ECHR to Rule on Slovenia's Complaint against Croatia

By 19 December 2018

ZAGREB, December 19, 2018 - The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) will rule on Slovenia's complaint against Croatia for unpaid receivables of former Ljubljanska Banka's Zagreb branch, Slovenian media said on Wednesday, citing a press release on the ECHR website.

In autumn 2016, Slovenia lodged an application with the ECHR against Croatia, alleging systematic and arbitrary interference by the Croatian government in proceedings which Ljubljanska Banka brought in Croatian courts, and demanding 360 million euro in damages.

The Court said in the press release the decision on the application was relinquished to the Grand Chamber, which means that it will be final, without possibility to appeal.

When Slovenia lodged the application on 15 September 2016, its then Prime Minister Miro Cerar said Slovenia had the legitimate right to demand from the ECHR a decision which would enable Ljubljanska Banka to collect its receivables from Croatian companies given that, under another ECHR decision, the bank was reimbursing its Yugoslav-era clients in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Cerar said that since 1991 Croatian authorities had prevented the bank from collecting those receivables and that they had interfered in the court proceedings brought by the bank.

Last spring, before the end of its term, the Cerar cabinet announced another similar suit against Croatia before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, but it has not been lodged yet.

The announcement was made after a number of decisions by Croatian courts in favour of Croatia's Privredna Banka Zagreb and Zagrebačka Banka in suits they brought against Ljubljanska Banka and its successor Nova Ljubljanska Banka over the repayment of their debts, which were transferred to the two Croatian banks and repaid from public funds.

In its dispute with Croatia over Ljubljanska Banka's transferred Yugoslav-era foreign currency savings, Slovenia claims it has no obligation to repay that money, that it is an issue of succession to the former Yugoslavia and that Croatia confirmed this with the Mokrice Memorandum, signed by the two countries' prime ministers ahead of Croatia's European Union accession.

Slovenia claims it was agreed on that occasion that the proceedings against Ljubljanska Banka in Croatia would be suspended and that a comprehensive solution would be sought regarding inherited debts and receivables, but that Croatia has not complied.

Croatia claims that when the memorandum was signed in 2013, it was agreed the proceedings would be suspended for a maximum two years, until a comprehensive solution was found. Given that no solution was found, the proceedings were resumed.

More news on the relations between Croatia and Slovenia can be found in our Politics section.