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Hungary / Budapest-Capital Regional Court of Appeal / 17.Pf.21.307/2016/6


Deciding Body type:
National Court/Tribunal
Deciding Body:
Budapest-Capital Regional Court of Appeal
Decision date:

Key facts of the case: 

The plaintiff submitted a request for disability pension (rokkantsági nyugdíj) on 21 July 2011, which was rejected in December 2011 on the ground that according to the law in force at the time, he did not satisfy the statutory requirements. He appealed against the decision in January 2012 and a fresh medical examination took place that found – retroactively to August 2011 – that his loss of capacity to work was 50%. The respondent authority received the appeal and the documentation of the case only in May 2012 and until October 2012 proceeded “in order to clarify the facts of the case”. From 1 January 2012, the plaintiff – in order to cover his basic living expenses – received social welfare allowance available for those in active age (aktív korúak ellátása) from the local municipality. On 1 January, the new Act entered into force and it introduced a new legal regime – among others – for disability allowances receiving any kind of state monetary allowance excluded entitlement for disability pension. For this reason the first instance decision was upheld on appeal. The plaintiff submitted that his personality rights (személyiségi jog) were violated because the authorities breached his right to a fair procedure (tisztességes eljáráshoz fűződő jog) for not deciding his case within a reasonable time and for this reason he failed to receive the disability pension he was entitled to from 1 January 2012 and had to apply for the social security allowance so that “he did not starve to death”. He submitted a claim for non-pecuniary damages.

Outcome of the case: 

According to Section 4 (1) of Act no. CXL of 2004 on the general rules of administrative proceedings and services (2004. évi CXL. törvény a közigazgatási hatósági eljárás és szolgáltatás általános szabályairól), parties to an administrative procedure are entitled to receive fair treatment and have the right for a decision to be adopted regarding their official affairs within the time limits prescribed by law. Section 4 (2) further adds that administrative authorities are subject to civil liability for damages caused to any person party to the procedure for their unlawful actions. As the plaintiff only claimed non-pecuniary damages, according to Section 339 of Act no. IV of 1959 on the Civil Code (1959. évi IV. törvény a Polgári Törvénykönyvről) in force during the relevant period, non-pecuniary damages may only be awarded if the conduct complained of constitutes a violation of a personality right (személyhez fűződő jog). In line with the settled jurisprudence, the violation of the right to a fair proceeding and the right to good administration alone does not constitute a breach of personality rights as these rights contain procedural safeguards and without substantiating that the conduct also amounted to “a direct attack on his personality”, the mere violation of procedural rights does not amount to the violation of personality rights. Furthermore, the Budapest-Regional Court of Appeal emphasised that the delay in this case – taking into consideration the circumstances – did not violate the right to a fair proceeding.