This rather extensive list basically covers all possible ways in which a certain coun- try might address problems of inefficiency in its judicial system. In what follows, I will pay special attention to strategies related to changes in procedural regulations. Other strategies of acceleration will be elaborated elsewhere. I will commence with a brief overview of reforms of procedural regulation aimed directly at improving the speed of judicial proceedings.
Reform projects intended to accelerate court proceedings
Changes related to the acceleration of civil proceedings in Croatia are to be found mostly in three large procedural laws: the Code of Civil Procedure, the Law on En- forcement and the Law on Bankruptcy. As stated earlier, changes in these laws did not follow a fully logical course. The most important and fundamental law, the Code of Civil Procedure, was not significantly changed until the time of the writing of the draft of this paper. Instead, until 2003, the ex-Yugoslavian Procedural Code from 1976 remained in force, subject only to insignificant changes.
On the other hand, the two other laws had completely different destinies. Not only were they changed much earlier than the Code of Civil Procedure but com- pletely new regulations were enacted – in 1996 the Law on Enforcement replaced the Law on Execution Proceedings22 and the Law on Bankruptcy succeeded the Law on Forced Settlement, Liquidation and Bankruptcy.23 Having been passed, both laws were significantly changed by amendments barely two to three years after the new law was passed. New changes – partly consisting in the abandonment of some previous changes – were passed as a part of the imminent package of judicial re- form.24 These changes, although significant, will not be discussed here.
Reform of the rules of civil litigation – 2003 Amendments
In the Yugoslav Federation, civil proceedings were generally regulated by federal legislation. Therefore, the Code of Civil Procedure that was (and still is) applicable in Croatia is a former federal law from 1976. The situation was similar in other suc- cessor countries of ex-Yugoslavia, but most of them have already undertaken a sig- nificant reform of proceedings and/or passed new procedural laws. For various reasons, reform of civil litigation in Croatia was postponed for a long time. The ‘old’ Procedural Code, with minimal adjustments, was in force even in 2003. In the end, it remained practically the only large piece of ‘systemic’ legislation that was not sig- nificantly changed after the declaration of independence in 1991. After almost ten years of the unofficial circulation of draft proposals (but without a broader public
22 23 24
Ovršni zakon (Enforcement Act), Official Gazette 57/96, 29/99 and 42/00. Ste ajni zakon (Bankruptcy Act), Official Gazette 44/96, 161/98, 29/99 and 129/00. See Amendments to the Law on Bankruptcy, Official Gazette 123/2003; The amendments to the Enforcement Act were adopted in Parliament on 15 October 2003. They had not yet been published in the Official Gazette at the time this text was submitted for publication.