Thursday, 21 March 2019

New Law to Facilitate Establishment of Companies in Croatia

ZAGREB, March 21, 2019 - Members of parliament from both the parliamentary majority and the opposition on Friday supported, in a joint debate on the Companies Bill and the Court Register Bill, the proposed amendments that aim to facilitate the establishment of companies.

Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković said that the purpose of the amendments was to make the establishment and registration of companies, limited liability companies and simple limited liability companies faster and cut costs related to their establishment.

Among other things the bills propose on-line registration of limited liability and simple limited liability companies and introduce electronic communication with the court register.

The amendments also facilitate exit from the market by defining procedures for a simpler, faster and cheaper liquidation of a company, said Bošnjaković.

Welcoming the proposed cost-cutting and easier liquidation, Social Democrat MP Orsat Miljenić said that any step towards moving away from paper-based procedures was welcome.

Nikola Grmoja of the MOST party said he welcomed any change towards greater competitiveness of the national economy but added that more radical measures should have been proposed to eliminate administrative barriers.

Žarko Tušek of the ruling HDZ party said that the proposed amendments would significantly facilitate the establishment of companies with the aim of making the economy more competitive and more open to investments.

More news on doing business in Croatia can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Controversial Presidential Pardon to Be Analysed

ZAGREB, March 19, 2019 - Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković said on Monday that he had ordered an analysis of the ministry's reports based on which President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović issued a pardon for Danko Seiter, who has been found guilty of economic crime and who is being prosecuted in another case for economic crime.

Bošnjaković said that at the time when the reports were compiled he was not at the helm of the Justice Ministry but that he had ordered that the reports be analysed.

"If the ministry's reports prove that (ministry officials) failed to perceive the fact that proceedings were under way against the person in question, we will react," Bošnjaković said.

Asked about a new pardon law, Bošnjaković said that his ministry had drafted a new proposal.

"We have defined most things and the bill will be put forward very soon... in the next 30 days," said the minister.

Commenting on her pardon for Seiter, who has been found guilty of economic crime in a case that also involved her campaign donor Nikola Hanzel and who is being prosecuted in another case for economic crime, Grabar-Kitarović said earlier in the day that she had not been aware that another case was under way against Seiter and that the Justice Ministry, which proposed that she pardon him, had not been aware of that either.

More news about the justice system in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 22 February 2019

EU Justice Commissioner Criticises Long Trials in Croatia

ZAGREB, February 22, 2019 - European Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said in Zagreb on Friday that citizens' trust in the judiciary would not grow without court autonomy and that that the trust was undermined by excessively long trials in Croatia.

On the second day of her visit to Zagreb, Jourova addressed an international conference on the EU as a global leader in the rule of law, saying said that the rule of law and court autonomy were pillars of the European Union.

A functioning judiciary at the national as well as the European level makes citizens trust the judiciary, Jourova said at the conference, recalling some of the main complaints of Croatian citizens.

Croatians do not trust judicial institutions because trials take too long, she warned, adding that court autonomy was a precondition for restoring citizens' trust. Degradation of the judiciary takes a country further from democracy, she said. The public is not aware that degradation of the judiciary leads to a totalitarian regime, she said.

The Zagreb conference was held on the occasion of the establishment of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence and was organised by the Zagreb School of Law and the European Commission Representation in Croatia.

In a dialogue with citizens, Jourova warned about differences in the perception of the rule of law among EU countries.

EU countries are different in their interpretation of the rule of law due to cultural and other reasons, she said.

Dialogues with citizens are a direct form of two-way communication between EU citizens and European Commission officials on a wide range of topics. They have been held throughout Europe since 2013.

Once a year the EC publishes an overview of the situation in the judiciary. The overview covers mainly civil and commercial cases as well as administrative proceedings, with focus on the three main elements of a functioning judiciary - efficiency, quality and autonomy.

More news on the justice system in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Croatia’s EU Presidency to Focus on Rule of Law

ZAGREB, February 22, 2019 - The priority of Croatia’s EU presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2020 will be the rule of law in all member states, Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković said after meeting European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Vera Jourova in Zagreb on Thursday.

"During our presidency we certainly want to put emphasis on the rule of law in all member states. We believe that all EU member states need to have a high level of the rule of law," Bošnjaković told a press conference.

He recalled that in its accession negotiations Croatia had undertaken reform measures to reach the necessary level so that it could become an EU member. "Today we undertake many measures to make the judiciary as efficient, good and fast as possible," he added.

Bošnjaković said that greater attention would be paid to the training of judges and state attorneys, highlighting the importance of digitisation of the Croatian judicial system.

Jourova said that a lot of work was still to be done on judicial reform, recalling a recent conference on the importance of the judiciary for the economies of the member states.

That is a very important aspect and I think we need to do much more to increase the quality and the speed of work of justice systems so that we can win the greater trust not only of citizens but of investors as well, she said.

Jourova said that she and Bošnjaković had discussed digitisation as a way of increasing the efficiency of the Croatian judiciary.

She said that during the Croatian presidency of the EU further talks on the new EU budget and the whistleblower directive would be on the table.

Jourova is scheduled to meet Economy Minister Darko Horvat on Friday to discuss consumer policy and unfair trading practices, particularly the dual quality of products.

Jourova said that the dual quality of products was an unfair trading practice because in the EU it is unacceptable for one producer to have the same product of different qualities, depending on the market it is intended for.

Jourova said her talks with Croatian officials, including President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, would focus on the forthcoming elections for the European Parliament and the issue of fake news and disinformation.

More news on Croatia and the European Union can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Number of Civil Litigations in Supreme Court Rising

ZAGREB, January 7, 2019 - A report on last year's activities in the Supreme Court released via the 'eSpisa' (e-files) application indicates that the number of unresolved civil cases increased while the situation with criminal cases is "more stable."

There were 16,759 open civil suits at the start of 2018, 9,379 were resolved during the year, however, there were 6,839 new cases filed and currently there are 14,219 unresolved cases in the Supreme Court.

Compared to the year before, it is obvious that the number of cases being resolved is increasing and that the backlog was reduced by 2,540 cases however there is a growing number of new cases. Nevertheless, the number of unresolved cases is falling, the report notes.

Considering the increased inflow of cases, the question is whether the Supreme Court will manage to handle these cases without amendments to the Law on Civil Litigations.

As far as criminal cases are concerned, the situation is more stable. At the start of last year there were 625 unresolved cases, 1,906 cases were resolved during the year however 1,923 new cases were received.

At the start of this year there were 642 unresolved cases, meaning that similar results were achieved even though there were fewer judges in the Supreme Court. "The establishment of a High Criminal Court would set the preconditions for the Supreme Court to undertake its constitutional role regarding this branch of the judiciary," the Supreme Court's report notes.

More news on the Croatian justice system can be found in our Politics section.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

New Law Will Make Distraint Faster and Fair, Says Minister

ZAGREB, January 6, 2019 - Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković said on Saturday that a new distraint bill was expected to make the procedure quicker and fair.

Speaking on RTL television, he called on everyone criticising or doubtful about the bill to join in the public consultation on it, saying that, despite the distrust shown so far, the government had managed to unfreeze the bank accounts of almost 160,000 citizens in a short time.

The debt of citizens with frozen accounts was 43 billion kuna and now it's 18.3 billion kuna, Bošnjaković said, adding that the new law would reduce the cost of distraint in the future, making it quicker for both creditor and debtor thanks to digital technology as well as fair.

He said the threshold in case of real estate would be raised, so that a property cannot be seized if a debtor owes less than 40,000 kuna. "In the existing law we already have a measure under which, if someone loses a property, the state provides for them for 18 months, paying the renting of a space," he said, calling claims that Croatia was copying another state's law were "inappropriate."

"We will reduce the number of people with frozen accounts to a reasonable level," Bošnjaković said, mentioning the personal bankruptcy law, whose amendments have gone into force.

He said the consumer bankruptcy procedure had never been so simple. "We introduced a new form of bankruptcy for those owing up to 20,000 kuna and whose accounts have been frozen for more than three years. We are yet to see the real results. There are more than 100,000 such people."

As for claims by those debtors that essentially nothing was changing and that their debts would still be passed on to their descendants, Bošnjaković said this would happen if debtors were unconscientious and irresponsible. He urged everyone to be conscientious and responsible when undertaking commitments so as not to have their accounts frozen over small amounts.

He also said it was important that under the new bill, "there can be no distraint without the debtor being notified."

More news on the Justice Ministry can be found in our Politics section.

Monday, 17 December 2018

Legislative Amendments Announced to Speed Up Croatian Court Proceedings

ZAGREB, December 17, 2018 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday the case of Darko Kovačević's physical assault on a girl in Zadar last summer was a "horrific case of violence in which it's more than clear, and the evidence is on the Internet, what exactly happened" and that he was outraged by the developments in this case. Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković visited Zadar on Sunday for talks with the presidents of local courts and prosecutors to examine the facts about Croatian court proceedings and the timeline in the case after Kovačević aka Daruvarac was released from investigative custody on Friday after six months, the maximum time he could be held in investigative custody.

"We all know the crime in this case and what he is charged with. This definitely isn't good," Bošnjaković told reporters on Sunday. He said the case was burdened by certain things about which nothing could have been done and that it would have been concluded had the judge in charge not become sick.

The minister announced amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act and the implementation of new European Union directives, saying this case would prompt legislative amendments to improve the legal framework so that such things did not happen again.

The prime minister said today "the way in which we as the state and the government can resolve this is by preventing the use of procedural institutes from endangering the fastness of proceedings, which is what happened in this case. The public is justifiably outraged. I'm as outraged as everyone because this case is obvious."

Asked if legal amendments were being sought, Plenković said he had discussed this with Bošnjaković. "This is unacceptable, because I don't think there's anyone who can in any way justify this situation which, judging by everything we could see, is pretty clear," he added.

More news on Croatia’s judiciary can be found in our Politics section.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Minister Not Worried About Croatia's Poor Judicial Independence Ranking

ZAGREB, October 21, 2018 - Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković commented on Saturday on a recent World Economic Forum report which ranked Croatia 120th out of 140 countries in terms of judicial independence, saying such a bad ranking was unrealistic.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Council of Europe Anti-Corruption Conference Starts in Šibenik

ZAGREB, October 15, 2018 - The Croatian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoE), the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) of the CoE and the Croatian Ministry of Justice have organised an international conference on ways of strengthening transparency and accountability in the public and private sectors to combat corruption, which is taking place in the coastal city of Šibenik on 15 and 16 October.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Whistleblowers to Receive Better Protection

ZAGREB, September 27, 2018 - The Croatian government sent to parliament on Thursday a bill designed to protect those exposing any kind of information or activity that is deemed illegal, unethical, or not correct within an organisation that is either private or public.

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