GOV.SI

Oral hearing – a step towards respecting European values and protecting Ljubljanska Banka's rights

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (ECHR) on Wednesday convened an oral hearing on the admissibility of the inter-state application filed by Slovenia against Croatia relating to the Ljubljanska Banka (LB) claims towards Croatian companies.

Slovenia expects that the Grand Chamber will decide on the admissibility of the case this year.

Slovenia expects that the Grand Chamber will decide on the admissibility of the case this year. – Author Getty Images

This was the first opportunity for Slovenia to present its arguments and evidence concerning violations committed to the detriment of LB in 48 proceedings before Croatian courts.

Dr Ana Polak Petrič, High Representative of the Republic of Slovenia for Succession Issues, pointed out before the ECHR Grand Chamber in Strasbourg that “the Convention  guarantees rights to all natural and legal persons. The rejection of Slovenia’s application by the Court would imply that state-owned legal entities do not enjoy such rights and that the Court is unable to guarantee the protection of their rights”.

Slovenia’s arguments were presented before the Court by Dr Ben Juratowitch, head of the Slovenian legal counsel. He concluded the presentation before the Court by saying, “that Slovenia’s application is substantiated and admissible and that Slovenia has the right to refer Croatia’s breaches to the Court in an inter-state application”.

On 15 September 2016, Slovenia submitted an application against Croatia before the ECHR. In compliance with Article 33 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Slovenia notified the ECHR of Croatia's violations of the Convention, arguing that the Croatian judicial and executive authorities, by their systematic actions in protracted proceedings, unlawfully deprived LB of its property and the possibility of a fair trial.

Under the Convention, the Council of Europe member states are obliged to secure fundamental rights and freedoms to everyone within their jurisdiction, including to every legal entity. LB also enjoys these rights. Slovenia therefore argues that Croatia’s objection regarding the admissibility of the application is unfounded. Any other interpretation by the Court would result in a precedent with far-reaching effects, also paving the way for arbitrary and unequal treatment of state-owned companies operating in foreign countries.

In the interest of the international community, outstanding disputes should be resolved as soon as possible and in a peaceful manner, which is of particular importance for the region that is dealing with many unresolved issues. Based on the principle of the rule of law and the trust in international justice, Slovenia has brought this outstanding issue before the ECHR.

Given the usual practice in inter-state applications, Slovenia expects the Court's decision on the admissibility of its application by the end of 2019 or in the first half of 2020.