For a long period, it was very comfortable in cross-border litigations that in most cases translation was necessary the Hungarian state advanced such costs, or even provided translation entirely for free. However, this possibility came to an end with the new civil procedure act. If you plan to start a cross-border litigation, or need translation in a Hungarian litigation for any reason, better to prepare for extra costs from now on.
Translating foreign documents into Hungarian
This is the only rule that hasn't changed. Because the official language of the Hungarian courts is Hungarian, all documents that are handed in to the courts must have Hungarian translation right at the time when you hand them in.
This means that if you have a contract or an invoice that is not written in Hungarian, and you want to use it as an evidence at Hungarian courts, you will need to provide Hungarian translation for it beforehand.
Because you have to organize the translation before using the document at the court, it means you have to pay such translation fees also by yourself.
Translating Hungarian documents into your language
If you don't understand Hungarian, or you need translation for other purposes – for example you wish to use the Hungarian court's documents abroad and you need official translation, we have bad news: Hungarian courts don't provide translation for free anymore.
Speaking of "court documents" it means not only the judgement, but also the court hearing minutes, the administrative and summoning orders of the judge, the documents handed in by the other party.
You can organize the translation for it, or if you don't want to deal with such administration, you can pay for the court to arrange translation for you.
If you need translation only for understanding the content of the court documents, it's better to hire an English-speaking lawyer who can explain you its meaning, and give you explanation and legal advice at the same time.
Translating Hungarian documents even for the other party?!
There are cases when the person you want to sue is not seated in Hungary. You need to prepare for extra costs if you are the one who starts the procedure. According to the delivery rules, the documents can be considered delivered abroad only if they are translated to that country's official language, or in the European Union any other language is accepted that was used by the parties previously. This latter is a luckier situation, because if the communication was in English, the translation will be definitely cheaper than translation into any other language.
According to the new legal regulation the translation costs will not be advanced by the state, but the claimant must pay it in advance. So if you have many documents and your claim is long, you have to calculate with high costs right at the beginning of the litigation.
Interpreter's fee at the court hearing
As we already mentioned, the official language of the court is Hungarian. This can't be changed, even if the judge can speak foreign languages. Everything must be said and recorded in Hungarian language. So far, the state has provided interpreter for free if any of the parties didn't understand Hungarian, however, this is not the case anymore. If you need interpreter at the court hearing, you have two choices: you can bring your own interpreter to the court, or you can request an interpreter from the court after paying a fee indicated by the judge.
If you choose the first one, you can have some freedom in choosing the best price among many possibilities. However, if you are not familiar with translator offices and you don't want to spend time with searching, the court can do it instead of you, but there is no guarantee that the prices of the official translator will be the best available in the market.
We must mention that everybody must pay for the interpreter that occurs related to themselves. This means that you pay for your interpreter, and the other party pays for their interpreter. This is also applicable for the witnesses. If your witness doesn't speak Hungarian, you have to pay for his interpreter.
Accounting for costs
As a summary you can see that the state does not provide free translations anymore, and many of such costs must be advanced by you. Especially if you need translation, or your start a court procedure against somebody having a seat outside of Hungary. However, these costs can be added to litigation costs, and if you win the case, the other party will have to pay the translation costs back to you.
Tips for decrasing costs
You can decrease such costs if you choose English language for communication during the contract, as it is always cheaper in Hungary to translate from or into English language than any other foreign language. You can also hire your own translator or interpreter, so that you can decide how much you want to pay for such services, and not the court.
If you know in advance that in case of litigation Hungarian courts will have jurisdiction, you can also stipulate Hungarian arbitration, where you can choose English for the procedure language, thus these translation costs don't arise as a question.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.