Special Legal Order and the State of Danger in Hungary: Government decrees issued between 11 and 31 March, 2020

  • The Government of Hungary declared state of danger on 11 March 2020 via Government Decree 40/2020. (III. 11.). The state of danger extends to the entire territory of Hungary for the elimination of the consequences of the human epidemic endangering life and property and causing massive disease outbreaks.
  • In response to the pandemic situation, DLA Piper Hungary has launched a new series called ‘Special Legal Order and the State of Danger in Hungary‘, through which Noémi Radnai and Gábor Papp, legal experts of the firm summarize the special legislation issued during the emergency period.
  • The first part of the series explored the basics related to the state of danger; below is a summary of the Government Decrees issued by the Government of Hungary under the state of danger between 11-31 March 2020 – please note that the below offers a high-level overview rather than a comprehensive summary and cannot be considered legal advice.

1. Government Decree 41/2020 (11 March)

  • Temporarily reintroduces border control on the border between Hungary and the Republic of Slovenia, and Hungary and the Republic of Austria;
  • Denies access to the territory of Hungary to any railway vehicle, bus and civilian aircraft, except for transit without landing, performing international carriage of passengers from the territory of the Italian Republic, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Korea, the State of Israel and the Islamic Republic of Iran;
  • Denies access to the territory of Hungary to persons other than Hungarian citizens arriving from abroad by personal traffic (with the proviso that EEA citizens entitled to permanent residence shall receive the same treatment as Hungarian citizens);
  • Orders Hungarian citizens arriving home from the territory of the Italian Republic, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Korea, the State of Israel and the Islamic Republic of Iran to undergo health screening and (self)quarantine.
  • Prohibits students from entering higher education institutions;
  • Gives authorisation to the Minister without Portfolio Responsible for the Management of National Assets (NVTNM) to adopt special rules guaranteeing the operability of state-owned companies that are parts of critical infrastructures.

2. Government Decree 45/2020 (14 March)

  • Orders extraordinary court vacation. (Update: this Decree is no longer in effect, extraordinary court vacation no longer applies.)

3. Government Decree 46/2020 (16 March)

  • Forbids staying in catering facilities and stores between 3 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Certain stores (eg stores selling food) are permitted to stay open;
  • Forbids staying at a venue of an event, attendance to any performance, and assembly;
  • Compliance with these measures shall be controlled by the police;
  • Non-compliance with these provisions shall qualify as an infraction and may result in a fine between HUF 5,000 and HUF 500,000;
  • The Minister responsible for innovation and technology is authorised to access and process any available data with a view to eliminating the state of danger.

4. Government Decree 47/2020 (18 March)

  • Orders a payment moratorium for the capital, interest and fee payment obligations of debtors arising from credit, loan or financial lease contracts. The payment moratorium expires on 31 December unless extended by the Government by means of a decree. The payment moratorium applies to loans already disbursed on the basis of contracts existing at midnight, 18 March 2020.
  • In respect of sectors offering tourism, catering, gambling, film industry, performing arts, event organising or sports services, lease contracts for premises not to be used as flats shall not be unilaterally terminated by 30 June 2020, and the rental fee shall not be increased either;
  • In respect of sectors offering tourism, catering, gambling, film industry, performing arts, event organising or sports services, for the months of March, April, May and June 2020, employers shall be exempt from public dues payable after the wage of employees employed (except for in-kind health insurance contribution);
  • Any employer may unilaterally order employees to work at home or to work remotely. It may also take necessary and justified measures for checking the health of employees;
  • In a separate agreement, the employee and the employer may depart from the provisions of the Hungarian Labour Code.

5. Government Decree 48/2020 (19 March)

  • Non-store commercial activities carried out for the purpose of supplying the population may be pursued without notification or registration on the basis of a contract entered into with a catering facility or a store selling everyday consumer products;
  • Mail-order trade carried out for the purpose of supplying the population may be pursued without notification or registration;
  • Subject to specific conditions, the rules of public procurements that are directly related to the containment of the coronavirus may deviate from the general rules.

6. Government Decree 57/2020 (23 March)

  • Includes derogations from the provisions of Act LIII of 1994 on judicial enforcement and Act CLIII of 2017 on enforcement procedures applied by the tax authority.
  • Derogations relating to judicial enforcement include:
    • During the period of state of danger, documents shall not be served by bailiff, with the proviso that the time limit for service of documents shall recommence on the 15th day following the end of the period of state of danger.
    • No on-site proceedings or regular auctions may be conducted and no on-site procedural acts may be carried out until the end of the period of state of danger.
    • Measures for, or related to, the evacuation of a real estate may be taken, and on-site procedural acts for the evacuation of a real estate may be carried out, only after the end of the period of state of danger
  • Derogations relating to enforcement procedures applied by the tax authority include:
    • From the day of the entry into force of this Decree until the 15th day following the end of the period of state of danger, enforcement procedures pending before the tax authority in accordance with Act CLIII of 2017 on enforcement procedures applied by the tax authority (hereinafter “Avt.”) shall be stayed, with the exception of procedures conducted under subtitles 57 and 57/B of the Avt. and procedures for the enforcement of claims arising from violating mandatory epidemiological measures prescribed during the period of state of danger.
    • In such procedures, the running of the limitation period of the right to enforcement shall be suspended from the entry into force of this Decree until the 15th day following the end of the period of state of danger.

7. Government Decree 58/2020 (23 March)

  • The eligibility for health insurance and family benefits granted under a government decree with regard to caring for and raising children shall be extended until the end of the state of danger.

8. Government Decree 59/2020 (23 March)

  • During the period of state of danger, eligibility for child care fee, child care allowance, and child raising support shall be deemed to continue to exist during the period of state of danger, and the benefit shall be paid for the calendar days falling within the period of state of danger.

9. Government Decree 60/2020 (23 March)

  • Payment service providers shall not apply strong customer authentication if the amount of the contactless electronic payment transaction does not exceed fifteen thousand forints.

10. Government Decree 61/2020 (23 March)

  • Lifts tax-paying obligations of certain entities relating to certain taxes.
  • Some persons are excluded from the obligation to pay social contribution tax, for instance a paying agent regarding the employment of a natural person in an employment relationship and a private entrepreneur, based on his legal status as such.
  • A person subject to small business lump-sum tax pursuing a main activity listed in the Decree (e.g. accommodation services, motion picture, video and television programme production services, etc.) in connection with this activity, shall not take into account as small business tax base the amount of personal costs when assessing his small business tax payment obligation for the months of March, April, May and June 2020.
  • A small business under the obligation to pay small business lump-sum tax pursuing certain activities (e.g. taxi operation services, hairdressing services, physical well-being services, etc.) shall be exempt from the payment of the lump-sum tax for the months of March, April, May and June 2020.
  • A small business may settle a tax debt under the law applicable to small business lump-sum tax that became due before 1 March 2020 in 10 equal monthly instalments starting from the month following the quarter of the end of the period of state of danger; each instalment shall be payable by the 12th day of the month concerned.

11. Government Decree 62/2020 (24 March)

  • Defines the detailed rules of the payment moratorium.
  • Debtor’s performance in compliance with the original contractual terms and conditions shall not prejudice the effect of the payment moratorium.
  • Neither during nor after the period of the payment moratorium shall the principal be increased by the amount of the interest not paid during the period of the payment moratorium.
  • Interest accrued during the period of the payment moratorium shall be paid, together with instalments due within the remaining maturity period, after the end of the period of the payment moratorium, within the maturity period, annually in equal instalments.

12. Government Decree 63/2020 (24 March)

  • During the period of state of danger, a person having capacity to be involved in medical research related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) that qualifies as an examination without intervention may provide his consent and be informed of the provisions of section 159 (3) of Act CLIV of 1993 on Health also via a telecommunication device.

13. Government Decree 67/2020 (26 March)

  • During the period of state of danger, in authority proceedings to be conducted in cases of COVID-19 coronavirus, connected to epidemic control, the existence of a patient care interest deserving special consideration defined in point 23 of section 1 of Act XCV of 2005 on medicinal products for human use and amending other Acts regulating the market for medicinal products (hereinafter “Gytv.”) shall be presumed.
  • The pharmaceutical state administration organ may, on the basis of any information it learns in connection with performing its tasks specified in law, establish a shortage of medicinal products or its risk, even in the absence of a notification under section 16 (2) of the Gytv.
  • The pharmaceutical state administration organ shall publish on its webpage the list of active substances of the medicinal products indicated in the authorisations issued under section 25 (6) and (6a) of the Gytv. for the treatment of COVID-19 coronavirus cases.

14. Government Decree 69/2020 (26 March)

  • Allows for derogation from Act LXXI of 2019 on the central budget of Hungary for the year 2020 with a view to providing funds for measures required for the elimination of state of danger.

15. Government Decree 70/2020 (26 March)

  • Defines provisions applying to adult training.
  • Contact-hour trainings shall not be given, and vocational qualification examinations shall not be organised.
  • Trainings may be organised only within the framework of distance education, in the form of distance learning, as digital training, even if doing so is not allowed by law, a grant contract, an adults training contract, a grant document or the training programme otherwise.

16. Government Decree 71/2020 (27 March)

  • It introduces provisions for restricting movement.
  • Everyone shall be obliged to restrict social contact with other persons, with the exception of those living in the same household, as much as possible, and to maintain a distance of at least 1.5 meters from others, if possible.
  • Except for those employed there, it is forbidden to stay in a catering facility. This shall not apply to pick-up and delivery of food for take-away.
  • Leaving a domicile, place of residence or private home shall be permitted only for a justified reason set out in this Decree.
  • For their own and their families’ interest, persons who have attained the age of 65 years shall be allowed to visit a grocery store, drugstore, market or pharmacy only between 9 a.m. and 12 a.m. During this time frame, only this age group may visit the aforementioned facilities.

17. Government Decree 72/2020 (28 March)

  • The maintainer of a healthcare institution providing inpatient care, or outpatient care in connection with inpatient care shall, irrespective of the maintainer’s identity, ensure the protection of healthcare equipment and devices, supplies of medicinal products and disinfectants at any of its establishments with particular attention, with a view to containing the coronavirus epidemic.
  • After obtaining the opinion of the Operational Corps Responsible for the Containment of the Coronavirus Epidemic if required, the Minister responsible for law enforcement shall make a recommendation for the secondment of a hospital commander to a healthcare institution to monitor the use of healthcare supplies purchased with budgetary funds.
  • The Prime Minister shall, on a proposal from the Minister responsible for law enforcement, issue a letter of mandate to hospital commanders.
  • After a letter of mandate is issued, the Minister responsible for law enforcement shall second the hospital commander to the healthcare institution.

18. Government Decree 73/2020 (31 March)

  • Extends the duration of 13 Government Decrees issued under the state of danger until the end of the state of danger.

19. Government Decree 74/2020 (31 March)

  • Defines new procedural rules under the state of danger.
  • The time limit set out by an Act for the submission of a service complaint regarding service of documents, or of an application for excuse regarding an omission, that takes place during the period of state of danger shall not include the period of state of danger.
  • Until the end of the period of state of danger, orders for payment shall not be served by a bailiff, with the proviso that the time limit for service shall recommence on the day following the end of the period of state of danger.
  • The court of company registration shall take only documentary evidence.
  • The Company Information and Electronic Company Registration Service shall provide any company information or other service exclusively by electronic means.
  • In contentious proceedings falling within the scope of Act CXXX of 2016 on the Code of Civil Procedure, the preparatory stage shall be conducted without a preparatory hearing.
  • In contentious proceedings falling within the scope of Act CXXX of 2016 on the Code of Civil Procedure, the main hearing, while in court actions falling within the scope of Act III of 1952 on the Code of Civil Procedure, the hearing shall be conducted by way of an electronic communications network or other means suitable for image and sound transmission, if possible.
  • At the request of the parties, in contentious proceedings, the proceedings may be stayed an indefinite number of times.
  • During the period of state of danger, submissions shall not be submitted in person at the administration office of a court, but shall be placed in the closed collection box at the entrance of the court.
  • The parties may not request the holding of a hearing in an appeal or a review procedure.
  • During the period of state of danger those obliged to take an attorney-at-law’s oath may commence their activities as attorneys-at-law after signing the oath document electronically, with the proviso that they shall be required to take the oath within 30 days following the end of the period of state of danger, of which a signed oath document shall be drawn up.
  • It also defines derogation from rules pertaining to non-contentious notarial proceedings, administrative court proceedings, and from the provisions of Act XC of 2017 on the Code of Criminal Procedure.

You can read the first part of the series here.


Authors:


Noémi Radnai

Knowledge Development Lawyer (Junior Associate)
noemi.radnai@dlapiper.com
LinkedIn profile

Gábor Papp
Senior Associate,
Head of Professional Development
gabor.papp@dlapiper.com
LinkedIn profile