Procedural actions appropriate for bringing about the desired legal effect may generally be performed subject to specific time limits defined in legislation. Such provisions are in place both in the field of substantive law and that of procedural law.
The calculation method used to define the time limits is essentially different under substantive law as opposed to that relevant to procedural law and so are the legal consequences of failure to meet these two types of deadlines.
Time limits in substantive law
Deadlines applicable to substantive law expire strictly on the date specified in legislation. Their calculation is governed by the provisions of Sections 3–4 of Law Decree No. 11 of 1960.
Non-observance of the deadline in substantive law entails forfeiture, and may not be remedied through the justification thereof. "Excuse" may only be offered in the case of period of limitation, subject to the pertaining rules of substantive law.
Time limits in procedural law
Time limits under procedural law are regulated by the Codes of Procedure. They may be given in days, months and years or may refer to a certain date or a prefixed period. The first day is generally the one on which the action or any other event that grounds the setting of a deadline takes place. If the procedural action subject to the deadline is based on a judicial decision (correction, etc.), the first day is deemed to be the date of communication.
According to judicial practice, when examining compliance with the deadline falling on a Saturday or Sunday, the two weekly rest days, these are regarded as non-working days if the deadline expires on such a day.
Procedural time limits are further grouped into subjective and objective deadlines. Subjective deadlines include those in the case of which the time limit commences to run once the party concerned has been informed and for which generally an application for extension can be submitted, whereas objective deadlines are independent from cognizance and their non-observance may not be remedied through an application for extension.
The list of non-working days is established in Section 125(3) of Act XXII of 1992 on the Labour Code:
Accordingly, the non-working days are the following: 1 January, 15 March, Easter Monday, 1 May, Whit Monday, 20 August, 23 October, 1 November and 25 and 26 December.
The general rules on time limits for civil procedures are laid down in Sections 103-111 of Act III of 1952 on the Code of Civil Procedure.
The starting time of such periods is governed by Section 103(2) of the Code of Civil Procedure Act:
"Time limits expressed in days shall be exclusive of the first day. The first day shall be the date on which the action or any other event (e.g. service, announcement) that grounds the commencement of a time limit takes place."
The starting time for the time limit within which an application for revision of a decision can be submitted – unless it begins to run from the date of cognizance or removal of the obstacle – is the day on which the injurious decision becomes final (Section 261 of the Code of Civil Procedure Act).
The time limit for filing for redress against decisions that become final with the judgment of the court of second instance (application for retrial or revision), however, begins to run from the day on which the decision in the appeal case has been communicated to the party concerned (it has been transmitted to the party concerned).
The Code of Civil Procedure Act does not make any distinction between the different methods of transmission.
The starting time of such periods is governed by Section 103(2) of the Code of Civil Procedure Act. Thus time limits expressed in days are exclusive of the first day, i.e. the date of the act, of the event, of the decision, or of the date of service and/or intimation. There is no distinction in this regard as to how the recipient has gained knowledge of the action.
Any time limit defined in the Code of Civil Procedure Act involves calendar days. If, however, the last day of the time limit is a non-working day, the deadline lapses on the first following working day. According to judicial practice, when examining compliance with the deadline Saturday and Sunday, the two weekly rest days, are regarded as non-working days if the deadline expires on such day. The allowance stipulated in Section 103(4) of the Code of Civil Procedure Act hence extends to Saturdays and Sundays as well.
The starting time of time limits expressed in months or years is identical to that of time limits expressed in days, and the deadline expires on the day which corresponds to the first day in terms of its number or on the last day of the month if no such day exists in the month of expiry.
Deadlines expire at the end of the last day; however, deadlines set for lodgement of petitions to the court or actions to be carried out in court lapse already at the end of office hours. Time limits expressed in months or years expire on the day which corresponds to the first day in terms of its number or if no such day exists in the month of expiry, on the last day of the month. There are no exceptional deadlines.
As a general rule, and as such applicable to all – even the aforementioned future – events, if the last day of the time limit is a non-working day, the deadline lapses on the first following working day. According to judicial practice, Saturday and Sunday, the two weekly rest days, are regarded as non-working days if the deadline expires on such day.
Considering the geographical properties of the country, the questions under points 7 and 8 are irrelevant to Hungarian civil procedural law.
There are no special rules on time limits specific to certain civil matters. The general provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure Act establish time limits for the performance of specific procedural actions, from which sectoral laws may derogate. At the same time, the part of the Code of Civil Procedure Act which regulates certain special procedures differs from its general provisions in terms of the time limits established by the latter in the case of the various legal institutions. This, however, only concerns the duration of the time limit, the method of calculation remains the same with regard to all civil procedures.
Courts usually fix a special date for appearance of the parties. In an emergency, they may speed up such process by fixing the date for appearance over the phone or by communicating such date orally at the hearing.
As regards both the shortening and the extension of time limits, one should distinguish between judicial deadlines set by the court in line with the relevant statutory provisions and statutory deadlines defined by law.
Time limits established by the court in its decision for the performance of actions in court cannot be shortened. Statutory deadlines may only be shortened in the cases specified by law. The Code of Civil Procedure Act allows for shortening only in one case, in respect of the eight-day deadline within which the appeal against an order can be commented [Section 257(1)].
The extension of time limits is governed by Section 104 of the Code of Civil Procedure Act. Accordingly, "the court may on one occasion extend the deadline set by it for important reasons; the deadline – together with its extension – may not exceed forty-five days, unless the delivery of an expert opinion necessitates a longer period. Statutory deadlines may only be extended in the cases specified by law. If an extension is requested by one of the parties, the pertaining application shall be submitted before the expiry of the deadline; the court may adjudge the application without hearing the adverse party."
The Code of Civil Procedure Act thus specifies judicial and statutory deadlines also in connection with the provisions on extension. In every case where the legislation provides for an immediate judgment, the general position in judicial practice is that judicial deadlines are to be determined in a way so that they do not exceed the period required for the party concerned to perform the necessary action.
The application for extension must be adjudged by the court in a formal decision (order), which shall be communicated to the applicant. The court considers, at its discretion, whether it wishes to consult the adverse party before making a decision on the application. The order may not be appealed [Section 233(3)(b) of the Code of Civil Procedure Act]; the parties, nonetheless, are granted the right of objection which they can exercise in the appeal against the judgment.
Applications for extension of the judicial deadline may be submitted by any party only on one occasion. If any party fails to meet the deadline set for the given action, as a main rule it may no longer validly perform the action. This severe sanction can only be prevented through an application for extension.
Statutory deadlines can only be modified on the basis of special authorisation by law. The Procedural Act does not contain any rule allowing extension in this respect.
This question is irrelevant in the case of Hungary.
The sanctions in case of non-observance are contained in Section 105 of the Code of Civil Procedure Act. These are as follows:
"Unless otherwise provided by law, the parties may no longer validly perform the defaulted action. The consequences of default – except for the cases defined by law – shall ensue automatically, without prior notice. If according to the law the consequences of default ensue only in the case of prior notice or upon request by the adverse party, the defaulted action can be performed during the period indicated in the notice or until submission of application, or if such request is made at the hearing, by the time the pertaining decision is taken. Should any party be hindered in performing an action by a commonly known event of nature or any other obstacle beyond control, it shall not be regarded as default. The consequences of non-observance of the deadline shall not apply if the petition to the court has been posted as registered mail no later than on the last day of the deadline."
Certain provisions of the law regulate the time limits of actions without stipulating the legal consequences of default. In these cases courts establish the legal consequences of default by applying the general rules.
The law provides several exceptions to the general rule under Section 105 of the Code of Civil Procedure Act:
A party’s delay shall not qualify as default if it has been justified by an application for extension [Section 109(3) of the Code of Civil Procedure Act] or if it occurred as a result of a commonly known event of nature or any other obstacle beyond control. In respect of the latter, the criterion 'commonly known' applies to both events. If a party’s default is not caused by a commonly known event of nature or obstacle beyond control, its legal consequence may only be prevented by an application for extension.
For certain defaults the law excludes the possibility of applying the pertaining legal consequence (e.g. Sections 288 and 265 of the Code of Civil Procedure Act).
The court can dismiss a case upon request of the adverse party if the foreign party fails to fulfil the obligation of providing security for costs [Section 157(c) of the Code of Civil Procedure Act] or if the plaintiff fails to attend the first hearing [Section 157(d) of the Code of Civil Procedure Act]. The appropriate consequence of absence from a hearing shall be applied upon request of the adverse party even if the defaulting party has failed to evidence the right to representation [Pp. 135. § (4)-(5)]. In this case the defaulting party may correct its default until the court has made its decision.
In the event a party, or its representative, fails to appear on a day in court due to no fault of its own, or misses a deadline due to no fault of its own, the consequences of default – except for the cases listed below – may be remedied through justification. No justification may be given if:
Pursuant to the Code of Civil Procedure Act, only defaults that are beyond one’s control, that is, unintentional defaults can be remedied through justification. Innocence means the lack of culpability, thus even defaults caused by negligence or carelessness of a lesser degree are attributed to one’s own fault. The requirement of equitable judgment under Section 109(3) of the Code of Civil Procedure Act, however, where appropriate, may constitute an exception to this strict stipulation.
Applications for extension may be submitted within fifteen days. This time limit begins to run from the missed closing date or the last day of the missed deadline. If, however, a party, or its representative, becomes aware of the default at a later date or if an obstacle is removed at a later date, the time limit of application for extension begins to run from the point of cognizance or removal of the obstacle. No application for extension can be submitted after three months have elapsed from the time of default. The application for extension shall indicate the causes of default and the circumstances that render it probable that the default has been unintentional. In the event of failure to meet the deadline, when submitting the application for extension the defaulted action shall also be performed.
Applications for extension have a suspensory effect neither on the procedure nor on enforcement. If, however, there is sufficient likelihood that the application for extension will be accepted, the court may ex officio order the suspension of the procedure or the enforcement of the decision without hearing the adverse party.
The application for extension is adjudged by the court which proceeded in the case where the default occurred, or in case of missing the deadline for appeal it is considered by the court of second instance. If an application for extension is accepted by the court, the action made up by the defaulting party shall be regarded as if performed within the missed deadline, and the hearing on the missed day in court shall be rearranged as appropriate. The question whether the decision made on the basis of the missed hearing should be sustained or should in whole or in part be repealed relative to the outcome of the rearranged hearing shall also be decided.Top
Last update: 04-05-2007