Partial success in the “National Consultation” lawsuit | Magyar Helsinki Bizottság

18 December 2017

A final order of the court required the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister to suspend the distribution of the “National Consultation questionnaires” by post and online, at least the part that refers to the Hungarian Helsinki Committee.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee went to court on 1 October because of the statements in the “National Consultation questionnaire” that are misleading and misrepresent facts. HHC asked the court to establish that the statements in the “National Consultation questionnaire” to be sent to every household by the Cabinet Office had violated the organization’s right to good reputation. HHC also asked the government to issue a public apology and pay moral damages in the amount of HUF 8 million.

Moreover, HHC asked the Metropolitan Court of Budapest (Fővárosi Törvényszék) for an interim measure. As the court has the option to require the defendant before the judgement to suspend any activity that may be presumed to cause irreversible damage to the plaintiff during the lawsuit. The Helsinki Committee wanted to achieve the suspension of the distribution of questionnaires by post and online until the judgement is delivered. The first instance court, however, rejected it.

After that, the Helsinki Committee turned to the Budapest Court of Appeal (Fővárosi Ítélőtábla) with the same request of an interim measure. The final order of the Court of Appeal dated 29 November declared that it did not agree with the order and its reasoning made at first instance. Therefore, it partially amended the previous decision and required the Cabinet Office, until a substantive decision is made at first instance, to suspend the dissemination of the statement referring to the Helsinki Committee in point 5 of the “National Consultation questionnaire” by post and online. 

In the meantime, the “National Consultation” officially ended on 1 December 2017, the “questionnaires” had been all posted together with the Prime Minister’s letter enclosed and the government’s relevant online website disappeared. Apart from principles, the final order may be of practical relevance in the legal dispute between the Helsinki Committee and the government.

[See original here: https://www.helsinki.hu/csatat-nyert-a-helsinki-bizottsag-a-nemzeti-konzultacios-perben ]

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