The Curia

The Curia building in Budapest.

The Curia building in Budapest.

The Curia (Kúria) serves as the highest court in the judicial system of Hungary. The Fundamental Law that came into effect in the country on January 1, 2012 established the Curia in place of the Supreme Court (Legfelsőbb Bíróság) that had been founded with the proclamation of the Hungarian People’s Republic in August 1949 (source in Hungarian).

The name Curia is based on that of the Hungarian Royal Curia (Magyar Királyi Kúria) that served as the highest court in Hungary from 1723 until 1949.

The National Assembly elects the president of the Curia to an indefinite term in office at the recommendation of the president. Election to the post of president of the Curia requires the votes of at least two-thirds of all National Assembly representatives (source in Hungarian).

The president of the republic appoints judges to the Curia at the recommendation of the president of the Curia (source in Hungarian).

Péter Darák has served as president of the Curia since the court was established in 2012.

The Curia is divided into three departments: the Criminal Department; the Civil Department; and the Criminal and Labor Department (source in English). Each of these departments maintains a separate body of judges.

Conflict with the Orbán Government and the Fidesz-KDNP Governing Alliance

The Curia has demonstrated its independence vis-à-vis the Orbán government, notably when it approved the Hungarian Socialist Party-initiated referendum question regarding the mandatory Sunday closing of shops in Hungary that prompted the FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) governing alliance to rescind the relevant law in April 2016 (source in Hungarian).

The Curia has made many subsequent decisions that have contradicted the political interests of the Fidesz-KDNP governing alliance (see links to reports regarding these decisions in Hungarian from the opposition website

On April 24, 2018, the Curia upheld a National Election Committee decision invalidating 4,360 ballots that Hungarian citizens who do not live in Hungary submitted via mail in the National Assembly election held in the country earlier that month (source in Hungarian). A total of 96.2 percent of those who cast valid ballots via mail in this election voted for theFidesz-KDNP alliance (see 2018 National Assembly Election).

In response to the Curia’s ruling, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said: “I think that with this decision the Curia has taken a mandate away from our voters. The Curia has explicitly and obviously intervened seriously in the elections. An examination of the ruling of the Constitutional Court makes it obvious: the Curia has not risen to the challenge intellectually” (source in Hungarian).

Last updated: May 11, 2018.