In Hungary, for the collection of money owed that is overdue, i.e. already beyond the payment deadline
- For less than HUF 3 million, you cannot initiate court proceedings directly, but you can request validation of the claim with a payment order at the notary,
- Between HUF 3 and 30 million, court and payment order proceedings can also be initiated,
- In order to enforce a claim of more than HUF 30 million, you must go to court.
Among other things, we were wondering what we can do if we feel that the payment order is not legitimate or wrong, or if it was initiated due to an outdated debt.
You must take responsibility for the payment order
The Hungarian National Chamber of Notaries (MOKK) wrote to us: according to the experience of notaries the vast majority of payment orders are legitimate claims, which are primarily initiated by claims managers, utility companies, parking and mobile service providers due to overdue invoices.
Payment orders in numbers
According to MOKK data, 419,546 payment orders were initiated in 2023, 2.5 percent more than a year earlier. More than 99 percent of the requests covered claims between ten thousand and three million forints, and were initiated almost exclusively by legal entities – mostly claims managers, mobile service providers and utility companies. Private individuals initiated just over 3 percent of the procedures.
They added that the number of cases where someone illegally demands money is negligible. The law on the payment order procedure imposes responsibility for incorrect data provision on the holder (who initiates the payment order) in both civil and criminal terms. Providing incorrect data can lead to intellectual falsification of public documents, fraud, or other crimes.
Don’t wait for the notary to judge whether the claim is legitimate or not. Indeed, in the payment order procedure the notary cannot examine whether a claim or its amount is legal. Therefore, they do not even have statistics on what percentage of payment orders may be incorrect or unfounded.
It is not the duty of the notary, but of the addressee, to check whether the claim is legitimate or not. If you feel it is not, you can dispute the baseless claim. However, this does not mean that the right holder should not be held criminally liable if he commits a crime by asserting his claim. If the addressee objects, and the payment order turns into a lawsuit because of this, the court can also sanction the party who initiated the procedure without grounds, for example, oblige it to pay a fine.
When should it be contradicted and when does it not make sense?
MOKK emphasized that the payment order must always be accepted. If you receive a payment order, the worst thing you can do is not to deal with it or even accept the letter. If someone does not accept the payment order, i.e. in the case of postal delivery, the item is returned to the notary with a “not searched for” mark, then the so-called “delivery fiction” – i.e. the shipment is considered delivered. In such a case, the notary will send out the payment order once more (without a return receipt), so the obligee has the opportunity to learn about the payment order a third time.
If the recipient does not object even then, the payment order becomes legally binding and enforcement can be initiated. It is important, however, that you can still object to delivery and cancel the procedure even in the execution phase. The most important thing is that if a debt is unfoundedly demanded from someone, then do not set aside the payment order, but deal with the matter and oppose it – then the case can continue in court, where it can be decided whether the demand was justified or not.
Contradiction and enforcement in 2023
Compared to previous years, last year the number of disputes increased significantly, by 7.5 percent, and recipients contested 6.6 percent of claims. In 2023, in 75 percent of the initiated procedures, in 316 thousand cases, enforcement was initiated on the basis of payment orders that were not disputed by the debtors and became legally binding, which is 5 percent less than a year earlier.
If the addressee does not dispute the claim within 15 calendar days after receiving the letter, for example does not deal with it because he has already paid the invoice in question, then the payment order becomes legal and enforcement can be initiated. In such cases, it must be considered that the obligee has acknowledged his debt.
If someone disagrees with the claim for any reason, for example because he has already paid the amount claimed or the debt has expired, or if he is asked for more than he owes, be sure to object within the deadline
– stressed the president of MOKK, Adam Tóth.
You can object as an individual within 15 days from the delivery of the payment order:
- orally at any notary,
- and by post at the notary who issued the payment order.
According to the e-Administration Act, legal entities and those obliged to use electronic administration can only present their objection electronically through the MOKK system.
It is worth objecting only if the claim is unfounded, incorrect or illegal, for example if the real amount is not included in it. The existing, legitimate debt must be settled sooner or later, but the costs of court proceedings and late interest are also added to the debt if the debtor loses the case. If someone cannot settle their debt, instead of arguing, they can ask the notary within 15 days for payment in installments or to postpone the payment deadline.
If the debt is time-barred
It is also important to know that although the debts expire after a certain time, this by no means means that they cease to exist, he emphasized to our MOKK newspaper. The statute of limitations of the debt means that the claim can no longer be enforced in court, but this does not eliminate the claim itself. In other words, regardless of the statute of limitations, the service provider can still legally try to collect the debt, send a payment notice, even request the issuance of a payment order, or even initiate legal proceedings. The addressee, on the other hand, can object to the payment order submitted for the time-barred debt, and even if he has failed to do so and the time-barred debt is already being enforced, he can still invoke the statute of limitations with the bailiff. In such cases, if the person requesting enforcement acknowledges that the claim is time-barred, the enforcement procedure is terminated. However, if you dispute the statute of limitations, we can still file a lawsuit to stop the enforcement process.
We need to pay attention to all this because,if we pay the already time-barred claim or do not object to the payment order, we do not invoke the statute of limitations with the executor, i.e. there is no way back.In such cases, the amount will be deducted from our bank account or blocked from our wages according to the enforceable document issued on the basis of the payment order, which becomes legal, and there is no way to reclaim the amount paid. Neither the court nor the notary examines ex officio whether a debt is time-barred. The statute of limitations must therefore be invoked by the debtor in all cases.
Statute of limitations
The general limitation period for debts is five years, but there are also debts with a shorter limitation period. Telecommunications debts (for example, TV, mobile phone or internet subscription fee debts) become time-barred after just one year, while electricity and gas service claims, as well as labor law and transport claims, become statute-barred after three years.