HUNGARY ADOPTS NEW CIVIL CODE

Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

Budapest-The new Civil Code entered into force on March 15th, replacing the previous legislation, which was modified more than a hundred times over the years and could no longer provide realistic answers to today’s economic and social challenges. The new code covers the widest possible range of private law relations in eight books:, the preliminary provisions, people as legal entities, the legal person, family law, property law, contractual law, law of succession and the final provisions.The Civic Code is almost twice the size of the currently effective legislation with 1596 sections containing around ten thousand norms.

Codification Process and Consultations:

In 2010, the Government appointed Member of the Academy Lajos Vékás to head the codification process. In February 2012, a draft proposal was submitted for public discussion and after two years of high level technical consultations a more comprehensive and modern Civil Code was created. One of the main principles of the codification process was to leave the viable provisions unchanged and, where amending was necessary, to integrate the new regulations into established judicial practice.

Publicity Rights

The new Civil Code only specifies the already existing regulations on publicity. According to the previous code, “Paragraph 80: (1) Any misuse of the images and sound recordings of other individuals shall constitute an infringement of the individual's human rights. (2) Making images or sound recordings public requires the consent of the individual involved, with the exception of public appearances by public figures.” The term “misuse” had long been interpreted by court practice as including recordings made without permission and not just unauthorised disclosure. The relevant provisions of the new Civil Code integrate this established judicial practice into the legislation, stating that: “Paragraph 2.48 [The rights to images and sound recordings]: (1) The creation and use of images or sound recordings requires the consent of the individual in question. (2) The permission of the individual in question is not required for the creation or use of an image or sound recording with relation to images or recordings of a crowd or public appearances by public figures.” Thus, the already existing judicial practice remains, leaving the current system unchanged.

Protecting the Dignity of Communities

The new Civil Code also establishes the necessary common law sanctions to protect the dignity of communities, in accordance with Article IX (5) of the Fundamental Law, which states that: “The right to freedom of speech may not be exercised with the aim of violating the dignity of the Hungarian nation or of any national, ethnic, racial or religious community.” The new Civil Code, similarly to the Constitution, assumes that hate speech hinders mutual respect and balanced co-existence within a society and is therefore against the public interest. For this reason, the new regulation gives a member of the insulted community the right to initiate court proceedings within 30 days of the infringement. Based on this, the plaintiff may request, amongst others, the forced termination of the infringement and the banning of the infringer from such activities, or to require the infringer to provide adequate compensation, such as a grievance fee.

Protecting Families

The new Civil Code also regards families as one of the important foundations of society and every family relationship as a social value. The new regulation protects families; family ties created by law and other forms of cohabitation, also including foster parent-foster child and stepparent-stepchild relations. The changes adapt the legislation to the relevant decisions of the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights. The new Code also expands the section on children’s rights, emphasising that the settlement of all related cases should happen according to the child’s interests, adding that children have the right to be raised in their own family. The new Civil Code also accepts the judicial practice regarding so-called actual cohabitation and integrates it into its regulations.

18 March 2014