Latest developments in 2019

AuthorKádár, András
12.1 Legislative amendments
No significant legislative amendments took place in 2019 in the area of non-discrimination
12.2 Case law
Name of the court: Debrecen Appeals Court
Date of decision: 16 September 2019
Name of the parties: 62 complainants v. the Municipality of Gyöngyöspata, the Nekcsei
Demeter Primary School and the Hatvan School District
Reference number: Pf.I.20.123/2019/16
Address of the webpage: not available
Brief summary: In March 2015, the Curia (Hungary’s Su preme Cour t) concluded in an
actio popularis lawsuit launched in 2011 by the Chance for Children Foundation (CFCF) that
the Roma pupils in the Nekcsei Demeter primary school in Gyöngyöspata (northern
Hungary) had been segregated. In each grade there were two classes: one with practically
only Roma pupils and one where there were hardly any Roma children. The Roma and the
non-Roma classes were separated physically too, and the Roma children w ere p rovided
with lower quality education than their non -Roma peers. Based on t he Curia’s final and
binding decision, in February 2016, with the help of CFCF and pro bono lawyers, 63 former
Roma pupils of the Nekcsei Dem eter school launched a lawsuit for damages against the
school, th e Municipal Council of Gyöngyöspata and the school district for the long -term
disadvantages they had suffered as a result o f their substandard education (e.g. the loss
of the real possibility to succeed in the labour market).
On 16 October 2018, t he Eger Regional Court delivered a first instance judgment in the
case (under the number 12.P.20.489/2015/402). The court concluded that the respondents
had violated the claimants’ right to equal treatment by segregating them and providing
them with education of lower quality than that of their non-Roma peers. The court
adjudicated the claims of 62 claimants. It rejected the claim of two claimants, fully granted
the requested compensation in 12 cases, and granted part of the requested compensation
in 48 cases. All parties appealed against the judgment.
In its Decision No. Pf.I.20.123/2019/16, delivered on 16 September 2019, the Debrecen
Appeals Court modified the first instance court decision (it increased the amount of
damages for some claimants and decreased it for others; in the case of some claimants, it
also modified the time periods with regard to which their segregation was concluded).
However, in essence it uph eld the decision that non-pecuniary damages are to be paid to
victims of segregation and discrimination in education.
The court concluded that it is common knowledge that segregati on causes a feeling of
humiliation and inferiority and hinders the affected children in overcoming their
sociocultural disadvantages. In addition, substandard education not only humiliate s those
subjected to it, but also puts them at a disadvantage in a ll areas of life, including studies
and employment. Since this is common knowledge, no individualised proof is needed
concerning the mo ral d amages each individual complainant suffered as a result of their
segregation and the substandard education they received. If these fa cts (that they were
segregated and provided with inferior education) are proven, damages based on the
general jurisprudence concerning non -pecuniary remedies can be granted without
examining the case of each and every complainant. For the same reason, the fact that
some complainants managed to succeed in their studies and work (often with extraordinary
efforts) cannot be regarded as evidence against the claims of those who did not.

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