Attorney-client privilege in Hungary

According to the LXXVIII. Law of 2017 on the Activity of Attorneys, an attorney is bound by the attorney-client privilege with regard to all facts, data and information of which he or she became aware in the course of his or her profession.

Within the scope of his or her duty of attorney-client privilege, the attorney is responsible for preventing the disclosure of the fact, data or information that has come to his or her knowledge by an unauthorized third party and for taking the necessary measures.

The attorney-client privilege also extends to other documents prepared and possessed by the attorney, if it contains fact, data, information falling within the scope of attorney-client privilege and covers the client’s personal data, business secrets (business relations, financial position), data covered by bank secrecy or tax secrecy and facts concerning the marital status, contact system and state of health of the client or, where applicable, the opposing party depending on the subject of the mandate.

We can safely say that the attorney-client privilege is one of the most important elements of an attorney-client relationship.

It is important to stress that the obligation of attorney-client privilege arises when the first attorney-client relationship is established. The attorney is obliged to keep the secret entrusted to him or her without time limit even after he or she has fulfilled his or her mandate or if the attorney’s mandate has been terminated for any other reason.

Only the principal, its legal successor or the principal’s legal representative may waive the obligation of confidentiality. If the attorney has become aware of facts, data and information as a defense attorney, he or she cannot be heard as a witness in regard of these facts, datas and information, even in the the obligation of confidentiality has been waived.

The attorney’s attorney-client privilege is not only incumbent on the attorney personally, but also extends to the staff of the law office (trainee lawyer, administrative staff member, clerk) and the officials and employees of the Bar Association.

In addition to disciplinary and ethical liability, those obliged to maintain confidentiality also have financial and criminal liability.

Please note that the above is for general information only, legal advice on individual cases can only be given in the context of an individual consultation, taking into account all the circumstances of the case.

Countersigning documents remotely in Hungary

By countersigning a document, the countersinging attorney certifies that the document complies with the law and the will of the contracting parties in terms of form and content, and that the parties indicated in the document or their representatives have been identified, verified by the attorney. The countersinging also certifies that the documents have been signed by the parties or their signature on the documents was previously recognized as their own in the presence of the attorney.

An attorney’s countersigning typically and generally takes place in person, in the joint physical presence of each party and the attorney, where the attorney can clearly identify the parties who have appeared before him/her.

However, the question arises as to what rules can be used to countersigning if a personal meeting is not possible (for example during the current state of extreme danger).

The relevant regulations do not stipulate that the identification of a natural person and the verification of identity can only take place during a personal meeting with a attorney, so the current Act of attorneys allows remote identification in some cases.

Among the electronic communication devices audited in advance by the Hungarian Bar Association for remote identification, the Magyar Law Office uses Skype for remote identification.

During the Skype conversation, the parties will be identified, and after the identity has been verified and the details of the document has been finalized, the document may be forwarded to the parties by post or email. Once a paper document is signed by the parties, it is most often returned to the acting attorney by post.

During a repeated Skype conversation, the acting attorney, after re-presenting the contents of the document, re-identifies and then declares to the parties whether the signatures on the document are recognized as their own. In the event that the parties are successfully identified during the Skype conversation and the parties recognize their signature as their own, the attorney may countersign the document.

Please note that the above is for general information only, legal advice on individual cases can only be given in the context of an individual consultation, taking into account all the circumstances of the case.

Labour law questions in Hungary regarding the COVID-19 pandemic

Due to the state of extreme danger in Hungary since mid-March 2020, labor law issues receive special attention. What rights and obligations do employers and employees have in the current situation, what provisions can be made to maintain the employment relationship?

Many industries and services are vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, as many businesses are forced to close or to limit or reopen their opening hours due to curfew restrictions and mandatory distance obligations.

It is important to emphasize that the employee is entitled to the basic wage under the employment contract until a decree is issued by the Government that significantly restricts or prevents the operation of the employer.

If the nature of the job allows it, working from home may be a solution, which is not regulated by the Labor Code, but its rules have been developed by case law. Your order may be based on a bilateral agreement or an employer decision, which should regulate occupational safety issues, adequate data security and the protection of business secrets.

An obvious solution could be an agreement on unpaid leave, but during this period the social security relationship, ie the quality of the insured will be suspended, with a few exceptions.

If the employee is subject to quarantine or other official measures, he is exempted from the obligation to work and the rules of sick leave will not apply. Therefore, the state reimburses the employee.

Please note that the above is for general information only, legal advice on individual cases can only be given in the context of an individual consultation, taking into account all the circumstances of the case.