European Day of Justice 2023 - a mosaic of changes for more efficient justice

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The European Day of Justice was established by the Council of Europe and the European Commission in 2003 and is traditionally celebrated by the member states of the Council of Europe on 25 October.

The purpose of this day is to bring the judiciary closer to citizens, inform them about their rights and to strengthen their trust in the judicial system.

The Ministry of Justice and Public Administration sees the willingness to cooperate and openness to change as the main preconditions for achieving the above goals, and has brought the judiciary the closer to citizens through digitalisation and introduction of electronic services. These goals are achieved through a mosaic of changes in three directions: legislative, organisational and development direction.

More modern, efficient and faster court proceedings

Legislative changes have been adopted with a view to modernising and speeding up judicial proceedings. Amendments to two procedural laws – the Civil Procedure Act and the Criminal Procedure Act – have provided a legislative framework for more modern, efficient and faster judicial proceedings.

The amendments to the Civil Procedure Act introduced precise deadlines for the completion of all stages of proceedings, introduced a judicial procedure management plan and mandatory sound recording, while the latest amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act introduced a prohibition on double annulment of first instance judgments and e-Communication. 

Sound recording of all hearings will soon be introduced into litigation and criminal proceedings, thus improving the quality and efficiency of proceedings.

A new Act on Peaceful Resolution of Disputes has been adopted as well as a new Non-Contentious Procedure Act, aimed at modernising and harmonising non-contentious procedures.

The land registry management procedure has been fully digitised, and proposals for registration in the land registry are submitted only by electronic means – through a notary or a lawyer.

Amendments to the Companies Act and the Commercial Register Act have enabled the establishment of all types of companies and branches by electronic means, as well as electronic submission of all subsequent data and documents to the commercial register. In addition, automatic checks of the potential liabilities of company founders have been introduced, ensuring the prohibition on the establishment of new companies by those who have tax debts or do not pay employees’ salaries.

Significant progress in court case resolution

In 2022, Croatian courts reduced the backlog of cases by 11 %. 52,503 more cases were resolved than received, and, in parallel, the clearance rate increased from 92 % to 109 %.

Particularly significant progress has been made by the courts of first instance. Municipal courts speeded up their proceedings by 84 days, commercial by 45 and administrative by 23 days. This was achieved through dedicated work and collaboration between court presidents and the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration.

In 2022 alone, the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration invested more than 26.5 million euros in judicial infrastructure. The biggest realised investment is the new building of the Land Registry Department of the Municipal Civil Court in Zagreb, while works on the Palace of Justice worth about 17.6 million euros and the reconstruction of the Municipal Court building in Split are underway.

The Justice Square is currently the most important infrastructural judicial project that will set standards for all future investments in the judiciary and will permanently resolve the lack of space of the Zagreb Commercial Court, the High Commercial Court, the Zagreb Administrative Court, the High Administrative Court and the Judicial Academy.

At the moment, there are over 30 construction sites in Croatia related to judicial authorities, while under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan alone 20 buildings of judicial and correctional institutions are in the process of energy renovation. Investments worth around 300 million euros are envisaged in the new investment cycle.

Digital side of justice – justice closer to citizens

Easier communication with judicial authorities and faster access to excerpts and legal documents are just some of the many benefits of e-services. Digital tools are no longer just an option, but a standard, and with their introduction, the Ministry has made a significant step forward in bringing the justice system closer to citizens.

The e-Communication service enables electronic communication of participants in court proceedings with the courts, and is applied in all commercial, municipal, administrative and county courts as well as the High Commercial Court, the High Administrative Court and the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia.

In the coming period, the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration will remain committed to ensuring conditions for quality functioning of the justice system and for further strengthening of citizens’ trust in the judiciary.

Photo: Council of Europe/European Commission