Hungarian road toll can be enforced in German civil courts


Source: pixabay/Daniel_B_photos

Hungarian road toll can be enforced in German civil courts

The German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) has ruled that the costs of a toll not paid in
Hungary, including increased charges, can also be collected from the vehicle owner and not
only from the driver.
With four rental cars was driven 5 times on a Hungarian highway without buying a vignette
before. If the toll for 2,975 HUF (approx. 7.30 Euro) is not purchased before using the
freeway, a replacement toll for 14,875 HUF (approx. 36.52 Euro) is due and must be paid
within 60 days. If this is not done, an increased additional fee of 59,500 HUF (approx. 146.06
Euro) will be due. According to §15 II of the Hungarian Road Traffic Act, the vehicle owner is
the debtor of the toll. After the Hungarian company collecting the highway toll contacted the
German car rental company regarding the increased additional fee including interest and
collection costs, the company refused to pay, claiming that the liability of the keeper would
violate German public order (ordre public).
The judges of the Federal Court of Justice first pointed out that according to Art. 21 of the
Rome I Regulation, which applies to international contractual obligations, the application of
the foreign law designated therein can be refused if it would obviously contradict the
domestic public order ("ordre public"). However, the court then stated that this was not the
case here. This is because there are also obligations under German law that are linked to the
vehicle owner's status. For example, the federal highway toll under public law, the civil
liability of a vehicle owner under § 7 I of the German Road Traffic Act (StVG) and the case
law of the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) on the civil liability of the owner in the case of
unauthorized parking of vehicles. The claimed vehicle owner can prove that he has acquired
a vignette before the journey by showing the receipt received or the control section if the
burden of proof is on him. Since the increased additional charge is to be regarded as a
contractual penalty, it also does not violate the odre public, since there are comparable
regulations in German law, such as the increased transportation charge, if a passenger does
not obtain a valid ticket.
Only regarding the question of whether the claim must be for payment in euros or HUF, the
BGH did not decide, but referred the question back to the Regional Court.

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