08 April 2020

The coronavirus and the state of emergency ordered by the Hungarian government to fight this epidemic affects every part of our life. Civil and business litigations are not exceptions either. In our short article we summarize what are the most relevant changes in the ongoing and envisaged court procedures in Hungary.

1. Shall the parties meet the deadlines?

The decree of the Hungarian Government entered into force on 31 March 2020 sets forth the derogations from the provisions on civil litigations during the state of emergency.

The most important provision is that, as a main rule, the state of emergency does not affect the deadlines applicable to the ongoing procedures and to the litigations started after the entry into force of the government decree. That means the parties shall continue to comply with the orders of the court in the deadlines set out by the court.

Nevertheless, the decree sets forth a grace period: in case the deadline set out by the court ceases during 14 March and 15 April 2020, the deadline will be automatically lengthened until 30th April.

2. Is it possible to start procedures, file submissions?

Since a couple of years, the companies and the parties represented by legal representative shall file their submissions electronically in Hungary. In this sense, the state of emergency does not hinder the claimant to start a litigation electronically or to file his submissions in an ongoing procedure.

Further, the courts shall, just like normally, review the submissions and take the necessary measures, for example call the opposing party to file motions.

Indeed, during the current situation there is a greater focus on the literacy: for example, the court does not convene preliminary hearings but orders the parties to file their submissions in writing.

3. Do the courts hold court hearings and deliver judgements?

In the present situation, obviously, the court does not hold hearings in the building of the court. Nevertheless, if it is possible, it holds hearings through electronic telecommunication channels. How this will work in the practice? Today nobody knows the answer, because aside some criminal procedures, these methods of communication were not tested in the past in civil and business litigations.

If the “electronical” hearing is not possible and the evidences necessary to decide the case cannot be collected in writing, the litigation “stops” and the deadlines do not continue to run.

If, in the contrary, the court is in the position to decide the case, it warns the parties in writing calling them to file their final submissions. After that the court delivers the judgement without a court hearing.

4. How remedy procedures work during the state of emergency?

During the state of emergency, the appeal and judicial review procedure continue, this means if the court delivers his judgement during the state of emergency, the party can file his appeal in accordance with the general rules with the below modification.

Generally, in the remedy procedures the parties may request the court to hold a court a hearing, where they can present their arguments orally. During the state of emergency, the parties do not have this possibility, further even if they requested this earlier, the court does not hold a hearing.

In cases where the parties requested the court to hold a hearing, based on the mutual request of the parties, the court will hold an “electronical hearing” and in case it its conditions are not met, similarly to the first instance procedure, the procedure “stops” and the deadline do not continue to run.

5. And what is the case with the other procedures?

Besides litigation, the party may assert its civil and commercial claim by starting a payment warrant procedure or liquidation procedure.

In these cases, the personal presence has limited relevance, thus the state of emergency essentially does not hinder the parties to initiate or continue these procedures.