The changes of the Consumer Protection Act, effective from the first day of January 2024, concern the provisions on alternative dispute resolution. In this article we will summarize the changes affecting consumers and businesses.

The concept of “consumer” as defined in the law has changed for the implementation of the rules on the conciliation board, as micro, small and medium-sized enterprises will no longer be considered consumers as a result of the changes.

A significant change is that the conciliation board will in future issue a binding decision even if the business has not made a declaration of submission, but the request is well-founded and the consumer’s claim – neither in the request nor at the time of the binding decision – does not exceed HUF 200,000. In this regard, following the modification, the court may, in addition to the recommendation, also request the annulment of the decision to impose an obligation if it does not comply with the law.

The jurisdiction of conciliation boards will change. From 1 January 2024, the seat and jurisdiction of conciliation boards will be determined by Annex 2 of the Consumer Protection Act, which lists a total of eight conciliation boards, sometimes with regional jurisdiction covering several counties. Consumers will have the possibility to request a personal hearing in the cities of the county in which they are located, which the bodies will be obliged to provide once a week. This is intended to increase the number of places of jurisdiction.

In the future, the conciliation board will primarily hold hearings online, without personal presence, by means of an electronic device. However, consumers will have the possibility to request a hearing in person. However, in the case of a hearing with personal presence, businesses will have the possibility to decide whether they wish to participate in person or to participate online.

The cases in which the President may terminate the proceedings without a hearing will also be extended, so that they can be terminated if the court has already issued a final decision on the merits of the civil claim in criminal proceedings, and if the consumer expressly wishes to claim compensation.

The amendment specifies the time period within which the consumer must provide feedback on the non-implementation of the settlement or commitment decision approved by the decision or the failure to follow the recommendation, in order to take any further action required. So far, the conciliation board has not received any feedback from the business on whether it has complied with the decision or recommendation: from January it must provide the conciliation board with information on this.

Currently, the breach of the obligation of cooperation by an undertaking in the conciliation procedure is still a mandatory case for the imposition of fines. This is in addition to cases where the business fails to comply with its obligation to provide information, i.e. to provide feedback on the decision or recommendation of the board.

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