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CONTRACT ENFORCEMENT AND JUDICIAL SYSTEMSIN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE Warsaw, Poland June 20 through June 22, 2005 REPORT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA
REPORT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA I. THE MOST SUCCESSFUL ACHIEVEMENTS THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA MADE IN THE AREA OF JUDICIAL REFORM IN RECENT YEARS, AND THE MAIN FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO THAT SUCCESS
REPORT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA PREFACE • The Republic of Croatia is a country in transition. The first democratically adopted Constitution ( December 22, 1990) introduced the following principles: • democratic multiparty parliamentary system, • separation of powers between legislative, executive and judicial branches • the rule of law and • independence of judiciary; • Legislative solutions are not sufficient and we are fully aware of the necessity to develop the good practice of judicial proceedings and to rise the public trust in judiciary.
REPORT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA INDEPENDENCY AND AUTONOMY OF THE JUDICIARY • Guaranteed by the Constitution, the Act on Courts, the Act on State Judiciary Council, etc. • Judges enjoy immunity in accordance with the Constitution and Law.
REPORT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA SEPARATION OF POWER BETWEEN THE LEGISLATIVE, EXECUTIVE AND JUDICIAL BRANCHES • there is no separate institution of legislative power that would supervise the judiciary; • executive power has limited possibility of control over the judiciary in a manner that ensures the effective exercising of judicial power. • executive power has no authority over the process of administering justice itself.
REPORT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA STATE JUDICIARY COUNCIL(SJC) • a body established for appointment and dismissal of judges and for making decisions concerning their disciplinary accountability; • it consists of 11 members: seven judges, two professors of jurisprudence and two lawyers; • judges from all over the country propose judges as a candidate for the Council members.
REPORT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA COUNCIL OF JUDGES • they are set up in all courts of higher instance and they assess the performance of judges, give the opinions about candidates for judges and propose candidates for court presidents. TENURE • following to the first appointment (for the period of five years), judges are nominated to perform their duty permanently. SALARIES • salaries of judges are regulated by a special law; • approximately regulated to match the salaries of the executive and legislative power officials, except when it comes to the retirement pensions that are still considerably lower.
REPORT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA TRAINING OF JUDGES, IMPROVEMENT OF TECHNICAL STANDARDS IN THE COURTS, TRANSPARENCY OF WORK JUDICIAL ACADEMY • established within the Ministry of Justice with an aim to provide permanent training of judiciary; • accessibility of the Supreme Court decisions at the web-site www.vsrh.hr ; • permanent informing of public about the Supreme Court’s sessions.
REPORT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA LAND REGISTER REFORM • digitalisations of land registers is currently under way, accompanied by the introduction of Integral Database; • networking of land registries departments and cadastral offices.
REPORT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA NEW LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK With the purpose of establishing more effective work of courts, harmonisation with the acquis communautaire and legal protection of citizens, the new legislation have been introduced, such as: • The Act on Property and Other Real Rights, • The Land Registry Act, • The Companies Act, • The Act on Obligations, • The Amendments and Supplements to the Act on Litigation, • The Amendments and Supplements to the Enforcement Act, • The Arbitration Act, • The Act on Conciliation, etc.
REPORT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA THE MAIN REASONS FOR IMPLEMENTING THE REFORM OF JUDICIARY • creating more effective judicial system; • commitment of the legislative, executive and judicial authorities in the implementation; • large support of the international community, accompanied with the expert and technical assistance coming from the different states and institutions, especially from the European Union.
REPORT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA II. MAJOR PROBLEMS CROATIA CURRENTLY FACE WITH REGARD TO JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE, EFFECTIVENESS AND ACCOUNTABILITY
REPORT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA THE PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED • huge number of ongoing cases at courts, both the big number of incoming cases and the existing backlogs; • the court jurisdiction given too extensively; • the nomination of the presidents of the courts are excessively influenced by the executive and legislative authorities.
REPORT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA LEGAL LIABILITY • The State is held reliable to the third party in case of damage resulted from illegal or irregular work of judges; • A judge may not be detained in criminal proceedings initiated for a criminal offence committed in performance of his judicial duty without prior consent of the State Judicial Council.
REPORT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA THE COURTS PARTICIPATION IN CREATION OF LEGISLATION AND ITS CONTROL • The draft proposal laws are submitted to the Parliament by the Government or the members of the Croatian Parliament; • The Supreme Court General Session may give its advisory opinion on a draft law related to the courts; • Association of judges may participate in public discussions on draft proposal laws and submit objections or suggestions, accordingly; • The judges have the independence and freedom when interpreting the law. • Courts decisions are subject to control by virtue of legal remedies exercised by the higher instance court.
REPORT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA CORELATION BETWEEN THEJUDICIALAND EXECUTIVE POWER • The Ministry of Justice as the highest bodyof the court administration allocates the financial funds to the courts and decides on personnel needed for the courts; • The Minister of Justice is in the position to propose the list of persons to be nominated to the State Judicial Council and nominates the presidents of the courts. This fact opens the possibility for the executive power to influence the judicial power.
EXPERIENCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA THE COURT ADMINISTRATION and FUNDING Administration • The Act on Courts is the basic legal act which regulates the administering the courts; • The Ministry of Justice has the authority to • abolishing every court administration decisions, • deciding on the number of the courts employees and approving their employment, • granting the acquisition of equipment, etc.
EXPERIENCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA Funding • Courts have no power to effect to the Parliament budget decision on the funds envisaged for their needs. The Parliament passes the Budget annually. • The Courts are limited in influencing decision on allocation of financial funds for the Court needs as this decision is taken by the Ministry of Justice.
EXPERIENCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA III. TOP PRIORITY IN THE COMING YEAR FOR IMPROVING THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM
EXPERIENCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA THE CREATION OF APPROPRIATE WORKING CONDITIONS • suitable office premises – Zagreb (Justice Square) and Split • further computerization and networking of judicial bodies and the MOJ – IT Strategy of the MOJ (LAN, WAN, data bases (Supreme Court, Administrative, Court, High Commercial Court, land registry on the Internet), ICMS, electronic signature (Court Register, Criminal Judgements Register)
EXPERIENCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA EDUCATION AND TRAINING OF JUDICIAL OFFICIALS Judicial Academy • CARDS 2001 – full implementation of the CITS (Court-integrated Training System) – training the trainers • Vocational training (standard and specialised programmes) • Zagreb, Rijeka centres – Osijek, Varaždin and Split to be opened • Web site in English (www.pak.hr in Croatian)
EXPERIENCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA TOP PRIORITY IN THE COMING YEAR FOR IMPROVING THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM, cont. Promotion of alternative dispute resolution methods (mediation) • existing legislative framework (Mediation Act, Labour Act, Civil Obligations Act, Civil Procedure Act, Criminal Procedure Act, Family Act, Juvenile Courts Act, Arbitration Act, Act on the Chamber of Trades and Crafts (Zakon o obrtničkoj komori), Act on the Croatian Chamber of Commerce) – full implementation is needed, raise public awareness • further legislative amendments (Civil Procedural Act) • PHARE 2005 (out of court mediation – regional centres: Croatian Chamber of Commerce, Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts, Croatian Union of Employers)
EXPERIENCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA Land registry reform • authorised land registry clerks (training) • continue monitoring the court administration (land registry departments) • digitalisation of the land registry books – carried out in co-operation with the State Directorate for Geodetics (so far 30,75% of all land registry files have been transcribed from manually managed to computerised registers) • continuation of the publication of the digitalised land registry data on the Internet (May 12, 2005). At present 54 courts post their data on the Internet, by the end of 2005 all land registry departments; anti-corruptive measures
EXPERIENCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA Improvement of enforcement judgements and proceedings • Legislative amendments • AIM: simplify procedure, speed up proceedings, further disburdening of courts (notaries public), more transparency and effectiveness (setting up registers for movable and immovable property Monitoring the court administration – full use of judicial inspectors (aim: raise responsibility of the court presidents in performing court administration tasks, solve backlog)
EXPERIENCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA Reviewing and rationalising the existing network of courts – WHY (access to justice, excessive length of court proceedings, court management by results) • CARDS 2002 (Twinning project with Finland) – Overall Strategy of the Reform of Judiciary in Croatia • Too many courts in Croatia? • Municipal courts – 105 • County courts – 21 • Misdemeanour courts – 110 • High Misdemeanour courts – 1 • Commercial Courts – 12 • Administrative Court 1 • High Commercial Court – 1 • Supreme Court 1 • Total 252 COURTS • Closure, merger – detailed analysis based on the CARDS 2002 results with financial implications is needed.