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A. Uzelac

that mere changes in legal provisions are hardly sufficient to produce effective changes in the existing situation. The history of the development of Croatian civil procedure (and other branches of law) offers more than enough examples of failed reforms – imported models that have started to live a life of their own, sometimes entirely different from the original plans and aims.

New amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure, planned as the most far- reaching reform of the law of civil litigation in the past fifty years, raise doubts as to what their real achievements are likely to be in practice even before they are offi- cially adopted and implemented. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, the provisions of the new legislation have ultimately gone only half-way, changing many details, but leaving unaffected some of the principal causes for delays and the unreasonable duration of process. The second reason relates to the fact that the changes basically attempted to establish – or perhaps, in rather stronger language, form – the same rules and principles that were already contained in the old law, but that were not implemented in practice. In so doing, one starting point remained un- clear – whether the lack of respect and obedience for one set of legal provisions could be cured by changes in these provisions alone.

Yet, it would be wrong to conclude that, whatever happens, acceleration is impossible. The ideal of a fair trial within a reasonable time is too valuable to be abandoned. However, deep structural changes may be necessary to effectively guar- antee this human right – changes in people, institutions and routines. As presented in this text, the period of transition from patterns of the socialist State to modern liberal democracy may be considerably longer and more difficult in the area of the judicial system. In Croatia, as in many other countries in transition, the path to- wards a highly competent, responsible and efficient Judiciary is often beset by para- doxes. The new approach, sensitive to the needs of citizens for an efficient Judiciary, needs new judges, ready to embrace it, as well as radical change in the state of mind of every other participant in the judicial process. On the other hand, it is exactly the ideology of a modern liberal State that has helped the survival of the old patterns and psychology, by stretching the principle of the independence of the Judiciary to the dominating layer of jurists formed and educated under wholly different circum- stances, when slowness of justice was considered to be a virtue, and acceleration a dangerous exception. The vicious circle of self-reproducing patterns of delays and inefficiencies has to be broken. Whether Croatia will enjoy the human right to a speedy and effective justice system ultimately rests on the ability of the country to break that circle.


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