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Basic Facts about the Country

Membership of the European Union

1 July 2013

Membership of the Council of Europe

6 November 1996

Entry into force of the European Convention on Human Rights

5 November 1997

Basic Facts about the Judiciary

Budget per inhabitant

Number of professional judges per 100,000 inhabitants


Tiers in the ordinary court system


First Instance (municipal) Courts


Second instance (county) Courts


First instance Commercial Courts


First instance Administrative Courts


High Criminal Court


High Misdemeanour Court


High Commercial Court


High Administrative Court


Supreme Court


Constitutional Court



Thirteen judges, elected by the parliament with a qualified majority (101 out of 151 members) for a term of eight years, among notable jurists – judges, public prosecutors, lawyers, and university professors of law.


Thirteen judges, elected by the parliament with a qualified majority (101 out of 151 members) for a term of eight years, among notable jurists – judges, public prosecutors, lawyers, and university professors of law


Key powers of the constitutional court include: (a) decision-making on the conformity of laws and other regulations with the Constitution; (b) decision-making on constitutional complaints against individual decisions of state bodies, bodies of local and regional self-government, and legal persons with public authority, when these decisions violate human rights and fundamental freedoms; (c) decision-making on jurisdictional disputes between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches; (d) deciding on the impeachment of the president of the republic (impeachment proceedings may be initiated by the parliament by a two-thirds majority vote of all representatives).


The Constitutional Court decides by a two-thirds majority vote; (e) giving prior approval for the detention and initiation of criminal proceedings against the president of the republic; (f) supervisory control over passing regulations for executing the Constitution, laws and other regulations; (g) deciding on appeals against decisions to relieve a judge from office, and decisions about disciplinary responsibility; and (h) establishing whether a referendum question is in accordance with the Constitution.


Public Prosecutor

The State Attorney’s Office acts as the prosecution service.


Powers over the appointment and careers of state attorneys and deputy state attorneys rest with the State Attorney’s Council.


The State Attorney’s Council is a prosecutorial self-governance body with 11 members, comprising seven deputy state attorneys elected by their peers, two university professors of law, and two members of parliament, one of whom is from the opposition. They are elected for a four-year term and can be re-elected once.


The Council’s mandate includes the appointment, dismissal, and transfers of state attorneys, and decisions on external activities, on objections to evaluations, and on participation in training. The Council also keeps the personal records and verifies the asset declarations of state attorneys and deputy state attorneys, as well as conducting disciplinary proceedings and deciding on the disciplinary responsibility of deputy state attorneys.

Gender breakdown of judges

All instances


Supreme court

View source

Judicial Governance

Type of governance system

Judicial council model - Moderate

State Judicial Council

  •  Eleven members, including seven judges, elected by their peers, two university professors of law, elected by all professors of law faculties in Croatia, and two members of parliament, including one from the opposition, elected by the parliament. This means that judge members have a majority of seats in the Council
  • Consists of two Supreme Court judges, two county court judges, two municipal court judges, one judge of the specialised court, and two university professors of law
  • The Council president is elected by members from among themselves by secret ballot. The president must come from the rank of judges
  •  Court presidents may not be elected to the Judicial Council.
  •  No one can serve more than twice as a council member.
  •  Council members do not have a full-time position. Judge members of the Council dedicate less time to the performance of judicial functions than other judges (ordinary members 50 per cent and the president of the Council 75 per cent).

Court Presidents

  •  Eighteen presidents of courts of appeal, 54 first instance courts presidents
  •   Appointed and removed by the Judicial Council
  • The term of office is four years and can be renewed, but not more than once consecutively. A judge can act as president for only two terms, after which they cannot be appointed to the position.
  •  In terms of salaries, they receive approximately 10 per cent more than rank-and-file judges

Councils of judges

  •  Established for courts of various levels; the tasks of the Judicial Council of the Supreme Court of Croatia are performed by a session of all judges.
  • The Council of the County Court has 15 members, of which nine are members from among the judges of the county courts and six are from among the judges of regional municipal courts. The Council of Commercial Courts has 15 members, of which nine are judges of the High Commercial Court and six are judges from regular commercial courts. The Council of Administrative Courts has 15 members, of which nine are from among the judges of the High Administrative Court of the Republic of Croatia, and six are judges of regular administrative courts.
  •  The members of the council are elected for a term of four years, by secret ballot. All judges have the right to run and, if elected, have a duty to participate in the work of the councils


Distribution of Responsibility

Judicial Council

⦁ Appoints judges

⦁ Appoints and dismisses court presidents (all except for the Supreme Court president). An unsuccessful judge candidate for president can challenge the Council’s refusal to appoint before the Constitutional Court.

⦁ Decides on the immunity of judges

⦁ Decides on the transfer of judges

⦁ Reassigns judges

⦁ Conducts disciplinary proceedings and decides on the disciplinary liability of judges (is not competent to initiate disciplinary proceedings – such proceedings can be initiated by court presidents or persons authorised to perform court administration tasks at the court where a judge is based, presidents of higher courts, the president of the Supreme Court, the minister of justice, or the council of judges).

⦁ Decides on the dismissal of judges

⦁ Participates in the training and professional development of judges and court staff

⦁ Adopts the methodology for assessing judges

⦁ Manages judges’ personal files

⦁ Grants judges permission to perform other services or work while performing their judicial function

⦁ Verifies judges’ declarations of assets

Court presidents

⦁ Manage their respective courts (performing administrative tasks), supervising the orderly and timely performance of tasks and coordinating the work of all organisational units

⦁ Report to Higher Courts and the Ministry of Justice on all issues relevant to the work of their courts

⦁ In courts with more than 20 judges, the president of the court may only perform the tasks of judicial administration (no judicial tasks).

⦁ In courts with more than 20 judges, the president of the court may only perform the tasks of judicial administration (no judicial tasks).

⦁ Are not involved in judicial recruitment

⦁ Initiate disciplinary procedures and present charges before the Judicial Council: court presidents are obliged to initiate procedures where there are sufficient grounds to do so; failure to do this could be grounds for initiating disciplinary procedures against the court president.

⦁ In individual decisions affecting judges, the judges have the right to appeal to the president of the immediately higher court. In such circumstances, the president of the higher court can overrule the decision of the lower court president, but this never happens in practice.

Judicial Academy

⦁ An independent public institution founded by the government that conducts judicial training.  Law on the Judicial Academy (

Councils of Judges

⦁ Assess the performance of the judicial office

⦁ Give their opinions to the State Judicial Council on candidates for presidents of the court

⦁ Give their opinions to the State Judicial Council on candidates for judicial positions

⦁ Decide on requests for an assessment of the existence of a violation of the Code of Judicial Ethics;

⦁ Perform other tasks as specified by law

Ministry of Justice

⦁ Performs tasks of court administration and, in performing these tasks, addresses the relevant court presidents

⦁ Tasks include: drafting laws and other regulations for the establishment, jurisdiction, composition, and organisation of courts and proceedings before the courts; participating in the needs assessment for and development of professional training programmes for judges; ensuring the material, financial, spatial, and other conditions for the work of courts, and the computerisation of courts; collecting and analysing statistical and other data on the operation of courts; examining citizens’ petitions regarding the work of the courts or conduct of a judge towards a party during proceedings; supervising the performance of tasks in connection with permanent court experts, appraisers, and interpreters; supervising the financial and material operation of courts; determining the manner of use of real estate and supervision of the management of real estate assigned to the court for its use; carrying out international legal assistance and judicial cooperation; and overseeing the insurance of persons, property, and facilities of courts

⦁ The ministry keeps the records of judges, court counsellors, judicial trainees, and other employees of the courts.

⦁ The minister of justice adopts the rules of procedure, prescribing the basis for the organisation of and business in the courts – i.e., rules on internal organisation, rules on keeping registers, auxiliary books and forms for work, rules on public communications on the work of the court, rules on keeping statistics, etc.

⦁ The minister of justice determines the number of judges in each court, taking into account the influx of cases, the structure of cases, the backlog in the work of the court, and the approximate number of cases that a judge must resolve in a one-year period.

⦁ Judicial inspectors of the Ministry of Justice are responsible for supervising the tasks of judicial administration in courts. These are civil servants of the Ministry responsible for judicial affairs. Judges may temporarily perform the duties of a judicial inspector


Political (including parliamentary) appointments of (Supreme Court) judges

The Constitution requires the president of the Supreme Court to be appointed by the parliament, upon a proposal from the president of the republic. Initially, the Judicial Council announces the public call, gathers the CVs and working programmes of the candidates, and submits the list of candidates – in no order or ranking – to the president. Legislative amendments from February 2022 allow the Judicial Council to review the documentation of submitted candidates. The president asks for the non-binding advice of the general session of the Supreme Court and the Judiciary Committee of the parliament. The president of the Supreme Court is ultimately elected by the parliament. The parliament can reject the president’s choice. While judges are involved in some ways, the political branches have a decisive say in the selection and appointment of the Supreme Court president.


After some blockages, the process of appointing the current Supreme Court president was successfully concluded in October 2021. This experience of blockages led to February 2022 legislative changes, which clarified procedural steps to avoid future deadlocks.


The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) recommended that the Croatian authorities review the procedures of selection, appointment, and renewal of the mandate of the Supreme Court president to increase transparency and minimise the risks of improper political influence. It emphasised that the role of the Council remained limited, as it did not even rank the candidates selected, and called for giving it a more decisive influence to minimise the risks of political influence. It was also a subject of concern that there was no single requirement for the establishment of a predetermined appointment methodology, nor for providing the reasoning for the decisions.

Excessive budgetary or other powers of the minister of justice allowing undue influence

Under Article 79(1) of the Law on Courts, the minister of justice sets the annual “framework criteria for the performance of judges”. These criteria determine the number of decisions judges are individually obliged to hand down during a calendar year. Judges have complained that these criteria overburden them, which results in the prolonged duration of judicial proceedings. In their view, judges who would be on time to meet the set requirement do not have any incentive to do so before the deadline, since by doing so they would only risk being given an additional number of cases to solve by the president of their court.


Croatian judges are also concerned about the executive’s control over the “purse”, i.e., over the material resources the judiciary has at its disposal. Many consider their salaries to be too low, which deters promising lawyers from entering the service, and they also suffer from a lack of administrative, technical, and expert assistance. All of these issues could negatively affect courts’ efficiency and the quality of their decisions in the long-term.

Low salaries of judges/court staff/prosecutors

Low salaries for judges (compared to the national average) make working in the justice system less attractive, as has been highlighted by representatives of the judiciary, and threatens the normal functioning of courts. The dissatisfaction has been reflected in an increased number of resignations. Low salaries have also made careers in the judiciary less attractive, leading to the continuous outflow and lack of interest in vacancies.


The salary base of judges was raised slightly through legislative amendments adopted on 28 June 2023. Around the same time, the government agreed to a temporary increase in staff salaries, until a systemic solution can be found. Concerns remain, and further steps will be required to improve the financial position of judges and judicial officers.

Concerns about judicial and prosecutorial integrity

Allegations of violations of the obligation of impartiality and the acceptance of improper gifts led to criminal and disciplinary proceedings against judges in 2021. In 2022, criminal proceedings into cases of alleged corruption continued. The Judicial Council concluded disciplinary proceedings initiated earlier, and even dismissed a judge (Darko Krušlin) for the damage to the reputation of the judiciary, in connection with corruption scandal over the trial of the Mamić brothers, ex executives of the Dinamo Zagreb football club. Overall, in 2022, the Council initiated 22 disciplinary proceedings (following 23 in 2021 and 13 in 2020) and imposed 16 sanctions (against 13 in 2021 and one in 2020), including four dismissals, two fines, and nine reprimands.


The Judicial Council also continued performing its control function with regard to the external activities of judges. The law requires judges to request permission for external activities, and they can be subject to disciplinary proceedings for failing to do so. In 2022, the State Judicial Council received 76 requests from judges regarding external activities, 64 of which it approved, while finding that the law already allowed judges to conduct those activities in the remaining cases.

Slow proceedings

According to the 2023 EU Justice Scoreboard, the backlog of cases and length of proceedings remain among the most considerable in the EU. In 2022, the average length of proceedings in the first instance courts remained among the longest in the EU, but administrative courts of all instances and the second instance civil and criminal courts continued to function efficiently. The Supreme Court saw a significant decrease in the number of pending cases, although the average length of case processing increased. In 2022, the total number of pending cases in the justice system decreased by 11 per cent. At first instance courts, backlogs decreased by 21 per cent in litigious civil and commercial cases, mostly due to a large decrease in incoming cases and a further increase in the number of resolved civil cases, but remained the same in criminal cases.


Civil society organisations (CSOs) have recommended taking all necessary steps to increase the efficiency of the justice system and shorten the length of procedures in Croatian courts, especially at the first-instance level. They have highlighted the legislative change setting maximum duration of proceedings, but pointed out that there is a lot of skepticism among legal experts about the prospects of adequate implementation – actual respect for these deadlines. Also, there are no sanctions for exceeding these deadlines that would serve as an effective deterrent.

Courts’ communication with the public

Since 2016, the level of perceived judicial independence in Croatia has remained very low, both among the general public and companies. Courts’ ineffective communication with media has certainly not helped with improving perceptions. Most courts have dedicated staff for communicating with the public, but press events to present the regular work of courts and state attorney’s offices are not common. The people’s ombudsperson repeated their recommendation that the Justice Academy should, in cooperation with the media, conduct training of journalists on the work of the judiciary. The ombudsperson stressed that, in addition to courts’ press releases, more structured communication with the media could contribute to the delivery of accurate and complete information to the public.

Barriers for access to courts

CSOs have explained that there are two types of legal aid – primary and secondary. Primary legal aid, provided by associations and legal clinics, includes legal advice, drafting submissions, and representation before public law bodies, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), and international organisations, as well as legal aid in out-of-court dispute resolution. A major challenge here is that this type of legal aid is financed on a project-basis and, hence, lacks continuity.


Secondary legal aid includes legal representation by attorneys in legal areas defined by law, exemption from payment of costs of court proceedings and expert testimony, and exemption from payment of court fees. There are a few problems with this type of legal aid: (a) in order to qualify for legal aid, the total monthly income of the applicant and their household members and total value of the applicant’s property should not exceed a set amount; (b) free legal aid can be granted only in specified legal cases, such as proceedings to exercise the right to child support, the right to compensation for victims of criminal acts of violence, and proceedings of beneficiaries of maintenance assistance or alimony to the exercise of their rights from social welfare; and (c) lack of respect of the deadlines to decide on free legal aid in appellate cases after the first-instance decision. The ombudsperson noted that the average time to decide on an appeal is three years, and that this calls into question the purpose of free legal aid, which is equality in access to justice.


CSOs have recommended drafting a new Free Legal Aid Act and ensuring increased resources that would make the institution more accessible to all.

Barriers to the Submission of Requests for Preliminary rulings to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)

There are no major formal or informal obstacles in this respect. There is, however, one issue that may be potentially problematic when it comes to lower courts referring questions for preliminary rulings to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).


This issue concerns appeals against a judicial decision to stop proceedings and submit preliminary references to the CJEU. In the Croatian legal system, such an appeal was initially allowed. This led to the following episode: In 2017, a lower court (the County Court in Zagreb) decided to refer questions of the interpretation EU law in a case involving the European Arrest Warrant issued in a high-profile corruption trial against former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader (Order No. K-Us-29/15 of 30 May 2017). On appeal, the Supreme court annulled that order, holding that the answers to the questions of interpretation of EU law were not relevant for the case pending before the referring court, and instructed the court to continue with the proceedings (Decision No. I-Kž-Us-102/17-4 of 19 September 2017). The County Court, however, did not follow or withdraw its reference, but decided again to stay the proceedings (Order No. Kv-I-Us-84/17 (K-Us-50/14) of 19 December 2017). This order was appealed before the Supreme Court, which, despite the academic criticism of its earlier ruling, again annulled the referring court’s decision, for the same reason – the Court’s answer would be irrelevant for the proceedings in question (Decision No. I-Kž-Us-4/2018-4 of 22 May 2018).


Soon afterwards, the Court of Justice answered the preliminary reference of the County Court in Case C-268/17 AY ECLI:EU:C:2018:602. The CJEU never explicitly addressed the Supreme Court’s decision to quash the County Court’s decision to refer but, by admitting the reference, the CJEU confirmed that it was indeed necessary and relevant for the main proceedings – thereby disagreeing with the Supreme Court.


Following this episode, the Croatian legislature amended the relevant provisions of the Law on Criminal Procedure (Article 18(a), paras 1–2) and the Law on Civil Procedure (Article 213, paras 1–3), and, as they currently stand, they do not allow for an appeal against the decision of a national court to stay the proceedings and submit a reference to the CJEU. The Law on Administrative Disputes (Article 45, paras 2–3), however, still enables an appeal in these circumstances. This means that, in the context of the administrative disputes, appellate courts could still erroneously interfere with the discretion of lower courts under Article 267(2) TFEU, which may, in turn, influence the decisions of some of these courts to refer the matter to the CJEU.


Although this may only be a slight possibility, it is still worth mentioning – especially given the indifferent attitude of high courts in Croatia towards EU law.

Risks for the internal independence of judges

In Case C-727/21 Udruga KHL Medveščak Zagreb, the Commercial Court of Appeal asked the CJEU whether several provisions of national law were in line with the requirements of independence and impartiality of judges under EU law. The legal provisions in question essentially allowed judges other than those deciding on a case to influence case outcomes. According to one of the provisions – Article 40(2) of the Law on Courts – “legal positions” adopted at plenary meetings of all judges or sections of Croatian high courts bind individual chambers and judges of those courts or sections. According to another provision – Article 177(3) of the Rules of Procedure of the Courts – the decision of a court of second instance is not finalised, i.e., published and delivered to the parties until a judge appointed by the president of that court – the so-called ‘registrations judge’ – confirms it. The registrations judge examines the legal merits of every judgment, with a view towards ensuring the consistency of case law. If they consider a judgment to be based on erroneous interpretation of the law or departs from the earlier holdings of the same court or section of that court, the registrations judge may refer the matter back to the deciding judge or chamber, with comments on how the original judgment should be amended. If the deciding judge or chamber disagrees with the registrations judge, the latter can refer the issue to the meeting of the relevant section of the court, which can then issue binding “legal position” under aforementioned Article 40(2) of the Law on Courts. These meetings of the sections of courts are held behind closed doors and are not governed by national procedural rules, and the parties to the original proceedings have no input to these meetings.

Positive Developments & Achievements

In February 2022, Croatia introduced periodic security checks on judges and state attorneys to ensure their integrity, entrusting the National Security Agency, a body under the control of the executive, with such checks. The EU’s 2022 Rule of Law Report recommended that Croatia reconsider these checks and focus on using other existing mechanisms for that purpose. In its March 2022 report, the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission highlighted that the current legislation already provided for a number of mechanisms to ensure the integrity of judges, such as asset declarations checked by the Judicial Council, annual assessments by court presidents, the possibility of disciplinary proceedings and of criminal liability, etc. The Commission noted that it was not convinced of the necessity for an additional mechanism, especially one as far reaching as security vetting by the security services. The Commission was concerned that such a measure would risk contributing to citizens’ lack of trust in the judiciary and in its independence. Consequently, the Commission recommended reconsidering their approach to prescribe periodic security vetting and developing an alternative strategy to secure judges’ integrity, based on other existing mechanisms. While generally disapproving of the scheme, the Commission included recommendations to avoid abuses of authority, such as explicitly regulating that the judges concerned and the disciplinary body (but not other bodies) be guaranteed access to detailed information about and the results of the security vetting, and ensuring that the information collected by the Security Agency be deleted and not kept for 70 years (the official retention period established by law for such data) unless necessary in the interest of national security, etc.

On 7 February 2023, the Constitutional Court annulled provisions of the Law on Courts introducing periodic security checks on judges, ruling that they were inconsistent with rule of law requirements and disproportionately interfered with judges’ rights. The Constitutional Court also annulled the amendment to the Law on State Judicial Council, which introduced a new disciplinary offence when a judge refused giving consent to the National Security Agency to conduct a security check.

An amendment has also been drafted to remove periodic security checks on state attorneys.

Rankings and Surveys

Expert Recommendations

European Commission, Rule of Law Report, 2023

Overall, concerning the recommendations in the 2022 Rule of Law Report, Croatia has made:

  • Significant progress on the recommendation to reconsider the newly introduced periodic security checks conducted by the National Security Agency on all judges and state attorneys by ensuring their integrity based on other existing mechanisms, taking into account European standards on judicial independence and autonomy of prosecutors and the opinion of the Venice Commission.


In addition to recalling the commitments made under the national Recovery and Resilience Plan relating to certain aspects of the justice system and the anti-corruption framework, it is recommended to Croatia to:

  • Continue structural efforts to address the remuneration of judges, state attorneys and judicial staff, taking into account European standards on resources and remuneration for the justice system.
Fourth Evaluation Round, Second Addendum to the Second Compliance Report, Corruption Prevention, 2022

Adopted by GRECO at its 90th Plenary Meeting (Strasbourg, 21-25 March 2022)


Recommendation iv

  • 11. GRECO recommended that the Croatian authorities review the procedures of selection, appointment and mandate renewal of the President of the Supreme Court in order to increase their transparency and minimise risks of improper political influence.
  • 15-16. GRECO notes that recent developments in the country in respect to the appointment of the President of the Supreme Court have evidenced from a practical, and not only legislative angle, the shortcomings of the system. …GRECO takes the view that vesting the State Judicial Council with a more decisive role in the selection procedure would have the benefit of limiting the political influence over the process; something that has not yet been fully exploited. As things stand today, the State Judicial Council does not play a determining role in the selection process; it does not even rank the candidates selected.
  • 17. GRECO concludes that recommendation iv remains partly implemented.


Recommendation viii

  • 23. GRECO recommended that a communication policy, including general standards and rules of conduct as to how to communicate with the press, is developed for the judicial system (judges and prosecutors) with the aim of enhancing transparency and accountability.
  • 24. GRECO acknowledged the various measures taken to upgrade the communication of the judiciary with the public, including by providing for intense training of judges and prosecutors on how to communicate with the press, improving court websites and the information provided by them, creating a common portal on judicial work, etc. It however noted that a communication policy was in the making and awaited its adoption.
  • 28. GRECO concludes that recommendation viii remains partly implemented.
The Council of Europe, Venice Commission, 2022

Adopted by the Venice Commission at its 130th Plenary Session (Venice and online, 18-19 March 2022)


  • 36. The current legislation already provides for a wide array of mechanisms to ensure integrity of the judicial corpus: (i) annual asset declarations which are checked by the State Judicial Council;
  • (ii) annual assessments by the court presidents (regarding the minimum output and the behaviour of the judge concerned);
  • (iii) the possibility of disciplinary proceedings;
  • (iv) the possibility of criminal liability (judges only enjoy functional immunity); and
  • (v) the existing possibilities for security vetting which seem to be generally accepted (i.e. access to the judiciary and the appointment to the Supreme Court and to the Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime, USKOK).


The Commission is not convinced of the necessity to introduce an additional new mechanism as envisaged in the draft law (especially because in the end it will be up to the same institutional actors as currently to decide on the initiation of disciplinary proceedings). It is questionable whether the stated reasons for the reform, i.e. high levels of perception of corruption in the judiciary and some individual cases of inappropriate behaviour of judges – against whom disciplinary and criminal proceedings are underway – can justify such a far-reaching measure as periodic security vetting of all judges by the security services.

The Commission is concerned that such a measure risk contributing to citizens’ lack of trust in the judiciary and in its independence.

Consequently, the Venice Commission recommends that the Croatian authorities reconsider their approach to prescribe periodic security vetting of all judges and that they develop an alternative strategy to ensure judges’ integrity, based on other existing mechanisms.

Liberties, Key recommendations, 2023
  • Draft a new Free Legal Aid Act and secure increased resources and multiannual funds that would make this institute more accessible to all.
  • Take all necessary steps to increase the efficiency of the justice system and shorten the length of procedures in Croatian courts, especially at first-instance level.
  • Ensure independent and effective investigations into allegations of illegal and violent pushbacks of refugees and migrants from Croatia.

Compliance with European Courts' Judgements

Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)

State Performance


Number of unimplemented CJEU rulings related to the judiciary

European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)

State Performance


Implementation record


(5% of total)

Number of leading judgments pending implementation Moderate

29 %

Percentage of leading judgements from the last 10 years still pending implementation Moderate



Average time leading judgments have been pending implementation Moderately Low
Non-Implementation of European Courts Judgments and the Rule of Law | EIN & DRI

Judgements with pending implementation

Selected on relevance to the judiciary / rule of law

Letincic v Croatia,

These cases concern violation of the applicants’ right to a fair trial on account of a failure of the administrative authorities to include the applicant in the process of commissioning an expert report and failure of the High Administrative Court and the Constitutional Court to address and remedy these shortcomings, in proceedings conducted between 1996 and 2014.

General measures: Between 2017-2019 the High Administrative Court and the Constitutional Court aligned their case-law with the Convention requirements.

View case details



Zahirovic v Croatia

These cases concern violations of the applicants’ right to defend themselves in person in the appellate proceedings conducted between 2009 and May 2014 on account of the domestic courts’ failure to ensure their presence at the appeal hearings held within the context of criminal proceedings against them.

The cases Zahirović, Bosak and Others, Kliba, and Romić and Others furthermore concern violations of the applicants’ right to a fair trial on account of the breach of the principle of equality of arms and the lack of adversarial proceedings before the second instance courts, which failed to communicate to them opinions submitted by the State Attorney’s Office between 2009 and May 2014.

View case details



Stojanovic v Croatia

These cases concern violations of the applicants’ right to freedom of expression. The ECtHR found numerous shortcomings in the court proceedings, concluding that domestic courts had erroneously qualified the applicants’ statements as factual statements rather than value judgments.

General measures: In the above action plan the authorities collaborated that the misapplication of domestic legislation found by the Court in Stojanović can be characterized as an isolated event, and therefore they too publication and dissemination measures as sufficient. As regards domestic courts’ omissions to properly examine and reason the qualification of the impugned statements as ‘factual statements’ or ‘value judgments’, in 2019, the Constitutional Court aligned its practice with the Convention and the Court’s standards expressed in the present judgments. The Constitutional Court continued to further develop its practice in 2020.

View case details



Kirincic and others v Croatia,

These cases concern violations of the applicants’ right to a fair trial due to excessively lengthy civil proceedings from 2000 onwards. The cases (apart from Urukalo) also concern lack of an effective remedy for the applicants to complain about the excessive length of the above proceedings.

The European Court highlighted a number of shortcomings in the functioning of domestic remedies, both acceleratory and compensatory.

In the action plan of 27 July 2022, the authorities noted that in July 2019 the amendments to the Civil Procedure Code were adopted and entered into force in September 2019 with the view to expediting civil proceedings, notably by digitalising certain parts of proceedings and introducing electronic exchange of submissions between the courts and the parties to the proceedings.

The authorities furthermore noted that between 2020-2022 the Constitutional Court realigned its case-law with the Convention in the proceedings concerning the right to a hearing within a reasonable time. It furthermore reassessed the amounts of compensation awarded in respect of the excessive length of civil proceedings increasing them by up to 20% depending on the circumstances of a particular case. The authorities also provided examples of the relevant case-law between 2020-2022.

In February 2021, the Constitutional Court adopted a Report on the length-of-proceedings remedies available in Croatia under the 2013 Courts Act (U-X-4090-2020), noting that the length-of-proceedings remedies as provided in the 2013 Courts Act are not in accordance with Article 13 of the Convention and should be further developed.

In addition to the above, and in view of the Court’s findings and the Constitutional Court’s report, information would be appreciated on possible amendments to the 2013 Courts Act to remedy the identified shortcomings and the root cause of the violations found by the Court.

View case details



Cvetkovic v Croatia

The case concerns a violation of the applicant’s right to a fair trial due to the fact that in civil proceedings concerning a flat sale in 2014 the Zadar County Court reversed the first-instance court’s judgment rendered in the applicant’s favour without providing sufficient reasoning (violation of Article 6§1).

The Court concluded that the Zadar County Court made assertions which were palpably incorrect, without giving any reply to the central legal argument in the case, with the result that the impugned proceedings fell short of the requirement of a fair hearing (§21).

General measures: In the action plan of 21 March 2023, the authorities noted that in 2019 the Constitutional Court aligned its case-law with the Convention and the Court’s findings in the present case. The authorities provided several examples of the relevant case-law from 2019-2021. In 2022 the Civil Procedure Code was amended and entered into force requiring that the decisions of the second-instance courts contain evaluation of the appellate arguments decisive for the outcome of the case. It also prescribed that the judicial decisions must be well reasoned, containing sufficient legal and factual arguments. The authorities provided examples of the Supreme Court’s case-law from 2020-2021, in line with the above legislative amendments.

Awareness raising measures for judges and judicial advisors were taken in 2021 and 2022.

View case details



Dragojevic v Croatia,

These cases concern violations of the applicants’ right to respect for their private life and correspondence on account of their unlawful surveillance between 2007-2008 which was based on orders of the investigating judge issued contrary to the relevant domestic law (violations of Article 8).

The case of Matanović also concerns a violation of the applicant’s right to a fair trial due to the absence of an appropriate procedure by which the relevance of evidence obtained by the prosecuting authorities and the necessity of its disclosure could be properly assessed and the domestic courts failure to provide convincing reasons based on a balancing of the relevant interests that would justify the restriction on the applicant’s defence rights in criminal proceedings conducted between 2008-2010 (violation of Article 6§1).

The case of Pejkić also concerns the domestic courts’ omission to forward the reasoned submission of the competent State Attorney’s Office to the defence in 2012 (violation of Article 6§1).

Action plan of 7 July 2023 is under assessment.

View case details



Idzanovic v Croatia,

This case concerns a violation of the applicant’s right to a fair trial on account of a lack of reasons for failure to hold an oral hearing in the proceedings before the High Administrative Court conducted in 2013 whereby, he sought to have an injury sustained at his workplace recognised as a workrelated injury and to obtain benefits for his inability to work (violation of Article 6§1).

In their action plan of 4 January 2022, the authorities noted that in 2012 the administrative judiciary system in Croatia was reorganized and two-tier system of adjudication was established. As a general rule, the first instance administrative courts must hold oral hearings. Moreover, in the appellate proceedings if the High Administrative Court finds it expedient, it may also hold an oral hearing. In respect of the latter, the authorities provided relevant case-law from 2015-2021. In addition to the above, in 2017 the Supreme Court aligned its case law with the Convention finding that only exceptional circumstances can justify dispensing with a hearing, inter alia, if the facts of the case are indisputable.

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Split Ferry Port JSC v Croatia,

This case concerns violation of the applicant’s right to a of a fair hearing due to the Constitutional Court’s failure, between 2011-2016, to serve a constitutional complaint on the applicant as a third interested party, and to address the applicant’s arguments regarding timeliness of the constitutional complaint and locus standi of the administrative authority which had lodged it (violation of Article 6§1).

In the action plan of 27 October 2022, the authorities indicated that on 11 October 2022 the Constitutional Court held an expert meeting and reached a conclusion that 2012 Internal Rules on respecting the right to adversarial proceedings shall be applied in all similar cases involving private (natural and legal) persons.

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Z. v Croatia,

This case concerns a violation of the applicant’s right to respect for his family life due to insufficiently reasoned judicial decisions between 2020 and 2021 dismissing the applicant’s request for the return of his four children (born in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2015) to Germany, after retention by their mother in Croatia since 2019.

The Court found that the appellate court did not address the applicant’s arguments that he had acquired parental responsibility under the Croatian law because his children had been born in Croatia and that he could not have lost it after moving to Germany, as this would have been contrary to Article 16 § 3 of the Hague Jurisdiction Convention.

Action plan/report is awaited.

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H.P. and others v Croatia,

This case concerns a violation of the applicants’ right to respect for their family life resulting from the Zagreb County Court’s 2018 decision which lacked sufficient reasoning that it was in the best interests of the children to live with their mother, who had emotionally abused them.

The Court found that in deciding that the children should return to their mother, the Zagreb County Court failed to put forward relevant and sufficient reasons to show that it had conducted an in-depth examination of the entire family situation and made a balanced and reasonable assessment of the respective interests of each person, exercising a constant concern for determining what would be in the best interests of the children.

In the action plan of 17 November 2022, the authorities noted that in 2021 the Constitutional Court aligned its case/law with the Convention ensuring that in deciding on which parent the children will live with the competent domestic courts thoroughly examine and assess the family situation, including the best interests of the children involved. Publication and dissemination measures were taken.

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