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Last update: 23-08-2007
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Service of documents - Hungary

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. What does the legal term "service of documents" mean in practical terms? Why are there specific rules on the "service of documents"? 1.
2. Which documents need to be served formally? 2.
3. Who is responsible for serving a document? 3.
4. How is the document in practice normally served? 4.
5. What happens when in exceptional cases service to the addressee himself is not possible (e.g. because he is not at home)? 5.
6. Is there any written proof that the document has been served? 6.
7. What happens if something goes wrong and the addressee does not receive the document or the service is effected in violation of the law (e.g. the document is served to a third person)? Can the service be valid, nevertheless (e.g. the mistake can be corrected) or shall the service of the document be attempted once again? 7.
8. Do I have to pay for the service of a document, and if so, how much? 8.

 

1. What does the legal term "service of documents" mean in practical terms? Why are there specific rules on the "service of documents"?

Under Act 1952 III on the Code of Civil Procedure, court documents – if the Act does not rule otherwise – must be served by a postal service provider. Service is done on the basis of individual acts regarding the service of official documents.

Court documents sent by post must be considered as served on the day of the attempt to serve them if the addressee has declined to accept them. If service was unsuccessful because the addressee did not accept the document (it was returned to the court with the signal "did not look for it") the document – unless proven otherwise – must be considered served on the fifth working day after the second attempt of postal service.

The court does not presume that service has taken place if the service has been effected to a substitute addressee and that person/party was the adversary of the addressee.

In the case of an application (order of payment) or if the final judgment on the substance of the case has been served, the court notifies the party within eight days that service is presumed to have taken place - unless the party declined to accept the official document. The official document regarding which the court has established the presumption of service must be attached to the notice. In the notice – in the case of an application (order of payment) - the court informs the party about the effect of the litigation.

The addressee may also accept the document addressed to them – upon proof of identity – at the office of the court.

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A document that is to be served abroad - if an international agreement concluded by the Hungarian state does not rule otherwise – must be submitted to the Minister of Justice for further action. Service abroad has to be considered valid if it complies either with Hungarian laws or the laws of the country where service has been effected.

If the party's place of stay is unkown or is in a country that does not provide judicial assistance for service, or if service meets with unavoidable difficulties or if the attempt to service seems unsuccessful in advance, service must be made by a notice displayed on public notice boards. Service must also be made by such a notice also to unknown heirs.

The court may order service by public display only if the party so requests and only if evidence is given of the probability of the reason serving as a basis for it.

The document to be served by public display must be hung on the court's notice board for fifteen days and on the notice board of the town hall of the party's – or in the case of service to unknown heirs, the testator's - last known address.

If the party resides in a country that does not provide judicial assistance for service but with which there are postal links, the notice must be sent to the address of the party in that country as well, possibly by registered letter.

If the application is to be served on the defendant by public display, the court appoints a trustee for him/her and has the application served on the trustee.

The costs arising from service by public display must be paid in advance only by those who asked for service by public display.

In the event of service by public display, the document – if the court does not rule otherwise – must be regarded as served on the fifteenth day after the day it was hung on the court's notice board.

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2. Which documents need to be served formally?

The Act on the Code of Civil Procedure defines which documents have to be served, which means that documents not on this list do not have to be served.

Formal service is required in the following cases:

  1. when a judgment is served on the parties;
  2. when an order of the court is served on a party who was not duly summoned to appear in court;
  3. when an order is to be served on a party who missed the court hearing, concerning the establishing of a new date for appearance, or if there is a possibility for a special appeal against the order;
  4. when an order made outside the course of proceedings in court is served on the person concerned;
  5. when all orders made during proceedings are served on a person for whose benefit the prosecutor or the organisation authorised to do so by a special law has instigated the proceedings.

Not just the operative part of the judgment but also the grounds given for it must be served, unless the law requires no grounds to be given for the judgment.

A judgment that does not belong to the ones listed must be considered as served when it is pronounced.

The provisions must be applied by analogy if the ruling is to be announced not just to the parties but to other persons concerned.

If the party has an authorised representative for proceedings in the case, court documents must be served on the authorised representative instead of the party. This provision does not extend to a writ of summons, whereby the court obliges the party or its legal representative to appear in person.

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3. Who is responsible for serving a document?

The court or the postal service provider is responsible - under the relevant laws– for the proper service of documents.

4. How is the document in practice normally served?

The order of service is the following:

The postal service provider attempts service of the official document that was posted with an acknowledgement of receipt, via service in person. If the first service is unsuccessful, i.e. if the postman was unable to hand the document over to the addressee or to a person authorised to receive it (a close relative or partner of the addressee), he leaves a notice with the acknowledgement of receipt there, stating that the postal service provider will attempt to serve the document on the fifth working day after the unsuccessful service. The official document can be received before the second service at the post office mentioned in the notice, upon proof of identity. If the second service is unsuccessful the postal service provider leaves a second notice informing the addressee that the official document can be received in the post office within five days of the second unsuccessful service. After another five days without result the postal service provider will send back the official document to the sender with a "did not look for it" notice. If the addressee declines to accept the delivery the first time it is served, i.e. the postal service provider finds the addressee at the indicated address but s/he is not willing to accept the official document, the document must be considered served on the day of the unsuccessful service. In that event the service provider sends back the official document without delay to the sender with the notice "declined to accept" and the legal consequences in connection with the served document are to be applied.

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Sections 29 and 30 of Government Decree 79/2004 (IV.19.) on providing postal services contain the detailed regulations.

Section 30(5) states that, where necessary on grounds of urgency or other reasons, the authorities (courts or offices) may serve documents via their own delivery-person, who is employed on a standard contract, employed as a public servant or a public sector employee or as a judicial sector employee, rather than the postal service. In the case of service in person the accepting person confirms with his/her dated signature that the acceptance has taken place. If there is a form specifically for acceptance (acknowledgement of receipt), the fact that acceptance has taken place must be acknowledged on it. If service cannot be accomplished after two attempts, service must be attempted once more or it must be accomplished by ordinary post.

Act LIII of 1994 on the Enforcement Procedure provides for the legal institution of bailiff service. Bailiff service means seeking the addressee and serving the document on the addressee in person, so that there is an official record that service has taken place.

In the event of a final judgment on the substance of a case and later serving as the basis for enforcement, the Act allows service to be effected in this way if in connection with the judgment the presumption has arisen that service has taken place (it was already served by post) and the party asking for service explicitly asks for it at his/her own cost. The Act states that a formal record of service must be prepared; it also states who must be informed about the result of the service and what searches the bailiff is entitled to make in order to find the addressee acting as a "service bailiff" for this purpose. Bailiff service is done by independent court bailiffs or their substitutes acting on their behalf – the independent substitute court bailiffs – and independent court bailiffs-in-training authorised to do bailiff's service.

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5. What happens when in exceptional cases service to the addressee himself is not possible (e.g. because he is not at home)? 

The laws regarding postal service providers allow, for example, a relative living in the same home as the addressee to accept the official document on behalf of the addressee. If the appropriate substituting person is not there to accept the document, the postal service provider will send it back to the court with the notice "did not look for it".

6. Is there any written proof that the document has been served?

The postal service provider informs the court about the result of the service by sending back the deposit slip, also known as the "acknowledgement of receipt."

7. What happens if something goes wrong and the addressee does not receive the document or the service is effected in violation of the law (e.g. the document is served to a third person)? Can the service be valid, nevertheless (e.g. the mistake can be corrected) or shall the service of the document be attempted once again?

If the service was not duly done, for example the document was not received by an entitled person or the addressee did not receive it due to other reasons, through no fault of his own, then the legal presumption based on the Code of Civil Procedure is rebuttable before the court.

The addressee may as an applicant submit an application for the rebuttal of the presumption of service – for reasons listed by law – within fifteen days of receiving the information that there is a presumption of service; this may be done at the court in which the relevant proceedings are taking place. As a general rule it is not possible to submit an application after six months have passed since the presumption of service. If this deadline is missed, no evidence will be admitted.

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If the presumption of service concerns only the service of the document instigating the proceedings, the party may submit the application during the ongoing proceeding within fifteen days of being informed of the presumption of service.

The application to rebut the presumption of service may be submitted on the basis of the fact that the applicant could not receive the official document through no fault of his own, because

  1. service was effected in breach of the laws regarding the service of official documents or was irregular due to any other reason; or
  2. it was impossible to receive the document for some other reason not mentioned at (a) (for example, because he or she was not informed about service through no fault of his or her own)

Only a natural person (the party or another person concerned who is involved in the proceedings) may submit an application to rebut the presumption of service if the reason is covered by point (b).

There is a right to appeal against the ruling rejecting the application. There is no right to a special appeal against the ruling accepting the application and the ruling regarding the suspension of the proceeding or of enforcement; this ruling may be opposed in an appeal against the final judgment on the substance of the case.

If the party submits an application to rebut the presumption of service based on point (a) and the court accepts the application, the legal consequences flowing from the presumption of service are not effective and the service, or measures, acts of proceedings already effected have to be repeated – in line with the application of the party and to the necessary extent. If the application is submitted by another applicant and is accepted by the court, the legal consequences connected to service regarding the applicant may not be enforced.

If the presumption of service is rebutted on the basis of point (b), service must be repeated. The provisions regarding evidence of fault apply by analogy to the submission and decision on the application, if the Act does not state that among the rules for the rebuttal of the presumption there are differing provisions.

There is a legal right to rebuttal of the presumption of service also during the enforcement procedure.

If the judgment has become legally binding regarding the presumption of service, the addressee as an applicant – if the reasons set out above exist – may hand in an application to rebut the presumption of service at the court acting at first instance during the enforcement procedure, fifteen days after receiving information that the procedure to enforce the judgment has started. If the enforcement procedure has already been started, the application may only be submitted as is defined in this paragraph.

The application for the rebuttal of a presumption of service must be decided on within thirty days. Otherwise, the general rules must be applied by analogy for adjudicating the application.

8. Do I have to pay for the service of a document, and if so, how much?

Court fees cover all costs of the trial, including the costs of service. The party requesting enforcement must pay extra for the costs of enforcement only if the bailiff's service is regulated by the Act on the Enforcement Procedure.

« Service of documents - General information | Hungary - General information »

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Last update: 23-08-2007

 
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