The new substantive act on Hungarian administrative court procedures is expected to enter into force on 1 January 2017 (which should be in force by the time this article is published). The new substantive act on the Hungarian administrative court procedure entered into force on 1 January 2017.

New act on the administrative court procedure

In light of the draft act, the administrative court procedure is intended to be regulated in a brand new, separate act. When this article was written, there was no distinct act on administrative court procedures in force in Hungary. The special provisions of the administrative court procedures were regulated in Chapter XX of Act III of 1952 on the Code of Civil Procedure. The general provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, however, should still be applied as background after the entry into force of the new act.

Consequently, the procedural rules in the new act will be better suited to the legal nature of administrative disputes as far as their special characteristics are concerned compared to the previous regulation. The key feature of administrative procedures is that they precede the court procedure, so the claimant is aware of an administrative decision before it initiates a court procedure. Thus, filing a lawsuit at the administrative court can be regarded as a special possibility of appealing against the final administrative decision.

Innovative provisions

The new act contains brand new provisions and methods on the rules of procedure that are unprecedented in Hungarian law. Most of them serve the purpose of improving time efficiency.

Panels

In administrative cases, the competent court should act in three-member panels in general, contrary to the previous tradition where the sole judge was the general principal, regardless of the complexity of the case. This provision aims to achieve better established, more professional decision-making. Exceptions where a sole judge still acts include lawsuits with low case value, simple cases and “omission lawsuits” (please see below).

Preparatory trial

The new act aims to make it possible for an administrative lawsuit to be decided in a single trial and for this purpose it is precluded by a preparatory trial. During the preparatory trial, the court may require measures to be taken by the parties, eg it may decide on evidencing the facts to speed up the procedure.

Omission lawsuit

The subject matter of this kind of lawsuit remains the infringement caused by the administration. In addition to active conduct, omissions on the part of administrative bodies may lead to an administrative lawsuit. The “omission lawsuit” thus becomes an exhaustive and explicit legal instrument. The administrative court decides in a simplified procedure in this matter and if an omission is ascertained, the court orders the administrative body to implement the failed action.

Sampled litigation

The concept also introduces a new procedure called sampled litigation, which will make it easier to decide similar lawsuits with similar facts. Although it may help in terms of effectiveness, its general principles are not set out in the act in detail, so this new legal instrument should be developed by the practice of the courts.

Alteration power

With some exceptions, the general principle used to be that the courts annul the disputed administrative decision and consequently oblige the administrative authority to adopt a new decision. Under the new act, as a general principle the administrative courts will primarily alter challenged decisions.

New appeal forums for administrative legal disputes

The competent courts for administrative legal disputes have been the administrative and labour courts since 2013, but there was no specialised appeal court for administrative litigation, as this system was suited for administrative lawsuits limited to one instance. Under the previous rules, only those exceptional court decisions on administrative lawsuits that were preceded by only one administrative decision and are judged by the courts of appeal, can be subject to an ordinary appeal. The differentiated competence system is a significant innovation in the new act, as it sets up a new, divided administrative appeal court for remedies against the decisions of the administrative and labour courts. The administrative appeal court will also act as a first instance forum in several subject matters.

Conclusion

The new act is intended to be an innovative act with no existing legislative practice in all of its aspects. Its consideration thus depends greatly on its application in the years to come and on the balance between the expected rise in the number of administrative lawsuits and the procedural rules that were created with a view to greater time efficiency.

The new act is intended to be an innovative act with no existing legislative practice in all of its aspects. Its consideration thus depends greatly on its application in the years to come and on the balance between the expected rise in the number of administrative lawsuits and the procedural rules that were created with a view to greater time efficiency.