a) Hungary / b) Constitutional Court / c) / d) 26-01-1996 / e) 1/1996 / f) / g) Magyar Közlöny (Official Gazette), 7/1996 / h) .
Keywords of the Systematic Thesaurus:
Fundamental Rights - Equality.
Keywords of the alphabetical index:
Discrimination, private and public employers / Employee, damages, liability.
Special liability rules laid down for a limited circle of employers results in an unconstitutional discrimination.
Article 348 of the Civil Code regulates the liability of the employee when causing work-related damage to a third person. As a general rule in such cases the employer is liable toward the third person. Paragraph 2 of the mentioned article regulates that special case when the employer is not able to cover the damages: in that case the employee can be made liable for it. The division of the liability between the employer and the employee is regulated by the Labour Code.
The special rule applies only to employers having no more than thirty employees. The present-day text of the article dates from 1989. Before that time it referred to private employers in general (thus making a clear distinction between state-owned and private enterprises). The Constitutional Court found even the amended text of the article to be unconstitutional, and annulled it. The challenged section provided a special liability rule in favour of the third person, who is usually the client of the employer, by also rendering the employee liable. A rule creating a subsidiary or background liability in specified cases can be justified. The provision of the Civil Code discriminated against a group of private employers without giving any constitutionally acceptable reason, however, and therefore it was unconstitutional.