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Analysis: The implementation of the ECtHR judgment in Gazsó v Hungary on protracted court proceedings

In 2015, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) concluded in its pilot judgment delivered in the case of Gazsó v. Hungary that violations of the right to a hearing within a reasonable time in civil contentious judicial proceedings constituted a systemic problem in Hungary. The ECtHR called upon the Hungarian state to introduce, until October 2016, an effective domestic remedy capable of addressing the issue of excessively long court proceedings either in the form of preventive measures or a compensation scheme. In addition, it was noted that similar structural shortcomings characterized criminal cases and administrative judicial disputes as well.

As part of the remedial measures, the Hungarian Parliament adopted Act XCIV of 2021 on the Enforcement of Pecuniary Satisfaction Relating to the Protractedness of Civil Contentious Proceedings. In its decision of 30 March 2023, delivered in the case of Szaxon v. Hungary, the ECtHR found that this newly introduced compensation scheme guaranteed in principle a genuine redress for the rights violations originating in the protractedness of contentious civil proceedings, and declared the application inadmissible for the non-exhaustion of the pecuniary satisfaction procedure as a domestic remedy. In light of the ECtHR’s decision, the Committee of Ministers, in its role of supervising the execution of the ECtHR’s judgments, decided to end its supervision in respect of contentious civil proceedings. At the same time, given that the new compensatory remedy is only applicable to contentious civil proceedings, the Committee of Ministers firmly invited Hungary to find a solution ensuring that all kinds of civil proceedings falling under the scope of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights are covered by a remedy for excessively lengthy proceedings and expressed its serious concern that it received no information from the Hungarian government as regards the outstanding administrative and criminal remedies.

However, according to the HHC’s analysis, the new pecuniary satisfaction mechanism introduced for contentious civil proceedings also suffers from deficiencies. For example,

  • Hungarian courts lack the competence to determine the reasonableness of the length of proceedings based on the criteria elaborated in the ECtHR’s caseülaw; they must accept the length of time set by the legislator as a starting point.
  • The rules for calculating the time that serves as the basis of pecuniary satisfaction are unclear.
  • The daily amount of pecuniary satisfaction is arguably insufficient, even in the context of the Hungarian “economic realities”.

See our full analysis of the compensation scheme here:
Legal analysis of the implementation of the European Court of Human Rights judgment in the case of Gazsó v. Hungary (August 2023)

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Hungarian Helsinki Committee