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Article

The Precautionary Principle in the Fundamental Law of Hungary

Judicial Activism or an Inherent Fundamental Principle? An Evaluation of Constitutional Court Decision No. 13/2018. (IX. 4.) AB on the Protection of Groundwater

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2019
Keywords Constitutional Court of Hungary, precautionary principle, judicial activism, Article P of the Fundamental Law of Hungary, constitutional protection of the environment
Authors Marcel Szabó
AbstractAuthor's information

    Acting upon the motion of the President of the Republic, the Constitutional Court of Hungary ruled in its Decision No. 13/2018. (IX. 4.) AB that the regulation which would have allowed establishing new wells up to the depth of 80m without a license or notification was contrary to the Fundamental Law. The Constitutional Court found in its decision that the regulation would endanger the volume and quality of underground water in a way that, considering the precautionary principle, was no longer compatible with the protection of natural resources and cultural artefacts forming the common heritage of the nation as laid down in Article P(1) of the Fundamental Law or Article XXI(1) of the same on the right to a healthy environment. It was in this decision that the Constitutional Court first outlined in detail the constitutional significance of the precautionary principle, with this principle forming the central part of the decision’s reasoning. Within the framework of this study I examine whether this decision based on the precautionary principle can be considered the ‘extraction’ of what is inherently present in the Fundamental Law or on the contrary, whether it was an activist approach imposing the principle on the Fundamental Law.


Marcel Szabó
Professor of law, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest; justice, Constitutional Court of Hungary.
Article

Magyar Jeti Zrt. v. Hungary

Judgment of the ECtHR Concerning the Imposition of Liability for Posting Hyperlinks to Defamatory Content

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2019
Keywords freedom of expression, defamatory content, liability of online press, Article 10 ECHR, hyperlinks
Authors Renáta Gyalog
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article aims to introduce the judgment of the ECtHR on the case Magyar Jeti Zrt. v. Hungary. Although in this Hungarian case the ECtHR dealt with a special provision of the Hungarian Civil Code that – under the interpretation of the domestic courts – imposes objective liability for posting hyperlinks which lead to third-party online content, the judgment can be considered as a big improvement compared to the previous decisions of the ECtHR concerning the freedom of expression. The judgment offers legal certainty and guidance for journalists who post hyperlinks by determining five relevant questions to be taken into account when deciding whether the liability of a press organ can be established for contents cited from other websites over which they have no control. Becoming the best ECtHR judgment of the year 2018 under the yearly vote announced by Strasbourg Observers blog portal also emphasizes the importance and the relevance of this decision for the digital media.


Renáta Gyalog
Assistant judge, Békéscsaba District Court, Hungary.
Article

From Kásler to Dunai

A Brief Overview of Recent Decisions of the CJEU in Hungarian Cases Concerning Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2019
Keywords preliminary ruling, consumer protection, unfair terms, Directive 93/13/EEC, consumer loan contract
Authors Miklós Zoltán Fehér
AbstractAuthor's information

    The CJEU was recently called upon to interpret Council Directive 93/13/EEC on unfair terms in consumer contracts in relation to consumer loan contracts denominated in a foreign currency and in relation to the legislation adopted by the Hungarian Parliament in 2014 concerning such contracts in several Hungarian preliminary ruling procedures. The decisions of the CJEU, starting with the judgment rendered in case C-26/13, Kásler and Káslerné Rábai, have not only contributed to the ever-evolving case-law relating to Directive 93/13/EEC but also provided national jurisdictions with useful guidance on the interpretation and application of the Directive in the specific area of consumer loan contracts concluded in a foreign currency, an area of prolific litigation before Hungarian courts in recent years. The CJEU also evaluated the Hungarian legislation adopted in 2014 to deal with certain issues relating to such contracts and seemed to approve of its conformity with Directive 93/13/EEC in a series of decisions up until the judgment made in case C-117/18, Dunai. In that judgment, however, the findings of the CJEU may have been based on a misinterpretation of the content of national legislation, leading to a perhaps erroneous conclusion and most certainly prompting a re-emergence of controversies before national courts.


Miklós Zoltán Fehér
Head of Department at the Hungarian Ministry of Justice, Agent of the Hungarian Government before the CJEU.
Article

The Rights of the Victim in Hungarian Criminal Proceedings

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2019
Keywords rights of victims, code of criminal procedure in Hungary, victims in criminal procedure, Directive 2012/29/EU, rights of vulnerable persons
Authors Anna Kiss
AbstractAuthor's information

    In the course of the development of criminal law victims lost their former leading role in the procedure and were pushed to the periphery of justice. Legal experts have come to realize that this tendency is tremendously unfair to the victim. European documents on the legal position of the victims increasingly called the attention of the legislature to the need of bringing about changes. In Hungary, the relevant new law was passed in June 2017. The Code came into effect in July 2018 and confirmed the victim’s procedural position. Since July, there are three groups of victims’ rights in Hungarian Criminal Proceedings: provision of information and support; participation in criminal proceedings; protection of victims and recognition of victims in need of special protection. In addition to describing the rights, the study also draws attention to the fact in light of the principle that all rights are worth upholding it is not enough to regulate the rights of victims. The study also warns that although the rights of victims are important, we should not forget the guarantees concerning suspects’ rights, which must also be ensured.


Anna Kiss
Senior research fellow, National Institute of Criminology, Budapest.

Petra Lea Láncos
Researcher, Deutsches Forschungsinstitut für öffentliche Verwaltung, Speyer; associate professor, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest.
Article

In Unchartered Waters?

The Place and Position of EU Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the Jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court of Hungary

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2019
Keywords Constitutional Court of Hungary, Charter of Fundamental Rights, preliminary ruling procedure, constitutional dialogue, CILFIT criteria
Authors Márton Sulyok and Lilla Nóra Kiss
AbstractAuthor's information

    This paper examines the perception and position of EU law in the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court of Hungary within the constitutional arrangements brought to life after 2012. In this context, the inquiry addresses the changes regarding the status of EU law in constitutional case-law amounting to what is identified here as the method of ‘resourceful engagement’. Under this approach, the paper also examines the extent and frequency of the use of human rights reasoning based on the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU in the proceedings of the Constitutional Court (2015-2019), focusing mostly on constitutional complaints procedures. The paper briefly mentions the controversial nature of the ‘Implementation Dilemma’ regarding the Charter and its application in Member States’ constitutional court proceedings. As a corollary, in light of domestic procedures examined in the Repcevirág Szövetkezet v. Hungary judgment (April 2019) of the ECtHR, it examines whether the Constitutional Court could eventually start acting as a court of referral under Article 267 TFEU in such proceedings where the protection of fundamental rights under the Charter would require the interpretation of EU law. This would mark a shift from the earlier ‘context of non-reference’ to an approach of ‘resourceful engagement’ suggested by this paper.


Márton Sulyok
Senior lecturer, University of Szeged.

Lilla Nóra Kiss
Junior research fellow, University of Miskolc.
Article

Fiscal Equalization among the Hungarian Local Governments – Autonomy v. Equity

Decision No. 3383/2018. (XII. 14.) AB of the Constitutional Court of Hungary

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2019
Keywords European Charter of Local Self-Government, financial resources of local authorities, fiscal equalization, solidarity levy, Constitutional Court of Hungary
Authors Gábor Kecső
AbstractAuthor's information

    The 2017 budget of Hungary contains a regime on fiscal equalization among local governments that distracts funds from the municipalities with relatively high taxing power within the country. The respective norms were reviewed by the Constitutional Court from the perspective of international law, since Hungary is one of the member parties to the European Charter of Local Self-Government. This note highlights the essence of the abovementioned decision and discusses some underlying issues of allocating public tasks and funds between the governmental layers in a unitary country where the per capita revenue of local taxes is very divergent.


Gábor Kecső
Senior lecturer, ELTE Law School, Budapest; counselor, Constitutional Court of Hungary.
Article

The Value of the Environment in Hungarian Municipalities

An Overview of the Legal Aspects

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2019
Keywords environmental regulation, environmental policy, local self-governments, local actions, environmental sustainability
Authors László Fodor
AbstractAuthor's information

    In the field of environmental policy, the principle of sustainability and local actions are becoming increasingly important (‘think globally – act locally’). In Hungary, the focus is – within the multi-level local government system – on the local governments of the municipalities. This study is part of a research project on the role of municipal local governments in Hungary. During our research, in addition to the research methods of the ‘desktop’, case studies, questionnaires, interviews and focus group interviews were used. This study presents such general conclusions that can be drawn from the partial results. It does not include the presentation of certain areas of local environmental protection (air protection, waste management, protecting the built environment etc.), it rather tries to present the attitude of local governments, their commitment to environmental protection and the circumstances affecting it. It shows that Hungarian local governments do not form a homogeneous group. Primarily due to the differing size of municipalities, local environmental conflicts and the financial resources available for their resolution differ from each other as well. However, certain circumstances – such as the low degree of environmental awareness of the Hungarian population, the decrease in the autonomy of the local governments, the effects of the economic crisis and the changes of central regulations – affect them equally. The environmental protection performance of local governments is generally lower than desired.


László Fodor
Professor of law, University of Debrecen.
Article

Fair Trial under Scrutiny

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2019
Keywords Constitutional Court of Hungary, right to a fair trial, Article 6 ECHR, Article XXVIII of the Fundamental Law of Hungary, Hungarian Code of Criminal Procedure
Authors Ágnes Czine
AbstractAuthor's information

    The right to a fair trial has an eminent position in the Fundamental Law of Hungary both because of the importance of the right and the great number of applications and jurisprudence it has been the subject of. This study presents the legal background of fair trial and its place in the Hungarian legal system, analyzing the jurisprudence of the Hungarian Constitutional Court on the right to fair trial, and in particular, the obligation to adjudicate within a reasonable time. While the Constitutional Court has developed a consistent practice in this regard, there are nevertheless new issues that may make the amendment of certain pieces of legislation necessary. This paper presents a case-study on a new development in the Constitutional Court’s practice on the issue of deciding the case within a reasonable time.


Ágnes Czine
Justice, Constitutional Court of Hungary.
Editorial

Legal, Ethical and Economical Impacts of Intergenerational Equity (Editorial Comments)

Foreword to Vol. 7 (2019) of the Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2019
Authors Marcel Szabó
Author's information

Marcel Szabó
Editor-in-chief; professor of law, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest; justice, Constitutional Court of Hungary.
Article

ECtHR Advisory Opinion and Response to Formal Requests Given by the Jurisconsult

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2019
Keywords ECtHR advisory opinion, Protocol No. 16 ECHR, Superior Courts Network, Article 47 ECHR, interaction between courts
Authors Tamás Tóth
AbstractAuthor's information

    The aim of this article is to present the role of the Superior Courts Network (SCN) launched by the ECtHR in preparation of national request for an advisory opinion issued by the ECtHR. The actuality of the topic is given by Protocol No. 16 of the ECHR that entered into force on 1 August 2018 and the issuance of the first advisory opinion published on 10 April 2019. Hungary has not acceded to Protocol No. 16, so this option is currently not available for the Hungarian courts. Actually, there is another way to assist the domestic courts in understanding the principles of the ECtHR’s case-law that are relevant to the case pending before them. This option is the so-called formal request for case-law information that could be submitted by a national court to the Directorate of Jurisconsult of the Registry of ECtHR with the help of SCN. Later, after acceding to Protocol No. 16, this channel of information could be helpful in preparation of request for advisory opinion.


Tamás Tóth
Chief counselor, Constitutional Court of Hungary; National Focal Point of the Superior Courts Network.
Article

Conference on the Evaluation of Legislation

Report on the ‘Evaluation of Legislation’ Conference Organized by Pázmány Péter Catholic University, 3 May 2019, Budapest

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2019
Authors Noémi Suri
Author's information

Noémi Suri
Assistant professor, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest.
Article

A Multipolar System for the Protection of Fundamental Rights in Practice

Unjustified Dismissals of Government Officials in Hungary

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2019
Keywords Constitutional Court of Hungary, Multilevel constitutionalism, right to an effective remedy, unjustified dismissal of government officials, European protection of fundamental rights
Authors Zsuzsanna Szabó
AbstractAuthor's information

    Today, within the European multi-level and cooperative constitutional area the ECHR, the constitutional values enshrined in the EU Treaties together with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, as well as the constitutions of the EU Member States function as parallel constitutions. The legal remedies offered by international forums are subsidiary by nature, since it is desirable that legal issues of human rights be solved by the states at national level. The obligation to exhaust domestic legal remedies as a procedural precondition is necessary to afford the national level the opportunity to remedy the violation of human rights within its own legal system. This paper focuses on Section 8(1) of Act LVIII of 2010 on the legal status of government officials, which states that the employer has the right to terminate the contract of government officials with a two months’ notice period without justification. This research is of considerable interest because the dismissed officials – who, in my opinion, de facto suffered injury for the violation of their human rights – were forced to turn to international fora due to the fact that the Hungarian legal system was unable to grant them proper relief. Therefore, the analysis also evaluates the current level of fundamental rights adjudication and jurisprudence related to fundamental principles in Hungary.


Zsuzsanna Szabó
Assistant lecturer, University of Debrecen.

István Harkai
Assistant lecturer, University of Szeged.
Article

The European Investment Bank

An EU Institution Facing Challenges and Providing Real European Added Value

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2019
Keywords European Investment Bank, status and role of development banks, Green Bonds, European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), InvestEU
Authors Zsolt Halász
AbstractAuthor's information

    Multilateral banks play an important role in financing larger investment projects within the EU and in most parts of the world. These institutions are less known than that commercial banks, even though many of these institutions – and in particular, the European Investment Bank – have provided a truly remarkable volume of financial support for the countries where they operate, including EU Member States. This paper introduces the largest of the multilateral financial institutions: the European Investment Bank. It elaborates on the specific regulatory framework applicable to its structure and operation as well as a number of special characteristics affecting this institution exhibiting a unique dual nature: a multilateral bank and an EU institution. This paper examines the complexity of the EIB’s operation, in particular, the impact of external circumstances such as EU enlargements of the past and the Brexit issue in the present. Beyond these specific questions, generic issues relating to its operations, governance, the applicable specific prudential requirements and the non-supervised nature of multilateral financial institutions are analyzed as well. This paper also reflects on the EIB’s unimpeachable role in financing the EU economy and on its pioneering role in bringing non-financial considerations, such as environmental protection into the implementation of financial operations.


Zsolt Halász
Associate professor, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest.
Article

The International Trading System and Market Distortions

Revisiting the Need for Competition Rules within the WTO

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2019
Keywords cross-border business activities, developing countries, multilateral competition rules, trade and competition, WTO
Authors Franziska Sucker
AbstractAuthor's information

    As a result of the interconnectedness of the global economy, cross-border activities of economic operators are soaring. Their business practices are not governed by multilateral rules, but merely, if at all, by regional or national laws. As a result, they are potentially subject to over- or under-enforcement and -regulation or to conflicting rules. The resultant legal uncertainties and, therefore, potential lack of discipline for practices facilitates the development of dominant positions and anticompetitive behavior. This advances market distortions to the detriment of diverse offerings and the competitiveness of small market players, especially in economically weak developed countries. Such unfavorable developments could be reduced by preventing market concentration and disciplining anticompetitive behavior. I argue that multilateral rules alone would ensure that cross-border activities of economic operators are subject to uniform rules, irrespective of which country’s or region’s market is affected; and thus, provide legal certainty for current gaps. Moreover, in spite of the resistance of numerous countries to include competition disciplines within the World Trade Organization (WTO), rules aimed at dismantling barriers to trade created by private economic operators are not only theoretically desirable but indispensable in the long term to avoid an erosion of the WTO system by effectively replacing state-created barriers. The increasing role of supply chains and the rising volatility of international commodity prices should give all, albeit particularly the economically weak developed countries, reason to pause and revisit an issue that has significant implications for the competitiveness of their economic operators.


Franziska Sucker
Associate professor, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
Article

Defining the Role of the Aarhus Convention as Part of National, International and EU Law

Conclusions of a Case-Law Analysis

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2019
Keywords Aarhus Convention, principle of public participation, protection of the environment, environmental issues before national (constitutional) courts, direct applicability
Authors Ágnes Váradi
AbstractAuthor's information

    As a basic point of reference in international law the Aarhus Convention has a considerable impact on the framework of public participation in environmental matters. The fact that the Convention forms part of national legal orders of EU Member States both as part of international and EU law, the proper enforcement of its provisions makes it inevitable to draw up certain principles of interpretation. The current paper aims to analyze how the Aarhus Convention appears at the level of legal argumentation in the case-law of the CJEU and selected national constitutional courts or high courts of EU Member States, namely, Germany, France and Hungary. Those decisions are examined that refer directly and explicitly to the Aarhus Convention. The case-law analysis is completed by the reference to the relevant secondary literature. The findings can provide a synthesis about the role of the Aarhus Convention, thematic milestones can be drawn up concerning the interpretation of the obligations stemming from the Convention and they can give useful insights into the relationship of national laws, EU law and international law. Meanwhile, they contribute to the analysis of the role of civil participation in the protection of the environment. This way, the conclusions can support the emergence of a (more) general approach in EU Member States as far as public participation in environmental matters is concerned.


Ágnes Váradi
Research fellow, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Legal Studies.
Article

Snapshot of the EU Soft Law Research Landscape

Main Issues and Challenges

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2019
Keywords soft law, normativity, bindingness, directive-like recommendations, hybridity
Authors Petra Lea Láncos
AbstractAuthor's information

    Inspired by research into international soft law norms, the last two decades have seen an intensified investigation of the non-binding measures of the EU. With the proliferation of such norms at EU level, attempts at a taxonomy of EU soft law have been undertaken. The present paper tries to map the current status of EU soft law research, highlighting possible directions for future research.


Petra Lea Láncos
Researcher, Deutsches Forschungsinstitut für öffentliche Verwaltung, Speyer; associate professor, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest.
Article

EUdentity – European Conference on Constitutional Identity

Report on the ‘Constitutional EUdentity 2019’ Conference Organized by the Constitutional Court of Hungary, 8 March 2019, Budapest

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2019
Authors Attila Szabó
Author's information

Attila Szabó
Chef de cabinet, Constitutional Court of Hungary.

    Géza Herczegh was a Hungarian academic, justice of the Hungarian Constitutional Court and judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). In this paper, which commemorates the 90th anniversary of Géza Herczegh’s birth, his successor at the ICJ, Judge Peter Tomka, offers his reflections on Herczegh’s time at the Court. While they had only limited interaction, Judge Tomka recalls his encounters with Herczegh, both before and after Herczegh’s election to the ICJ. Additionally, Judge Tomka reviews Herczegh’s legacy at the ICJ, considering both the occasions when Herczegh wrote separately from the Court and his reputation amongst people familiar with the ICJ as a dedicated and open-minded judge interested in finding areas of consensus.


Peter Tomka
Member of the ICJ since 6 February 2003 (re-elected as from 6 February 2012), Vice-President of the ICJ from 6 February 2009 until 5 February 2012; President of the ICJ from 6 February 2012 until 5 February 2015.
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