The Sandor Metternich castle in Bajna (illustration) - Photo: Facebook

Top court strikes down several provisions of cultural heritage law

Hungary's top court on Friday struck down several provisions of the law that regulates the ownership and operation of Hungarian castles, mansions, and manor houses.

The law was adopted by parliament in December 2023, and President Katalin Novak asked the constitutional court to review it, arguing that the 2023 law was at odds with the 2011 law on national assets, and certain provisions of the law violated the requirement of legal certainty and clarity. Further, she submitted that the relationship between the two laws was unclear.

The 2023 law establishes significantly lighter regulations for some of the specially protected property than the 2011 law on national assets, and rules on the transfer of such property “do not correspond to the provisions of the Fundamental Law”.

The court said legislators must take the interest of the state related to the protection of national assets into consideration and ensure transparent management.

It added that the public interest should be taken into account when national property is transferred to a private entity and should be made use of in the spirit of a national property. Further, when offloading national assets, parliament must make it clear, item by item, which assets may fall under the scope of the regulation, and who may obtain the right to acquire them, the court said. Also, tenders related to property acquisition should be made public, it said.

Compared with the 2011 law, the new law allowed lighter regulation for specially protected assets, it said.

The court sent back the legislation to MPs for reconsideration.

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