Decision 3/2018 on the transparency of the foundations established by the Hungarian National Bank
20 April 2018
Decision number: Decision 3/2018 (IV. 20.) AB
Subject of the case:
Examination of the admissibility of the constitutional complaint aimed at establishing the lack of conformity with the Fundamental Law and annulling Section 3(5) of the Act CXII of 2011 on the Right of Informational Self-determination and the Freedom of Information and the judgement No. 2.Pf.20.123/2016/6/II of the Budapest-Capital Regional Court of Appeal (disclosing data of public interest)
The Constitutional Court established: there is a lack of conformity with the Fundamental Law manifested in an omission, as the legislator failed to secure, by way of the Act CLXXXI of 2007 on the transparency of support provided from public funds, the transparency of the support provided to natural persons by the foundations established by the Hungarian National Bank and financed from public funds. In the first case serving as the basis of the constitutional complaint, the petitioner filed a request for data related to grant applications to one of the foundations of the National Bank of Hungary. Due to the refusal of the data request, the petitioner brought an action for the judicial review of the refusal. The Budapest-Capital Regional Court proceeding in the case on first instance obliged the defendant to perform the data request, but it rejected the claim aimed at obtaining the personal data of the natural person applicants. Then the Budapest-Capital Regional Court of Appeal, as the court of second instance, also refused to bind the foundation to disclose the names of the winner applicants, as it held that the data of the natural person applicants were neither data of public interest nor data public on grounds of public interest. The case underlying the second constitutional complaint had a similar course of events. The petitioner claimed in both constitutional complaints that the challenged judgements violate the right to have access to data of public interest. The Constitutional Court has not found the constitutional complaints well-founded. [It would fall into the competence of the Constitutional Court if the task to be completed was the interpretation of the concept of data relating to public funds and national assets, namely the types of data that the Fundamental Law qualifies as data of public interest in this scope. However, the question raised in the basic case was the accessibility of the personal data of natural persons who are winners of the applications for grants of the defendant organisations financed from public funds. Thus the only question the Constitutional Court could examine about the judicial decision was whether the judicial decision violated or not the scope of interpretation set by the Fundamental Law, this way restricting access to the data of public interest (data public on grounds of public interest). In the present case, the Constitutional Court could not verify the a breach of the Fundamental Law by the court. Still the legislator must adopt regulations securing the balanced enforcement of fundamental rights to the greatest possible extent. However, the the legislator failed to secure appropriately the transparency of the supports provided by the foundations established by the Hungarian National Bank and financed from public funds and the accessibility of the data related to the beneficiaries of this fund. The Constitutional Court – acting ex officio – verified the violation of the Fundamental Law, manifested in an omission, and called upon the Parliament to meet its legislative duty by 30 September 2018. Justices dr. Béla Pokol and dr. András Varga Zs. attached dissenting opinions to the decision.