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Costs of a trial are all costs that arise in connection with the trial, either at a court trial or at legal cases not heard by a court. The possible types of costs of a trial and the rules for bearing these costs is regulated differently for civil and for criminal proceedings.
For civil proceedings Act III. of 1952 on the Code of Civil Procedure contains the basic rules concerning the costs of a trial. The Act enumerates the possible types of costs of a trial by citing examples. Such costs might be for example the cost of preliminary enquiries and exchange of letters, levy on proceedings, fees of witnesses and experts, fees of trustees and interpreters, cost of local trial and inquiry. The out-of-pocket expenses and costs of the lawyer acting for the party, the legal adviser and the patent agent have to be counted towards the costs of the trial, as well.
The court awards costs in the final decision on the substance of the case, in which, as a general rule, the losing party is obliged to pay for the costs of the successful party. Under the Act the court may, as an exception, refrain from ordering the losing party to pay the costs of the trial or to pay part of them, but may oblige the persons concerned to bear the costs immediately (for example, if the witness, expert, or other any person not involved in the trial has to be ordered to pay the costs of an action of the trial). The court may take similar action if one of the parties bears the cost of any act of the trial without regard to the decision in the trial (e.g. where the party carries out acts of the trial unsuccessfully or is unjustifiably late with certain actions of the trial or misses a date or a deadline or causes unnecessary costs in any other way). If before the decision on the substance of the case a cost arises in the proceedings that one of the parties has to bear, this cost has to be paid on the party's behalf in advance. If the court decides on paying the costs in advance, then the proving party or the party whose actions generated the costs must temporarily bear the costs that have arisen, but the court decides in the decision on the substance of the case who should bear this cost in the end.
On the basis of Act XIX of 1998 on Criminal Proceedings the costs of a trial in criminal proceedings include the following costs:
In criminal proceedings the court orders the accused to bear the expenses in criminal proceedings in the event of a conviction. The accused may only be obliged to bear the expenses in criminal proceedings that have arisen in connection with acts if he or she has been found guilty. The accused may not, however, be obliged to bear the expense in criminal proceedings that has arisen unnecessarily, unrelated to his/her misconduct. The portion of the expenses in criminal proceedings that the accused may not be obliged to bear is borne by the state. The state also bears costs that arise in connection with the accused being deaf, numb, blind, unable to speak Hungarian or using a regional or minority language during the process. Even if the accused is acquitted or the proceeding is terminated, the accused must bear costs that have arisen because of his/her misconduct.
Legal aid is the institutional system ensuring that persons legally qualifying as persons without resources may receive expert legal advice, representation in the proceedings and cost benefits when enforcing their rights and solving their legal disputes.
Act LXXX of 2003 on Legal Aid will take effect in two steps: the rules concerning legal aid for legal cases not heard by a court already took effect on 1 April 2004, while the new rules on legal aid for court proceedings take effect on 1 January 2008. With the provisions of the Act that already took effect it became possible to use the forms of legal aid that are not connected to legal proceedings (legal advice and drafting). Legal aid for legal cases not heard by a court means that the fees paid for the legal expert providing a legal service defined by law for the party is paid or paid in advance by the state on behalf of the party.
Under the current rules legal aid is available at both civil and criminal proceedings. During the proceedings the aid system is mainly run by the courts (in the case of criminal proceedings the investigating authorities, the prosecution and the courts). Several factors influence whether legal aid can be provided in the legal dispute in question; the type of legal dispute in question is just one among these. Depending on the type of the legal dispute, legal aid is not available for civil proceedings relating, for example, to company registrations, notarial formalities, etc.
In criminal proceedings, legal aid depends basically on the situation of the accused. Accordingly, if the accused qualifies as a person without resources on the basis of his/her financial situation, then he or she may be given legal aid, irrespective of the offence charged. The applicant must be given legal aid regardless of his/her financial situation if he or she is for example underage, detained, etc.
In criminal proceedings in the courts, where the accused or the substitute private prosecutor is a foreign person and obtaining the certificates would delay the proceedings, the court decides on the request without regard for the requirements as to certifications, if on the basis of the circumstances of the case it is probable that the accused is a person without resources.
For legal aid for legal cases not heard by a court, there is a possibility for the applicant to have access to the aid immediately. The relevant regulation provides: "if the duration of the legal service is maximum two hours or the party immediately needs to use legal service provided for a maximum of four hours, the party may apply directly to the person providing legal aid in order to use the legal service". In this case using legal aid will be authorised afterwards.
The application form for legal aid in court proceedings can be obtained by the party at the court (at criminal proceedings not only the court but also the investigating authority, the prosecution and the place of detention). In the case of types of court proceedings that are not connected to trials the form can be obtained at the local county office of the Justice Department for the party's place of residence and it can be downloaded from the Ministry of Justice website (www.im.hu). If the application is made directly to the person providing legal aid in order to be able to use the legal service immediately (point 5), the necessary application forms will be provided by the person providing legal aid.
In court proceedings the applicant must attach to the request for legal aid the documents needed to establish eligibility. These documents are the following:
The following documents must be attached to an application for legal aid for cases not heard by a court:
Applications for legal aid for court proceedings must be made at the court in the course of the proceedings at the court (in criminal proceedings, at the investigation authority before the indictment, afterwards at the court). Applications for legal aid not connected with court proceedings must be made to the Justice Department or local county office for the party's place of residence or, in urgent cases, to the person providing legal aid.
The relevant laws lay down the conditions for eligibility for legal aid. Information is provided by the court for court proceedings and by the offices of the Justice Department for cases not heard by a court.
If during the court proceedings the court or the prosecutor authorises the application (appointing a court-appointed lawyer, defence attorney or providing cost exemptions), there is no need for further cooperation on behalf of the applicant.
If the office of the Ministry of Justice authorises legal aid for cases not heard by a court, the applicant may then seek persons providing legal assistance in order to use their services.
If representation or defence at the trial has been authorised, the legal representative or lawyer is designated by the court. For legal aid for cases not heard by a court, lawyers, notaries, civil organisations having commissioned lawyers and the university law clinics may provide legal assistance services and the applicants may choose from these from the registry kept by the Central Justice Office.
This mainly depends on what kind of benefit the applicant receives:
a) In civil proceedings cost benefits may be the following based on their content:
Exemption from costs, exemption from charges and the right to levy registration do not concern the costs of a trial to be borne by the adversary and the obligation to refund the charges paid and the costs paid in advance (enforcement costs) by the parties in the enforcement process.
b) In the course of the criminal proceedings if it is probable that, due to his/her income or financial situation, the accused will not be able to pay the costs of the proceedings and he/she certifies this, the court or the prosecutor decides on the authorisation of personal exemption of costs for the accused the request of the accused or his/her defence attorney. If the personal exemption from costs is authorised:
Since the current legislation does not distinguish between partial or full exemption from costs at court proceedings, if the court authorises exemption from costs, than this covers all the costs of a trial - with the exceptions in point 12.
If legal aid is authorised it extends to all phases of the proceedings, including the appeals procedure and enforcement on the basis of the proceedings.
a) In civil proceedings the court checks whether the conditions for eligibility for legal aid are still met as follows:
During the review the court revokes the aid if the party does not comply with what has been stated in the call of the court or if in the course of the review the court establishes that the applicant is no longer eligible.
b) During the criminal proceedings the accused receiving legal aid or the substitute private prosecutor must report all changes in his/her own or his/her dependant's income and financial situation - except where the income decreases or is no longer received - and all changes in his/her personal circumstances that concern the conditions of authorisation. The court and the prosecutor, on the basis of the statement but at least yearly, shall check whether the conditions for personal exemption from costs are still met. The court or, in the case of an accused, before the indictment the prosecutor, may review the eligibility for legal aid of its own motion if data comes to light to suggest that the conditions were not fulfilled at the time of authorisation or at a later stage in the proceedings.
If it emerges from the review that the conditions for legal aid were not fulfilled, the prosecutor before the indictment, or, in the case of a substitute private prosecutor, the court thereafter shall revoke it.
The applicant may appeal against the court decision or the prosecutor's decision rejecting the application for legal aid for court proceedings. In the case of forms of legal aid not connected to court proceedings, it is possible to appeal to the Central Justice Department against the decision of the responsible county office rejecting the application. It is possible to ask for a court review against the final decision of second instance of the Central Justice department.
The most important information, information resources in connection with the Hungarian system of legal aid can be found on the homepage of the Ministry of Justice (www.im.hu).Top
Last update: 19-04-2007