a)  Hungary / b)  Constitutional Court / c) / d)  14-03-2001 / e)  6/2001 / f) / g)  Magyar Közlöny (Official Gazette), 2001/30 / h) .
Keywords of the systematic thesaurus:
Constitutional Justice - Types of claim - Initiation ex officio by the body of constitutional jurisdiction.
Constitutional Justice - Jurisdiction - The subject of review - Failure to act or to pass legislation.
Sources - Categories - Written rules - International instruments - European Convention on Human Rights of 1950.
Sources - Categories - Case-law - International case-law - European Court of Human Rights.
Fundamental Rights - General questions - Limits and restrictions.
Fundamental Rights - Civil and political rights - Freedom of association.
Keywords of the alphabetical index:
Association, registration / Court proceeding, length.
The possibility for citizens to form a legal entity to act collectively is one of the most important aspects of the right of freedom of association. The disputed registration system did not violate the basic right of free association, since when deciding on whether to enter an association into the register the judge may only establish whether an association has met the formal conditions prescribed by law. At the same time, it is indispensable to have legal guarantees to avoid lengthy court proceedings.
The petitioner requested the constitutional review of Article 4.1 of Act no. II of 1989 on Freedom of Association. In the petitioner's view, the provision under which associations acquire legal personality on registration infringes Article 63.1 of the Constitution (freedom of association). This constitutional provision guarantees that everyone has the right to establish organisations for any purpose not prohibited by law and the right to join such organisations.
The Court rejected the petition and held that the judicial registration of associations in itself is not unconstitutional. The Act on Freedom of Association prescribes mandatory registration of associations. In this way, an association becomes a legal entity. From the day of its registration the organisation may begin to operate as an association. The judge issues a decision on the entry of an association into the register. In such a decision, however, the judge may only establish whether an association has met the formal conditions prescribed by law. The main purpose of such a system is to avoid having associations operating contrary to law. Since the judge cannot refuse to register an association that has already met the formal conditions prescribed by law, the registration is not a restriction of the right of freedom of association. The Court referred to the decision of the European Commission of Human Rights in the case of Lavisse v. France, in which the Commission held that Article 11 ECHR does not ensure legal personality of associations. Therefore in those countries where the registration is a prerequisite for having legal personality, a refusal of the authorities to register an association does not necessarily involve an interference with the rights of the association under Article 11 ECHR.
After refusing the petition, the Court ex officio examined whether parliament has fulfilled its legislative tasks concerning the fundamental right of freedom of association. Neither the preliminary proceedings ensured by the Act on Freedom of Association, nor that provision of the Code on Civil procedure under which civil proceedings must be finished within a reasonable time meant there were sufficient legal guarantees of freedom of association. Therefore, because of the unsatisfactory regulation, the Court held that parliament failed to comply with its legislative tasks concerning freedom of association.
Supplementary information:
Five Justices attached separate opinions to the decision. According to these opinions, the Court should not have declared that the parliament had failed to fulfil its legislative tasks, leading to unconstitutionality. The regulations of the Act on Freedom of Association and the Code on Civil Procedure currently in force provided sufficient guarantees to avoid lengthy court proceedings when registering associations.