Croatian Taxi Market to be Regulated by Constitutional Court

By 19 January 2022

January the 19th, 2022 - The Croatian taxi market is set to be regulated by the Constitutional Court following a considerable amount of time spent in turmoil following a law change made back in 2018.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, after the government managed to appease crises in the dynamic Croatian taxi market with the new Road Traffic Act 2018, the market has been relatively calm recently. However, the coronavirus crisis reduced the so-called market ''cake'', and back in 2020, taxi drivers started with the turmoil and protests once again due to certain provisions of this law, and at the end of last year, the state made a concession to taxi drivers regarding the age of the vehicle fleet and postponed stricter regulations until the year 2023.

Now a new dawn of sorts has arrived where traditional taxi drivers who are members of the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts (HOK) are asking for a review of the constitutionality of the law which came into force back in 2018. Namely, as was explained by HOK, it is disputable that, although the law provides the cities and municipalities in whose territory this transport takes place to make some rules, decisions can ultimately be made by the relevant ministry.

HOK pointed out that the introduction of paragraph 14 in Article 47 of the Road Transport Act restricts or deprives local self-government and regional self-government units of their rights, which violates one of the highest values ​​of the constitutional order of the Republic of Croatia as is proclaimed in Article 3 of the Constitution.

“The provision of Article 47, paragraph 13 of the Road Transport Act stipulates that the competent administrative body of the local self-government unit, ie the City of Zagreb, is obliged to decide on the application for a car taxi permit and issue that decision within 15 days. With this provision, the legislator gave local self-government units, ie the City of Zagreb, the authority to independently decide on the issuance of licenses for autotaxi transport in accordance with Article 129 of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia. However, paragraph 14 of the same article stipulates that if the competent body referred to in Article 13 does not decide on the request within the specified period, the Ministry will act on the request and issue an appropriate decision within the next 15 day period.

This provision implies that it restricts the right of local self-government units given to them by the provision of paragraph 13 so that it prescribes the return of authority by transferring it again to the state body or the competent ministry if the local self-government unit doesn't provide a response to the request within the prescribed timeframe,'' said Dragutin Ranogajec of HOK. He added that such a legal expression is a precedent in Croatian legislative practice because its general and wide application would mean derogating from administrative supervision, ie administrative procedure as an instrument of control through a two-stage procedure.

In order to avoid such situations in which local self-government units are stripped of their powers, the Constituent Assembly enacted a provision of Article 130 of the Croatian Constitution which stipulates that local and regional self-government units are independent when it comes to performing tasks within their scope and are subject only to the constitutional and legal review of authorised state bodies. In the case prescribed by paragraph 14, as those affected have duly pointed out, it isn't about the supervision of authorised state bodies over the work of local and regional self-government units, but instead about limiting or depriving them of a right granted to them by law, which violates one of the highest values ​​of the constitutional order proclaimed in Article 3.

"The Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts considers that the goal of the provision of paragraph 14, which presupposes speeding up the procedure for issuing licenses for autotaxi transport, is not a sufficient legitimate reason to limit the rights of local and regional self-government units, thus violating the provisions of Article 130 and Article 3 of the Constitution,'' believes Dragutin Ranogajec, head of the Chamber of Crafts.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.