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The Croatian Legal System

 

By Dunja Kuecking and Milivoje Žugi?

 

Published July 2005

Read the Update!

 

 

Dunja Kuecking is a graduate of the Faculty of Dentistry of the University of Zagreb (1983). Since 1996, she has been the head of the Center for legal research and documentation, Intellectio Iuris, whose job is to analyze, systematize, and make available on the Internet a catalogue of court practices and legal articles in Croatia.  Intellectio Iuris is a legal database of Croatia's laws, court decisions, articles and interpretations, and selected documents in English.

 

Milivoje Žugi? is a graduate of the Faculty of Law of the University of Zagreb (1969). He worked as a judge until 1982, when he entered a private law practice. He lives and works in Zagreb, and specializes in land registry law. He is the author of a paper about the legal position of clients of the Bank of Ljubljana (Ljubljanska Banka) after the dissolution of former Yugoslavia.

 

This is an update to an article previously published on LLRX.com, December 2, 2002

<http://www.llrx.com/features/croatia.htm>

 

Table of Contents

Independence

The Structure of the Croatian Government

Legislative

Executive

Judicial

Courts of General Jurisdiction

Commercial Courts

Police Courts

Administrative Court

Constitutional Court

Human Rights

Legal Education

Publishers

Legal Journals

Online Resources in Croatia

Conclusion

 

Independence

How did the Republic of Croatia come into being and what is its legal basis? Croatia was established with the dissolution of Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) and it is one of its legal successors. The document that supports its existence as an independent state is the Constitutional Decree of Sovereignty and Independence of Republic of Croatia, published on June 25, 1991.  Therein, the Republic of Croatia proclaims its sovereignty and independence from the former Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia. The second document that justifies Croatia’s independence is the decision the Parliament made on October 8, 1991 to seek international acceptance as an independent state. In Croatia’s national law, this date is considered to be the first day of the beginning for Croatia as an independent state although Croatia was not officially recognized as a state until January 15, 1992. That date could be considered its international birthday.

 

A hierarchy of legal norms characterizes the legal system in Croatia. They are arranged in four levels, and the norms lower in rank have to be congruent with those of higher levels. The highest norm is the Constitution – the fundamental law. The constitution was originally made on December 22, 1990. It went through some important changes in 1997, 2000 and 2001. It is based on two important principles: division of power in the government and the rule of law. Ranking in importance after the constitution are constitutional laws (4), international contracts, laws and sub-statutory acts. The Parliament of the Republic of Croatia enacts the first three while bodies of executive power are bringing sub statutory acts.

The Structure of the Croatian Government

Croatia is a parliamentary democracy. Croatia possesses a multi-party system based on the principle of three branches of government (system of tripartite authority).

  • Legislative
  • Executive
  • Judicial

 

To some experts, its specific jurisdiction makes the Constitutional Court a fourth authority/power.

 

Each one of these branches of government has the highest authority in its sphere of influence. The legislative branch has the highest authority in making laws, executive in executing those laws, and judicial in judging its subjects. The Constitutional court could be sui generis considered a fourth portion of the government.  The chiefs of local executive bodies are nominated and are exempted from their posts by the President.

 

For additional information, please also see the final section in this guide, Online Resources in Croatia.

The Legislative Branch

The highest organ of the judicial branch is the Parliament of the Republic of Croatia (Sabor Republike Hrvatske). The Parliament has only one house, and representatives (zastupnici) to the Parliament are elected in direct parliamentary elections, held once every four years. Eligible voters are all men and women over the age of 18. The Election Act regulates the elections in detail.

 

The Parliament has 120 representatives and authority to enact laws in any session where a majority of representatives are present. There are two kinds of laws:

  • Ordinary laws – The parliament is entitled to declare those in any session where more than 1/2 of the present representatives votes for their passing.
  • Essential laws (the Constitution calls them “organic” laws) – Laws concerned with basic rights and freedoms of ethnic and national communities.

 

The Parliament is entitled to declare Organic laws if the “qualified majority” (2/3 of present representatives) votes for their passing.

The Executive Branch

Considering the fact that Croatia is a parliamentary democracy, the executive power is divided between the President (Predsjednik Republike Hrvatske) and the Cabinet (Vlada Republike Hrvatske). The President is elected in direct presidential elections for a period of five years, and can serve two terms. The President represents the state in the country and abroad, and his powers are essentially those of state protocol. He has the authority to dissolve the Parliament and he proposes a candidate for a mandate of Prime Minister. The Cabinet holds the highest executive power in Croatia. According to protocol, the President appoints the Prime Minister of the Cabinet who is usually a president of the party that has most votes in the Parliament. The Prime Minister is confirmed by the Parliament, and he has the power to appoint the members of his Cabinet. The Cabinet of the Republic of Croatia is made up of the Prime Minister and 13 ministries.

 

List of ministries (names, addresses, telephones, faxes, E-mails and URLs)

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration

Trg Nikole Subi?a Zrinjskog 7-8
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 456 9964
Fax: +385 1 455 1795
e-mail: ured.drzavnog.tajnika@mvp.hr

Minister: Mr. sc. Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic


Ministry of the Internal Affairs
Savska 39
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 612 2111

Fax: +385 1 612 2771

E-mail: pitanja@mup.hr

Minister: Marijan Milinaric

 

Ministry of Defense
Trg Petra Krešimira IV 1
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 456 7111

Fax: +385 1 456 7963

E-mail: infor@morh.hr

Minister: Berislav Roncevic

Ministry of Science, Education and Sports
Strossmayerov trg 4
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 456 9000

Fax: +385 1 456 9097
E-mail: ured@znanost.hr

Minister: Dr.sc. Dragan Primorac

 

Ministry of Finance
Katan?i?eva 5
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 459 1333
Fax: +385 1 492 2586

E-mail: kabinet@mfin.hr

Minister: Ivan Suker

 

Ministry of Economy, Labour and Entrepreneurship

Ulica grada Vukovara 78
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 610 6111
Fax: +385 1 610 9111

E-mail: branko.vukelic@mingo.hr

Minister: Branko Vukelic

 

Ministry of Culture
Runjaninova 2
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 486 6666
Fax: /
E-mail: web@min-kulture.hr

Minister:sc. Bozo Biskupic

 

Ministry of Environmental Protection and Physical Planing and Construction
Republike Austrije 20
10 000 Zagreb
Phone:+385 1 378 2444
Fax: +385 1 377 2822
E-mail: kabinet.ministra@zg.tel.hr

Minister: Marina Matulovic-Dropulic

Ministry of Justice

Ulica Republike Austrije 14
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 371 0666
Fax: +385 1 371 0602
E-mail: ministar@pravosudje.hr

Minister: Vesna Skare Ozbolt

Ministry of Sea, Tourism, Transport and Development

Vladimira Nazora 61
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 378 4500
Fax: +385 1 378 4550
E-mail: /

Minister: Bozidar Kalmeta

 

Ministry of Health and Social Welfare

Ksaver 200
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 460 7555
Fax: +385 1 467 7091

Minister: Doc. Dr. sc. Neven Ljubicic

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management
Ulica grade Vukovara 78
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 610 6111
Fax: +385 1 610 9201
E-mail: kabinet.mps@mps.hr

Minister: Petar Cobankovic

E-mail: cobankovic@mps.hr

 

Ministry of Family, Veterans Affairs and Intergenerational Solidarity
Park Stara Trešnjevka 4
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 365 7800
Fax: +385 1 365 7852
E-mail: mobms@mobms.hr

Minister: Jadranka Kosor

Offices of the Government

Public Relations Office
Trg Sv. Marka 2
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 456 9239
Fax: +385 1 630 3022

http:// www.editor@vlada.hr

 

Public Procurement Office

Katanciceva 5
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 459 1262
Fax: +385 1 459 1215

 

Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia
Trg Sv. Marka 2
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 456 9210,
Fax: +385 1 630 3019

 

Office for the Succession Settlement
Mesni?ka 23
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 456 9276
Fax: +385 1 456 9383
E-mail : ured_za_sukcesiju@vlada.hr

 

Office for Social Partnership
Mesni?ka 23
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 630 3093
Fax: +385 1 630 3092

E-mail: soc.partnerstvo@vlada.hr

 

Office for Protocol

Trg Sv. Marka 2
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 456 9210,
Fax: +385 1 630 3019

e-Mail: protokol@vlada.hr

 

Office for Prevention of Drug Abuse

Preobrazenska 4
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 487 8122
Fax: +385 1 487 8120

e-mail: ured@uredzadroge.hr

 

Office for National Minorities
Mesni?ka 23
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 456 9358
Fax: +385 1 456 9324

e-mail: nacionalne.manjine@vlada.hr

 

Office for Internal Supervision
Grada Vukovara 72/IV
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 634 5333
Fax: +385 1 634 5332

Office for Human Rights
Trg Maršala Tita 8/1
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 487 7660
Fax: +385 1 481 3430
e-mail: ured@ljudskaprava-vladarh.hr

 

Office for Gender Equality
Mesni?ka 23
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 630 3090
Fax: +385 1 630 3090

Office for Cooperation with NGOs
Ulica grada Vukovara 78
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 610 6500
Fax: +385 1 610 9972
e-mail: ured.za.udruge@zg.tel.hr

 

General Administration Office of the Croatian Government and Parliament
Trg Sv. Marka 3
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 4569-569, 630 3330
Fax: +385 1 630 3000

Central State Administrative Offices

Central State Administrative Office for e-Croatia of The Government of the Republic of Croatia

Trg Sv. Marka 2
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 456 9222
Fax: +385 1 630 3884

 

Central State Administrative for Development Strategy of the Government of the Republic of Croatia
Trg Sv. Marka 2
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 456 9205
Fax: +385 1 630 3216
e-mail: strateg@vlada.hr

 

Central State Administrative Office for State Property Management of the Government of the Republic of Croatia

Visoka 15
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 456 9222, 456 9759
Fax: +385 1 630 3865
e-mail: imovinarh@vlada.hr

 

Central State Administrative Office for Public Administration of the Republic Of Croatia

Maksimirska 63
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 235 7555
Fax: +385 1 235 7600

State Administration Organization

Central Bureau of Statistics of the Republic of Croatia

Ilica 3
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 480 6111
Fax: +385 1 481 7666
e-mail: ured@agram.dzs.hr

 

State Bureau of standards and Metrology of the Republic of Croatia
Ulica grada Vukovara 78
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 610 6111, 610 6320, 610 6321, 610 6322, 610 6323, 610 6324, 610 6325
Fax: +385 1 610 9321, 610 9322, 610 9323, 610 9324, 610 9335, 610 6324
e-mail: pisarnica@dznm.hr

 

State Geodetic Directorate

Gruška 20
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 365 7394, 615 7390
Fax: +385 1 615 7389

e-Mail: dgu@dhu.hr

 

State Inspector's Office

Ulica grada Vukovara 78
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 610 6111, 610 6115
Fax: +385 1 610 9115

e-Mail: info@dirh.hr

 

State Intellectual Property Office of the Republic of Croatia

Ulica grada Vukovara 78
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 610 6111, 610 6100, 610 6101
Fax: +385 1 611 2017
E-mail: ipo.croatia@patent.tel.hr

 

State Weather Bureau (see also http://meteo.hr)

Gric 3
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 456 5666
Fax: +385 1 485 1901

e-mail: dhmz@cirus.dhmz

Public Sector

 

Agency for Export and Investment Promotion

To be founded
Ulica grada Vukovara 78
10 000 Zagreb
Phone / Fax :+385 1

 

Agency for the Protection of Market Competition

Savska cesta 41/VI
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 617 6449
Fax: +385 1 617 6450

e-mail: agencija.ztn@crocompet.hr

 

Agency for the Supervision of Pension Funds and Insurance Companies (HAGENA)

Gajeva 5
10000 Zagreb
Phone: + 385 1 489 1888
Fax: + 385 1 492 3829

e-mail: info@hagena.hr

 

Agency for Transaction and Mediation in Immovable Properties
Savska cesta 41/VI
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 617 7046
Fax: +385 1 6177045

e-mail: apn@zg.htnet.hr

 

Central Register of Insured Persons (REGOS)

Gajeva 5
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: + 385 1 489 8900
Fax: + 385 1 489 8903

e-mail: regos@regos.ht

 

Croatian Academic and Research Network CARNet

Josipa Marohnica bb

10 000 Zagreb

Phone: +385 1616 5616

Fax: +385 1 616 5615

e-mail: office@CARNet

 

Croatian Agency for Small Business
Ilica 49
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 484 6622
Fax: +385 1 484 6612
e-mail: hga@hga.hr

 

Croatian Demining Centre

Ante Kovacica 10
44 000 Sisak
Phone: +385 44 554 151
Fax: +385 44 554 152
E-mail: hcr@hcr.hr

 

Croatian Employment Institute

Radnicka cesta 1
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 611 4600
Fax: +385 1 611 4904
E-mail: hzz@hzz.hr

 

Croatian Hydrographic Institute

Zrinsko-Frankopanska 161
21000 Split
Phone: +385 21 361 792
Fax: +385 21 347242
e-mail: office@hhi.hr

 

Croatian Information and Documentation Referral Agency
Trg Marsala Tita 3
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 485 5827
Fax: +385 1 485 5655
e-mail: ured@hidra.hr

 

Croatian Institute for Health Insurance

Margaretska 3
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 480 6333
Fax: +385 1 480 6345

e-mail: glasnogovornica@hzzo-net.hr

 

Croatian Pension Insurance Institute

Mihanoviceva 3
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 459 5500
Fax: +385 1 457 7105, 457 7168

 

Croatian Privatization Fund

Ivana Lucica 6
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 456 9111, 634 6111
Fax: +385 1 459 6294, 456 9140
e-mail: hfp@hfp.hr

 

Croatian Securities Commission

Bogoviceva 1a
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 481 0311, 481 1407
Fax: +385 1 481 1507
e-mail: info@crosec.hr

 

Environment Agency

Ulica grada Vukovara 78/III
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 610 6391
Fax: +385 1 610 6316
e-mail: info@azo.hr

 

Financial Agency (FINA)

Koturaska 43

10 000 Zagreb

Phone: +385 1 612 711

Fax: +385 1 612 8180

 

Fund for the compensation of expropriated property (http://www.hfp.hr/)

Ivana Lucica 6
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 456 9110
Fax: +385 1 456 9262
e-mail: suzana.brenko@hfp.hr

 

State Agency for Deposit Insurance and Bank Rehabilitation
Jurisiceva 1
10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 481 3222
Fax: +385 1 481 9107
e-mail: dragbank@zg.tel.hr

The National Bank of Croatia
The National bank of Croatia is the highest organ of monetary power in Croatia. The head of the National Bank of Croatia is a Governor.
Trg hrvatskih velikana 3
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 456 4555
Fax: +385 1 461 0551

 

Independent Organizations

The Croatian Bar Association - The Croatian Bar Association was organized in 1929, based on an Act on Barristers of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia along with seven other bar associations. Today, the Bar has 2744 members and 1238 law trainees. The candidates are applicants to the Bar that graduated law school but do not possess sufficient knowledge to practice law. In order to become full fledged members, candidates have to complete three years of apprenticeship as a paralegal in a solicitor’s office, four years of practice working in courts system, or five years of practice as a company lawyer and pass a bar examination. The Bar has its representation in all mayor cities in Croatia.

 

The Croatian Bar Association is a self-governed body that closely monitors the work of all solicitors in Croatia and imposes and enforces disciplinary actions against its members if a need for it arises. Its goal is to raise the expertise level of practicing lawyers and candidates. Finally, the Bar promotes practice of law as an independent occupation and it protects the rights of all of its members. Croatian Bar Association is a member of Union Internationale Des Avocats.
Koturaska 53/2
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 617 1270
Fax: +385 1 617 0686
e-mail: hr.odvjetnicka-komora@zg.tel.hr

 

Croatian Chamber of Notaries - Croatian chamber of notaries is an association of Croatian public notaries. Its seat is in Zagreb, and its function is, with the help of Ministry of Justice, to supervise the work of all public notaries. Public notaries are persons of public trust and their work consists in assembling and publishing public documents concerning all legal transactions, statements and facts that are basis for establishing rights. It witnesses the signatures and certifies the validity of personal identification papers. They act as a safe depository for documents, money or objects etc. Public notaries are independent proprietors and notary is their sole occupation.
Rackog 10
Phone: +385 1 455 6566
Fax: +385 1 455 1544
e-mail: hjbk@globalnet.hr

Judicial branch

Judicial power in general is regulated through Law of the Courts and is inspired by the idea of independent courts. State Judiciary Council appoints all judges for life as an independent state institution formed of Parliament members, judicial authorities, well-respected public persons and members of Croatian Bar Association. Minister of Justice names the presidents of the courts from among the appointed judges and the president of the Supreme Court of Croatia is chosen by the Parliament based on the proposition from the Cabinet.

 

Types of courts:

  • Courts of General Jurisdiction
  • Commercial Courts
  • Police Courts
  • Administrative Court

Courts of General Jurisdiction

Courts of General Jurisdiction are the cornerstones of judicial practice in Croatia. These courts judge in all disputes except in those where law explicitly determines jurisdiction of another court. These courts are organized hierarchically in three instances and are divided into regions.

A) Municipal Courts
Municipal Courts are courts with first instance jurisdiction in both civil and penal cases. In penal litigation the courts judge in all cases where the penalty goes up to 10 years. The novelty is that legal persons can also be liable for criminal acts. In civil litigation these courts judge as first instance courts in all judicial, extra-judicial and execution procedures, especially in litigation against unlawful actions, and lawsuits for correction of information.

 

Municipal courts hold land registers that are the only legally valid registry service of real rights in Croatia. Reform of the land registry is taking place right now. Thanks to the international donations lady ministry of justice Mrs. Vesna Skare Ozbolt is conducting a reform. The main goal of the project is to enable fast and transparent insight in to the legal state of real estate in the Republic of Croatia. It should help economic governing and encourage foreign investments.

 

B) County Courts
County courts are almost exclusively second instance courts. On occasion these courts are used as first instance courts: in penal litigation if the punishment by law surpasses 10 years or by special regulations (the court decides in the compensation amount for expropriated real estate, it decides on a right to belong to an association etc.). It is important to recognize that a right to appeal is a constitutional right of every citizen and a right of every legal entity (for instance corporation) according to the practice of the Constitutional court. The practice states that every legal entity can appeal against any and all acts of either executive or judicial power, which determine the entities legal rights and obligations. As all court decisions are acts of judicial branch of government the structure allows for an appeal against any decision made by the municipal courts. In that case district court acts as a court of appeal.

C) The Supreme Court

Supreme Court is a court of full jurisdiction with respect to court decisions and it can void them, confirm them or revise them (unlike in France or Italy). The Supreme court is the highest court in Croatia and as the last instance it decides on extraordinary legal remedies against valid court decisions of the courts of general jurisdiction (dismissed appeal), and all other courts in Croatia. The Supreme Court is also an appellate court in all cases where municipal court was the first instance.

 

As we mentioned before the sources of law in Croatia are the Constitution, international contracts, laws and sub-statutory acts and the courts judge accordingly based on all four. Now, if a court is of an opinion that one of the laws in practice is unconstitutional it is it’s duty to inform the Supreme Court of that fact and stop trying all cases that fall under that particular law. The Supreme Court can then start the process of constitutional challenge – constitutional revue of the law (ocjena ustavnosti). If the Supreme Court does not do so in a prearranged time period the court that started the motion with the Supreme Court to file for the constitutional challenge should continue trying those cases in accordance with that law. The situation is quite different with sub-statutory acts. If a court deems a sub-statutory act unconstitutional it can refuse to apply it.

 

Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia

Trg Nikole Subica Zrinjskog 3
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 486 2239
Fax: +385 1 486 2254
e-mail: vsrh@vsrh.hr

Commercial courts

All commercial courts are hierarchical and are organized in two instances. First instance courts try cases between commercial subjects in bankruptcy proceedings, liquidation procedures, maritime litigation, litigation over patent and intellectual property rights, execution procedures, commercial violations and any other violations committed by enterprises. They have a broad jurisdiction in non-litigation procedures in accordance with the commercial laws of the country. For instance: it can call for a general meeting of shareholders, by request of minor shareholders it can impeach a bankruptcy liquidator of the commercial enterprise etc. The court manages the registry of all commercial enterprises in Croatia.

 

Appeals against judgments of first instance commercial courts are solved at High commercial court level (this is a full jurisdiction court) in its seat in Zagreb. The Supreme Court of Croatia decides upon the legal remedies against the decisions of High commercial court.

 

High commercial court
Berislaviceva 11
10 000 Zagreb,
Phone: + 385 1 489 6888

Police Courts

These courts pass judgments on physical and legal persons for misdemeanour offices.

 

They are organized in two instances:

  • First instance police court organized on municipal level.
  • High Police Court in Zagreb – as an appellate court.

 

Jurisdiction according to special legal remedies for appeals to the decisions of High Police Court is possible at the Supreme Court of Croatia.

 

High Police Court
Dukljanova 3
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 461 1333

Administrative court

This court has its seat in Zagreb and is really interesting. The process before this court commences by filing an action to set aside second instance decision of the executive body or first instance decisions against which appeal is not allowed by regulation. (This supports the principle of having a constitutional right to an appeal although it is not really an appeal but an entirely new lawsuit) This court passes judgments solely by drawing information directly from the file and without directly determining the facts of the cases. It is not a full jurisdiction court and European court for human rights does not recognize its judicial powers.

 

Administrative Court of the Republic of Croatia

Trg Nikole Subica Zrinskog 3
10 000 Zagreb,
Phone: +385 1 481 0022

 

All court processes are thoroughly regulated by procedural rules under which legal remedies have an important role. Legal remedies are well-developed means that are available to civil personas in all different levels of judicial decision-making process. Arbitration is a viable option in every instance of the courts.

Constitutional Court of Croatia

This is not really a court, although it is called that way, and it does have some judicial authority. It is definitely not a court with full jurisdiction. It was conceptualized as a forth branch of government, and its authority is provided for by the Constitution. It is called the fourth portion of the government because it has some power over all three branches of government. The details of its day-to-day operation are set in a special constitutional act – Constitutional Court Act. The judges to the constitutional court are elected to run a term of eight years and there are provisions for their re-election. The purpose of this court is to keep the purity of the legal system. Its primary job is to solve constitutional challenges of laws and sub-statutory acts by perform their constitutional revues (ocjena zakonitosti, ocjena ustavnosti). The court has an authority to abolish laws if it rules that the particular law is unconstitutional (it rarely does so and most of the time the legislative power complies with its requests to modify the existing laws and bring them in accordance with the Constitution). There are two types of entities that can initiate the procedure before the Constitutional court:

 

  • Obligatory – their initiative obliges the constitutional court to initiate the procedure of challenging constitutionality of the law or lawfulness of a sub-statutory act (Supreme Court, the Cabinet etc.)
  • Facultative – where the Constitutional Court preliminary decide whether it will initiate the procedure of constitutional revue of laws and lawfulness of a sub-statutory act. This enables ordinary citizens to move forward with the proposition.

 

In the latter case the constitutional court is not under obligation to start a process, but it has an obligation to rule on each proposition and state will it or will it not start the procedure and why. Judgments of regular courts are called verdicts and writs, while judgments of the constitutional court are called decisions and writs.

 

Decisions of the Constitutional Court are judgment in meritum and writs are judgments non meritum (these are the matters of process). All of the decisions of the constitutional court must be published in Narodne Novine – the official gazette of Republic of Croatia. Writs are published only if the constitutional court decides to publish them. It is important to recognize that all of the decisions of the constitutional court are considered a president (case law) because according to the constitution all courts and other governmental bodies must adhere to opinions and interpretations of the constitution and laws taken by constitutional court. Beside this fundamental jurisdiction this court helps in execution and control over the elections to the Parliament and solves any questions concerning the conflict of jurisdiction of the legislative, executive and judicial powers. The court decides on appeals against the decisions of State Judiciary Council to impeach judges due to disciplinary violations. Any breaches of human rights guaranteed by the constitution also fall under its jurisdiction. Only in these matters this court can interfere in particular judicial acts (litigation), and this is the sole reason it was named a court although it stands completely outside the hierarchy of the courts. If rights and freedoms of any individual citizen (or a legal entity) are hurt trough any act of judicial or executive power, they have a right to protection, with respect to procedural assumptions (lawsuit was filed in allotted time period – 30 days, and all other legal remedies have been exhausted), based on a constitutional complaint (ustavna tuzba) - specific legal action before the constitutional court. If it pertains to a judicial act the constitutional court appears to be the court of the fourth instance (an instance above the Supreme Court) but with exclusive jurisdiction to confirm or deny the decisions validity. This is in accordance with European tradition and completely opposed with the practice in the United States of America.

 

Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia
Trg Sv. Marka 4
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 481 1008
Fax: +385 1 455 1055
E-mail: Ksenija_Podgornik@usud.hr

 

Human Rights in Croatia

Human rights and basic civic freedoms in Croatia are guaranteed by chapters two and three of the Constitution that regulate the basic rights and freedoms of every citizen, non-citizen and a legal entity (as we mentioned before this is regulated trough the practice of the Constitutional Court of Croatia). Economic, social and cultural rights of individuals are also provided for in other parts of the Constitution.

 

Croatia is a co-signer of many international conventions and contracts (be that it signed them itself or accepted them as a legal successor of SFRY – Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia) concerning the human rights and freedoms, in particular: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International covenant of Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Final Act of Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, Charter of Paris for a New Europe and what is most important, the European Convention of Basic Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

 

This is important because it shows that Croatia has accepted the concept of international protection of human rights and liberties, and therefore accepted the jurisdiction of the European Court for Human Rights in the field of human rights and liberties. So, this court could be on occasion a fifth instance court.

 

Today the issue of human rights has moved towards social protection. The main objectives now are social security, protection of property, freedom of speech (press and other media), etc.

 

Many organizations for the protection of human rights and liberties act in the territory of Croatia, some of them are:

 

Florijana Andraceca 14
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 3096 620
Fax: +385 1 3096 621

e-mail: OSCE-Croatia@osce.org

 

  • UNHCR
    Republike Austrije 25
    10 000 Zagreb
    Phone: +385 1 371 3555
    Fax: +385 1 371 3587
    e-mail: sirovica@unhcr.ch

 

Ilica 15/3
Phone: +385 1 481 2322
Fax: +385 1 4481 2324
10 000 Zagreb

e-mail: hho@hho.hr

Legal Education in Croatia

In Croatia there are four schools of law (faculties of law). The law is an undergraduate course of study lasting four years.

 

Law Faculty of the University of Zagreb - It was established in 1776. Annually it enrolls 420 students and it offers post graduate studies in: commercial law, civil law sciences, international public law, administrative law, punitive procedural law, fiscal systems and fiscal politics European law.

The library contains around 208,400 tomes (168,480 books and 39,960 magazines). The Faculty publishes its own magazine – Zbornik pravnog fakulteta Zagreb since 1948.

 

The Dean of the Law Faculty of the University of Zagreb, prof.dr. Smerdel, invested considerable effort in modernisation of classes within the university. Using the Internet he provided the Faculty with the most acknowledged legal databases on line.


Trg Marsala Tita 14i
10 000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 45 64 332
Fax: +385 1 45 64 030


Law Faculty of the University of Rijeka - It was established in 1973, and annually it enrolls 260 students. It offers postgraduate studies in: law of European integration and international commerce law. The library contains around 25,600 titles (19,240 books and 6,360 periodicals). The Faculty publishes its own magazine – Zbornik pravnog fakulteta Sveucilista u Rijeci.

Hahlic 6
51000 Rijeka
Phone: +385 51 675 121
Fax: +385 51 675 113
E-mail: dekanat@pravri.hr

 

Law Faculty of the University of Split - It was established in 1961. It annually enrolls 270 students and it offers postgraduate studies in: maritime law and law of the sea. The library contains around 100,000 books and magazines. The Faculty publishes its own magazine – Zbornik pravnog fakulteta u Splitu since 1963.

Domovinskog rata 8
21 000 Split
Phone: +385 21 393 500
Fax: +385 21 393 597
E-mail: dekanat@pravst.hr

 

Law Faculty of the University of Osijek - It was established in 1975. It annually enrolls 200 students and it offers postgraduate studies in: governing and development of local and regional self-governing. The library contains around 27,000 titles of which 470 are tomes of domestic and foreign periodicals. The Faculty publishes its own magazine – Pravni vjesnik since 1985.

 

Stjepana Radica 13
31 000 Osijek
Phone: +385 31 224 500
Fax: +385 31 224 540
E-mail: Ljerka.Dumancic@zakon.pravos.hr

 

The magazines these faculties publish often publish articles in foreign languages (English, French, German and Italian) and if the articles are published in Croatian, a summary is provided in one of the before mentioned foreign languages. All of the faculties also publish textbooks.

Publishers in Croatia

There are several publishing houses in Croatia that specialize in publishing legal literature:

 

 

  • ORGANIZATOR
    Kralja Zvonimira 26
    10 000 Zagreb
    Phone: +385 1 461 1900
    Fax: +385 1 461 1901
    E-mail: organizator@zg.htnet.hr

 

 

 

  • NARODNE NOVINE
    Ivana Sibla 1
    10 000 Zagreb
    Phone: +385 1 665 2777
    Fax: +385 1 665 2770

 

  • POLICIJSKA AKADEMIJA
    Avenija Gojka Suska 1
    10 000 Zagreb,
    Phone: +385 1 239 1311
    Fax: +385 1 239 1414

Legal Journals in Croatia

This is the list of law magazines that are published in Croatia:

  • Narodne Novine – The official gazette of Republic of Croatia
    Ivana Sibla 1
    10 000 Zagreb
    Phone: +385 1 665 2777
    Fax: +385 1 665 2770
    E-mail: webmaster@nn.hr
    Published once a week + according to need

 

 

  • RRIF plus
    Vlaška 68
    10 000 Zagreb
    Phone: +385 1 469 9777
    Fax: +385 1 469 9766
    E-mail: rrif@rrif.hr
    Published 12 times a year.

 

  • Informator, novi
    Kneza Mislava 7/1
    10 000 Zagreb
    Phone: +385 1 455 5454
    Fax: +385 1 461 2553
    It comes out Wednesdays and Saturdays.

  • Informator
    Gunduliceva 19
    10 000 Zagreb
    Phone: +385 1 485 2668
    Fax: +385 1 485 2673
    E-mail: informator@informator.hr
    Published 52 times a year (once a week)

 

  • Porezni vjesnik
    Katan?i?eva 5
    10 000 Zagreb
    Phone: +385 1 492 2592
    Fax: +385 1 481 9365
    E-mail: ured@ijf.hr
    Published 10 times a year.

 

 

  • Pravo u gospodarstvu
    Krizaniceva 16/4
    10 000 Zagreb
    Phone: +385 1 461 4890
    Fax: +385 1 461 4890
    Published 6 times a year.

 

 

  • Carinski vjesnik
    Katan?i?eva 5
    10 000 Zagreb
    Phone: +385 1 492 2592
    Fax: +385 1 481 9356
    E-mail: ured@ijf.hr
    Published 10 times a year.

 

Online Resources in Croatia

The number of online law resources in Croatia is not overwhelming but it keeps increasing.

NARODNE NOVINE - The primary source of online laws is Narodne Novine, which is Croatia’s official gazette. The database is provides documents in HTML format and freely accessible to all.

 

KOREKTOR - Korektor is a private company that provides laws trough the email. For a fee they will email you the text of the law.

 

Intellectio Iuris - The Centre for Law research and documentation, Intellectio Iuris provides the largest database on the territory of Croatia bearing the same name Intellectio Iuris. The database is on the Internet since March 15, 2002 and the database is updated twice a month. This is an ever-growing commercial database covering all branches of law. So we could say that this is a group of databases. The information it provides is taken directly from the official sources and is reflected faithfully and objectively. The database contains all of the relevant Croatian legal publications and is not partial to any one publisher. Centre’s library contains all of the literature, and all of the literature is indexed in the database. At the moment, Intellectio Iuris is the only online database in Croatia that covers all types of law. The database contains two categories of entries. The first category of entries is judicial decisions. The second category is made up of monographic scientific papers. At this moment there are over 41,000 entries. 12,00 of these are indexes of monographic works while 29,000 entries cover court practices and opinions of different Ministries, law book revues etc.

 

The database contains it’s own search engine using Boolean logic and allowing search in seven fields: “Naslov”-title, “Izvor”-source, “God/br”-year/no., “Autor”-author, “Kljucne rijeci”-keywords, “Grana prava”-branch of law and “Napomena”-notes. These fields could be searched individually or simultaneously. The database contains a built in thesaurus allowing searches in Croatian, Serbian and Slovenian. There are projects in the works that will enable the searches in Macedonian and English language.

 

Croatia, and all the republics of the former Yugoslavia, have posted their laws on the Internet and made them available free of charge. This is why the Centre found the entry of laws in the database unnecessary. It is important to mention that every judicial decision and every scientific article points out specifically, in the field “Napomena” (notes), to which regulation or law it refers. In the field “Naslov” (title) judicial decision and scientific articles even list which article of law they refer to. Using key terms (keywords), which are abundant for each of the entries, the user can immediately unite both categories of entries for full and complete information on the subject.

 

In the scientific works themselves the practice of the courts is often quoted. The database is organized in the manner that if an article quotes any judgments of the courts the user can bring it up by entering title of the article in the search field “Napomena” (notes). This is an authentic and highly valuable feature of the database. This is because the judicial decisions offer objective view of the content of an article, as opposed to excerpts, which may be subjective. In addition this allows for access to the judicial decisions that are not commonly available in official publications of the courts and are only known to the authors of the scientific papers. Often these authors are judges of the highest courts and have passed some of these verdicts themselves.

 

Through analysis and systematization of Croatian judicial practice incongruities were discovered. Wherever this was spotted it was carefully entered “suprotna odluka” (opposing decision) in the search field “Napomena” (notes) of each of the entries. As all of the entries are unified by the keyword criteria by entering the corresponding keywords both of the decisions will turn out in the search.

 

Another authentic and highly valuable feature of the database is that it contains opinions of law experts on certain judicial decisions. If an expert, in his discussion of a legal problem, confirms the validity of a particular decision it was mark with an exclamation mark ”!” in the field entitled “Napomena” (notes). If the expert questions the validity of a decision in an article he is writing it was mark it in the field entitled “Napomena” (notes) by entering the word “upitno” (questionable).

 

Besides the commercial portion of the database the web site has a non-commercial pages User collaboration - where authors publish their articles and make them available for non-commercial research and educational purposes. Community oriented, Hot topics are another portion of the site where the Centre for legal research and documentation provides law materials about the current issues of state importance discussed in the media. These materials include expert articles of law professors and academics, different international conventions, laws or court decisions. The materials are in PDF and HTML formats. There is an English version of the web site, which enables foreign users basic navigation through the Site. All of the articles published have English summaries.

The final goal is to increase the security of legal practice in Croatia, to help Croatian judicial practice and legislation in achieving congruency with European and worldwide standards. Considering that the law systems of all former Yugoslav republics are almost identical, the goal of this database is to provide the information from all of the former republics. The common history of these countries dictates this, and so does the inevitable cooperation between the countries in the future.

 

Supreme Court of Croatia

Croatia is preparing to join the European Union and as a part of these preparations. The Supreme Court of Croatia developed a project web-site where it publishes it’s own practice. The web site offers a full text search of 67.000 court decision, in HTML format, but only in Croatian. On the same site you can find some expert papers written by the judges of the Supreme Court and links to other Courts in Croatia and ECHR.

 

Constitutional Court of Croatia

The Constitutional Court has own database with decisions, rulings and reports (hereinafter: decisions), made since 1 January 2000 and shown on the official web page of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia. They were selected according to several criteria (especially according to number of addressees and according to type of constitutional-court proceedings).

 

HIDRA – EUROVOC

As a part of the European integration program HIDRA (Government Information Agency) started translating the European thesaurus EUROVOC.

 

EnterEurope

European documentation centre of the Institute for International Relations started the EnterEurope project. The goal of this project is to enable easier on-line approach to information on institutions, agencies, bodies, policy and law of the European Union. Project manager is Mrs. Sandra Car, head of the European documentation centre, Institute for international relations.

 

Information and Documentation Department

The Information and Documentation Department is a part of the Parliamentary Staff Service, and it is charged with the indexing and archiving of all acts of Parliament.

 

The Department also provides full reference service, which includes responding to requests for articles and information dealing with complex matters of interest to MPs, and utilising a variety of sources such as articles and electronic documentation.

Conclusion

The judiciary system in Croatia is undergoing some radical changes. The law reform will enable some modern improvements in legal practice, and one of these reforms will allow full access to the Internet to all of the of judiciary branch and law faculties. With the advent of these reforms we can expect that the number of web sites and databases providing legal information in vernacular and foreign languages will greatly increase. In the process of European integration Republic of Croatia is obligated to synchronize legal system with laws of European Union using principles of aquis communautaire.