The Croatian legal system is founded on the principle of separation of powers between the legislative,administrative and judicial branches of government. An independent and impartial judiciary exercises thejudicial power, bound by the Constitution and the laws passed by the Parliament. Internationalagreements ratified by the Parliament and published in the Official Gazette of Croatia (Narodne novine)form part of the Croatian legal order and take precedence over nationally enacted laws. Croatia is a civillaw country where court decisions are generally not considered as precedents, although lower courtstend to follow the opinions and decisions of the higher courts.
In general, a distinction can be made between courts of general jurisdiction and specialized courts whichhave exclusive jurisdiction over certain subject matters.
During 2015 and 2016, Croatia underwent a reform aimed at rationalization of the court system. As aresult, certain courts ceased to exist and certain others were merged, which ultimately led to a reductionof the total number of courts.
The courts of general jurisdiction include the Municipal Courts (24, as opposed to 78 before the reform),the County Courts (15), and the Supreme Court. The specialized courts include Commercial Courts (8,as opposed to 7 before the reform), the High Commercial Court (1), Misdemeanour Courts (22, asopposed to 25 before the reform), the High Misdemeanour Court (1), and the Administrative Court (4, asopposed to 1 before the reform). A High Administrative Court, serving as an appellate court for casesheard by Administrative Courts, was founded during the previous reform in 2012.
In addition, there is the Constitutional Court which is technically not a part of the judiciary but a specialbody established by the Croatian Constitution that is competent for constitutional review of Acts ofParliament and individual constitutional complaints against public authorities.
Litigation in Croatia follows an adversarial procedure in which the parties must actively participate inestablishing the facts of the case. Otherwise, the court may dismiss the claim because the party has notsufficiently met the required burden of proof according to the procedural rules. The only exception wherethe trial judge establishes facts based on the judge's own motion is when the parties’ dispositions violatethe mandatory rules of law or standards of public moral. Nonetheless, judges have a very active role inthe litigation process. Thus, lay-witnesses, expert witnesses and the parties are primarily questioned bythe judge during the evidence gathering procedure, while attorneys may only pose additional questionsand make follow-up remarks. The result is that the emphasis is placed on the procedure and exchangeof written briefs between the parties prior to any hearing rather than conducting extensive and timeconsuming hearings before the court.
The litigation procedure commences when the claimant submits a statement of claim to the court.However, the claim becomes effective only upon effective service of the statement of claim on thedefendant. The defendant has a duty to file a statement of defence within the time limit granted by thecourt which may range from a minimum of 30 (thirty) to a maximum of 45 (forty five) days. In the eventthe defendant does not file the statement of defence or fails to appear before the court for the firsthearing, the court may render a default judgment against the defendant. However, in practice a defaultjudgment is rare because one of the requirements is that the court finds the claimant’s claims are well-founded based on the supporting facts.
All decisions of a court of first instance may be appealed before a court of second instance. Also, the lawallows for two extraordinary legal remedies against final decisions: (a) a review of the second instancecourt decision, which is always available in matters where the amount in dispute exceeds HRK 200,000,approximately EUR 26,700 (in case of a High Commercial Court decision HRK 500,000, approximatelyEUR 68,495), or in other matters if certain additional requirements are met; and (b) reopening the firstinstance court proceedings in matters concerning serious violations by the participants, or the discoveryof new facts and/or evidence which may lead to a different decision.
Commercial Courts hear the following disputes:
-disputes between companies, sole traders (trgovci pojedinici) and craftsmen (obrtnici), provided thatdisputes between sole traders and craftsmen relate to the performance of their economic activities;
-corporate disputes arising from the establishment of a company, the company's operations (includingthe termination of operations), the transfer of shares, shareholder relations, shareholder-managementrelations, piercing the corporate veil, and liability of a company's managers;
-disputes involving a party involved in bankruptcy proceedings, except for disputes falling within theexclusive jurisdiction of Municipal Courts;
-maritime and air transport disputes;
-intellectual property disputes; and
-unfair competition related disputes.
Although there are eight Commercial Courts in Croatia, in certain specialized situations the competenceto hear a particular matter may be restricted to one of the four Commercial Courts located in Osijek,Rijeka, Split and Zagreb. These specialized Commercial Courts possess special competence overdisputes involving matters:
-regarding ships and navigation by the sea and/or inland waterways, except for passenger transports;
-regarding aircrafts and air navigation and aviation, except for passenger transports; or
-intellectual property disputes.
Furthermore, the County Court of Zagreb and the Commercial Court of Zagreb have a special compe-tence in matters concerning court assistance for arbitration proceedings or challenges of arbitral awards.
Generally, other than the matters previously discussed, all other disputes fall within the competence ofthe Municipal Courts. Also, certain disputes are under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Municipal Courts,such as labour disputes, family law disputes, trespass, etc.
Litigation costs mainly include court fees, attorneys' fees and expenses for expert witness and opinions.Normally, costs are awarded against the losing party in accordance with the rules of civil procedure. Insome situations, the court may award costs against a party, or a party’s representative, who caused adelay to a hearing. A counsel may also be ordered to bear the costs of a hearing if the proceedings hadto be postponed because he or she was not prepared for the hearing.
Court fees are rather moderate, which allows litigation to be accessible to all individuals. Generally, courtfees range from HRK 100 (approximately EUR 14) for amounts in dispute up to HRK 3,000(approximately EUR 411), to the highest fee of HRK 5,000 (approximately EUR 685), for amounts indispute exceeding HRK 465,000 (approximately EUR 63,700).
Attorneys' fees are prescribed by the Croatian Bar’s Tariff and may range from HRK 250 (approximatelyEUR 35) for a brief or a hearing in a case with an amount in dispute up to HRK 2,500 (approximatelyEUR 343), up to the highest fee of HRK 100,000 (approximately EUR 13,700) for a brief or a hearing in acase with an amount in dispute of HRK 22,500,000 (approximately EUR 3,090,200) or more. The feescan be decreased for less demanding briefs or hearings, and can be increased for appeals,extraordinary legal remedies and arbitration proceedings. Although in practice the attorney and the clientmay agree upon higher fees, only fees that are in accordance with the Bar's Tariff will be recognized bythe court for the purpose of reimbursement.
Proceedings related to business crime recently started rising in importance in Croatia, especially in casesin which shareholders attempted to defraud company creditors by hiding company assets.
The purpose of criminal proceedings is usually to put additional pressure on the perpetrators or to gainaccess to information which only the prosecutor can access and which would otherwise remain unknownto the victim. In addition to this, successful convictions usually open the route to collecting the debt fromthe perpetrator's private property, which is another reason why victims decide to engage in criminalproceedings.
The first step to initiate criminal proceedings is reporting a potential crime to the competent stateprosecutor. The prosecutor has a priority right to decide whether to initiate the proceedings.
The prosecutor usually instructs the police to make preliminary investigations which should help theprosecutor assess whether there are grounds for a criminal conviction. If the prosecutor finds thatthere could be an arguable case, the prosecutor initiates an official investigation in order to collectrelevant evidence.
If the prosecutor makes a prima facie assessment that there are no grounds for criminal liability, theprosecutor grants the victim an opportunity to assume prosecution. The victim has 8 (eight) days todeclare whether it assumes prosecution and to propose investigations that the victim deems appropriatefor collecting relevant evidence.
Formal accusation can be brought before the court once the prosecutor or the victim assumingprosecution collects sufficient evidence. Depending on the gravity of the alleged crime, criminal casesmay be heard by specialized criminal departments of Municipal or County Courts.
Croatia traditionally had for many years an inquisitorial system in which the presiding judge played themain role in conducting the trial and taking evidence. As part of the changes of the criminal procedure in2011 many adversarial features were introduced into the system. The parties now play a more activerole in putting forth their case before the judge who acts as an independent decision maker.
Parties are entitled to appeal against a court decision rendered in a first instance trial. The appeal isheard either by a County Court, if the first instance trial was heard by a Municipality Court, or by aSupreme Court, if the first instance trial was heard by a County Court. The law allows for a secondappeal against decisions of the appellate courts if the perpetrator is convicted with a long term jailsentence or if the appellate court overturns an acquitting decision and finds the perpetrator guilty.
There are three extraordinary legal remedies available against appellate decisions: (a) reopening thetrial in matters concerning serious violations by the participants, or discovery of new facts and/orevidence which may lead to a different decision; (b) revision of a court decision in case of a breach offundamental human rights; or (c) revision of the court decision if there is a suspicion that was a seriousviolation of the rules of due process.
The state prosecution office is generally entitled to initiate proceedings and act as prosecution during thetrial for the majority of criminal offenses. In addition to the state prosecution office, there is a specialdepartment for fighting corruption and organised crime called "Uskok". This department has competenceover cases involving corruption, such as giving and taking a bribe, abuse of power in business or by stateofficials, human trafficking, certain cases of drug trafficking, and crimes committed by organised groups.
Both organisations have wide authorities in collecting evidence and prosecuting before the court. Theycan also request the court to allow surveillance measures such as wiretapping or physical surveillance.
As already described above, victims may assume the prosecution role if the state prosecution officedeclines to prosecute. In such cases, private prosecutors have wide competencies to propose thecollection of evidence to investigation judges, but private prosecutors may lack the professional supportenjoyed by the state prosecution.
Crime victims may participate in criminal proceedings either as aggrieved parties on the same side asthe state prosecution or as private prosecutors.
In both roles victims may propose the taking of evidence, cross examining the defendant and thewitnesses or filing appeals against court decisions. They can also request the criminal court to order thedefendant to compensate them for financial losses or other damages that the victims suffered as aconsequence of the crime. Filing such a request prevents the limitation period otherwise applicable tothe damages claim from expiring. If such a claim is rejected by the criminal court, the victim is notprevented from filing a damage claim before a civil court.
Criminal courts may issue preliminary injunctions against defendants. Documents and evidencecollected during criminal proceedings may generally be used in civil proceedings as well.
The duration of investigations and trial procedures largely depends on the nature of the criminal offenseand the availability of evidence. State prosecution and criminal courts are generally very fast inconducting investigations, so investigations usually do not last for more than 1 (one) year. Trialproceedings usually last between 6 (six) months and 2 (two) years.
There are no court fees for reporting criminal offenses or initiating criminal proceedings.
Victim’s counsel costs are prescribed by the Croatian Bar’s Tariff and they may range between HRK 1,000(EUR 133) for a hearing in proceedings for an offense with the maximum sentence up to 3 (three) years,HRK 4,000 (EUR 533) for a hearing in proceedings for an offense with a maximum sentence of more than10 (ten) years. Brief costs usually vary between HRK 250 and HRK 4,000 (EUR 33 – EUR 533).
Counsel costs are recognized by the courts and, in the case of a conviction, the defendant may beordered to pay the costs of the proceedings together with the victim’s counsel costs.
Croatian bankruptcy law mirrors the German insolvency law (Insolvenzordnung). According to Croatianlaw, bankruptcy proceedings can be administered over legal entities and private individuals that areunder an obligation to pay income tax or profit tax.
Generally, bankruptcy proceedings must be initiated in the event of (a) insolvency; or (b) over-indebtedness. In the event the bankruptcy involves a legal entity, such as a corporation, themanagement is obliged to apply for the initiation of bankruptcy proceedings within 21 (twenty one) daysof the occurrence of a bankruptcy reason. A debtor may initiate bankruptcy proceedings in the event ofimminent insolvency, when the debtor is able to prove it will most likely not be able to fulfil its currentfinancial obligations.
A debtor is deemed to be insolvent if it cannot fulfil its due financial obligations on a continuous basis. Adebtor is always presumed insolvent if (a) there are one or more enforcement orders pending against itfor more than 60 (sixty) days; or (b) it was not able to pay three consecutive salaries to the employee(s).
A debtor is considered over-indebted if the debtor's liabilities exceed its assets, unless (a) there arecircumstances or options available, such as reorganization plans or other available financial resourcesthat clearly indicate that the debtor will be able to fulfil its financial obligations to creditors; or (b) thedebtor's obligations are backed up by a private individual's personal property (usually that of ashareholder), provided that such property is not a part of a bankruptcy procedure.
Bankruptcy proceedings are conducted exclusively by the Croatian Commercial Courts. For companiesregistered in Croatia, the competence of an individual Commercial Court is determined according to thelocation of the company’s registered seat.
With respect to bankruptcies involving an international element, the law prescribes the exclusivecompetence of the Croatian Commercial Courts for all debtors having their principal place of business(središte poslovnog djelovanja) in Croatia, which may differ from their registered seat. Thus, a foreigncourt may be competent for bankruptcy proceedings of a company registered with the Croatian registerof companies if the company has its principal place of business outside Croatia and vice versa, unlessthe law of the state where the company has its principal place of business does not apply the principalplace of business concept (i.e., there is no reciprocity).
Upon receiving an application for bankruptcy, the court sets a date for a hearing. The court may alsoappoint a temporary receiver, order an expert opinion or impose preliminary measures of protection orinjunctions as the court deems necessary. At the hearing, the court will determine whether one of the tworeasons for opening bankruptcy proceedings exists, and if so, grant the application, commence mainbankruptcy proceedings, and appoint a permanent receiver. The decision may be appealed before theHigh Commercial Court; however, other than an appeal to the High Commercial Court, there are noother extraordinary legal remedies available against the final decision on whether or not to institutebankruptcy proceedings.
Following the court's decision to initiate bankruptcy proceedings, the time limit for creditors to makeclaims over the debtor’s property begins to run. The creditors are allowed to make claims within 60(sixty) days beginning on the 9th (ninth) day following the publication of the decision on the E–noticeboard of the Croatian Ministry of Justice. This requirement also applies to property owners whoseproperty has been included in the debtor’s non-exempt assets by mistake, or creditors with claimssecured by a mortgage or similar lien over the debtor’s property (razlučni i izlučni vjerovnici).
After the expiry of the time limit for notification of a creditor’s claims, the court holds a hearing todetermine the validity of each claim. If a claim is contested by the receiver, the creditor may only file alawsuit against the debtor. If a claim is confirmed by the receiver and is contested by another creditor,the other creditor may file a lawsuit against the creditor that brought the initial contested claim.
Following the hearing, the court holds a subsequent hearing where the creditors determine the methodof any further proceedings.
Under Croatian law, there are three types of bankruptcy proceedings: (a) bankruptcy leading toliquidation; (b) reorganization through a bankruptcy plan; and, (c) personal administration. The method ofmandatory settlement (prisilna nagodba) was abandoned following the introduction of the newbankruptcy law in 1997.
In the first type of bankruptcy proceeding, the debtor’s non-exempt assets are collected and sold and theproceeds are distributed amongst creditors. Once the process is completed, a notification is delivered tothe corresponding commercial registrar in order to remove the debtor from the register. Consequently, byremoving the debtor from the register, a legal entity will cease to exist, whereas an individual simplyloses the capacity of a sole trader or a craftsman.
The second type of proceeding is a reorganization bankruptcy where a debtor reorganizes/restructuresits assets and debts through a bankruptcy plan. The plan must be approved by the creditors and thebankruptcy judge. Also, the plan may involve the liquidation of some or all of the debtor’s assets.
The third type of bankruptcy is a personal administration proceeding where the debtor continues toadminister and dispose of its assets under the supervision of a court-appointed commissioner.
Arbitration in Croatia is governed by the Croatian Arbitration Act of 2001. The purpose of the act was tocreate a modern law based on the UNCITRAL Model Law and to incorporate features of the 1958 NewYork Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Croatian law distinguishes between domestic arbitration and international arbitration, depending upon theseat of arbitration. For a dispute to be classified as international, at least one of the parties must be anindividual with his or her domicile or habitual residence outside of Croatia, or be a legal entity establishedunder foreign law. The parties may choose international arbitration, i.e., arbitration proceedings having itsseat outside Croatia, only in a dispute which is classified as an international dispute.
There is only one major arbitration institution in Croatia, the Permanent Arbitration Court of the CroatianChamber of Commerce (PAC-CCC), which was established in 1853. The Permanent Arbitration Court ofthe Croatian Chamber of Commerce has established Rules of International Arbitration (Zagreb Rules),which adhere largely to the provisions of the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules.
The parties may generally submit to arbitration all disputes involving rights which the party may freelydispose of. This excludes certain family law disputes, criminal law matters, administrative law matters,and certain competition law issues. In addition, in arbitration proceedings having its seat outside Croatia,apart from the disposability of rights requirement above, the parties may not submit disputes that fallwithin the exclusive competence of Croatian courts, such as disputes involving real estate located withinthe territorial limits of Croatia.
Under Croatian law, an arbitration agreement may be contained in a separate document or in the form ofan arbitration clause included in the underlying contract between the parties, but in both cases it must bein written form. The written form requirement may be satisfied by exchanging letters, faxes, telegrams orother means of communication providing for a written record of the agreement. Most importantly, there isno requirement that the writing contains the parties’ signatures. In addition, the law provides that thewritten form requirement of the arbitration agreement is satisfied if an offer to enter into an arbitrationagreement is made in writing or a written confirmation of an orally made arbitration agreement is sent tothe other party and is not objected to. This would apply only if the offer or written confirmation wouldotherwise be deemed accepted under the usual trade customs. Furthermore, the written formrequirement would be satisfied if there is a reference in a bill of lading to a shipping contract thatcontains an arbitration clause. Finally, if the respondent in arbitration proceedings does not challenge thejurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal at least in its reply to the statement of claim, the arbitration agreementwill be deemed validly executed.
The parties may freely designate the law applicable to the subject-matter of their dispute(s) and otherprocedural rules such as the language of arbitration, the number of arbitrators and the method ofselecting these. In international arbitration proceedings the parties are also free to designate the seat ofarbitration. However, in domestic arbitration, i.e. in which only Croatian parties are involved, the seat ofarbitration must be in Croatia.
Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, an arbitral tribunal may, upon a request by a party, order suchinterim or protective measures (against the other party(ies) to the arbitration agreement) as the arbitraltribunal may consider necessary in respect of the subject matter of the proceedings. The party that hasrequested such measures may also apply to the competent national court for the enforcement of suchmeasures. It is not incompatible with an arbitration agreement for a party to apply to the state courts beforeor during arbitration proceedings for an interim measure of protection or for a court to grant such a request.
Croatian arbitral awards have the same legal effect as final judgments, unless the parties have expresslyagreed that the award may be contested before an arbitral tribunal of a higher instance.
There are only limited grounds for challenging an award:
-no arbitration agreement has been concluded, or the agreement is invalid;
-the parties to the arbitration agreement were under some incapacity, or were not adequatelyrepresented;
-a party was not given proper notice of the commencement of the arbitration proceedings, or wasunable to present its case due to reasons beyond its control;
-the award concerns a dispute not contemplated by, or not falling within the terms of the arbitrationagreement, or contains issues beyond the scope of the arbitration agreement;
-the composition of the arbitral tribunal or the arbitral procedure was not in accordance with the law, orthe agreement of the parties;
-the award does not adequately or appropriately state the reasoning (unless this has been waived bythe parties), or the award is not signed;
-the subject-matter of the dispute is not arbitrable under the laws of the Republic of Croatia; or,
-the award violates the public order of the Republic of Croatia.
Croatia is a party to the New York Convention of 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of ForeignArbitral Awards (by succession of ex-Yugoslavia, as of 8 October 1991), with the reservations that theConvention will only apply to the recognition and enforcement of awards made in the territory of anothercontracting state, differences arising out of legal relationships, whether contractual or not, that areconsidered commercial under the national law, and to those arbitral awards which were rendered afterthe effective date of the Convention. In addition, Croatia is a party to the 1961 European Convention onInternational Commercial Arbitration (by succession of ex-Yugoslavia, as of 8 October 1991), and theWashington Convention of 1966 on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States andNationals of other States (in force as of 22 October 1998).
Foreign state court judgments are subject to different provisions and must satisfy more stringentrequirements as opposed to arbitral awards. The recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments maybe refused if:
-the judgment is not accompanied by a valid confirmation of the judgment’s finality and legalenforceability issued by the issuing court or other competent foreign body;
-the subject-matter of the foreign judgment falls within the exclusive competence of Croatian courts orother Croatian public authority;
-the same subject-matter has previously been decided upon by a Croatian Court or other Croatianpublic authority, or another foreign judgment involving the same subject-matter has previously beenrecognized in Croatia;
-the judgment is contrary to the Croatian Constitution;
-there is no reciprocity between Croatia and the foreign state issuing the judgment; reciprocity ispresumed unless the opposing party claims the contrary, in which case the Court must seek an officialnotice from the Croatian Ministry of Justice regarding the existence of reciprocity; or
-the party against whom the judgment is being enforced proves that it was unable to present its casedue to a procedural irregularity, such as improper service of documents, summons, etc.
The proceedings for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments are conducted by theMunicipal and Commercial Courts, depending on the subject-matter of the judgment.
Currently, there are 16 bilateral agreements regulating and simplifying the recognition and enforcementof foreign judgments, with Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France,Greece, Hungary, Iraq, Macedonia, Mongolia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovenia and Turkey, and onebilateral agreement regulating and simplifying the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awardswith Austria.
Generally no. Apart from some exceptions, counsel presentation is only mandatory in the proceedingsbefore the Supreme Court of Croatia.
Pro Bono System
STANDARD CIVIL PROCEEDINGS
Simple cases: first instance: within 18 months;second instance: 1 to 2 years; third instance:
2 to 3 years
Complex cases:first instance: 2 to 5 years;second instance: 2 years; third instance:
2 to 3 years
There are no civil jury trials in Croatia
-Only legal entities, which are entitled to protectcertain collective interests and rights by virtue oflaw (e.g. consumer protection associations),may file a class action.
-A class action may be filed in cases of gravebreaches or denial of legally protected collectiveinterests such as environmental rights, livingconditions, ethical interests, consumer rights, ornon-discrimination rights.
-An individual who seeks protection of itsindividual interests or rights may rely on a finaland binding court decision rendered in theproceedings initiated by class action becausethe court deciding on the individual claim isbound by the previous decision on class action.
-Litigation costs include court fees, attorneyfees and expenses (e.g. for expert opinions,travel expenses for witnesses, etc.).
-Court fees generally include fees for thestatement of claim and fees for the courtdecision.
-Court fees for the statement of claim have tobe paid upon filing the claim, while court feesfor the court decision are payable after a courtdecision has been rendered.
-Court fees in the first and second instances areto be paid by the party filing the statement ofclaim or the appeal.
-If a claim is filed by a foreign party andenforcement of a decision on reimbursement oflitigation costs is not safeguarded, the foreignparty can be ordered to pay a security deposit.
-Litigation costs are awarded against the losingparty who must reimburse the winning party.
-If a claimant has been partially successful, thecosts of both sides are divided on a pro-ratabasis.
-Attorneys' fees are determined on the basis ofthe Attorneys' Tariff and depend on the amountin dispute. Attorneys' fees may be agreeddifferently than as provided in the Tariff.However, a court will only award feescalculated on the basis of the Tariff. The actualattorneys' fees of a party (depending on the feeagreement between attorney and client) maythus be substantially higher, but are of norelevance to the opposing party.
-Agreements on contingency fees are allowed,but the fee is capped at 30% of the awardedamount.
-There is no formal discovery in Croatia.
-Documents are subject to disclosure if theparty itself referred to the document in thecourse of the proceedings, the party is obligedto hand the document over by substantive law,or the document is qualified as a "joint deed"between the parties.
-A court order to produce such documents is notenforceable. Failure to comply with the ordercan only be considered by the court in itsevaluation of the case.
Yes. There is legal aid for people not able to afford litigation costs.
Simple cases:first instance: within 18 months;second instance: 1 to 2 years; third instance:
2 to 3 years.
Complex cases: first instance: 2 to 5 years;second instance: 2 years; third instance:
2 to 3 years.
The duration of court proceedings usuallydepends on which court hears the case. Forexample, courts in Zagreb and Split are heavilyoverloaded with cases, which may cause theproceedings to last longer than they would inother courts.
Court fees are based on the Court Fees Act anddepend on the amount in dispute. Examples:
-Amount in dispute HRK 100,000 (approx. EUR13,700): court fees: HRK 2,700 (approx. EUR370) in the first instance;
-Amount in dispute HRK 465,000 (approx. EUR63,700) and higher: court fees are fixed at HRK10,000 (approx. EUR 1,370) in the firstinstance.
Court fees for appellate proceedings areincreased by 100%.
Assumptions based on an amount in disputeof EUR 1,000,000:first instance: preparation oftwo briefs, four hearings of 1h, 2h, 4h and 6h,respectively, preparation of hearings/meetingswith client, witnesses, correspondence with client:In total EUR 18,000 to EUR 35,000; secondinstance: one brief, no hearing: EUR 5,000 toEUR 18,000; third instance: one brief, no hearing:EUR 5,000 to EUR 18,000.
Assumptions based on an amount in disputeof EUR 10,000,000:first instance: preparation of4 comprehensive briefs, six hearings withduration of 2h, 4h, and 4 x 8h; preparation
of hearings/meetings with client, witnesses,correspondence with client: In total EUR 50,000to EUR 180,000; second instance: one brief,
no hearing: EUR 15,000 to EUR 30,000; thirdinstance: one brief, no hearing: EUR 15,000 toEUR 30,000.
In general, there are no court fees for initiating orconducting criminal proceedings that areprosecuted by the State Prosecutor.
Assumptions based on a charge with themaximum penalty of 5 years of imprisonment:first instance: preparation of 4 comprehensivebriefs, four hearings of 1h, 2h, 4h and 6h,respectively, preparation of hearings/meetings withclient, witnesses, correspondence with client: EUR3,000 to EUR 5,000; second instance: one brief,one hearing: EUR 700 to EUR 1,300; third instance:
one brief, one hearing: EUR 1,000 to EUR 2,000.
Assumptions based on a charge with themaximum penalty of more than 10 years ofimprisonment:first instance: preparation of 15comprehensive briefs, 12 hearings with a durationof 6 x 2h and 6 x 4h; preparation ofhearings/meetings with client, witnesses,correspondence with client: In total EUR 24,000 toEUR 40,000; second instance: two briefs, onehearing: EUR 3,000 to EUR 4,000; third instance:one brief, one hearing: EUR 3,000 to EUR 5,000.
Mandatory representation is required if the accused is a foreigner and does not understand the Croatianlanguage,or if the accused is not capable of defending him/herself due to health reasons.
Mandatory representation is also required if the statutory prescribed penalty consists of more than 10years of imprisonment.
Simple cases: first instance: within 18 months;second instance: within 12 months; third
instance: within 12 months.
Complex cases: first instance: 1 to 3 years;second instance: 12 months; third instance:
Yes. There is legal aid available to individuals who cannot afford a defence attorney.
Limited. There is no formal discovery procedure in Croatia.
The police may, upon a court order, perform a search of premises and seize any document that isimportant for the case.
The duration of court proceedings usuallydepends on which court hears the case. Similarto civil proceedings, trials may last longer incourts which are overloaded with cases.
-Convicted persons may be ordered to paythe costs of criminal proceedings.
-The court has a discretionary power todecide whether the procedural costs will beborne by the convicted person.
-All the expenses are advanced from thecourt's budget (e.g. for expert opinions,travel expenses for witnesses, etc.).
-The court may also bear the defence costs ifthe defence counsel has been appointed bythe court.
-If there are more convicted persons, thecosts will be divided among the convictedpersons.
-Attorneys' fees are determined on the basisof the Attorneys' Tariff or on the basis of theregulation issued by the Ministry of Justice(in case of ex officio defence) and depend onthe penalty for the crime with which theaccused has been charged.
-Attorneys' fees may be agreed differentlythan as provided in the Tariff. However,
a court will only award fees calculated on
the basis of the Tariff.
First instance: a decision on a request for apreliminary injunction is usually rendered within 2weeks to 2 months; second instance: 2 to 6months; third instance: 4 months to 1 year.
-A preliminary injunction may be requestedbefore, during and after the courtproceedings, but not after the claim hasbeen collected.
-With the request for a preliminary injunctionthe applicant must provide availableevidence, e.g., documentary evidence andaffidavits that can be examined by the courtright away.
-Documents in foreign languages should bepresented together with Croatiantranslations.
-In order to protect the opponent againstlosses incurred by a preliminary injunction,the court may order the applicant to pay asecurity deposit.
-An applicant may also offer to grant asecurity deposit in order to expediteproceedings if the case may seem to bedifficult.
-Attorneys' fees are determined on the basisof the Attorneys' Tariff and depend on theamount in dispute. Attorneys' fees may beagreed differently than as provided in theTariff. However, a court will only award feescalculated on the basis of the Tariff.
The court fees for filing preliminary injunctions
are reduced by half in the first instance in
relation to standard civil proceeding fees.
Assumptions: only the request for apreliminary injunction is filed, the courtrenders its decision without hearing theopponent: EUR 2,500 to EUR 6,000 in the firstinstance; second instance: one brief, no hearing:EUR 4,000 to EUR 8,000; third instance: onebrief, no hearing: EUR 4,000 to EUR 8,000.
Assumptions: apart from filing the request for
a preliminary injunction, two comprehensivecounter statements are filed in reply to twostatements from the opponent; witnesses areheard: Total costs (including meetings withclient/witnesses) in the first instance: EUR 18,000to EUR 35,000; second instance: one brief,
no hearing: EUR 5,000 to EUR 18,000; thirdinstance: one brief, no hearing: EUR 5,000
to EUR 18,000.
Preliminary Injunction Proceedings
-In practice, courts generally avoid issuingpreliminary injunctions without hearing theopponent, which consequently extends theduration of the proceedings.
-Under the Enforcement Act, the appellate courtis obliged to pass the appellate decision within30 days upon the receipt of the appeal.However, in practice courts pass their decisionswithin 2 to 6 months.
The following two estimates are based on theprocedural costs of the Rules of Arbitration of thePermanent Court of Arbitration of the CroatianChamber of Commerce (Zagreb Rules).
Assumption: sole arbitrator appointed and anamount in dispute of EUR 1,000,000:Registration fee of EUR 200, administrative fees ofEUR 2,140 and fees for a sole arbitrator of EUR10,700.
Assumption: sole arbitrator and an amount indispute of EUR 10,000,000: Registration fee ofEUR 200; administrative fees of EUR 6,340 andfees for a sole arbitrator of EUR 31,700.
In case there is an arbitral tribunal with threearbitrators, it may be that the fees for the arbitratorstriple.
Assumptions based on an amount in disputeof EUR 1,000,000: Review of 100 pages ofdocuments; no challenge to the jurisdiction of thearbitral tribunal; two exchanges of submissions;review of correspondence with arbitral tribunal;assistance with the preparation of 4 witnesses;review of 4 written witness statements; noexperts; preparation of oral hearing andparticipation in an oral hearing; preparation andreview of one post hearing brief. Totalapproximate cost: EUR 35,000 to EUR 70,000.
Assumptions based on an amount in dispute ofEUR 10,000,000: Review of 1000 pages ofdocuments; no challenge to the jurisdiction of thearbitral tribunal; two exchanges of submissions;review of correspondence with arbitral tribunal;assistance with the preparation of 8 witnesses;review of 8 written witness statements; documentproduction up to 500 pages; preparation andreview of expert opinions; preparation of oralhearing and participation in an oral hearing;preparation and review of one post hearing brief.Total approximate cost: EUR 130,000 to EUR200,000.
The usual duration of arbitration proceedings is between 1 to 3 years.
Limited. Usually the International Bar Association Rules on the Taking of Evidence are applied whichprovide for a narrow document production.
-The procedural costs depend on whether asole arbitrator or an arbitral tribunal of threemembers is appointed, the complexity of thecase and the administrative charges.
-The costs of arbitration to a large extentdepend on the arbitration agreement and theamount in dispute, the amount ofdocuments, number of witnesses andwhether expert opinions are required. Thecosts of arbitration also include thearbitrators' fees and the administrativecharges.
-The arbitrators usually have large discretionregarding the award of costs. However, inpractice the award on costs often dependson the outcome of the case. The award oflegal fees is usually not determined byreference to a statutory tariff.
-A party seeking recognition/enforcementmust submit a copy of the judgment and acertificate confirming that the judgmentbecame final and binding/enforceable underthe law of the country in which it wasrendered.
-For non-EU countries, if there is no treaty onrecognition and enforcement of foreign courtjudgments between Croatia and the state inwhich the judgment was rendered, therecognition of such judgment would,generally, be subject to reciprocityrequirements.
-For the enforcement of awards under theNew York Convention, the creditor mustprovide the court with the authenticatedoriginal award or a duly certified copy thereofand the original of the arbitration agreementor a duly certified copy thereof.
1 to 6 months until a decision on recognition andenforcement is rendered in the first instance; 4months to 1 year if the decision is appealed.
The duration of execution proceedings dependsmainly on whether the debtor has executableassets and whether execution measures areopposed by the debtor.
Enforcement of Foreign Judgments and Arbitral Awards
A court fee of HRK 250 (approx. EUR 35) is payable for the recognition of a foreign court judgment.For enforcement actions, court fees are determined by the Court Fees Act and depend on the
amount of a claim.
Application for recognition/enforcement:
Simple case: EUR 400 to EUR 600.
Complex case: EUR 2,000 to EUR 5,000.
Court fees depend on the amount of the claim,but are capped at HRK 500 (approx. EUR 70).
Filing of insolvency claim:
Simple case: Approx. EUR 400 to EUR 600.
Complex case: Approx. EUR 2,000 to EUR 5,000.
-A court's decision on the commencement ofinsolvency proceedings is published in theOfficial Gazette.
-The time period for filing the claims is set outin the published decision and may not beshorter than 15 days or longer than onemonth.
1 year to several years. In very complex cases,duration of more than 10 years is possible.
Creditors file their claims directly with thereceiver.