The development of water rights administration in Hungary

  • Ibolya Katalin Koncz University of Miskolc, Faculty of Law, Indtitution of History and Philosophy of Law, Departmant of History of Law
Keywords: water law, water management, history of water administration, administrative law


In this following study, I aim to explore the first steps in the emergence of water rights administration, which can
serve as a sufficient basis for assessing the development of water rights administration. This may provide help in
understanding the way we have gotten to the current status of regulatory legislations, as the key bases for changes
taking place in public administration can always be found in former regulations. At present, water rights
administration is considered among the top administrative priorities, not only in Hungary but all over the world.
The reason for it can be found in the role of water in nature. Accordingly, the future role of water rights
administration is of key importance. Researches on the emergence of water rights administration can serve a good
basis for this future role, as such researches may provide assistance in pointing out where we are coming from and
where we need to be headed. In the framework of this study, I elaborate on the basic principles of the water rights
act defined by the legislatures and the application of the Act. Regarding the assessment of the basic principles,
there are basically two sets of aspects that can be taken into focus. Emphasis can be placed either on economic
interests or legal interests. It is true indeed that water rights are considered among the most difficult areas
concerning the large extent of conflicts between legal and economic arguments. Another issue making the
assessment even harder to complete is the fact that a conflict of interests can be found between the two key
government interests, i.e. legal security and improving public well-being. In consideration of these issues, the
material section of this study covers an assessment from a legal perspective, while I also aim to highlight such
modern, civilian age elements of the legal regulations implemented in relation to water rights, which caused
significant changes taking place with respect to practical execution.
The respective bill was prepared along these principles, in which areas related to water rights were treated as a
single unit and the practical problems occurring were aimed to be solved by a regulatory framework. One single
principle could break through the basic principle governing the fine legislators of dualist era Hungary, according to
which everything must be subordinated to the most optimal economic development. This principle was the
prohibition of waters by harmful substances. Accordingly, our forefathers did recognise that the protection of our
environment is not only important for the sake of their generation but for the protection of the future generations as
well. According to the thinking of that time, water was an inexhaustible supply; nevertheless, it is the absolute key
to man’s survival. Consequently, although this was not an intentional act, this was one of the first environment
protection measures in Hungary.


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