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A. Uzelac

tia (and the wider region). Delays in the reception of the original Austrian model and the prevailing practice of earlier written, formal and secret proceedings seem- ingly led to a specific mixture of forms that were not fully in keeping with the origi- nal Austrian models. This development was intensified by certain political facts – first, the fact that the Austrian Zivilprozessordnung and its Jurisdiktionsnorm were ac- cepted only ten years after Croatia had broken free from all governmental and legal ties to Austria and, second, the fact that the unification of civil procedural law in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia took place during the dictatorship of King Alexander of the Serbian royal house of Kara or evi . So, although legal doctrine was changed and legal teaching adjusted to the new procedural principles, the law in action contin- ued its own autonomous way, developing a stylus curiae that still contained a great degree of the use of writing, seclusion and indirectness.

Other circumstances also contributed to these developments: The law on civil proceedings of 1929 was in force barely eleven years before World War II, and a so- cialist revolution and communist rule left their mark on the courts and their proce- dures. Although procedural legislation in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugosla- via continued to follow earlier models, it was adjusted in some respects to socialist political doctrine. The inquisitorial elements and judicial activism of the Austrian procedural legislation stopped being interpreted as a warrant for concentration, publicity, directness and efficiency and became instead an instrument of socialist paternalism with the primary purpose of protecting the State from party autonomy and the uncontrolled actions of civil society. Since it was impossible to remove the party’s initiative in civil proceedings completely (in contrast to some other branches of the law that were systematically cleansed of ‘civil’ and ‘capitalist’ concepts) civil procedural law continued to develop partly on the foundations of classical proce- dural patterns.16 However, a consequence of the suspect ‘civil’ and ‘private’ nature of proceedings was the marginalization of court proceedings. They were reduced to the level of a second rate mechanism of social regulation, aimed at resolving ‘secon- dary’ problems only, disputes related to the relics of private property disputes in a society in which collectivist doctrine otherwise dominated.

As a consequence, the speed and efficiency of judicial proceedings were not high political priorities until the abandonment of socialism and change in the social system in the nineties. Quite the opposite, the relative length of proceedings and the high level of formalism were used in some cases as a tool to protect judges (who did not under socialism enjoy full guarantees of independence and who were subject to re-election by political bodies) from political persecution and the rage of the com- munist elites in power.

On the other hand, the previous, already generous system of pleading that en- abled the change of claims and issues in the course of the proceedings and the re- consideration of first-instance court rulings, was further loosened. The party dissat- isfied by the outcome of the proceedings had many opportunities to bring about a


For the development of civil procedural law in Croatia see, e.g., S. Triva, V. Belajec and M. Dika, Gra ansko parni no procesno pravo (Civil Procedural Law), Zagreb, Narodne novine, 1986, § 1-5.


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