Croatian Company Owners Seek Compensation from Civil Protection Directorate

July the 22nd, 2021 - Five Croatian company owners are seeking not only answers but compensation for their extreme losses incurred owing to lockdowns and limitations from the Croatian Civil Protection Directorate.

As Novac/Gordana Grgas writes, five Croatian company owners are refusing to let this issue drop as their very existence was threatened during the pandemic. As such, they have filed a lawsuit against the state seeking compensation for what they claim are discriminatory decisions by the Civil Protection Directorate and inadequate economic measures introduced by the government, funded and logistically supported by the Voice of Entrepreneurs Association (UGP).

The amount they're asking for in court hasn't yet been publicly stated, and they say that it was calculated in relation to the turnover and profit that each of the companies had back during pre-pandemic 2019. The Croatian companies in question are "Djurina hiza" from Varazdin, Caffe & Wine Bar from Rijeka, the travel agencies "Svi koncerti/All concerts" from Varazdin, "Locuples" from the vicinity of Split and the Shark Attack trade from Primosten.

The first step in the lawsuit against the state for damages is a request from the Croatian company owners to attempt to come to a peaceful solution, which was sent to the Zagreb County State's Attorney's Office, it was said yesterday at a press conference organised by the UGP. As explained by the Matic and partners law firm who decided to take these cases, this means that within the legal deadline of three months "the state has a good chance to find modalities and an adequate solution." In other words, they believe that lawsuits shouldn't be filed with the competent courts if the state decides to settle in another manner.

Although the Constitutional Court has so far confirmed in its opinions that the measures adopted due to the pandemic were in accordance with the Constitution, lawyer Mato Matic believes that the Civil Protection Directorate directly violated the constitutional rights of Croatian company owners and states that there are serious violations of three articles of the Constitution (49, 50 and 54).

''Who exactly are those behind the Civil Protection Directorate? On what basis did they make thirteen decisions? On the basis of nothing,'' stated Matic, explaining that the state should have announced the introduction of a state of emergency so that the aforementioned group could make decisions, and noted that President Zoran Milanovic once spoke about it. Thus, Matic believes, there was no legal basis for these decisions to have been made, and no research has ever been conducted to suggest otherwise.

What the aforementioned law firm considers to be important is that judgments have been passed in several EU countries in support of such arguments, stating that the Spanish Constitutional Court declared the spring 2020 lockdown illegal, and the Belgian courts in Brussels declared the ban on the work of caterers and those in the hospitality industry to be illegal. They also cite the decision of the General Court of the European Union, which, as they say, interprets that everything that is prohibited or restricted for Croatian company owners by the decisions of the Government and the Civil Protection Directorate should be compensated in some way.

Hrvoje Bujas, the president of UGP, says that the lawsuits of the group's members are far from a bluff and says that the "gentlemen in the government" should take them very seriously. He emphasises that these are companies that were doing very well until the outbreak of the pandemic, and "became ruins" through absolutely no fault of their own.

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