“The nature of a country’s civil procedure effects competitiveness”, Minister of Justice László Trócsányi said at a press conference in Budapest on 22 November 2016, after Parliament adopted the new Act on Civil Procedure.

The Minister called it the legal aspect of competitiveness that the rules of procedure should enable enterprises, institutions and private persons to turn to the judiciary with confidence and to receive a quick decision in their case within a short time and a fair procedure.

The Minister recalled that the rules of substantive law, which Mr. Trócsányi called the "body", were enacted in the new Civil Code in 2013, and the Act on Civil Procedure now represents the enactment of the "soul", which “operates the body".

As a result, civil law is now fully regulated with regard to both substantive and adjective law, Mr. Trócsányi declared, adding that the Government would discuss the criminal procedural code on Wednesday and the rules of administrative procedure were also likely to be adopted in December, meaning all new procedural codes will have been enacted by the end of the year.

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The Ministerial Commissioner in charge of the field, Zsuzsa Wopera highlighted at the press conference that the new rules of civil procedure made proceedings more concentrated, and so a legal dispute may already be decided at the first court hearing.

She said that such a concentrated procedure was made possible by the divided structure of litigation, which does not allow litigation proceedings "to slide into each other" because, according to the general rule of the new regulation, a given litigation proceeding such as amending a lawsuit may only be carried out within the given procedural phase.

According to the Ministerial Commissioner, the new regulation means more reliable and predictable court cases for everybody, and this efficiency manifests itself in the duration of trials, the costs and the management of resources.

She also mentioned that the new legal regulations put special emphasis on helping the assertion of rights of laymen, and people proceeding in the case without legal representation may submit their documents, e.g. the application or counterclaim, using a standard form, and may also receive help in filling in the forms on court complaint days.

In reply to a question, Ms. Wopera said it was part of the concept to reduce the sphere of those entitled to act as authorised representatives, and they would be given authorisation to proceed in lawsuits in the sectoral legislation.

The Ministerial Commissioner stressed that there was continuity between the old and new rules of procedure, as 60% of the contents of the new rules of procedure is identical to the old rules.

Concerning the process of codification, the chairman of the Legislative Editorial Committee that drew up the bill, Imre Szabó said that a government decision was made in 2013 on the creation of the new code, and there were extensive discussions with the various branches of the profession as a result of which the 360-page concept was prepared by the summer of 2014. In the Ministry, the working groups reviewed the professional comments under the supervision of Zsuzsa Wopera, a series of conferences was held, and finally the bill was prepared by early 2016, which the Minister submitted to Parliament in September.

In reply to a question concerning the fact that chairman of the Main Codification Board for Civil Procedure and ex-chairman of the Constitutional Court János Németh, who originally rather played active role in the codification, later "renounced" the Act, Ms. Wopera explained that the bill was prepared on the basis of broad consultations and a significant portion of the suggestions received were built into the bill, but no observations were received from either Mr. Németh or from Eötvös Loránd University’s Department of Civil Procedure Law.

Imre Szabó underlined that the government decision stipulated certain issues of principle which could not be avoided during the course of the new legislation.

László Trócsányi indicated that the Ministry is interested in everyone’s opinion, and many of these opinions were in fact built into the act, but said he insisted that legal regulations should be drawn up by the legislative committee working at the Ministry of Justice, because the Ministry is responsible for the submitted text.

Concerning the question of why there were no five-party negotiations on the new civil procedure, László Trócsányi explained that the text of the bill had been available on the Ministry’s website since March and anyone who wanted to had had the opportunity to submit their remarks, and he cannot do anything about people who failed to make use of this opportunity. At the same time, it was his decision that no five-party negotiations on the matter were necessary, he noted.

Zsuzsa Wopera added that the place for negotiations with parliamentary parties is Parliament, and political parties had had since 2 September, when the bill was submitted, to make comments and submit proposals for amendment.

(Ministry of Justice/MTI)