In Hungary all kinds of organisation, including associations, trade unions, political parties and other NGOs, have direct access to the administrative courts under the same conditions as individuals. This condition is that the case shall affect the right or lawful interest of the organisation/individual. This rule is included in the special provisions concerning administrative cases of the Code of Civil Procedure (CCP). N.B. in Hungary there is no separate administrative jurisdiction, it is included in ordinary jurisdiction, furthermore, Hungary has no special code of administrative procedure.
However, judicial practice has made the content of the CCP more precise and concrete, meaning that a non-profit organisation has direct access to the court only in its own case and if the decision affects it directly. Any other person, for example a member of the organisation, may initiate a procedure only in the collective interest of the organisation but not in the person’s own name (see BH (Court Decisions) no. 2004/345). Initiating a procedure by an individual in the collective interest of the organisation is an exception from the main rule and can only be done if this possibility is provided for by law, like in cases of consumer protection, environmental protection and anti-discrimination. An organisation needs statutory authorisation to be able to initiate a procedure challenging the decision of an authority concerning one of its members and it can happen only in the case of public corporations belonging to the institutional system of public administration, because the related rules of other non-profit organisations are not included in law but in their own statutes.
It follows from the above that in the case of statutory authorisation it is the statues of the given organisation that defines whether the organisation may act before the court in its own interest, regardless of its size, the number of its members and other criteria, except if the statutes narrow down the activities of the given organisation to one specific field.
Finally, it has to be noted that in Hungary administrative judges are those who review public administrative decisions. Judges who proceed in damages caused in state administrative capacity or judges who settle disputes between associations or their members or disputes related to statutes are not considered administrative judges. However, the principle according to which an organisation can be a party only to its own case is valid for these latter types as well.
Summing up, comparing NGOs and individuals as regards their direct access to the courts, there are no differences either in legal regulation or in practice. The possibility of access of NGOs to the administrative judge is the same as in any other type of cases. Unfortunately there is no available statistics on actions initiated by NGOs.
This issue is regulated wholly by the CCP.
The authorised representative of trade unions may support a member in any action, that of interest organisations may support a member in an action which is compatible with the aims set down in the statutes of the organisation. Consequently, parties cannot act before the court on behalf of their members, they are responsible for representation in Parliament, not in individual cases. It is characteristic for example of asylum cases that legal aid assistances commission defence lawyers with representation or they help their clients in non-litigious proceedings because they do not have direct access to the courts.
In spite of the above, the assertion of interest by NGOs before the courts is quite strong, especially in fields where law provides for direct access and they often try to take part in actions directly as representatives or indirectly with authorised defence lawyers.