a) Hungary / b) Constitutional Court / c) / d) 19-12-2000 / e) 47/2000 / f) / g) Magyar Közlöny (Official Gazette), 123/2000 / h) .
Keywords of the Systematic Thesaurus:
General Principles - Rule of law.
General Principles - Certainty of the law.
General Principles - Publication of laws - Linguistic aspects.
General Principles - Prohibition of arbitrariness.
Keywords of the alphabetical index:
Law, wording, unclear, ambiguous.
The ambiguity and vagueness of the challenged provision offended the principle of legal certainty and was accordingly unconstitutional.
According to the jurisprudence of the Court, the rule of law is an independent constitutional norm, the violation of which is itself a ground for declaring a law unconstitutional. In its Decision 11/1992, the Court pointed out that legal certainty requires of the legislature that the law as a whole, its specific parts and its provisions, including the Criminal Code, be clear and unambiguous. Their impact must be predictable and their consequences foreseeable for those whom the law is addressed.
Under Article 283/B.1 of the Criminal Code, any person who produces, manufactures, acquires, possesses, imports into or exports performance-improving substances from Hungary, or transports such through the territory of Hungary for the purpose of increasing the performance of athletes, in violation of the provisions set forth in international treaties, by international organisations, or in legal regulations and in ordinances, commits a misdemeanour offence. According to the Court, the wording of this provision is unclear and ambiguous, since the provisions set forth by international organisations are not laws and are therefore without binding force. The expression "legal regulation" is not sufficiently definite, since it embraces all laws including even legal rules of local governments. The Constitutional Court also found the word "ordinances" problematic because an ordinance is not a law and therefore cannot be binding on everyone.
According Article 283/B.1 of the Criminal Code, any person who subjects himself to a procedure intended to stimulate performance for the purpose of sporting activities in violation of the provisions set forth in international treaties, by international organisations, or in legal regulations and in ordinances shall also be punishable. In the Court's view, the expression "sporting activities" defines the scope of behaviour subject to criminal sanctions too broadly. Under this provision even sporting activities done within the private sphere were included.
The Court held that the provision was unconstitutional and annulled it because of its unclear, vague and ambiguous wording. The Court ordered the revision of criminal proceedings concluded by a final decision on the basis of the unconstitutional legal rule if the convict has not yet been relieved of the detrimental consequences.