On 14 October, the Hungarian National Assembly adopted an Act on Complaints and Public Interest Disclosures, which had been prepared and submitted by the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice. The purpose of the new act is to support whistleblowers and to ensure their actual protection. The discussion of the proposed act by the National Assembly resulted in supplementing it by safeguards relating to the whistleblowing systems operated by employers.

The new act recognises the efforts made by whistleblowers in order to promote public interests and ensures that anyone can make a complaint or a public interest disclosure. In the interest of their protection, the data of complainers and whistleblowers cannot be made public, and they enjoy complete anonymity. A novelty of the act is that public interest disclosure can now be made through a protected electronic system for public interest disclosures, the operation of which is ensured by the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights. Incoming complaints and public interest disclosures are assigned unique identification numbers so that the process of managing them can be traceable for anyone on the Internet. Moreover, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights will monitor the practice of managing public interest disclosures and inform the public about his experiences in annual reports.

The legislator intends to promote action taken by the private sector against abuses and acts of corruption. A novelty of the adopted legal text is the introduction of a new institution called ‘lawyer for the protection of whistleblowers’. Besides receiving whistleblower reports concerning the contracting party, the contracted lawyer for the protection of whistleblowers must also guarantee the protection of whistleblowers through legal professional privilege. The engagement contract of a lawyer for the protection of whistleblowers may not be terminated without giving reasons.

The series of amendments also included the implementation of whistleblowing systems operated by employers. This will enable employer organisations to combat breaches of their predefined rules of conduct and violations of the law. Employers are required to investigate each whistleblower report within a short time limit and inform the whistleblowers about the outcome of the investigation. Bearing in mind the practices of international companies, the transfer of data to foreign countries is permitted, provided that the controller undertakes a contractual obligation to comply with the rules of the Hungarian law concerning whistleblowing, and an adequate level of protection for the transferred personal data is ensured.

The new act will enter into force on 1 January 2014.