Annual Report 2018

Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Legal Studies
1097 Budapest, Tóth Kálmán street 4.
Postal Address: 1250 Budapest, P.O.B. 20.
Tel: (1) 355 7384; fax: (1) 375 7858
Director: Gárdos-Orosz, Fruzsina Kinga

I. Main duties of the research unit in 2018

The main duty of the HAS Centre for Social Sciences Institute for Legal Studies is to carry out internationally competitive basic research within the field of legal studies. We define basic research as research which has the academic community as its primary target audience. Within basic research our most significant and specific task is to accomplish large-scale joint projects, with the involvement of experts from a variety of legal fields, which universities tend not to be best positioned to undertake. Besides, the institute offers several publication fora (Állam- és JogtudományActa JuridicaMTA Law Working Papers and the JTI blog). In addition, the institute issues the fortnightly Newsletter on Legal Studies and operates the Legal Studies Search Engine, the latter enables quick and efficient research in the various databases of legal studies.

Secondary tasks are prescribed by the Act on the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the statutes of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Centre for Social Sciences as well. These tasks are the following: organizing scientific endeavours in Hungary and abroad, co-operation with domestic and international research units, receiving foreign researchers, strengthening the legal knowledge of the public and disseminating scientific results and their social applicability.

A third set of tasks includes consultation on legislation, the training of experts, providing general consultation methods and delivering expertise. The institute as an institution only performs such tasks if one of the following conditions applies: (a) there is an explicit request from a competent body, marked by the laws as such; (b) the outcome of the commission has significant theoretical advantages and benefits; (c) charge is paid in return for the work of the institute.

The institute benefitted from the presence of two foreign researchers in the year under review (one of them Polish, the other Russian). In recent years, the institute has established a meritocratic selection procedure. New researchers are accepted after open competition and as a result of an interview by a board, thus ensuring the employment of the best candidates.

There are three scientific departments at the institute, which are the following:

  • Department for the Study of Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law;
  • Department for the Study of the Domestic Implementation of International and European Law;
  • Department for the Study of the Private, Criminal and Administrative Law Guarantees of Market Economy.

Departments within the institute are administrative organizational units, established along broadly understood research fields. Following academic statutes, all researchers are members of a department and all researchers are members of one department only. The names of the departments reflect the research priorities of the research units and guide the choices made in new employments. The tasks related to the functioning of each department are fulfilled by the responsible head of department.

The researchers of the institute, within their separate spheres of responsibility, also carry out diverse partial tasks in the institute as well as in the administration of research, which is the precondition of balanced and high-standard science organization and science support. These portfolios are public and uploaded to the homepage of the research unit. The institute is eager to assist our guest researchers from abroad. Thus, correspondence tends to be bilingual (Hungarian and English). Moreover, the institute provides bilingual information and collegial assistance towards scientometric reports as well as the general responsibilities of academic life.

II. Outstanding research and other results in 2018

a) Outstanding research results

The researchers of the institute have finalised the Human Rights Encyclopaedia project, to which approximately 18 researchers of the Institute have contributed entries. The published 800-page-long volume contains 102 papers in Hungarian, offering an almost exhaustive survey of the field, both with regard to its domestic and international aspects.

The project entitled Constitutional Courts Under Pressure has also reached its conclusion. The members of the international research group examined how national Constitutional Courts (or other bodies tasked with the interpretation of the constitution), as well as the European Court of Human Rights and European Court of Justice respond to the challenges posed by terrorism, multiculturalism and migration. The results of the research have been published by the very prestigious Routledge publishing house in a 300-page-long collection of studies entitled New Challenges to Constitutional Adjudication in Europe. A Comparative Perspective, whose international 16-member group of contributors examine, in four chapters and seventeen subchapters, the current challenges facing constitutional adjudication, as well as the different responses, and the trans-national implications of the problematic. The principal investigators evaluate the results and the lessons learned in a concluding essay.

The results of the project entitled How to Measure the Quality of Judicial Reasoning have been published in a book addressing the quality of judicial reasoning. The identically entitled collection of studies was published by the prestigious Springer publishing house and offers answers to the question posed by considering both academic expectations and practical experience. On a more abstract plane, the question of the existence of an absolute standard to which all judicial reasoning needs to conform receives adequate attention. The contributors to the volume offer answers to these problems, reflecting on experience from six countries, including the United Kingdom, Wales, Finland, Italy, the Czech Republic, France and Hungary. As a necessary addition, the practices of the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice are also examined.

In the MTA Lendület (Momentum) HPOPS project entitled Hungary's opportunities of public policy in the European Union a research group examines the legal boundaries of Hungary’s public policy opportunities within the European Union. In 2018 their empirical research focused on public fiscal policy, especially the harder legal and softer public policy aspects of EU fiscal policy. In theoretical research they addressed questions of patriotism in member state economic policy vs. EU law, especially the European Economic Constitution. Their work in these fields has been published by Springer and Hart Publishing, with one more publication forthcoming in 2019, with Palgrave. The editing process of the closing collection of essays was finalised by autumn 2018, its publication with Springer is scheduled for January 2019. June 2018 saw the research group’s final international conference. The principal investigator’s monograph on the subject, summarising all the results, will be published by Routledge in 2019.

The research project Strengthening minority rights through class action launched its activities by a regional conference on 13 April 2018, with presentations by international experts of class action from the region. As part of the interchange of ideas, experience from various cases related to Roma and Hungarian minorities was presented and commented on, following the categories of the class action claims’ questionnaire. One member of the research group took part as a presenter at the 2018 ASN (Association for the Studies of Nationalities) Word Convention event at Columbia University, New York. Another participant’s research paper (in Hungarian), providing a critical survey of the system of European minority rights, was accepted for publication by the journal Fundamentum.

The members of the research project The absence of entitlement-cultures in Middle-European Legal Cultures. Myth or reality? started their operations by establishing an international network of cooperation, including both Western European and Middle-European researchers that they plan to involve in their activities including through international workshops, preparation and review, as well as publication. The launch workshop, held on 25 April 2018, was entitled Rights Consciousness and Legal Cultures: Theoretical Perspectives. Its objective was to discuss theoretical questions of legal culture as well as networking. Part of the project involves creating a questionnaire; the theoretical discussions, however, highlighted the complexity of writing the right questionnaire for the purposes of the research. Therefore, a second international workshop was organised, so that the foreign experience might also be accommodated, this time specifically on the possibilities of empirical research into legal cultures. The even took place on 25 October 2018, its title was Rights Consciousness and Legal Cultures: Empirical Research Experiences.

As a result of independent effort, a senior researcher of the Institute published a major monographic survey entitled A parlamentek története. A korai rendi gyűlések kialakulásától a modern népképviseleti törvényhozásig (The History of Parliaments. From the establishment of early feudal assemblies to modern representative legislation) has been published by Országház Könyvkiadó. The book surveys almost seven centuries of institutional development in its discussion of the history of parliaments from early feudal assemblies to representative modern legislative bodies. The study is made up of five major thematic chapters proceeding in chronological order from early feudal assemblies to representative modern legislative bodies, and examines every country under discussion in the given historical situation. The narrative thus created leads, therefore, from the very beginnings to modern times, covering countries from Russia through Poland and Hungary to France, Portugal and Spain. The writer does not “merely” discuss European countries. Separate subchapters cover the United States of America as well as the parliamentary histories of other non-European countries in America, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Africa.

During the year under review a young researcher of the institute successfully defended their PhD dissertation on certain questions related to qualified majority legislation.

A researcher of the institute continued their research as a Marie Curie guest researcher at the Institute for Sociology of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, where their research covers the legal operationalization of ethnicity, during a three-year fellowship. The researcher gave two presentations, one entitled Operationalizing ethnicity and, translating identity politics to law: choice and fraud at the Comenius University Academy of Sciences Institute and another one entitled Conceptualizing and operationalising ethnicity: Central-East European experiences as a guest researcher of the Slovak Academy of Sciences.

During the year under review a research project, which was awarded the Bolyai János Research Grant in 2016 and which aims to prepare the manuscript of an English-language monograph on the history of legal comparatism, continued its operations. This year, the researcher focused on the developments of the last decades as well as on the oeuvre of Thomas Kuhn, in an attempt to integrate its insights into the work-in-progress. Two papers were published from among the findings in the last two years in international journals (Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law (2018\5), Rivista di Diritti Comparati (2018/2)).

Another Bolyai Research Grant project (awarded in 2015) was concluded in 2018, which examined the soft law characteristics of the operations of the European Ombudsman’s office’s in the defence of human rights. The end-result of the research is a soon-to-be-published monograph.

Another researcher of the institute won the Bolyai János Research Grant in 2018.

In 2018 an independent institute project and one joint project with the Research Centre’s Institutes for Political Science and Sociology were awarded financing by the National Research, Development and Innovation Office. The first was a young researcher initiated project (FK), the latter a researcher-initiated one (K). (See their detailed description under point IV)

During the year under review the institute housed – according to the categories of the evaluation regulations at the Centre for Social Sciences – six outstanding and five recognised research projects.

From among the outstanding research projects:

  • Two researchers were involved in Recent criminal law regulations in legal consciousness;
  • Two in The absence of entitlement-cultures in Middle-European Legal Cultures. Myth or reality?;
  • Three in Regulatory questions in internet data control;
  • Twenty-three in “The responsiveness of the Hungarian legal system 2010-2018”;
  • Four in “Populism in public policy and law-making”;
  • Six in “Policy Opportunities for Hungary in the European Union”.

From among the recognised projects:

  • Three of the institute’s researchers participated in Human Rights of Asylum Seekers in Italy and Hungary;
  • Two in Institutional Reforms in the Ageing Societies;
  • two in Collective procedures on minority group claims;
  • two in The influence of punitive penal policy on sentencing and the budget repercussions thereof;
  • two in Strengthening minority rights through class action.

In the field of organisational activities, the institute was the host or co-organiser of many national and international academic conferences. Some of these were specifically created to strengthen the institute’s leading role as a hub of scientific endeavours in the region, providing fora for leading experts of given fields for an exchange of ideas. The following events were the most noteworthy:

  • In May 2018 a conference was held, entitled The First Five Years of the New Civil Code. As part of the two-day event, the most significant recent changes to civil law were under discussion and the most pressing questions addressed. Leading Hungarian experts, representing all Hungarian schools of law, gave papers;
  • October 2018 saw a conference on The Conceptional Objectives and Impacts of the Changes to the System of Hungarian Criminal Law. The presenters surveyed different areas of criminal procedure law and penal law. Several Hungarian schools of law as well as the Curia, the Office of the Prosecutor General, as well as the Hungarian Bar Association and further professional bodies, including the National Institute of Criminology;
  • October 2018 also saw a conference on the Challenges to international criminal justice.

The institute also hosted less large-scale events as well, designed to address current topics that provoke significant interest in experts or the public at large. The most notable ones were:

  • May 2018: a roundtable discussion On the Constitutionality of the Voting System;
  • October 2018: a roundtable discussion of the Changes in the Regulations on the Rights of Politically Exposed Persons.

As part of a general push for greater international visibility, the institute hosted many international conferences in 2018:

  • In April 2018 the research group on strengthening minority rights through class action organised a conference entitled Challenges of Effective Minority Rights Litigation in Eastern Europe with a Special Focus on Procedure
  • April 2018 also saw the legal consciousness research group’s conference entitled Rights Consciousness and Legal Cultures: Theoretical Perspectives, which was followed in October by the international conference on Rights Consciousness and Legal Cultures: Empirical Research Experiences;
  • In June 2018 the Momentum research group concluded its operations after five years with a conference entitled The closing conference of the MTA TK Lendület-HPOPs Research Group: Local interests and common obligations in the EU;
  • An appropriate closing to the year under review was provided by the international organisation of constitutional lawyers ICON regional conference entitled The state of liberal democracy in Central and Eastern Europe. Workshop on the I·CONnect-Clough Center 2017 Global Review of Constitutional Law.

The English-language journal of the institute, Acta Juridica Hungarica – Hungarian Journal of Legal Studies features in HeinOnline database and published 4 issues this year. Állam- és Jogtudomány (Studies in Law and Political Studies) published 4 issues in the year under review as well; the double blind peer-reviewed ‘A’ category (upon the system adopted by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences) periodical was and is a leading journal in Hungarian legal literature. The editors are researchers of the institute, while the editorial board consists of the deans of the Hungarian law faculties. MTA Law Working Papers (with ISSN number), edited by four researchers of the institute, had a successful year and published 17 papers in 2018. The working-paper series is the first level within the hierarchy of the scientific publications, it is a forum for papers not completed but worthy of the attention of the scholarly community and open to debate before finalising. The periodical offers an open access forum for papers written under the aegis of several projects at the institute.

b) Science and society

Researchers of the institute contributed to the scientific discourse in the focus of public attention and disseminated academic knowledge in various fields. The events of the institute are almost without exception open to the public (although subject to prior registration on occasion), and their programmes and highlights are always published on the updated and informative bilingual (Hungarian and English) website, on the newly established Jogtudományi Hírlevél (Newsletter on Legal Studies), Jogtudományi Kereső (Legal Studies Search Engine) and on the frequently updated Facebook profile of the institute ( In addition to publication on the website, all events are circulated among relevant Hungarian research units via email and other electronic communication (and in the case of foreign language events, the researchers’ professional contacts and certain foreign faculty units are informed as well).

One of the main aims of the institute is to support the Hungarian legal scholarship community with scholarly administrative service. Upon this objective and following foreign examples the institute launched the Jogtudományi Hírlevél (Newsletter on Legal Studies), published every two weeks in an online form containing news on the current calls for conference participations, PhD procedures, habilitations in legal scholarship, book launch events, personal information, and scholarships as well. In 2018, 21 newsletters were sent to approximately 4000 recipients.

In 2018 the institute offered a Pro Dissertatione Iuridica Excellentissima award, the ceremony, together with the awardee’s presentation will take place in March 2019. The award can be granted on the basis of PhD dissertations in Hungarian, English, German or French.

A call for manuscripts has also been published in connection to the monograph series entitled Foundational Research in Legal Studies. The aim of the series is to enable the publication of (on average) one outstanding monograph in the field of legal studies in the Hungarian language, together with a general open access. The publication of the e-book is undertaken by the Institute, which then is published on its webpage. The publication of a limited number of physical copies is also financed by the Institute. In 2018, the competition took place, the awarded manuscript was chosen and the technical editing finished. Book launch is expected in the first quarter of 2019.

The institute, following its traditions, participated in 2018 in the Researchers’ Night programmes. This year four researchers of the institute held lectures. The number of those in attendance as well as their positive feedback suggests that there is real need in the future for events of a similar nature in the future.

III. A presentation of national and international R&D relations in 2018

An important part of the research unit’s R&D network is made up of its researchers also lecturing at the following universities at BA, MA or PhD levels: Babeș-Bolyai University; Corvinus University, Budapest; Budapest University of Technology and Economics; University of Debrecen; Eötvös Loránd University; Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church; Central European University; University of Miskolc; National University of Public Service; Pázmány Péter Catholic University; University of Pécs; Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania; Széchenyi István University; ELTE Bibó István College for Advanced Studies; Mathias Corvinus Collegium. In the past year our colleagues have worked at the following foreign universities as well: University of Siena, University of Bergen, University of Warwick, Université Blaise Pascal (Clermont-Ferrand, France), Comenius University (Bratislava), NATO Defense College (Rome), University of Vilnius, Heidelberg University, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Manchester University, University of Colorado, Masaryk University, Kyungpook National University, European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation.

Researchers of the institute taught approximately 99 theoretical and 16 practical courses at bachelor, master and doctoral levels in 2018, while they supervised 30 BA theses and 34 MA theses, 8 Student Research Societies papers. Our colleagues supervised 28 doctoral dissertations in 2018.

IV. Brief summary of national and international research proposals, winning in 2018

Two research proposals of the Institute proved successful at the applications proposed by the National Research, Development and Innovation Office

The project entitled “The responsiveness of the Hungarian legal system 2010-2018” (FK 129018) examines how the Hungarian legal system responded to social, economic, political scientific and technical challenges between 2010 and 2018. Research covers legislation, law enforcement and law abidance in the major legal areas. Its representativeness is ensured by mapping-styled database-building and case studies on the samples chosen through qualitative analysis. The objective is to examine when, how and with what levels of effectiveness the legal system responds in order to protect its role as a regulator of society (responsiveness).

The objective of the research is to undertake representative foundational research that analyses the societal challenges identified by the social sciences in recent years with scientific rigour, focusing primarily on the general ability of the Hungarian legal system to learn trough adaptation and assimilation.

Populism and Public Policy in Law Making (K 129245): the researchers of three institutes of the Centre (MTA TK JTI, PTI and SZI) analyse the main characteristics of populism processes of public policy and law making. They survey the main motivations and decision making patterns behind the actions of populist politicians, in order to assist citizens, civil society, and media in better understanding populist public policy. The research examines populism, constitutionality and the rule of law in the context of Hungarian political developments. Hungary has recently seen constitutional reforms and extensive new legislation. The populist approach has led to a constitutional model built on a purely majoritarian principle, in stark contrast with the traditions of liberal-democratic constitutionality. The research will reveal the structural weaknesses of liberal constitutionality, which failed to guard against populist encroachments and led to the demise of liberal democracy. A further objective of the research is, while reflecting on the accepted interpretation of constitutionality and the rule of law, to offer an innovative and comprehensive framework to reconsider the phenomena of populist law making.

V. List of important publications in 2018