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Legal Research in Slovakia

(Including a Brief Description of Slovak Political and Legal System)

 

By Juraj Alexander and Juraj Gyárfáš

 

Juraj Alexander is an attorney in the Prague office of Salans law firm. He specializes in insolvency law and financing arrangements. After four years of practice in corporate law firms in Prague, he got an LL.M. degree at Fordham University Law School in 2009. His original law degree comes from the Law School of the Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic.

 

Juraj Gyárfáš graduated as Master in Law from the Law School of the Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia, in 2007. Subsequently he practiced in the Bratislava office of Salans law firm. Currently, he is pursuing an LL.M. degree in Hamburg, Germany, and Haifa, Israel.

 

Published January/February 2010

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Table of Contents

 Introduction

 The Slovak Political and Legal System in a nutshell

 The Legislative Power

 The Executive

 Local and Regional Authorities

 Professional self-government

 Judiciary

 Legal System

 Sources of law

 Legislation

 Case law

 Legal Doctrine

 Legal Education and Legal Professions

 Law schools and legal education

 The Legal Professions

 Legal Resources

 Legislation online

 Law Reports and case-law online

 Legal databases

 Major Law Journals and Reviews

 Major Law Blogs

 Legal Publishers

 Law Libraries

 Bibliography

 Links of legal interest

 Other links of interest

 

         Introduction

The Slovak Republic (Slovakia) is a land-locked country in Central Europe. It has a population of some 5 million people and a surface of 49,000 sq km ~ 19,000 sq miles. It is neighboring with Czech Republic and Austria in the West, Poland in the North, Ukraine in the East and Hungary in the South.

 

Slovakia is one of the two successor states established after the 1989 Velvet Revolution on January 1, 1993 upon the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia (the other successor being the Czech Republic). The Czechoslovak Republic was in turn created following the break-down of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918. Slovakia was a part of the Hungarian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Since May 1, 2004, Slovakia is a member of the European Union and since January 1, 2009, the lawful currency in Slovakia is EURO.

The capital of Slovakia is Bratislava, the largest city in Slovakia with some 500,000 inhabitants. Košice, having some 240,000 inhabitants, is the second largest city and the most important city in the eastern part of the country (and the seat of the Constitutional Court).

 

Slovakia is a unitary state, divided into eight regions. The only official language is Slovak, which belongs to the Slavic language family (it is very similar to Czech, the language spoken in Czech Republic).

 

Slovakia is not a legal successor to the Slovak State (or First Slovak Republic), a puppet state established by Nazi Germany on a part of the territory of current Slovak republic after the forced dissolution of Czechoslovakia following the Munich Treaty in 1938.

 

        The Slovak Political and Legal System in a nutshell

The Slovak legal system is a “continental” legal system with strong remnants from the communist legal culture. Until 1950, the law applicable on the territory of current Slovakia (during the Czechoslovak Republic and during World War II) was based on the Hungarian common law, as partially codified in the nineteenth century. After the establishment of Czechoslovakia in 1918, substantial national legislation interfered with this tradition and introduced influences stemming from the Austrian tradition, which was the basis of the law applicable in the Czech part of Czechoslovakia. In 1950, the Communist Government through a rushed legal reform of most basic areas abolished this difference and established uniform laws for the entire territory of Czechoslovakia. This uniformity was conserved in the next legal reform in early 1960-s and through the establishment of the federation in 1968. Therefore, substantial similarities remain between the Czech and the Slovak legal system (basic legislation is despite ongoing reform in Czech Republic still largely identical, including in such details as wording of some provisions) and practitioners as well as scholars from Slovakia often turn to Czech sources to look for answers to legal questions.

 

The characteristics of the legal system are the following ones:

·        principal areas of law and procedure are codified (Civil and Criminal Codes, Codes of Criminal, Civil and Administrative Procedure etc.);

·         the system of legal sources is hierarchical, forming a pyramidal structure of legal force within the legal system;

·        only statutory law is, at least in theory, recognized as source of law.

 

The Slovak Constitution (the "Constitution" or "CSR") was adopted by the Slovak National Council on September 1, 1992 and amended several times since then (a not completely up-to-date English version is available here). The Constitution includes a catalogue of basic rights and fundamental freedom, basic provisions on the state and an institutional framework for state institutions.

 

The political system is a parliamentary democracy and a somewhat standard system of checks and balances is in place. The head of state is the President of the Republic, but the functions of the President are mostly representative; the genuine power is vested in the Prime Minister, who is in turn politically responsible to the parliament, which is called the National Council of the Slovak Republic. The legislature and the judiciary are supposed to provide checks on the power of the executive branch.

 

There are also territorial self-governing units: municipalities and regions.

 

           The Legislative Power

The legislative power is vested in the National Council of the Slovak Republic (the "Parliament"). The Parliament has 150 members, all elected for a four-year term in a popular election according to the principle of proportional representation. The next election will take place in June 2010. The internal workings of the Parliament are governed by the Act on the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure (Act No. 350/1996 Coll.).

 

           The Executive

The executive power is shared between the President of the Republic and the Government.

 

              The President of the Republic

The President (prezident Slovenskej republiky) is the head of state. He/she is elected in a direct universal election for a term of five years, with one re-election possible.

 

The powers of the President are mostly of representative and ceremonial nature and in several cases, where the Constitution assigns to him the power to appoint an officer he has no discretion, whether to accept the nomination by the body selecting the candidates. In addition, the President can appoint ambassadors and grant general amnesty only with the consent (counter-signature) of the prime minister or the responsible minister). 

 

The first President of the independent Slovak Republic was Michal Kováč (1993 – 1998). The second President was Rudolf Schuster (1999 – 2004). The current president is Ivan Gašparovič, elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2009. His term of office is to end in 2014.

 

              The Government

The Government (vláda) is the highest body of executive power. It consists of the Prime Minister, deputy prime ministers and ministers.

 

The Government is politically responsible to the Parliament. After general election, the President designates a potential Prime Minister. Upon the proposal of the designated Prime Minister, the President of the Republic appoints other members of the Government. The Government as a body has to pass a vote of confidence by the Parliament within 30 days after its appointment.

 

Usually, the Government is to be formed by the party, which won the general elections. Alternatively, the chairperson of the second largest party is to be asked to form the Government. The Government is, however, supposed to be composed of politicians who were able to secure support for their Government in the Parliament.

 

The Government decides as a college by an absolute majority of all its members. Members of the Government are generally at the same time heads of respective ministries.

 

              The Ministries

The ministers are appointed by the President upon the proposal of the Prime Minister. The President has to remove a minister or a member of the Government upon a request by the Prime Minister.

 

The number and portfolios of individual ministries are established by a statute (Act No. 575/2001 Coll., on the Organization of the Activity of the Government and on the Organization of the Central State Administration, as many times amended). The current number of ministries is 14. These are:

·        Ministry of Finance

·        Ministry of Foreign Affairs

·        Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport

·        Ministry of Culture

·        Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Family

·        Ministry of Health

·        Ministry of Justice

·        Ministry of Interior

·        Ministry of Economy

·        Ministry for Construction and Regional Development

·        Ministry of Agriculture

·        Ministry of Defense

·        Ministry of Transport, Postal Services and Telecommunications

·        Ministry of Environment

The daily operation of the Government as such is managed by the Office of the Government of the Slovak Republic.

 

              Other central authorities under governmental control

There are a considerable number of other central agencies, established by statute, that perform vital administrative tasks. These agencies are not managed by a member of the Government. Their head is, however, appointed by the Government or by the President. These agencies include:

·        Antimonopoly Office

·        Statistical Office

·        Geodesy, Cartography and Cadastre Authority of the Slovak Republic

·        Nuclear Regulatory Authority

·        Office of Standards, Metrology and Testing

·        Office of Public Procurement

·        Industrial Property Office

·        Office of State's Material Reserves

·        National Security Authority

 

              Other central authorities independent of the government

There are other central authorities, that are, to a high degree, independent of the Government. The bodies are entrusted with task, which may sometimes run against the interests of the Government. Their independence should be guaranteed by the appointment procedure for the head of the authority (typically for a fixed period of time) with financial independence.

        The Supreme Audit Office

The Supreme Audit Office performs audits on the management of state property and the implementation of the state budget. The president and the vice-president of the Supreme Audit Office are elected by Parliament. The creation of the Supreme Audit Office is set out in the Constitution and details on the functioning of the Office are regulated by Act No. 39/1993 Coll., the Supreme Auditing Office Act.

 

        The National Bank of Slovakia

The National Bank of Slovakia is the state central bank, entrusted with maintaining the price stability, issuing of banknotes and supervision of banking regulations. Detailed regulation is set forth by Act No. 566/1992 Coll., the National Bank of Slovakia Act (in English). Following the entry of Slovakia into the Eurozone, the National Bank of Slovakia is a part of the European System of Central Banks.

 

        The Public Defender of Rights

The office of the Public Defender of Rights was created in 2001 within the framework of an extensive amendment to the Constitution. His/her task is to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms. Detailed provisions are contained in Act No. 564/2001 Coll., on the Public Defender of Rights (in English).

 

           Local and Regional Authorities

Municipalities, as well as regions (so-called higher territorial administrative units), have their own administration elected by persons permanently residing within their territory (even if they are not Slovak nationals). Each municipality has a major and an assembly, and larger municipalities, as well as regions, also a council.

The local and regional authorities have two types of powers:

·        the power of self-administration in certain areas, where the territorial unit

         remains free to adopt legislation if it wishes to do so (area of independent powers of  

         self-administration);

·        the delegated state authority, where the territorial unit acts in the exercise of the

         authority of the state and where it is obliged to act following detailed instruction

         issued by the central government. In this latter function, territorial units act as a kind

         of decentralized bodies of the government (area of the exercise of assigned public

        administration).

There are eight regions. They were created and are regulated by Act No. 302/2001 Coll., on the Self-Administration of Higher Territorial Units.

 

There are around 3,000 municipalities in Slovakia. The composition, functioning and powers of municipalities are laid down by Act No. 369/1990 Coll., Municipalities Act.

           Professional self-government

The state delegates some public authority to professional self-governing (záujmová samospráva) bodies, such as:

·        The Slovak Bar Association, currently regulated by Act No. 586/2003 Coll., on the

         Legal Profession; membership is mandatory for all attorneys;

·        The Chamber of Tax Advisers, established by Act No. 78/1992 Coll., on Tax Advisers

         and the Slovak Chamber of Tax Advisers (in English); membership is mandatory for

         all tax advisers;

·        The health-care workers' chambers: Slovak Medical Chamber (for all doctors except

         dentists), Slovak Chamber of Dentists, Slovak Chamber of Pharmacists, Slovak       

         Chamber of Medical Technical Workers, Slovak Chamber of Physiotherapists,

         Slovak Chamber of Dental Technicians, Slovak Chamber of Orthopedic Technicians,

         Slovak Chamber of Other Medical Workers and Slovak Chamber of Psychologists, all

         regulated by Act No. 578/2004 Coll., on Health-Care Providers, health-care workers,

         professional organizations in health-care; membership in these chambers is not

         mandatory, but the chambers have the power to issue licenses to practice the   

         respective profession;

·        The Slovak Chamber of Veterinary Surgeons regulated by Act No. 442/2004 Coll., on

         Private Veterinary Surgeons and on the Slovak Chamber of Veterinary Surgeons.

The chambers typically exercise certain degree of disciplinary, ethical and regulatory powers vis-ŕ-vis its members. Most of the decisions of the bodies of these chambers can be reviewed by administrative justice.

 

           Judiciary

The Constitution divides the judiciary into two branches: the Constitutional Court and general courts. Since the 2001 Constitutional amendments, the Constitutional court has, among others, the power to quash decisions by the general courts (for violations of fundamental rights and freedoms) and it is therefore de facto highest court in the country.

 

              General Courts

There are three levels of general courts: district courts, regional courts and the Supreme Court. Except for administrative cases and for enumerated civil and criminal cases, district courts are the courts of first instance for all cases and regional courts act as courts of appeal. The Supreme Court hears appeals from first-instance decisions of regional courts and appeals against appellate decisions by regional courts and by the Supreme Court itself. There are three military district courts and a higher military court, and there is also a Specialized Criminal Court, a first-instance court corresponding to a regional court, hearing serious criminal offenses (such as corruption), which was established by the current government after the highly successful and well-regarded Special Court has been declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court. The organization of the court system is regulated by Act No. 757/2004 Coll., on Courts.

 

The 2001 Constitutional amendments introduced Judicial Council, which is in charge of the fundamental decisions in respect of judiciary, such as selection of judges (they are appointed by the president), election of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, organization of disciplinary proceedings against judges and representing the judiciary in budgetary discussions. The Judicial Council is regulated by Act No. 185/2002 Coll., on Judicial Council.

 

There is no trial by jury, but laypeople participate in the administration of justice by sitting as judges in judicial panels in criminal cases in district courts (i.e. less serious offenses). Laypersons are elected by local councils. Two lay judges sit with a professional judge, hearing non-specialized cases at first instance. Appellate and Supreme courts´ panels are composed of professional judges only. The position and election of judges is regulated by Act No. 385/2000 Coll., on Judges and Lay Judges.

 

Slovakia has a system of career judiciary, i.e. most judges do not have other professional experience before joining the judiciary. The judges are appointed for life by the president upon proposal by the Judicial Council and can be only removed following disciplinary proceedings conducted by a special judicial ethics panel, composed of senior judges. 

Only the decisions of the Supreme Court and only since 2007 are systematically published on its website. Some decisions by lower courts are published in the system JASPI.

 

              Constitutional Court

The Constitutional Court, located in Košice, was granted substantial additional powers by the 2001 Constitutional amendments. The Constitutional Court has, subject to complicated standing requirements, the power to review the constitutionality of any legislation and the compliance of lower level legislation with higher-level legislation. In addition, the Constitutional Court can hear individual complaints against violations of fundamental rights and freedoms by any other public authorities (including general courts), subject to exhaustion of other remedies. When the Constitutional Court finds that a particular piece of legislation was adopted in violation of higher-ranking law, it has the power to quash such legislation, similarly as it can quash decisions by any public authorities.

 

The Constitutional Court publishes all its decisions on its website. The procedure in front of and organization of the Constitutional Court are regulated by Act No. 38/1993 Coll., on the Organization of the Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic, on the Procedure and Position of its Judges (in English).  

 

         Legal System

The Slovak legal system is a civil law system. Historically, it had been influenced by the Austrian and the German legal orders and can thus be grouped within the Germanic continental legal culture. During the Communist period ranging from 1948 until 1989, it has been influenced by Socialist legal thinking. As of the 1990s, it has been also largely shaped by the reception and implementation of EU law.

 

The substantial areas of law are codified. The main codes are:

·        The Civil Code – Act No. 40/1964 Coll. – is the basic code, providing foundations for

          the entire area of private law and the legal system generally, containing provisions on  

          legal personality and subjects of legal relations, property rights, legal rights and

          obligations, types of obligations and contracts, unjust enrichment, civil liability,

          succession.

·         The Commercial Code – Act No. 513/1991 Coll. – regulates the relationships between

          undertakings and commercial activity generally, types of commercial contracts and

          obligations, law of companies (types, incorporation, company rules, dissolution),

          some special provisions on liability in commercial transactions and competition law.

·         The Labor Code – Act No. 311/2001 Coll. – regulates the relationships between

           employers and employees, basic forms of labor relationships, rights of employees,

           liability for damage in labor relationships and employees’ representation (trade

           unions).

·         The Criminal Code – Act No. 300/2005 Coll. – defines the types of behavior

           constituting a criminal offence, contains enumerative list of criminal offences and

           types of punishment.

 

The main procedural codes are:

·        The Code of Civil Procedure – Act No. 99/1963 Coll. – basic code of judicial

          procedure containing the rules for the courts of general jurisdiction acting in civil

          and commercial cases. The Code of Civil Procedure also sets out the procedural

          framework for judicial review of administrative decisions.

·         The Code of Criminal Procedure – Act No. 301/2005 Coll. – contains procedural

           rules for the investigation, prosecution and execution of sanctions in matters falling

           under the Criminal Code.

·         The Code of Administrative Procedure – Act No. 71/1967 Coll. – codifies the rules of

           procedure for administrative authorities when deciding on individual rights of

           natural and legal persons in the area of public administration.

           

           Sources of law

As a civil law jurisdiction, Slovak law recognizes only written law as a formal source of law. Based on their legal force, those formal written sources of law are assorted in a pyramidal-type structure (the Kelsenian pyramid of norms). The lower levels of the pyramid have to be compatible with the higher.

The structure is as follows:

·        Constitution and constitutional acts

·        International treaties, to which the Parliament has expressed its assent and which

         were ratified and promulgated in a manner laid down by a law

·        Acts adopted by the Parliament

·        Derived legislation (Government regulations, generally binding legal regulations of

         ministries and other central state administration bodies, acts of self-governmental

         units, generally binding legal regulations of local bodies of state administration)

The pyramid of legal sources was partially reshaped by Slovakia’s accession to the European Union. The Constitution expressly recognizes the precedence of European Union law over acts adopted by the Parliament. Thus, if a national statute is in contradiction with EU legislation, the latter prevails.

 

           Legislation

              Types of legislation

Legislation adopted by the Parliament may be distinguished based on the majority required to pass such legislation.

Constitutional acts have to be adopted by a constitutional majority of three-fifths of all members of Parliament (i.e. 90 members of Parliament). 

Important international treaties, as well as acts returned by the President under his power of suspensive veto, have to be passed by an absolute majority of all members of Parliament.

Ordinary acts have to be adopted by a simple majority of members of Parliament being present at the session. The Parliament constitutes a quorum when a simple majority of all members is present.

Lower derivative legislation is adopted by the Government, various ministries or other state administration bodies or self-governing units.

Constitutional acts (ústavné zákony) are legislative acts of the highest force. They enjoy the same legal force as the Constitution and also amendments to the Constitution are formally adopted in the form of constitutional acts.

In addition to the Constitution, there is a plurality of constitutional acts. Among these are:

·        Constitutional Act No. 460/1992 Coll., the Constitution of the Slovak Republic (in

         English);

·        Constitutional Act No. 227/2002 Coll., on the Security of the State in War, State of

         War or State of Emergency;

·        Constitutional Act No. 397/2004 Coll., on the Cooperation of the National Council of

          the Slovak Republic and the Government of the Slovak Republic in European Union

          Affairs.

As for international treaties, the Constitution specifies most important types of international treaties (i.e. treaties on human rights, self-executing international treaties, treaties which directly confer rights or impose duties on natural persons or legal persons). Those international treaties, after being ratified and promulgated in a way set forth by law enjoy precedence over acts of Parliament. This means that in case of conflict, the international treaty prevails and the Constitutional Court may quash an act, if it contravenes an international treaty. One of the most important of such international treaties in the Slovak legal order is the Council of Europe’s Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

 

Acts (zákony) are the universal form of decision making adopted by the Parliament. For an act to be adopted, a simple majority of the present members of Parliament is required (Art. 84 CSR). Codes (i.e. complex acts containing provisions for an entire area of law such as the Criminal Code) are formally on the same level as ordinary acts and can thus be amended or repealed by any later act.

 

Government regulations (nariadenia) are a form of derived legislation, adopted by the Government acting as a body. Consent by an absolute majority of members of Government is required for adopting a regulation. Regulations may be adopted to implement acts and only within the limits laid down by law (Art. 120 CSR). A special exception expanding the power of Government in adopting regulations necessary to implement European legislation was used during the process of EU accession.

 

Ministries and other state administration bodies may further adopt generally binding legal regulations provided they are empowered to do so by a law (Art. 123 CSR).

 

               Legislative process

Draft acts may be introduced by the committees of the Parliament, by members of Parliament or by the Government. In practice, most complex legislation is proposed by the Government and then debated by Parliament. As mentioned above, the adoption of an act requires a simple majority of present members of Parliament. The adopted act shall be signed by the Chairman of Parliament, by the Prime Minister and by the President. In case the President refuses to sign an act and returns it to Parliament with comments (veto), Parliament may override this veto by an absolute majority of all its members. In case the President does not sign such act, it is promulgated even without the President’s signature (Art. 87 CSR).

 

The detailed provisions of the (floor) debate, the three rounds of reading and voting on draft legislation and other parliamentary procedural questions are governed by Act No. 350/1996 Coll., on the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure.

 

               Promulgation and publication of the legislation

For legislation to be valid, it must be duly promulgated first (Art. 87 CSR). The mode of promulgation of legislation is laid down by Act No. 1/1993 Coll., on the Collection of Laws. Constitutional acts, important international treaties, ordinary acts, regulations and certain other derivative legislation are promulgated by being published in the Collection of Laws. Moreover, certain decisions of the Constitutional Court and of other bodies (e.g. decisions on amnesties, on calling elections, etc.) are also published in the Collection of Laws.

 

Once an act or another piece of legislation has been published in the Collection of Laws, a conclusive presumption applies that anyone, whom it may concern, is acquainted with the content thereof. Generally binding legal regulations become valid on the day of their publication in the Collection of Laws. Unless specified otherwise, they become applicable on the fifteenth day upon publication. Exceptionally, they may apply before the fifteenth day; however, not earlier than on the day of publication. 

 

If an act is published in the Collection of Laws (Zbierka zákonov, abbreviated in Slovak as “Z. z.”), the standard form of citation is:

“number of the document”/”year of the publication” Coll.

 

The number of each document is unique. The document number 1/1993 Coll. thus refers to the first document published in the Collection of Laws in the year 1993, which was the Act on the Collection of Laws.

 

The Collection of Laws is published in a printed version by the Ministry of Justice. They are also fully accessible online in a “PDF” format here (access free of charge). Moreover, the Ministry of Justice runs an online free of charge system, where consolidated versions of legislation are available (JASPI).

 

The only authentic version of Slovak legislation is in the Slovak language. Some acts are officially translated into English, but generally, only private non-authentic translations compiled by various public or private institutions are available.

 

            Case law

Traditionally, case law is not regarded as a binding source of law by continental legal theory and in this respect, Slovakia is no exception. Nevertheless, some scholars do attribute to case law of higher courts the term “quasi-precedents”. Legal practitioners and judges of lower courts often refer to case law when solving legal problems. Also higher courts often cite previous cases in their decisions. This applies particularly to important decisions of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court.

 

There is no generally accepted system of citation to case law and most practitioners and scholars cite according to the court docket number and the date of decision. Cases of lower courts are generally not cited to.

 

           Legal Doctrine

Neither legal doctrine is regarded as a formal source of law in the Slovak legal system. Nevertheless, scholarly interpretations of legal sources and, in particular, commentaries to most important acts play an important role in legal practice and legal argumentation.

 

        Legal Education and Legal Professions

 

           Law schools and legal education

The general legal program offered by Slovak public law schools is the five-year Master (magister, abbreviated with Mgr. before the name). It is the qualifying degree and the minimal requirement for any traditional legal profession (attorney, prosecutor, judge).

 

Higher degrees are the JUDr. (iuris utriusque doctor, so-called “small” doctorate in law, written before the name) and the research degree of Ph.D. (“normal” doctorate in law, written after the name). The small doctorate is obtained by submitting a written piece of work anytime after completing the Master. The normal doctorate is obtained by research and after submitting a dissertation. Other academic titles one may encounter especially with more senior lawyers are the CSc. (Candidate of Science) or the higher degree of DrSc. (Doctor of Science), both written after the name. These titles are no longer awarded.

 

Slovak law faculties are obliged to implement the Bologna model of higher education consisting of three years Bachelor, two years Master and three years Doctorate.

 

There are four public law schools in Slovakia: in Bratislava, Trnava, Banská Bystrica and Košice. Moreover, there are two private law schools in Bratislava and Sládkovičovo.

 

The Faculty of Law of the Comenius University in Bratislava is the oldest and probably the most respected law school in Slovakia (although in recent years, other law schools have managed to build considerable reputation). The University (including the Faculty of Law) was established shortly after the establishment of the first Czechoslovak Republic in 1919.

 

The Faculty of Law of the Trnava University builds on the tradition of the historical Trnava University established in the early 17th century with a Faculty of Law established in 1667. The historical Faculty of Law was closed 110 years later in 1777. The current Faculty of Law was established in 1998.

 

The Faculty of Law of the Matej Bel University, named after the famous Slovak scholar from the 18th century is located in the city of Banská Bystrica. It has been established in 1995.

 

The Faculty of Law of the Pavol Jozef Šafárik University is located in Košice. The University was established in 1959 and is named after a famous Slovak philologist and poet of the 19th century.

 

The first private law school in Slovakia is the Bratislava School of Higher Education in Law. It has been established in 2004.

 

The second private law school in Slovakia, the Faculty of Law of Janko Jesenský of the Higher School in Sládkovičovo is located in the southern town Sládkovičovo and has been established in 2005.

 

Apart from the teaching institutions, there is also the Institute for State and Law within the Slovak Academy of Science. The Institute is a research-only institution.

 

There is a special institution established for the continuing education of judges, the Judicial Academy located in Pezinok.

 

            The Legal Professions

                Attorney (advokát)

Attorneys provide legal services for remuneration. The provision of legal services means representation before a court of law and other authorities, defense in criminal cases, provision of legal advice, drafting legal papers, legal analyses and other forms of legal aid if carried out systematically and for a fee.

An attorney is a person who completed a master’s degree in law followed by three years of professional training with a senior attorney and successfully passed the bar exam. Moreover, a clear criminal record is a condition for becoming an attorney. The list of attorneys entitled to practice may be viewed here.

 

The exercise of the profession is regulated by Act No. 586/2003 Coll., on the Legal Profession.

 

The professional self-governing body is the Slovak Bar Association.

 

               Public prosecutor (prokurátor)

In Slovakia, the office of public prosecution (prokuratúra) is a body established directly under the Constitution and independent from the Government. The office is headed by the Prosecutor General (Art. 150 CSR), who is appointed by the President on a proposal by the Parliament.

 

Prosecutors represent the state in criminal proceedings. In particular, they indict persons and thereby bring criminal proceedings from pre-trial proceedings to court. Moreover, prosecutors enjoy important powers in administrative and civil proceedings. In administrative proceedings, they may use extraordinary remedies against administrative decisions, which they consider unlawful. In civil proceedings, they may appear in most proceedings and use their power for an extraordinary appeal against judicial decisions.

 

In order to be appointed a public prosecutor, a person must have a master's degree in law, a clear criminal record, at least 25 years of age and must have passed a prosecutor exam after three years of practice as a prosecutor clerk. Prosecutors are appointed by the Prosecutor General without a time limit.

 

The legal profession is regulated by Act No. 154/2001 Coll., on Prosecutors and Prosecutor Clerks.

 

               Public notary (notár)

A public notary is a private person entrusted with the public office of notary, which entails activities such as certifying legally important occurrences, providing escrow services, running certain public registers (e.g. register of pledges), certifying copies of documents, verifying signatures on deeds, etc. Moreover, notaries are also in charge of certain types of inheritance procedures.

 

The number of notaries is determined by the Minister of Justice. A notary must have obtained at least a master's degree in law, five years of legal practice, must have passed notary exams and must have a clear criminal record. Once a position of a notary becomes vacant (or the Minister of Justice increases the overall number of notaries), the Chamber of Notaries chooses the designated notary in a tender. The designated notary is then appointed by the Minister of Justice.

 

The profession is regulated by Act No. 323/1992 Coll., on Notaries and Notarial Activity (Notarial Code). The professional self-governing body of notaries is the Chamber of Notaries of the Slovak Republic. The list of notaries may be viewed online here.

 

               Judge (sudca)

Judges are appointed by the President on the basis of a proposal of the Judicial Council. They are appointed without time restrictions.

 

Conditions for being appointed judge entail in particular 30 years of age, a master's degree in law, passing a judicial examination, a clear criminal record and being chosen in a tender.

 

The profession of judges is regulated by Act No. 385/2000 Coll., on Judges and Lay Judges.

 

               Executor (exekútor)

The enforcement of civil and commercial judicial decisions, arbitral awards and certain other awards is vested in executors – essentially private persons endowed with significant rights in the course of enforcement.

 

Conditions for becoming an executor are in particular a master’s degree in law, three years of executorial or enforcement practice, a clear criminal record, and passing an exam. Executors are appointed and overseen by the Minister of Justice.

 

The professional self-governing body of executors is the Slovak Chamber of Executors. A list of all executors can be found here.

 

         Legal Resources

 

           Legislation online

·        Collection of Laws;

·        Online Legal Database JASPI (includes consolidated versions of laws) 

 

           Law Reports and case-law online

·        decisions of the Constitutional Court are published in the official (printed) collection

          of decisions of the Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic (Zbierka nálezov a   

         uznesení Ústavného súdu Slovenskej republiky), which is available in electronic form  

          here;

·        they are also available through a search engine here;

·        the decisions of the Supreme Court (probably) all decisions from approximately

         summer 2007 are available online here;

·        some decisions selected by the Supreme Court are published in a Collection of

         Decisions and Positions of the Supreme Court printed by the court; the law requires

         the Supreme Court to publish this collection also on the Internet, but it fails to do so

        (individual decisions are probably published);

·        some decisions of other courts are available in the online system of the Ministry of

        Justice JASPI.

Most of the legal databases listed below in section 5.3 also contain a selection of some of the case law and most legal magazines publish some case law.

 

           Legal databases

The following legal databases are available upon subscription. They contain a compendium of all the valid law (consolidated versions) and most of the available case law.

·        ASPI – the basic database used by most Slovak lawyers, which contains all legislation,

         a substantial amount of case law and of copies of articles in law journals;

·        AllData – a database of environmental legislation;

 

          Major Law Journals and Reviews

·        Justičná revue – published by the Ministry of Justice;

·        Právny obzor – a theoretical journal for issues of state and law, published by the

         Institute of Law and State of the Slovak Academy of Sciences;

·        Zo súdnej praxe – a (rather random) collection of case law and comments thereon,

         private;

·        Bulletin Slovenskej advokácie – a monthly journal published by the Slovak Bar

         Association;

·        Ars Notaria – a quarterly published by the Notary Chamber;

·        Collection of Decisions of the European Court of Justice  – privately published;

·        Právo pre ROPO a OBCE v praxi – a journal of public administration law;

 

          Major Law Blogs

·        Lexfórum – law blog dealing with current legal developments in Slovak, Czech and

         European law;

·        Otvorené právo (Open law) – a recent legal blog dealing mostly with public and

          constitutional law issues;

 

         Legal Publishers

         Major Slovak publishers of legal literature include:

·        Iura Editions;

·        C.H.Beck Praha – Czech branch of a German publishing house with strong local

         presence in Slovakia;

·        LexisNexis CZ  (formerly Orac Publishing);

·        Law Faculty of the Šafárik University in Košice – publishes a number of its books

         online for free here;

 

           Law Libraries

·        the  catalogue of the Comenius University Libraries;

·        the  catalogue of the Trnava University Libraries.

·        the online catalogue of the Slovak National Library. The National Library is a

         copyright library, i.e. it receives a mandatory copy of every book published in Slovakia.

 

           Bibliography

Theory of law (most of the basic works of Czech legal theory listed here are applicable in Slovakia), only particular Slovak works are listed:

·        Prusák, J., Theory of Law, Law Faculty of Commenius University, 2001

·        Luby, S., History of Private Law in the Slovak Republic

·        Vojáček, L., Slovak Legal History, Bratislava Law School, 2008

·        Svák, J., Cibulka, Ľ., Constitutional Law of the Slovak Republic, Poradca Podnikateľa,

         2006

·        Lazar, J., Substantive Civil Law, Iura Edition, 2006

·        Ivor, J., Criminal Procedure, Iura Edition, 2008

·        Baláž, P., Criminal Law: General and Special part, VEDA, 2005

 

            Links of legal interest

·        Gateway to the Slovak public administration;

·        Land Registry – contains, free of charge, information on land ownership;

·        Commercial Register - contains, free of charge, information about all the natural or

         legal persons exercising commercial activity and being registered under the

         Commercial Code;

·        Register of Enterprises (containing information about all economically active entities

         in the Czech Republic, i.e. the register is broader than the Commercial Register);

 

           Other links of interest

Slovak search engines:

·        www.zoznam.sk

·        www.azet.sk;

Newspapers

·        SME – leading daily newspaper;

·        Hospodarské noviny;

·        Pravda;

·        Aktuálne;

·        Slovak Spectator