European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights

Hungary: Judges set to rule on sacked Reform Church pastor’s human rights complaint

A complaint lodged by a Reform Church pastor against Hungary, is set for judgement at the European Court of Human rights next week.

The Grand Chamber judgment in the case Károly Nagy v. Hungary (application no. 56665/09), on the right of access to court of a pastor concerning his claim for compensation against the Hungarian Calvinist Church, will be delivered on 14 September.

The complaint concerns Károly Nagy’s pecuniary claim against the Reformed Church of Hungary following his removal from service.

Nagy was pastor of the Reformed Church of Hungary. In June 2005, disciplinary proceedings were brought against him, for being reported in a local newspaper as saying that state subsidies had been paid unlawfully to a Calvinist boarding school.

His service was immediately suspended and eventually terminated with effect from 1 May 2006 following a decision by the ecclesiastical courts.

Nagy then brought proceedings before both the labour and civil courts. Both sets of proceedings were ultimately discontinued on the ground that Nagy’s claim could not be enforced before domestic courts.

The labour courts discontinued the proceedings in December 2006, on the ground that the dispute concerned Nagy’s service as a pastor and therefore the provisions of Labour Law were not applicable in his case. That decision was upheld on appeal in April 2007.

Nagy’s civil-law claim was also ultimately discontinued in May 2009, the Supreme Court concluding that Nagy’s claim had no basis in civil law.

Nagy complains about the Hungarian courts’ refusal to deal with a pecuniary claim stemming from his service as a pastor of the reformed Church of Hungary. He relies in particular on Article 6 §1 (right of access to court) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

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