Under Act III of 1952 on civil procedures (‘Act III of 1952’), which governs civil procedures and provides the background rules for out-of-court procedures, court documents are to be served, as a general rule, by post.
The purpose of serving official documents is to inform addressees of the content of the documents, but in a manner that also enables senders to prove that the documents were transmitted to the addressees. The act itself, its date and the result of the service must be evidenced. Official documents may be sent by registered mail with acknowledgement of receipt especially intended for this kind of service.
Under Act CLIX of 2012 on postal services (‘Act CLIX of 2012’), the documents that must be served officially are the ones in the case of which the sending or service (or attempted service) or the date thereof have legal consequences by law, the ones providing the basis for calculating statutory deadlines, or the ones classified as official documents by law.
Under Act III of 1952, in civil actions, the following definitely must be communicated by way of service:
a) judgments to the parties;
b) orders passed at the trial, to the party that was not duly summoned to the trial;
c) orders passed during the trial in connection with the setting of a new deadline, or which can be subject to special appeal, to the party who failed to appear at the trial;
d) orders passed out of trial, to the party concerned;
e) all decisions issued in the course of the procedure, to the person in whose interest the prosecutor or the person or organisation authorised under separate legislation has launched the procedure.
The court and the postal service provider are responsible for serving documents, under the legislation applicable to them.
There is no such obligation, but it is not excluded, for example, that the court may check the current address of the company entered in the trade register and arrange for service accordingly.
Residential address of natural persons:
In Hungary, the central register of residential addresses is maintained by Közigazgatási és Elektronikus Közszolgáltatások Központi Hivatala [Central Office for Administrative and Electronic Public Services] (‘KEKKKH’); address: H–1450 Budapest, Pf.: 81., Phone: 36-1-452-3622, Fax: 36-1-455-6875, e-mail: email@example.com, web: http://www.kekkh.gov.hu/hu/adatszolgaltatas_szemelyi. It is possible to use this register to obtain the address details of individually identified persons. Such applications may be submitted by private persons, legal persons or entities without legal personality, provided that they justify the purpose and legal basis of using the data.
The application may be submitted, in writing, personally at the district office competent for the domicile or place of residence (registered office or place of business) of the entity requesting the data or for the place of residence of the person concerned, at the KEKKH Department for Personal Customer Service (postal address H–1553 Budapest, Pf. 78.) if the district office cannot supply the data or cannot supply them expediently due to technical reasons, or abroad at the Hungarian foreign representation competent for the foreign residential address (see the list of such offices here).
The application must contain the following:
• the applicant's details, the name, address, registered office or place of business of the applicant or his representative;
• the exact enumeration of the data requested;
• the purpose of using the data;
• the natural personal identification details that can be used to identify the person named in the application (name, place and date of birth, mother's name) or the name and the residential address known by the applicant (name of locality, name of public area, house number).
Documents to be attached to the application:
• the document justifying the legal basis of using the data;
• certification of the applicant’s representation power if acting on behalf of another entity (original written authorisation or a certified copy thereof). Authorisations issued abroad must be an official document or a certified private document bearing an apostille unless otherwise provided for in an international agreement. As a general rule, documents issued in a language other than Hungarian are only acceptable if accompanied by a certified translation.
Conducting the procedure is subject to a subsequent fee for administrative services:
• for the supply of data concerning 1 to 5 persons: HUF 3 500;
• for the supply of data concerning more than 5 persons: the number of persons concerned multiplied by the rate of HUF 730/item.
In the case of applications submitted from abroad or through the Hungarian foreign representation competent for the applicant's place of residence, the fee must be paid subsequently as a consular fee at the competent Hungarian foreign representation.
In the case of companies, the most important data in the trade register, including the address, are available free of charge at the following website, in Hungarian: https://www.e-cegjegyzek.hu/
The Regulation is not clear in respect of whether requests aimed at discovering residential addresses fall within its scope. Therefore, it is for the court to decide whether it will meet such requests. However, Hungarian courts may request address details free of charge from the KEKKH, and therefore meeting such a request for legal assistance is not excluded in practice.
Under Government Decree No 335/2012 of 4 December 2012 establishing detailed rules governing postal services and the serving of official documents (‘Government Decree No 335/2012’), the postal service provider serves official documents, sent with acknowledgement of receipt, by delivering them in person to the addressee or other authorised recipient.
If the addressee is a natural person and he is not present at the address at the time of attempting service, the official document must be served to the authorised person present there. In the absence of such person, the document may also be served to the substitute recipient present there (the addressee's relative over 14 years of age).
In the case of an organisation, the person entitled to receive the documents is the representative of the organisation, who may be one of the following: an executive (the chief executive officer, the manager, an executive employee, or any other person authorised to sign for the company or to represent the organisation in general terms), a representative for service, an agent for service, a liquidator, an administrator, or any natural person employed in the organisation’s mail room (if the organisation has one).
The service provider may also serve the mail through the organisation operating at the location indicated in the address (indirect service), if the addressee's domicile, place of residence or workplace is an armed entity, a healthcare or social facility, a prison, a hotel, a student hostel, a workers’ hostel or a resort. The indirect service entity is obliged to accept the mail and to ensure that it is delivered to the addressee.
Under Government Decree No 335/2012, the service provider makes two attempts to serve mail sent as an official document. If the first service attempt fails because the addressee or the authorised recipient is not present at the address, the service provider leaves behind a notice containing the information specified by law, makes the official document available at the delivery point indicated in the notice, and makes another service attempt on the fifth working day following the unsuccessful service. If the second service attempt fails, the service provider again leaves behind a notice for the addressee (containing the information specified by law) and makes the official document available at the delivery point service indicated in the notice for five working days following the date of the second service attempt. Pending the second service attempt, the official document may be collected from the delivery point indicated, upon presenting proof of identity. If the official document is not delivered by the deadline indicated in the second notice, on the next working day the service provider returns the official document and the acknowledgement of receipt with the indication “did not pick up”.
In this case, under the relevant provisions of Act III of 1952, the document must be regarded as served on the fifth working day following the date of the second service attempt, unless proven otherwise (except if the document was served to a substitute recipient and the substitute recipient was the opposing party). In the case of serving a document instituting proceedings or a substantive decision concluding the proceedings, the court notifies the parties, within eight working days, about the presumption that service has taken place, and such notice must be accompanied by the official document in connection with which the court established the presumption that service has taken place.
The addressee may also collect the document addressed to him at the court office, upon presenting proof of identity.
Act LIII of 1994 on enforcement proceedings (‘Act LIII of 1994’) regulates service by bailiff as an alternative method of service allowed in the case of substantive decisions constituting the basis for enforcement, where the presumption of service has taken effect and the party entitled to present the enforcement request has explicitly requested it and paid an advance for the costs. Under Act LIII of 1994, the bailiff may also serve the enforcement documents in person. In such cases, the service must be recorded in a report. If the procedure fails, the documents must be served in accordance with the general rules applicable to the service of official documents.
In addition to the above, in the cases specified by law, service may be carried out by special service entities, e.g. through court staff (e.g. serving summons to civil trials in the event of urgency).
Under chapter “Electronic communication in civil actions” of Act III of 1952, in all civil actions as well as in the civil proceedings specified by law (e.g. enforcement proceedings, liquidation proceedings), communication may also take place by electronic means if accepted by the party, regardless of the person of the addressee. In the case of electronic communication, documents are served by electronic means through a computerised system used for electronic service.
Through the service system, the party gets a notification, at the e-mail address provided, of service of the document, which means posting in the electronic service space.
The party can get the document by opening the internet link pointing to the document, an action that is confirmed through an electronic acknowledgement of receipt automatically sent to the sender and the party. Before the opening the internet link, the service system must indicate to the party at least the name of the sender, the date of arrival of the document and the case number.
If the party does not collect the document sent within five working days following the placement in the electronic service space, the document must be regarded as served on the following working day (presumption of service). If it is appropriate to establish that the presumption of service has taken effect, the sender and the party receive an automatic notification through the service system.
In urgent cases, summons to civil trials may be delivered by means of electronic mail even in the absence of electronic contact.
Under Act III of 1952, if the party's place of residence is unknown or in a state not providing legal assistance for service or if there are other irremovable obstacles preventing service or if the service attempt appears unlikely to be successful even beforehand or if the party does not specify an agent for service despite the statutory requirement or if it is not possible to serve to that person, service must be performed by poster advertising. As a general rule, the court may order service by poster advertising only upon request by the party and only where there is probable reason providing the basis for it.
The poster advertisement must be displayed for fifteen days on the advertising board of the court and on the advertising board of the local mayor's office at the party's last known place of residence. Furthermore, it must be published on the central website of the courts.
If a document instituting proceedings must be served to the defendant by poster advertising, the court appoints an agent for the defendant and the document instituting proceedings is also served to the agent.
In the case of service by poster advertising, documents must be regarded as served on the fifteenth day of displaying the advertisement on the court’s advertisement board.
Under Act CLIX of 2012, the service provider and the addressee may agree that the mail arriving for the addressee should be served not at the address indicated on the mail but at another address (in particular, at a re-direction address, post office box or other delivery point). Under Government Decree No 335/2012, the postal service provider provides information on the arrival of official documents addressed to a post office box by leaving a notice in the box even if the official document is addressed to the post office box but it is not for the lessee of the post office box.
Under Act III of 1952, court documents sent by post must be regarded as served on the date of attempting service if the addressee explicitly refuses to accept service.
In the case of service under Article 14 of the Regulation, the postal service provider in Hungary has no information that the mail received from abroad is an official document. Therefore, it applies not the particular rules applicable to the service of official documents but only the general domestic rules applicable to registered mail (with acknowledgement of receipt).
In the case of persons authorised to receive documents, the following also apply in addition to point 5, in respect of official documents. If the addressee is a natural person, the lessor of the property at the address in question or the addressee's accommodation provider may also be a substitute recipient, if that person is a natural person. In the case of organisations, the persons entitled to receive documents in the course of service at the organisation’s premises or in another space open to customers are the organisation’s employees and members, and the natural persons working at the reception area, if the organisation operates a reception, but documents may also be served to other employees of the organisation (as occasional recipients).
If the addressee or other authorised recipient is not present at the address at the time of attempting service, the service provider leaves behind a notice informing the addressee that the document is available for the addressee at the delivery point of the service provider. The document can be collected at that address by the addressee, his authorised representative or a substitute recipient having the domicile or place of residence at the given address. If the addressee or other authorised recipient does not collect the mail by the deadline indicated in the notice, the service provider returns the document as undelivered.
The period of availability is determined by the postal service provider. In the case of Magyar Posta Zrt., it is ten working days from attempting service. For the method of communication, see the previous point.
The written proof of service is the acknowledgement of receipt, which indicates the outcome of the service procedure, i.e. the recipient, the quality of the recipient if he is not the addressee (e.g. authorised representative), the date of receipt or, if there is no delivery, the obstacle that prevented it (e.g. refused receipt, “did not pick up”). The service provider returns the acknowledgement of receipt to the sender in all cases.
Under Act III of 1952, if the presumption of service has taken effect (the addressee refused receipt or did not receive the document in spite of two attempts to serve the document), the addressee may submit an application for rebuttal of the presumption of service within fifteen days of learning about the presumption of service being effected, to the court that initiated the procedure under which the service took place. As a general rule, an application cannot be submitted more than six months after the presumption takes effect. If the presumption is related to the service of a document instituting proceedings, the party may submit the application while the proceedings are in progress, within fifteen days of learning about the presumption taking effect.
The application for rebuttal of the presumption may be submitted with reference to the fact that the applicant was not able to receive the official document without any fault on his part because:
a) the service was effected in violation of the legislation applicable to the service of official documents or was not regular for other reasons, or
b) he was not able to receive the document for other reasons not mentioned in point a) (e.g. because he did not learn about the service without any fault on his part).
If the party submits an application for rebuttal of the presumption on the basis of point a) above and the court admits the application, the legal consequences connected to the presumption of service become void, and the service and any measures and procedural actions already taken must be repeated in accordance with the party's application, as necessary. In the case of an application submitted by another applicant, if the court admits the application, the legal consequences connected to the service in respect of the applicant are not applicable.
If the presumption is rebutted on the basis of point b) above, the service must be repeated. As a general rule, the provisions applicable to the justification of default must be applied mutatis mutandis to the submission and assessment of the application.
The rebutting of the presumption is also possible in the course of the enforcement proceedings. When the decision on the presumption taking effect becomes final, the addressee as applicant may – if the reasons already described persist – submit an application for rebuttal of the presumption to the court of first instance while the enforcement proceedings are in progress, within fifteen days of learning about the proceedings to enforce the decision. Once the enforcement proceedings have started, the application may only be submitted in accordance with this paragraph.
The court may order service by poster advertising only upon request by the party and only if there is probable reason providing the basis for it. If the facts presented prove to be false and the party was aware of that or could have known with due diligence, the service by poster advertising and the procedure following it become void, and the party must be ordered to pay the costs incurred and also a fine. Nevertheless, if the opposing party (to whom the document was served by poster advertising) assents to the procedure following the poster advertising – even if only tacitly –, the procedure does not become void. However, the fine must be imposed also in such cases and the party must be ordered to pay the extra cost incurred.
A final judgment may be subject to revision where the document instituting the proceedings or another document was served to the party by poster advertising in violation of the rules applicable to service by poster advertising.
In the absence of presumption of service or service by poster advertising, the consequences of service in violation of the law may be remedied under the general legal remedies available in the course of the procedure, in accordance with the applicable rules.
In principle, court fees also include the costs of service. Therefore, the party does not have to pay the costs of service in court proceedings. The only exception is service by bailiff under Act LIII of 1994, where the person requesting enforcement must pay the related costs in advance.
The bailiff may charge a fee for service by bailiff, the amount of which is HUF 6 000 as provided for by Decree No 14/1994 of 8 September 1994 of the Minister for Justice on court bailiff tariffs. In addition, the bailiff is entitled to a flat-rate cost for special service, the amount of which is HUF 3 000 per service attempt if the place of service is the addressee's domicile, place of residence or working place, and HUF 6 000 if the place of service is another residential address used by the addressee or a location where the addressee resides occasionally only.
If the enforcement proceedings are started on the basis of the document to be served, the costs are borne by the debtor. The costs relating to service by poster advertising must be paid in advance by the person requesting service by poster advertising.
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