Budapest Metropolitan Court decided against secretive state owned company

The court of first instance obligates Erzsébet Utalványforgalmazó és Gazdasági Szolgáltató Kft. to release all contracts related to advertising for year 2012. However, the judge dismissed the claim for all other financial information, as they will be made public by 1 June due to corporate law. The judgement also stated that since the company is using public funds, all and any financial data is public interest. This decision is a huge step for transparency, according to the counsel of the company they have never been obliged to release contracts to the public, index.hu and K-Monitor have failed with their FOI requests.

However, in another trial the same day atlatszo.hu lost against the Hungarian Water Polo Federation (HWPF). Atlatszo.hu had a FOI request regarding the TOA (corporate tax reliefs) certificates issued by HWPF. The intent behind the FOI request was to gather a list of all companies and clubs who enjoyed the benefits of a tax relief. Since the tax is public fund, atlatszo.hu firmly believes that it’s public interest who supported the clubs. Atlatszo.hu will file an appeal, despite the fact that the court used a quite similar argumentation („misuse of FOI request”) to a recently rejected draft bill.

This article was originally published here in Hungarian on 24 May 2013. The text was translated by Tamás Papp.