Strasbourg. 9. December 2020 (MOREL)- The European Court of Human Rights will be delivering a Grand Chamber ruling1 in the case of Slovenia v. Croatia (application no. 54155/16) in writing on 16 December 2020 at 11 a.m. in the. The case concerns unpaid and overdue debts owed to Ljubljana Bank by various Croatian companies on the basis of loans granted at the time of the former Yugoslavia.
Principal facts and complaints
The Slovenian Government lodged an inter-State application (under Article 33 of the Convention) against the Croatian Government, alleging a series of violations of the fundamental rights of Ljubljana Bank. The bank was founded in 1955 under the laws of the then Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia People’s Republic of Slovenia and reorganised in the framework of the 1989-90 reforms, later being nationalised and restructured by the Slovenian State after its declaration of independence. Most of the bank’s assets and part of its liabilities were transferred to a new bank, the New Ljubljana Bank. The old Ljubljana Bank was initially administered by the Bank Rehabilitation Agency of Slovenia and is now controlled by a Slovenian Government agency, the Succession Fund.
In the applicant Government’s submission, as its Croatian debtors had failed to repay their liabilities, the Ljubljana Bank (Head Office and Zagreb Main Branch) lodged civil claims with Croatian courts, from 1991 onwards. As of 1994 over 80 such cases were pending before Croatian courts, concerning unpaid and overdue receivables from credit loans and guarantees, mainly granted to companies operating in the agricultural and food sectors of Croatia. In more than a half of all these cases, as the debtors had gone bankrupt or into liquidation, the enforcement of Ljubljana Bank’s claims had become impossible. The applicant Government added that since 2004, the Croatian courts, including the Constitutional Court, had denied the locus standi of the Ljubljana Bank, as claims which it had against various Croatian companies arising from loans it had granted them in the former Yugoslavia had been transferred to the New Ljubljana Bank by the entry into force on 27 July 1994 of the 1994. Amendments to the 1991 Constitutional Act of Slovenia. Thus, in those courts’ view, the Ljubljana Bank had no standing to sue in order to obtain repayment of such loans. The applicant Government complain that the Croatian authorities prevented and continued to prevent the Ljubljana Bank from enforcing and collecting the debts of its Croatian debtors in Croatia. They allege multiple violations of Articles 6 § 1 (right to a fair hearing), 13 (right to an effective remedy) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the Convention and of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property). Under Article 41 of the Convention, they also request just satisfaction corresponding to the losses incurred by the Ljubljana Bank as a result of the alleged violations.
The application was lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on 15 September 2016. On 18 December 2018 the Chamber relinquished jurisdiction in favour of the Grand Chamber. A hearing was held on 12 June 2019. (ends)