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Inter-state application against Croatia

On 15 September 2016, Slovenia lodged an inter-state application against the Republic of Croatia with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg relating to the claims of Ljubljanska banka (LB) towards Croatian companies. Oral hearing on the admissibility of the inter-state application was held on 12 June 2019. 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.

Application content

Slovenia contends that Croatia violated the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (hereinafter: the Convention) affirming that for the last 25 years, the Croatian judicial and executive authorities have systematically incapacitated LB to recover its claims towards Croatian companies and thus unlawfully denied LB the right to its property. The debtors of LB in Croatia thus avoided repaying their debt.

Slovenia found itself in an unjust position, where on the one hand it is paying out to the savers of LB’s main branches in Zagreb and Sarajevo, (Ališić case), while on the other hand Croatia prevented the repayment of LB’s claims towards Croatian companies. 

The Croatian companies failed to repay their overdue liabilities, mainly from credit loans and guarantees approved after 1980, so LB and its Zagreb branch instigated proceedings to recover their claims before the Croatian courts between 1991 and 1996. In the ensuing protracted court proceedings, LB was constantly subjected to arbitrary decisions by Croatian judicial and administrative authorities, forced prevention of its operation in Croatia, systematically protracted litigations and even prevention of enforcement of final and enforceable judgments, also due to interference by executive authorities. 

Purpose of the application is to obtain a just solution

Following the lengthy yet fruitless negotiations on the LB issue and considering the fact that Croatia has not honoured the bilateral agreements already attained, Slovenia assessed that the only possible solution to this dispute is to seek legal remedy at the international level. After exhausting all legal remedies in Croatia, Slovenia lodged an inter-state application with the ECHR, which initially consisted of 26 litigations regarding LB claims against Croatian companies, and was later supplemented to include a total of 48 court cases. Slovenia also lodged a claim for just satisfaction with assessed damages incurred to LB in these proceedings by violating the Convention amounting to EUR 429.5 million. 

The Republic of Slovenia expects that following the judgment on the right to assets of foreign-currency savers (judgment in the Ališić case) which Slovenia fully implemented according to the finding of the Council of Europe Ministers' Deputies, the ECHR will also find a just solution in the case of Croatia’s violations.