Acts Connected to Public Employment

14 November 2017

Requiring those taking part in a public employment programme to keep their living space tidy as a condition of participation constitutes an indirect violation of the principle of general equality and discrimination relating to the right to private life.

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Decision 19/2017. (VII. 18.) on annulling the decision on the uniform application of the criminal law No. 2/2016

18 July 2017

In the case of a sexual act committed against a victim under the age of 12 years – if the victim is a family member of the perpetrator or the victim is in the care, custody or supervision of, or receives medical treatment from the perpetrator – the Criminal Code differentiates between the acts performed by coercion and the ones committed with the victim’s consent. In case of committing the crime with coercion, the penalty shall be imprisonment between five to fifteen years, while in the case of acting with the victim’s consent the penalty shall be imprisonment between five to ten years. On the other hand, the uniformity decision of the Curia ruled that irrespectively to committing the criminal offence with coercion or with the victim’s consent, the perpetrator shall be punishable with imprisonment between five to fifteen years.
According to the judges who turned to the Constitutional Court, the uniformity decision was in conflict with the Fundamental Law as it draws conclusions contrary to the provisions of the Criminal Code to the detriment of the perpetrator by setting the maximum duration of the imprisonment in fifteen years instead of ten years. The Constitutional Court found the judicial initiatives to be well-founded. The Court established that the Criminal Code cannot be interpreted in a way supporting the content of the uniformity decision. Therefore if the relevant act is committed with the consent of the victim, the punishment can only be imprisonment of five to ten years as laid down in the Criminal Code. The Constitutional Court pointed out in its decision that the only limitation on the judicial interpretation of the law is the subordination to the Acts of Parliament and this limit should never be crossed in the interpretations.
The Constitutional Court also mentioned in the reasoning of its decision that if the lawmaker holds the review of the Criminal Code to be justified, it is free to apply the solution chosen by the Curia, however, it takes a decision by the Parliament. Thus, according to the decision, the Parliament may remove the sexual acts against children from the present framework and regulate it in the form of an individual statutory definition.
Judge Dr. Béla Pokol attached a concurring opinion and Judges Dr. Ágnes Czine, Dr. Ildikó Hörcherné Dr. Marosi, Dr. László Salamon, Dr. István Stumpf, Dr. Marcell Szabó and Dr. Péter Szalay attached dissenting opinions to the decision.

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Decision 20/2017. (VII. 18.) on annulling the judgement No. 21.Pf.20.741/2015/4. of the Balassagyarmat Regional Court

18 July 2017

In the underlying case of the decision, a hind dashed against a car and the driver sued the hunters’ society for damages. The court that delivered the final decision rejected the claim by stating that according to the case law applicable at the time of adjudicating the case the affected parties had to bear their own risks in the absence of culpability. However, the statutory regulation in force at the time of the collision regulated differently by allocating the liability for damages to the hunters’ society that had the right to hunt. Accordingly, the problem in the case concerned was that the statutory provisions in force when the damage was done were contrary to the case law referred to in the final decision.
The Constitutional Court holds that the court procedure neglecting, without reasoning, the legal regulation in force violated the fundamental right to fair court proceedings because the lack of reasoning came along with judicial “arbitrariness”. The court indeed acted arbitrarily when, instead of the applicable legal norms in force, it took into account a case law the underlying legal norms of which had already been annulled by the lawmaker earlier.
The Constitutional Court also established that a judicial judgement, which neglects the law in force without a due ground to do so, is arbitrary and it is incompatible with the principle of the rule of law. Based on the above, the Constitutional Court established that the judgement was contrary to the Fundamental Law and annulled it.
Judges Dr. Egon Dienes-Oehm, Dr. Ildikó Marosi and dr. László Salamon attached dissenting opinions to the decision.

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Decision 12/2017. (VI. 19.) on annulling certain provisions of the Act on National Security Services

19 June 2017

The Constitutional Court established in its decision announced in its open session of 13 June 2017 that certain provisions of the Act on National Security Services violate the judicial independence enshrined by the Fundamental Law and the fundamental right to the respect of privacy, therefore it annulled these provisions. Although the protection of national security interests is a constitutional objective and at the same time the duty of the State, the challenged regulation may open the door to misuses that are incompatible with judicial independence. According to the Constitutional Court, the prominent role fulfilled by judicial independence in terms of the rule of law requires the rules pertaining to the judicial branch of power to be extremely clear.
The President of the Curia asked for the establishment of the lack of conformity with the Fundamental Law and the annulment of those provisions of the Act on National Security Services that deal with the national security vetting of judges and the reviewing of the national security vetting procedure. According to the petitioner, the Act exempts Members of the Parliament from the scope of persons affected by national security vetting, but judges are not exempted, thus opening the door to the arbitrary selection of the affected personal scope. According to the petitioner’s concerns, it is not possible to establish with certainty which judges are subject to the relevant regulation and which ones are not. As claimed in the petition, as the challenged statutory regulations violate – among others – legal certainty originating from the rule of law, the principle of division of powers, the right to lawful judge and the principle of judicial independence, they are in conflict with the Fundamental Law.
The Constitutional Court found that the petition was well-founded and it established that certain parts of the text of the Act on National Security Services are in conflict with the Fundamental Law therefore it annulled those provisions. In the case concerned, the Constitutional Court implemented the weighing between the alleged or real national security interest and the violation of the fundamental rights claimed by the petitioner. According to the Act, the unrestricted national security vetting of judges may become the general rule, however, in the opinion of the Constitutional Court, there is no national security interest resulting directly from the Fundamental Law that would justify its necessity.
The appropriate regulation of the termination of the service relationship is an essential element of judicial independence. The Constitutional Court established that “not maintaining” the judicial service relationship after the national security vetting may open the door to misuses which is incompatible with the requirement that judges – appointed by the President of the Republic – may only be removed from office on grounds and according to procedures specified in a cardinal Act.
The Constitutional Court also established a conflict with the Fundamental Law regarding certain elements of the new regulation dealing with the review procedure of national security vetting by claiming that the content of these provisions is not clearly defined.
Judge Dr. Ágnes Czine attached a concurring opinion and Judge Dr. Mária Szívós attached a dissenting opinion to the decision.

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Decision 22/2016 on joint excercise of competences with the EU

5 December 2016

The Constitutional Court can examine whether the joint exercise of competences with the European Union infringes human dignity, other fundamental rights, the sovereignty of Hungary, or Hungary’s self-identity based on its historical constitution. This decision develops the Court’s fundamental rights-reservation review and ultra vires review (composed of a sovereignty review and review based on constitutional identity).
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Decision 17/2016 on revealing faces of police officers engaged in official business

20 October 2016

The faces of police officers while on active duty need not be covered in the newspapers, news sites, and in the media in general, as their role as agents of public power outweighs their right to privacy.

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Decision 3151/2016 on the refugee quota referendum

22 July 2016

The Constitutional Court may examine the merits of a parliamentary resolution ordering a referendum if, between the authentication of the question and the ordering of the referendum, circumstances had changed in a way that might significantly affect the decision. It cannot examine the content of the referendum question itself.

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Decision 13/2016 on the ban on protesting in front of the Prime Minister’s house

18 July 2016

The constitutional right to freedom of assembly is not violated by a police ban on staging demonstrations in front of the Prime Minister’s house and the Supreme Court headquarters, but the existence of contradictory laws on the subject is unconstitutional.

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Decision 8/2016 on annulling the amendment to the Act on the Hungarian National Bank; transparency of public spending

6 April 2016

The Hungarian National Bank exercises public functions and exclusively manages public funds. Therefore, it is accountable to the public in the spirit of transparency and the virtue of public life. The Hungarian National Bank may set up companies or foundations only in harmony with its tasks and primary objectives.

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Decision 7/2016 on the amendment to the Act on postal services

6 April 2016

Changes made to legislation on postal services affecting the scope of public disclosure at the state-owned Hungarian Post are compliant with the Constitution.

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Decision 32/2015 on compensation for victims of collapsed brokerage house

19 November 2015

The legislator is not entitled to put an undue, unpredictable burden on the investment companies financing the compensation of the Investor Protection Fund.

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Decision 28/2015 on early retirement of men

24 September 2015

Women have the right to preferential treatment, especially in the field of the right to a pension, and this right follows from the Fundamental Law.

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Decision 17/2015 on agricultural land-committees

5 June 2015

The power of agricultural-land committees to prevent land sale agreements is not contrary to the right to property. However, the agricultural-land committees should provide reasoning in their decisions.

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Decision 16/2015 on management of state land

5 June 2015

The Act on Managing State Land, which would have transferred management rights for state-owned land to the National Land Management Fund, is unconstitutional The transfer of competences would have affected regulations reserved to cardinal Acts, meaning that a two-third majority in parliament would have been necessary to approve these parts of the Act. The transfer of property management to the National Land Management Fund would reduce the level of environmental protection, as the Fund prioritises mainly economic aspects of managing the land as opposed to ensuring they remain protected nature reserves.

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Decision 4/2015 on publicity of Ministry’s personnel files

13 February 2015

Article VI.2 of the Fundamental Law requires a new legal framework, which will make the operations of the state bureaucracy more transparent by guaranteeing a proceeding in which the court can review the merits of an administrative decision declaring certain public information or personnel information, that should be available for public inspection, as classified.

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Decision 2/2015 on retail loan contracts

2 February 2015

Legislation on retail loan contracts that allows banks to unilaterally raise interests on foreign currency-denominated loans, laid the groundwork for requiring lenders to compensate retail borrowers for making unilateral changes to contracts and for using exchange rate margins when calculating repayments for foreign currency-denominated loans.

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Decision 28/2014 on the ban on publishing photographs showing police officers on duty

29 November 2014

The publication of photographs of police at work in the press without the pixelation of the policemen’s faces is in line with the Fundamental Law.

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Decision 34/2014 on the consumer forex based loans

14 November 2014

The Settlement Act, which describes the consequences of the application of the unfair clauses amending bank FX loan agreements unilaterally, is in harmony with the Fundamental Law.

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Decision 32/2014 on the size of the living space available for a detainee in a prison cell

3 November 2014

The provision on the size of personal living space in prison cells where more detainees are accommodated together, conflicts with international treaties and is unconstitutional.

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Decision 26/2014 on the election of members of Budapest Council

23 July 2014

The lawmaker is allowed to create an election system whereby the voters directly elect one candidate for two positions if based on appropriate reasons. However, provisions that give extra compensation to losing candidates on the basis of a special quota related to the size of the population of each district is contrary to the equality of the right to vote.

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Decision 23/2014 on the stricter conviction for cumulative offenses

15 July 2014

The Criminal Code provision that imposes the stricter conviction on three-time offenders found guilty of violent crimes against persons at different times is not in line with the rule of legal certainty and the Fundamental Law.

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Decision 19/2014 on responsibility for internet comments

30 May 2014

Internet content providers are responsible for abusive comments by third parties posted on their websites, regardless of whether they moderated the comments, or actively removed the harmful content on request.

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Decision 3141/2014 on the winner compensation in the election system

9 May 2014

The provisions of the Act on the Elections of Parliament Members concerning the winner compensation do not violate the constitutional requirements of the equality of the right to vote.

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Decision 9/2014 on On the unconstitutionality of continuous national security control

21 March 2014

Certain amendments to the legislation on national security which allowed continuous national security control and covert information-gathering for thirty days twice a year on somebody under national security control exceeded the extent of the necessary and proportional restrictions of the right to respect for private life in such circumstances and were unconstitutional.

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Decision 8/2014 on foreign currency loan contracts

20 March 2014

A legal regulation may, in exceptional cases, where there have been significant and unanticipated changes to the circumstances that surrounded the conclusion of the contracts amend the content of contracts that had been concluded before it came into force.

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Decision 7/2014 on criticism of public figures

7 March 2014

The provision of the new Civil Code which allows wider criticism of public figures only if it is justified by «acknowledgeable public interest» violates the freedom of speech and press.

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Decision 36/2013 on the constitutional review of judicial case transfer

5 December 2013

A regulation, previously in force, which had allowed the transfer of judicial cases, was contrary to the right to a fair trial under both the Fundamental Law and the European Convention on Human Rights; in particular, the principle of the lawful judge and the right to an impartial court. The regulation failed to fully define instances in which case transfer was permissible, authorised the President of the National Office for the Judiciary to appoint the acting court at his or her discretion, and did not provide any remedy for the concerned person against the decision of the President of the National Office for the Judiciary concerning the case transfer.

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Decision 24/2013 on the constitutional review of the Nullity Act

4 October 2013

An Act which invalidates convictions for vandalism, use of force and hooliganism related to the 2006 riots based solely on police reports is not unconstitutional.

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Decision 21/2013 on publication of the report on the Hungarian State Opera’s economic audit

19 July 2013

The right to access and disseminate data of public interest is violated when access is refused on the basis that the public data requested was to form the basis of a later decision and the examination of its content was not taken into consideration.

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Decision 19/2013 on national security surveillance

19 July 2013

Parts of an amended Act on the rules of national security surveillance which introduced continuous surveillance were likely to be in breach of the Fundamental Law and were suspended on a temporary basis due to insufficient time for thorough constitutional review prior to their scheduled entry into force.

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Decision 12/2013 on constitutionality of the Fourth Amendment of the Fundamental Law

24 May 2013

In terms of the Fourth Amendment to the Fundamental Law, the Court, as the principal organ for the protection of the Fundamental Law, will continue to interpret and apply the Fundamental Law as a coherent system and will consider and measure all provisions of relevance to the decision in a given matter.

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Decision 6/2013 on constiutionality of the Act on Churches

1 March 2013

Allowing Parliament to decide on the status of churches could result in political decisions. Decisions in such cases should be taken by independent courts. The State must ensure that religious communities receive special status as «religion» based upon objective and reasonable criteria, and in compliance with the right to freedom of religion and the requirement of fair procedure. Legal remedy against such decisions must be guaranteed.

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Decision 4/2013 on use of symbols of totalitarian regimes

21 February 2013

A provision of the Criminal Code prohibiting the use of symbols of totalitarian regimes violates the requirement of legal certainty, and in this context, the freedom of expression.

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Decision 3/2013 on freedom of assembly

14 February 2013

The Constitutional Court for the first time exercised its competence to overturn a court decision which was found contrary to Fundamental Law. The ordinary court had failed to review the merits of a decision declaring lack of competence on the part of the police because of an agreement on the use of public area with the Municipality of Budapest.

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Decision 1/2013 on the registration for elections

7 January 2013

Mandatory «early voter registration» restricts the right to vote without constitutional justification. Limitations on the publication of political advertisements and public opinion polls violate freedom of expression.

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Decision 45/2012 on Transitory Provisions of the Fundamental Law

29 December 2012

Transitional Provisions adopted under the Fundamental Law are not valid where they do not comply with the requirements for the adoption of such provisions under the Fundamental Law. Parliament, acting as a constitution-amending power, must comply with the constitutional requirements of law-making. The Fundamental Law may only be amended directly, through the appropriate constitutional procedure. Indirect amendment of the Fundamental Law, through the addition of general normative rules contained within transitional provisions, which purport to become an integral part of the constitutional text, is not permitted.

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Decision 42/2012 On the annulment of certain provision of the Act on Legal Aid

20 December 2012

Provisions on legal aid should be available also for proceedings before the Constitutional Court. There should be no exclusion of persons with reduced financial resources from access to legal aid financed from the state budget, necessary for the effective enforcement of their rights in the course of constitutional complaint proceedings.

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Decision 43/2012 on the annulment of certain provisions of the Act on Protection of Families

20 December 2012

The Act on Protection of Families had an excessively restrictive interpretation of the notion of family when it stated that the family is defined as marriage between a man and a woman plus their direct descendants or adopted children. In addition, excluding registered partners from inheritance was in breach of the Civil Code to an extent that could not have been resolved through interpretation.

See also Decision 31/2012.

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Decision 40/2012 on the Act on Allowances to Persons with Reduced Work Capacity

6 December 2012

The basic requirements of legal certainty and equal opportunity shall prevail during the transformation of the rehabilitation system.

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Decision 38/2012 on criminalising people living at public areas permanently

14 November 2012

Legislative provisions which rendered permanent living in the public space a regulatory offence, which accorded unduly wide legislative powers to local governments to impose fines or even detention on homeless persons, and to define punishable anti-social behaviour, and which empowered local governments to confiscate the property of homeless people, violate the rights and human dignity of the affected persons, as well as the prohibition of discrimination and the principle of legal certainty.

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Decision 33/2012 on legal status and remuneration of judges

17 July 2012

New provisions on the compulsory retirement age of judges cannot have retroactive effect.

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Decision 32/2012 on student fees

4 July 2012

The terms of contracts for students receiving state scholarships contained in a governmental decree should have been incorporated into an Act.

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Decision 31/2012 on the suspension of the entry into force of a provision of the Act on the Protection of Families

29 June 2012

A provision on inheritance in the Act on the Protection of Families was not entered into force because it did not conform to the Civil Code.

See also Decision 43/2012

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Decision 22/2012 on interpretation of the Fundamental Law

22 May 2012

The authorisation for expressing consent to be bound by every international treaty that results in further sovereignty-transfer to the European Union requires the votes of two-thirds of all Members of Parliament.

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Decision 21/2012 on abstract interpretation of two free press provisions of the Fundamental Law

21 April 2012

Due to express limits, provided by law, on the scope of the Constitutional Court’s jurisdiction to conduct abstract review of constitutional norms, the Court rejected the petition of the Government requesting abstract interpretation of two free press provisions of the Fundamental Law.

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Decision 166/2011 on constitutionality of the amendments of the Criminal Procedure Code

20 December 2011

Amendments made to the Criminal Procedure Code introduced a rule that certain cases are heard at the Court where the prosecutor presses charges and the manner in which witness data is handled limits the freedom of information and the introduction of a 120-hour detention rule, resulting in the defendant having no access to an attorney for the first 48 hours have raised concern on whether they respected the Constitution and international treaty obligations.

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Decision 165/2011 on the regulation of the media and the institution of the ‘Media Commissioner’

20 December 2011

It is against the principle of free press to limit the protection of journalists’sources to stories serving the public interest. Editors must, moreover, not be obliged to supply data in the absence of pending proceedings. The institution of the ‘Media Commissioner’constitutes an unnecessary restriction on the freedom of press.

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Decision 164/2011 on the required time for proper parliamentary debate

20 December 2011

Where legislators have rewritten key parts of legislation which is about to be submitted to the final parliamentary vote, this leaves no time for proper parliamentary debate and is therefore unconstitutional.

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Decision 37/2011 on the constitutionality of the 98 per cent tax

10 May 2011

On the basis of its competence to protect human dignity, the Constitutional Court reviewed the constitutionality of a tax provision. The Court argued that the retroactive effect of the 98 per cent tax was an affront to human dignity.

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Decision 29/2011 on dismissal of civil servants

7 April 2011

Civil servants (those working for state institutions and local government authorities) cannot be dismissed from office without a reason being provided.

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Decision 8/2011 on reasoning of dismissal of civil servants

18 February 2011

A law that allowed employers in the public administration to dismiss government officials without providing a reason for the dismissal was unconstitutional.

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Decision 193/2010 on constituencies

8 December 2010

The formation of constituencies is closely linked to the realisation of the right to vote. Therefore statutory regulation is necessary to demarcate the specific voting districts and define the authoritative standpoints relating to changes to constituency boundaries.

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Decision 184/2010 on special retroactive tax

28 October 2010

An act providing for the introduction of a special retroactive 98% tax, if the income was given contrary to good morals by organisations managing state property or by state owned or governed organisations, was considered to be a “confiscatory” tax.

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Decision 142/2010 on agricultural subsidy

14 July 2010

The Law on the Introduction and Operation of the Single Payment Scheme to Agriculture has a disadvantageous effect on agricultural growers who entered the market after 2006 or acquired new cultivation areas.

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Decision 143/2010 on Lisbon Treaty

14 July 2010

The reforms brought about by the Lisbon Treaty are of paramount importance, but do not change the fact that Hungary retains its independence, and its status with respect to the rule of law.

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Decision 51/2010 on entrering into force of Civil Code

28 April 2010

The first two books of the new Civil Code did not come into force on 1 May 2010, after the Constitutional Court declared the Act on the entry into force unconstitutional. The reason for this was that the sixty-day deadline by which the authorities and all interested parties should have examined the new provisions that were to take effect in the first stage was “excessively tight”. Moreover, the Court held that the new Civil Code’s “two-stage entry into force” would have required the relevant authorities to accommodate a multitude of legislative changes twice within a short period of time. This would have run counter to the principle of legal certainty.

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Decision 33/2010 on legislative power of authority

31 March 2010

Granting legislative powers to the President of the Hungarian Financial Supervisory Authority would have required constitutional amendment.

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Decision 32/2010 on registered partnership

25 March 2010

The Registered Partnership Act, under which the institution of registered partnership is only available to same sex couples, is not contrary to the Constitution.

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Decision 23/2010 on limits on tobacco advertising

4 March 2010

The freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution does not exclude limitations on business advertising activity. Tobacco corporations are not citizens; they do not have ideas of their own and are not therefore given the fundamental right to free speech in the same way as real people. Consequently, the state can impose limits on tobacco advertising.

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Decision 8/2010 on wealth tax

28 January 2010

A wealth tax was to provide the tax authority with a nearly unlimited right of appraisal and exemptions were to be solely based on the value of property, not taking into account the number of its owners.

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Decision 47/2009 on oath of civil servants

21 April 2009

The written form of the oath taken by public servants must not contain data regarding their faith or beliefs; otherwise it would contravene the constitutional guarantees of protection of personal data and freedom of conscience.

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Decision 154/2008 on same-sex partnership scheme

17 December 2008

The Registered Partnership Act, which accords recognition to unmarried and same-sex partnerships, is unconstitutional, as it downgrades marriage. However, a partnership scheme for homosexual couples only would be constitutional.

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Decision 96/2008 on orotection of minorities against hate speech

3 July 2008

Only natural persons are entitled to protection of their dignity by legislation. Such protection does not extend to broader communities or groups. However, the Court did not preclude the possibility of legal protection for the dignity of the individual, in view of their relationship with a particular community.

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Decision 75/2008 on the right to hold spontaneous gatherings

29 May 2008

The right of assembly is enshrined within the Hungarian Constitution. It includes the right to hold assemblies organised in advance, and peaceful demonstrations organised for valid reasons at short notice. It also includes the right to hold spontaneous gatherings.

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Decision 32/2008 on the EU treaty on the Surrender Procedure between EU member states, Iceland and Norway

12 March 2008

Some provisions of the Act transposing into Hungarian law the EU treaty on the Surrender Procedure between EU member states, Iceland and Norway contravene the prohibition of double jeopardy. The Treaty cannot be ratified until either Parliament eliminates the unconstitutionality or Article 57.4 of the Constitution comes into force.

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