“The third wave of the pandemic, and unfortunately the most severe, has dominated the developments of the past month in Hungary,” says SBGK Partner Peter Lukacsi. He says that severe restrictions have been imposed in the country to combat the uptick in the numbers of newly infected people, including the closings of lower grade schools and kindergartens. “Courts have been closed as well,” he says, “and no personal hearings have been held in both civil and commercial matters since March 8.”
Hungary has, since the start of the pandemic, reported almost 600,000 cases of Covid-19. The country has almost 200,000 active cases, and nearly 20,000 people have died.
Lukacsi points to several pieces of new legislation affecting the framework for businesses. “I’d say that the principle thing, of late, has been the update to the Code of Civil Procedure, which made it more flexible, and made it easier to file a petition with the courts,” he says. “It also introduced more legal representative-friendly amendments. Also, Government Decree 151/2003. (IX. 22.) on the compulsory guarantee of some durables came into effect, extending the duration of the guarantee based on the price of the product. This represents more consumer-friendly regulation.”
Lukacsi reports that, as of this year, all merchants and online cash registries must provide some form of an electronic payment solution. “This could be something like a POS terminal, for example, and it must be made available to all customers regardless of the amount paid,” he says. Also, banks have had to introduce “strong customer authentication when shopping online with a credit card,” he continues. “This means that in the case of online credit card payments, an additional security code must be entered in addition to the card details or the intention to purchase must be confirmed through an application.”
Lukacsi points to two other developments that should help businesses across Hungary. “A new form of incorporation has been introduced – a family agriculture business,” he says, “which represents a new form of company for agricultural activities and primary agricultural producers.” Also, remote working rules and regulations have been relaxed. “Tele-working became more flexible due to the pandemic situation – employers and employees can now agree on terms beyond the Labor Code, which allows for more leeway to adapt to each unique condition of every business.”
Finally, Lukacsi reports that there have been no major deals announced or closed in the past month in Hungary. “Things have been quiet,” he says “but, still, the legal market has been stable and has provided a lot of work to most lawyers.” According to him, “international business law is going strong despite the pandemic.”