22 May 2017
About the Hungarian legal system
Hungary is an independent, democratic, constitutional State governed by the rule of law. Hungary’s legal system is based on the Fundamental Law of Hungary that entered into force on 1 January 2012. According to the Fundamental Law, Hungary is a republic and the form of Hungary’s government is parliamentary democracy.
The functioning of the Hungarian State is based on the principle of the division of powers. The supreme legislative body is the Parliament, the power of the executive branch is vested in the government and the judiciary is the system of courts.
Parliament (National Assembly)
The supreme body of popular representation is the Parliament. Currently, there are 199 Members of Parliament, elected for four years by direct, secret ballot based on universal and equal suffrage. The most recent elections were held in 2018.
The Parliament, inter alia, enacts and amends the Fundamental Law of Hungary with the votes of two-thirds of all members of Parliament, adopts Acts, adopts the central budget and approves its implementation; elects the Prime Minister and decides on any matter of confidence related to the Government; elects the President of the Republic, the members and the President of the Constitutional Court, the President of the Curia, the General Prosecutor, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights and his or her deputies and the President of the State Audit Office.
The President of the Republic, the Government, each parliamentary committee and each Member of the Parliament may propose bills.
The seat of the Parliament is in Budapest, in Kossuth Square.
The official website of the Hungarian Parliament is available here.
The Government is the general body of the executive power, and the principle organ of public administration. The Government adopts decrees that shall not be contrary to any Act. The Government is accountable for the Parliament.
The members of the government are the Prime Minister and the Ministers. The Prime Minister determinates the general policy of the Government. He or she is elected by the Parliament at the proposal of the President of the Republic. Ministers are appointed by the President of the Republic at the proposal of the Prime Minister. Currently there are 10 Ministries.
The official website of the Hungarian Government is available here.
Justice is administered in a four-level system by the Curia (the principal judicial organ), the Regional Court of Appeal, the Regional Courts, and the District Court. Judges are independent and subordinated only to Acts and shall not be instructed in relation to their judicial activities. Judges may only be removed from office for the reasons and in procedure specified in a cardinal act. Judges shall not be affiliated to any political party or engage in any political activity.
The Curia is the principal judicial organ consisting of 91 judges. The Curia, inter alia, adopts uniformity decisions, which are binding on all courts, judges upon the appeals filed against the decisions of the Regional Courts and of the Regional Courts of Appeal, performs the analysis of the judicial practice in the cases judged upon with final force, publishes guiding resolutions and guiding decisions and judges upon the collision of a local government decree with another statutory provision and it may annul the local government decree.
There are five Regional Courts of Appeal with 165 judges. The Regional Courts of Appeal judge upon the appeals filed against the decisions of the District courts and the Regional Courts, and act in other cases referred to its scope of competence.
There are 20 Regional Courts that hear cases in the first instance – in the cases specified in an Act of Parliament – and judge upon the appeals filed against the decisions of the District courts and the administrative and labour courts.
The District courts proceed as a court of first instance. Labour and administrative courts also proceed as a court of first instance and they are courts on local level from 1 January 2013.
The official website of the Hungarian courts is available here.
The President of the Republic
The Head of State of Hungary is the President of the Republic, who embodies the unity of the nation and safeguards the democratic operation of state organisation. The President of the Republic is elected for five years by the Parliament and may be re-elected only once.
The President of Hungary, inter alia, represents Hungary, may propose bills and national referenda, attends and takes the floor at the sittings of the Parliament, convenes the constitutive sittings of the Parliament, dissolves the Parliament, proposes person for the offices of the Prime Minister, the President of the Curia, the General Prosecutor and the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, expresses consent to be bound by international treaties on the basis of an authorisation by the Parliament, appoints Ministers, the Governor and Deputy Governors of the National Bank of Hungary, exercises the right to grant pardon to individuals.
The official website of the President of the Republic is available here.
The Prosecutor General and the Prosecution Service contribute to the administration of justice by enforcing the punitive authority of the State. The Prosecution Service prosecutes criminal offences, takes action against other unlawful acts or omissions and helps to prevent illegitimate legislation.
The organisation of the Prosecution Service is headed and directed by the Prosecutor General, who appoints public prosecutors. The Prosecutor General reports annually to the Parliament on his or her activities.
The official website of the Prosecution Services is available here.
The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights
The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights performs fundamental rights protection activities. Anyone may initiate the proceedings of the Commissioner.
The Commissioner inquires into concerns related to fundamental rights that come to his or her knowledge, or have those concerns inquired into, and initiates general or specific measures to remedy them.
The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights ensures the protection of the right of children, the nationalities living in Hungary, the most vulnerable social groups, and the values determined as the interest of future generations. The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights may initiate Constitutional Court review of conformity of the promulgated Fundamental Law and any amendment thereof with the procedural requirements set in the Fundamental Law with respect to its adoption within 30 days after the promulgation. The Commissioner may initiate Constitutional Court review of the conformity of laws with the Fundamental Law (posterior norm control, Article 24 (2) e) of the Fundamental Law) and may also initiate Constitutional Court proceeding if laws are in conflict with the provisions of an international treaty (examination of conflicts with international treaties, Article 24 (2) f) of the Fundamental Law).
The Commissioner surveys and analyses the situation of fundamental rights in Hungary and reports annually to the Parliament on his or her activity.
The official website of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights is available here.