The Hungarian Government introduced changes in procedural related regulations on 31 March 2020 by adopting Government Decree No. 74/2020 (III.31.). These newly introduced amendments affect civil law court procedures.
The most important message of the Decree is that the court procedures cannot be suspended or otherwise interrupted, therefore the court procedures will continue, deadlines will expire and courts begin to operate without personal attention, where possible, during the state of emergency. In light of the above, the Government has not extended the term of the previously ordered extraordinary judicial vacation.
According to the Decree, as a general rule, legal disputes should be resolved outside a hearing. If the contribution of a party (or others, including witness, expert) is essential, this should be adjusted in writing or via telecommunication device.
Civil procedures and labour disputes will be governed by a single judge. The first phase of the court procedure, namely the case initiation stage, will be completely conducted outside a hearing. As this phase defines the framework of the dispute, it should be handled with the greatest possible care.
The second phase, namely the hearing as to merits, should also be conducted without personal attention. The hearings should be carried out through an electronic communications network. If the conditions of an electronic hearing are not met, written statement is also possible as well as obtaining a statement by way of transmission of the technical means that allows proper identification.
The parties or their legal representatives may mutually request for the stay of the proceeding unlimited times. Where the action has reached a stage for passing a decision, the court decides on the merit of the case outside a hearing. It is also possible for the parties to reach a settlement, however by means of an electronic device. Regarding remedy, contrary to the general rules of civil procedure, both appellate proceedings and review procedures should be decided without a hearing.
As during the state of emergency, the Government is entitled to issue decrees – to suspend the application of certain laws or derogating from the provisions of laws, and to take other extraordinary measures – monitoring the changes is very important to be up-to-date.