European Commission > EJN > Legal professions > Hungary

Last update: 31-10-2006
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Legal professions - Hungary

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Judges 1.
2. Prosecutors 2.
3. Court clerks 3.
4. Bailiffs 4.
5. The legal profession of “avoué” is unknown in the Hungarian legal system. 5.
6. Attorneys at law, solicitors 6.
a) Attorneys at law a)
b) Solicitors b)
7. Notaries 7.

 

1. Judges

According to the Constitution, judges are independent; they make decisions on the basis of laws and in harmony with their convictions and they may not be influenced and directed in making their judgements.

The right to appoint judges lies with the President of Hungary, who, prior to making an appointment, obtains the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC), which carries out the central executive tasks for courts. Any person who:

  • is a Hungarian citizen;
  • has no criminal record;
  • has a right to vote;
  • has a university degree in law;
  • have a professional qualification in law;
  • undertakes to make the financial disclosure statement specified by law, can be appointed a judge.

Judges are first appointed for three years; after this period the NJC can recommend that they are appointed for an indeterminate period. Judges are assigned to courts by the NJC and specialise in civil, criminal and administrative law.

In addition to carrying out their office, judges may engage in activities to earn money only in the areas of science, art, literature, education and technical construction, but in so doing they may not endanger their independence and impartiality or hinder the performance of their official duties and obligations. Judges may not become members of parties or engage in political activities. Furthermore, judges may not become members of parliament or locally elected representatives, mayors, or managing officers of economic associations.

Based on the legal immunity to which judges are entitled, it is possible to launch criminal and infringement procedures or apply coercive measures against them under such procedures – except if caught in the act – only with the approval of the appointing entity or the entity entitled to select them. Judges may waive their immunity with respect to infringement procedures.

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It is a disciplinary offence for judges to grossly violate their obligations associated with their office or to damage or endanger the reputation of judges with their lifestyle or behaviour.

Within their emoluments judges are entitled to receive fees, special benefits, other remuneration, allowances and reimbursement of expenses. The emoluments of judges consist of basic remuneration and various bonuses. The basic remuneration of judges is defined according to grades based on length of service.

2. Prosecutors

The tasks of the public prosecution service include ensuring the protection of citizens’ rights and the consistent prosecution of all acts damaging or endangering the constitutional order or national security and independence. To this end, the public prosecution service:

  • conducts investigations in specific cases and exercises supervision over the legality of investigations;
  • represents the prosecution in court proceedings;
  • exercises supervision over the legality of the execution of sentences; and
  • contributes to ensuring that all organisations in society, all government bodies and all citizens observe the laws and statutes and acts to uphold the rule of law where laws are violated.

The public prosecution service is a centralised organisation directed by the Prosecutor-General, who is accountable to Parliament. Prosecutors are appointed and removed by the Prosecutor-General. Hungarian citizens with a right to vote, a university degree in law and a professional qualification in law can be appointed Prosecutors. Prosecutors are first appointed for three years and thereafter for an indeterminate period of time.

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Prosecutors may not become members of parties or engage in political activities. Furthermore, they may not become members of parliament or locally elected representatives at the same time, and thus  may not engage in any paid activity other than  activities in the areas of science, education, art and activities falling under copyright protection accept any fee for public appearances related to the duties of their office, take up a position on a committee overseeing a commercial company or take up any other office position incompatible with their profession.

Prosecutors are also entitled to legal immunity. Consequently, it is possible to arrest prosecutors only with the Prosecutor-General’s consent. No criminal and infringement procedures or related coercive measures can be launched against them – except where they are caught in the act. With the exception of infringement procedures, prosecutors may not waive their immunity.

Within their emoluments prosecutors are entitled to receive fees, special benefits, other remuneration, allowances and reimbursement of expenses. Prosecutors’ emoluments consist of basic remuneration and different bonuses. Prosecutors’ basic remuneration is defined according to grades based on their length of service.

3. Court clerks

Court clerks are officials with a higher education degree who, acting within the field of the judge's remit – under their control and supervision – perform the tasks conferred on them by law on an independent basis. Court clerks complete college training.

Court clerks perform all tasks in civil cases falling within the remit of the court that are referred to them by judges; however, they are not entitled to pass judgements, make provisional measures, security measures, orders of discontinuance or reject any statement of claim without issuing an order and may not act in those cases that are referred to the executive clerk’s duties by law. In criminal procedures, legal provisions clearly stipulate those tasks that can be performed by court clerks in the course of proceedings, which include, for example, performing court reporter’s tasks and stenotyping, taking measures to deliver official documents via announcement, preparing and issuing copies of documents, and taking measures to state the domicile or residence of the accused or witness.

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Court clerks are judicial employees; their appointment is subject to the following criteria:

  • 18 years of age;
  • no criminal record;
  • right to vote;
  • Hungarian citizenship;
  • qualification as judicial clerk;
  • submission of a financial disclosure statement.

Court clerks may not engage in any activity that is incompatible with their position or endangers their ability to do their work impartially and free of influence. Court clerks may not take up any position in parties or undertake public appearances on behalf of or for the interests of parties. Court clerks may take up paid empoyment only with the prior approval of their employer, except in the case of activities in the areas of science, education, art, editing, sports and intellectual activities falling under legal protection.

It is a disciplinary offence for court clerks to grossly violate their obligations associated with their service position.

Within their emoluments court clerks are entitled to receive fees, special benefits, other remuneration, allowances and reimbursement of expenses. The emoluments of court clerks consist of basic remuneration and different bonuses. The basic remuneration is defined based on judicial service time by ranking in salary classes and grades.

4. Bailiffs

Enforcement measures are executed by bailiffs (independent court bailiffs and county court bailiffs).

Any person who:

  • is a Hungarian citizen;
  • has no criminal record;
  • is over 24 years of age;
  • has a right to vote;
  • has taken the professional examination for bailiffs;
  • has two years’ experience as deputy court bailiff, can be appointed a bailiff.

Beyond performing their official duties, bailiffs may engage in activities only in the areas of science, art, literature, education, technical construction and sports with money-making purposes. Except for their participation in the bailiff’s office, bailiffs may not engage in entrepreneurial activities involving a personal contribution or unlimited financial liability, act as a mediator in real estate and loan transactions or undertake financial responsibility associated with bailiff’s activities or any other obligation to secure agreements.

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According to the general rule, claims included in court decisions made in civil cases are collected by independent court bailiffs. Independent court bailiffs are appointed by the Minister of Justice to join a given local court in a given area of competence.

It is a disciplinary offence for bailiffs to grossly violate their obligations associated with their service position, endanger the public trust necessary for performing their duties or damage the reputation of bailiffs with their lifestyle or behaviour. Culpable behaviour that seriously violates the guidelines of the bailiffs’ association and failure to pay the association’s dues are also regarded as disciplinary offences.

Independent court bailiffs are not employed by the state; their income is paid by clients as a consideration for their work.

County court bailiffs act in only a specific, narrow area in order to collect judicial claims due to the state and work in county courts as judicial employees. The president of the county court exercises associated administrative licenses as well as the right to appoint them. The cases of service termination are the same as those described in the case of independent court bailiffs.

5. The legal profession of “avoué” is unknown in the Hungarian legal system.

6. Attorneys at law, solicitors

a) Attorneys at law

By practicing their profession, attorneys at law facilitate the assertion of their client’s rights and the performance of their obligations. Attorneys can perform their client’s legal representation in all cases and before all authorities. In their professional work, attorneys are independent, which means that they may not be directed and undertake such liabilities that endanger this independence (e.g. they may not become employees).

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Activities subject to fees that may be performed only by attorneys:

  • representation and defence in criminal cases,
  • legal consulting,
  • preparing and editing legal documents,
  • handling money and valuables as deposit in relation with the activities above.

Although these do not fall exclusively within attorneys’ activities, due to the requirements of today’s economic life, attorneys may also perform tasks like tax consulting, real estate agency operations and out-of-court mediation.

Besides attorneys working as employees, attorneys’ activities can be conducted by any person who is admitted to the bar and has taken the lawyer’s oath. Criteria of admission to the bar: citizenship in a member state of the European Economic Area, no criminal record, university degree and Hungarian professional examination in law, having liability insurance and a suitable office space.

Attorneys from the member states of the European Union may conduct attorney’s activities in three basic forms in Hungary: as providers of ad hoc services, on a regular basis and as a member admitted to the bar. Providers of ad hoc services are obliged to register themselves in the bar association competent according to the place of service, while those who would like to perform regular attorney’s services must request admission to the bar at the bar association competent according to office location. European Community lawyers entered in the register can request their admission to the bar if they fulfil the requirements prescribed by law [e.g. the practice period prescribed by law has passed, but they prove their competence in Hungarian law (as well as European Union law), their sufficient command of the Hungarian language as necessary for their activities, etc.]. A European Community lawyer who has been admitted to the bar is entitled to use the professional title of attorney and is subject to the same rules as Hungarian attorneys.

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Attorneys may not be employees, establish service relations or other legal relations accompanied by an obligation to work, nor may they engage in entrepreneurial activities entailing personal involvement or unlimited financial liability. Beyond performing their professional activities, attorneys may only engage in activities in the areas of science, art, sports, education and so on. Attorneys, however, can become members of parliament and local government representatives.

Attorneys have a confidentiality obligation in regard to all facts and data that they are informed of in the course of performing their profession.

It is a disciplinary offence for attorneys to grossly violate their obligations defined by the laws on practicing attorneys’ professional activities and the bar association’s code of ethics or damage the reputation of attorneys with their culpable behaviour falling outside their professional activities.

According to the general rule, attorneys’ compensation is subject to the free agreement of attorneys and the assigning client. Attorneys’ fees are only regulated if they act as public defenders in a court procedure.

The regulation on criminal procedures prescribes the presence of a defence attorney in the following cases:

  • a criminal offence for which the law prescribes five or more years of imprisonment,
  • the accused is being detained,
  • the accused is deaf, mute, blind or – regardless of his/her legal capacity – mentally incompetent,
  • the accused does not know the Hungarian language or the language of the proceedings,
  • the accused is not able to personally defend himself/herself for other reasons,
  • it is especially prescribed by law (e.g. in case of an accused minor).

The regulation of civil procedures prescribes legal representation in the following cases:

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  • for the parties submitting an appeal against a judgement in proceedings before the Court of Appeal as well as rulings made on the merits of the case or an appeal or petition for review specified by law in proceedings before the Supreme Court,
  • in other cases defined by law (e.g. company law).

Attorneys can also conduct their activities as employees. Attorneys working as employees are the persons who conduct their professional activities as the employees of an attorney or a law firm. Employed attorneys do not have a right to countersign.

b) Solicitors

The fundamental task of solicitors is to facilitate the operation of the organization at which they are employed. Solicitors conduct legal representation at the organisation employing them, provide legal advice and information; prepare applications, contracts and other documents; and participate in organizing legal work. According to the general rule, solicitors – in contrast to attorneys – discharge their duties, which are not as extensive as those of attorneys, as employees. Solicitors’ compensation is based on the regulations concerning employment.

Any person who is entered in the register maintained by the county court – in Budapest that is the Metropolitan Court of Budapest – can become a solicitor. People with citizenship in one of the member states participating in the Agreement on the European Economic Area, no criminal record, a university degree and the Hungarian professional examination in law must be entered in the register. In certain cases the Minister of Justice can grant an exemption from the citizenship condition.

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7. Notaries

The aim of notaries’ activities is to prevent the development of legal disputes. Notaries are only entitled to conduct their activities if they are admitted to the notaries association. On the basis of law, notaries are appointed by the Minister of Justice to work at given headquarters and for an indeterminate time. Any person with no criminal record, Hungarian citizenship, a university degree and the Hungarian professional examination in law who can prove at least three years of professional experience as a deputy solicitor and has made a financial disclosure statement can be appointed a notary. Moreover, notaries are also obliged to obtain liability insurance and maintain it during the time in which they are conducting their professional activities.

Notaries’ exclusive range of activities includes registering legal transactions, legal statements and facts in public instruments. One of notaries’ traditional tasks is to conduct probate and other non-litigious proceedings. Another important task performed by notaries is keeping records of chattel mortgages as well as handling deposits, in the framework of which they receive money, valuables and securities on the basis of the authorization received from the parties involved with the purpose of delivering them to the party entitled.

It is a disciplinary offence for notaries to grossly violate or fail to perform their obligations defined by law. Notaries whose culpable behaviour conflicts with the bar association’s guidelines or can damage the reputation of notaries also make a disciplinary offence.

For activities average in terms of length, legal judgement and responsibility conducted in their offices, notaries are entitled to the amount of fee defined by law. In exceptional cases (e.g. concerning cases of especially difficult judgement) the fee can differ from the usual amount. If the value represented by the subject of the notary’s activity can be stated, the notary’s fee is defined on the basis of this. If the value represented by the subject of the notary’s activity cannot be stated, the notary’s fee must be determined on the basis of the time devoted to the professional activity. The price of authenticating copies of documents by notaries is set.

As Hungarian citizenship is a fundamental requirement for judges, prosecutors, court clerks, bailiffs and notaries, foreign citizens may not be appointed to hold these offices in Hungary.

« Legal professions - General information | Hungary - General information »

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Last update: 31-10-2006

 
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