Hungary Small Claims Court: A Professional's Guide
Name of court: District courts
Scope of procedure: Available for recovery of claims not exceeding HUF 1 million
Monetary threshold: HUF 1 million
Application of procedure: Applied by district courts
Forms: No specific form for submission of applications
Assistance: Available for natural persons with limited income and financial standing
Rules concerning evidence: Evidence can be submitted on the first day of the hearing at the latest
Written procedure: The court conducts a hearing
Content of judgment: Governed by generally applicable rules
Reimbursement of costs: 'Loser pays' principle applies
Possibility to appeal: Limited, with only reference to an infringement of the rules or wrongful application of the law allowed
This guide is not legal advice and laws/rules may change; consult a qualified professional for personalized assistance. Use at your own risk.
The Basics of Small Claims Court in Hungary
What is Small Claims Court?
The small claims court in Hungary is a judicial institution handling civil cases involving small financial disputes. It was designed to provide a simplified and expedited procedure for litigants to resolve conflicts involving small sums of money. However, since January 1, 2018, Hungary has not had a specific procedure applicable to small claims alone, and general rules now apply to small claim enforcement.
The Role of the Small Claims Court in the Hungarian Judicial System
The small claims court plays a crucial role within the Hungarian judicial system. Before 2018, small claims court procedures were available in proceedings for the recovery of claims not exceeding HUF 1 million. However, since the repeal of Act III of 1952 on the Code of Civil Procedure, the efficient and fast resolution of small claims has been integrated within regular civil litigation framework handled by district courts.
When to Use the Small Claims Court in Hungary
Prior to 2018, small claims court was used when a claimant sought to enforce a contentious claim not surpassing HUF 1 million. This may have followed an opposition to a payment order or when a claimant wanted to enforce the claim after an order for payment procedure. As of now, these issues are addressed under the general civil procedure rules.
The Court and Statutes Governing Small Claims Court in Hungary
Small claims had previously been governed by Act III of 1952 on the Code of Civil Procedure, however, with effect from January 1, 2018, this Act was replaced by Act CXXX of 2016 on the Code of Civil Procedure. Consequently, the statutes and court rules relating to small claims in Hungary are now encased within this larger context of civil procedure and are adjudicated by district courts.
The Court Rules Applicable for Small Claims Court in Hungary
The court rules for small claims in Hungary were clearly demarcated before January 1, 2018. However, the repeal of the specific small claim procedures has meant that these cases are now dealt with using general rules of civil proceedings. These include rules around submission of applications, rules concerning the taking of evidence, conducting of hearings, reimbursement of costs and rights to appeal.
Small Claims Court Limit Hungary
In Hungary, the type of cases that can be brought before a small claims court, known as Monetary Claims, are disputes involving a statement of opposition to an order for payment. These cases arise when a specific order for payment is contested and subsequently, the claimant must take the case to court to enforce the claim.
There are some specific cases which cannot be adjudicated by Hungary's small claims court. Types of cases that small claims courts do not handle include divorce, custody issues, bankruptcy, name change cases, lawsuits against the federal government, emergency relief, and domestic relations disputes. These matters require different legal procedures and are handled by different court systems.
According to Hungary's legal parameters for a small claim, the small claims procedure can be availed in proceedings for recovery of claims not exceeding HUF 1 million. It's critical to note that this limit is enforceable and adhered to strictly. Any claim exceeding this amount won’t fit under the small claims category and will, therefore, navigate a different legal pathway.
Following an opposition to an order for payment, if the case becomes contentious, or follows an order for payment procedure, the claimant can bring the case before the court to enforce the claim in the small claims procedure.
These cases are typically handled by district courts following a written procedure, with a hearing conducted by the court. Upholding the ‘loser pays’ principle, the losing party generally must reimburse the costs to the winning party following the judgment.
Exemptions and Assistance
There are several provisions under the Hungarian law to provide assistance to those who need it while filing a case in the small claims court. Natural persons, in particular those who are financially constrained can obtain full or partial exemption from the payment of these costs.
Moreover, in accordance with the Act on Duties, parties may be entitled to concessions with respect to court charges including possible exemption or the right to defer them. If necessary, individuals in need are also entitled to employ a legal assistant or advocate under the provisions of the Act on Legal Aid to enable them to effectively enforce their rights.
Statute of Limitations and Other Deadlines at the Small Claims Court in Hungary
In Hungary, deadlines play a significant role in civil law procedures. Two key types exist: substantive law deadlines involving rules on limitations and appelate process, and procedural law deadlines. Both can be statutory or judicially determined.
The commencement of a time limit is usually triggered by a specific event or action, such as notification of party involved. Distinctively, time limits can be classified as subjective, where the time bound starts upon party notification, or objective, where the time limit is independent of notification.
Adherence to these deadlines is critical, as failure to comply with substantive law deadlines can result in a forfeiture of rights, whereas non-compliance with procedural law deadlines can typically be rectified via a restitutio in integrum application. Importantly, if a deadline's final day falls on a non-working day, the expiry is deferred until the following working day.
Calculation and Start of Time Limits
Methods of transmission or document servicing do not affect the commencement of time calculation. In instances where time limits are expressed in days, the starting day is not counted.
Extensions may be granted by the court in critical scenarios, however, only statutory time limits can be extended in legally defined cases.
Consequences of Missing Deadlines
The legal implications of missing a deadline vary, but generally, it invalidates procedural actions. To rectify such defaults, one can apply for a restitutio in integrum within 15 days from the day the defaulter becomes aware of the obstacle or it is removed, but the application for restitutio in integrum must not exceed three months after the default.
Excuses for defaulting may be considered valid if uncontrollable reasons prevent the parties from being reachable. However, the legal consequences invoked by missing deadlines are predefined by law.
How to Take Someone to Small Claims Court in Hungary
Understanding how to navigate small claims court proceedings in Hungary can streamline the legalities faced by businesses. The process involves four vital steps: serving the complaint, gathering and preparing evidence, presenting your case, and collecting your judgement if you win.
Court Fees and Other Costs
In Hungary, the court fees for small claims are relatively small compared to other countries. For example, the fee for a claim of 50 EUR is only 3 EUR while for claims of 1000 EUR and 5000 EUR, it amounts to 60 EUR and 216 EUR respectively.
The fees are associated with filing the claim, serving the complaint to defendants, and other possible costs during the process. Being aware of these expenses ensures you're financially prepared to pursue the legal avenue.
It's important to consider these fees while deciding to take a case to small claims court as they might become a significant facet of the whole monetary aspect if the claim value isn’t high.
Use of Technology
In the context of alignment with the digital era, it’s crucial to know whether technology can facilitate small claims proceedings in Hungary. Unfortunately, the country currently lacks provisions for electronic filing and processing of small claims, meaning you cannot sue digitally. All procedures must be conducted through conventional and customary legal methods.
While the exclusion of technology from the litigation process might entail more legwork, knowing this in advance enables you to plan and prepare properly for any challenges.
The Court Procedure
The court procedure for small claims in Hungary doesn't allow for deviations from ordinary rules on taking evidence or judgments. Witnesses may be presented, evidence furnished, and arguments made as per normal procedure. Rules for judgments remain consistent with regular court processes.
The absence of any flexibility can make the procedure potentially time-consuming and complex. But knowing this ensures there are no surprises about procedural details, leading to a better prepared case under the rigid regulations.
After understanding the landscape of costs, the use of technology (or lack thereof), and the court procedure, the process generally follows:
- Step 1: Serve the complaint to all defendants officially.
- Step 2: Gather essential evidence supporting your claim and prepare for the court hearing.
- Step 3: Attend your scheduled court date and present your case including all evidence.
- Step 4: If you win, execute the necessary steps to collect the amount awarded in the judgment.
Do You Need a Small Claims Lawyer in Hungary?
The role of attorneys in small claims court in Hungary is not explicitly mandated, however, their assistance can be of immense value. Small claims court cases follow the general rules of civil procedure in Hungary. An attorney can help navigate through these rules, elucidating specific details and ensuring all procedures are correctly followed.
Utilizing legal expertise, the attorney assists in making the claim contentious effectively by presenting the facts, and compiling and submitting the necessary evidence before the critical deadlines. Any changes to the application or countersuing requires comprehensive understanding of the legal system, for which the assistance of a lawyer can be crucial. They can also assist in understanding the judgment and its repercussions, and if necessary, proceed with an appeal.
Considering the 'loser pays' principle usually applies, engaging a lawyer to build a strong case up front can potentially mitigate significant costs later. Thus, while not mandatory, the role of a lawyer is strongly advised for small claims court proceedings in Hungary.
Resolving cross border disputes in Hungary with the European Small Claims Procedure
For those looking to settle small claims within Hungary that involve parties from different European Union (EU) Member States, the European Small Claims Procedure (ESCP) provides an efficient and accessible solution. Let’s delve into the details to understand how the ESCP can be employed in Hungary to resolve cross-border disputes.
What is the European Small Claims Procedure?
Established by the EU, the ESCP is a streamlined process designed to assist in settling cross-border disputes involving amounts up to €5,000. To initiate the ESCP, the claimant fills out Claim Form A, which the court is obliged to send to the defendant within 14 days, provided it's complete. The defendant then has 30 days to respond. The court can subsequently request further evidence or hold an oral hearing if necessary. Once a judgement has been passed, it can be enforced in any EU Member State.
Remarkably, a case using the ESCP is deemed as 'cross-border' if one party involved is domiciled or habitually resides in a Member State other than Hungary. The key factor determining the 'cross-border' status is based on the situation at the date the Claim Form is lodges with the competent court or tribunal.
Limitations of the European Small Claims Procedure
It's essential to understand the limitations that ECCP presents. Firstly, this procedure is only applicable to claims that do not exceed €5,000, a limit observed across most Member States. In the event a counterclaim surpasses this limit, the claim and counterclaim revert to national procedural law.
Secondly, the ESCP covers 'civil and commercial' issues, barring a few specified exclusions. These restrictions range from revenue, customs, administrative matters to liability of a state for acts or omissions in exercising state authority. Certain matters classified under civil and commercial issues such as bankruptcy, social security, arbitration, among others, also fall outside of the scope of the ESCP.
Resolving a dispute in Hungary using the ESCP: A step-by-step guide
Step 1: Obtain Claim Form A from the European Small Claims Court and fill it out. If you wish for an oral hearing, list your request on this form.
Step 2: Identify the EU Member State that has the competent jurisdiction over your case and then find the specific court within this jurisdiction.
Step 3: Submit your Claim Form to the court, along with any supporting documents, and pay the applicable court fees. The language requirements must be met and claims in different currencies duly converted.
Step 4: The court will review your application form, determine its relevance within the scope of the ESCP, and assess its validity.
Step 5: The court sends the Answer Form (Form C) to the defendant, and any response or counterclaims are communicated back to you, the claimant.
Step 6: The court may request additional information or conduct oral hearings if deemed necessary. The judgement is then issued based on the provided evidence and information.
Step 7: After the judgement, all requirements for enforcing it are fulfilled, after which communication to both parties is made. Any enforcement procedures follow the rules of the relevant EU Member State.
By understanding and following the above guide, business owners and professionals doing business in Hungary can leverage the ESCP as a viable recourse for resolving small claims involving cross-border disputes.
Frequently Asked Questions
To file in small claims court in Hungary, first, serve the complaint to all defendants officially. Then, gather and prepare evidence supporting your claim. Attend your scheduled court date and present your case, including all evidence. If you win, execute the necessary steps to collect the amount awarded in the judgment.
In Hungary, small claims court proceedings involve serving the complaint, gathering evidence, presenting your case, and collecting the judgment if you win. Court fees are relatively small and vary based on the claim amount. Hungary does not currently have provisions for electronic filing of small claims, so all procedures must be done through conventional methods. The court procedure follows ordinary rules on evidence and judgments. The process generally includes serving the complaint, gathering evidence, attending the court hearing, and collecting the amount awarded. District courts handle small claims cases in Hungary.
In Hungary, the small claims court, known as Monetary Claims, handles cases involving disputes over a contested order for payment. The limit for small claims in Hungary is HUF 1 million. Cases exceeding this amount will follow a different legal pathway. The losing party is generally required to reimburse the costs to the winning party. There are provisions in Hungarian law to provide assistance, including exemptions from payment for financially constrained individuals and the right to employ a legal assistant or advocate.
In Hungary, there is no legally set minimum limit for filing a case in small claims court, known as Monetary Claims. The small claims process is primarily used for disputes involving a contested order for payment. However, it's important to note that there is a maximum limit for claims in small claims court, which is strictly enforced at HUF 1 million. Cases exceeding this amount will need to follow a different legal procedure. Furthermore, cases must be filed within a specific timeframe due to the statute of limitations.
The small claims court in Hungary is a judicial institution that handles civil cases involving small financial disputes. It was designed to provide a simplified and expedited procedure for resolving conflicts involving small sums of money. However, since January 1, 2018, Hungary does not have a specific procedure for small claims alone, and general rules now apply to small claim enforcement. Small claims are now addressed within the regular civil litigation framework handled by district courts.
In Hungary, the time limits for taking someone to small claims court can vary depending on the specific situation. It is important to adhere to deadlines, as failure to comply with substantive law deadlines can result in a forfeiture of rights. If a deadline's final day falls on a non-working day, the expiry is deferred until the following working day. Extensions may be granted by the court in critical scenarios, but only statutory time limits can be extended in legally defined cases. Missing a deadline can invalidate procedural actions, but there is a possibility to apply for a restitutio in integrum within 15 days from the day the defaulter becomes aware of the obstacle or it is removed.