Accelerating Civil Proceedings in Croatia
Although only their use in practice will be able to verify their usefulness, it seems that certain of the changes are in fact more restrictive than permissive. It can even be argued that some rules go less far than what had been established by the practice of individual courts. Postal delivery remains the prevailing method of de- livery, and among other possibilities, delivery by a notary public is openly favoured but at the expense of the parties and without any real guarantee of success.49 As concerns the remaining three methods (agreed address, private delivery services, direct exchange of pleadings) the requirement of a prior written (and certified) agreement between the parties might seem more of an obstacle than an encourage- ment. Even more importantly, if there is no prior agreement in writing (which is most likely the case in most litigation), the new rules do not recognize the validity of delivery through today’s very widely-spread, reliable and standard commercial delivery services (DHL, FedEx and similar organizations), thereby potentially re- versing the case-law of some courts that had already begun to recognize them as an alternative of equal force to postal delivery. There is also no progress towards the recognition of other social realities, e.g., new technological means of communication (e-mail), not to speak of some already old-fashioned ones (fax).
For these reasons it will be interesting to see whether these new provisions have any positive effect in accelerating proceedings. In my view, the chances for progress are greater with respect to some other changes, e.g., provisions about the delivery to persons performing a registered activity (companies, institutions, mer- chants) to whom it will be possible to carry out a constructive delivery (delivery to a notice-board of the court) if delivery is not possible at the registered address. An- other provision intended to strengthen procedural discipline is the express obliga- tion of the party to inform the court about every change of address during proceed- ings and later, up to six months after the coming into force of the legal validity of the decision.50
In general, it still seems that the changes in relation to delivery are potentially the most controversial (and maybe the weakest) part of the reforms directed at ac- celerating judicial proceedings. It may easily happen that some past systemic dif- ficulties could even become greater after the introduction of these changes – for ex- ample as the result of a combination of extensive, technical and highly formalized rules of delivery and the use of regular postal employees who are not trained in ap- plying them. Expectations that delivery will become inexpensive and would become efficient after the new changes may therefore turn out to be an illusion.
So far, public notaries in Croatia have not had any role and/or experience in the delivery process. Given the wide range of their other functions, and plans to make this range even wider by new laws (hearings in inheritance proceedings, actions in enforcement proceedings) it is not likely that delivery will be at the center of their interest in the future. Therefore, it is not likely that notaries public will become good bailiffs or huissiers de justice. New Article 145 Code of Civil Procedure.