The government in the Republic of Croatia is organized on the principle of separation of powers into legislative, executive and judicial branches.
Judicial power is exercised by the courts. The judiciary is autonomous and independent. The courts administer justice according to the Constitution and law, as well as according to international agreements and treaties in force.
Judges and lay assessors participate in the administration of justice in conformity with the law.
In the Republic of Croatia the administration of justice is carried out by misdemeanour courts, municipal courts, county courts, commercial courts, the High Misdemeanour Court of the Republic of Croatia, the High Commercial Court of the Republic of Croatia, the Administrative Court of the Republic of Croatia and the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia.
The seat and territorial jurisdiction of courts are regulated by the Law on Territorial Jurisdiction and Seats of the Courts (NN no. 3/94, 100/96, 115/97, 131/97, 129/00 and 67/01) and the law on Territorial Jurisdiction and Seats of the Misdemeanour Courts (NN no. 36/98).
As of 31. December 2009 there were 110 misdemeanour courts, 67 municipal courts, 13 commercial courts at the first instance. The High Misdemeanour Court of the Republic of Croatia, the High Commercial Court of the Republic of Croatia and county courts are in general second instance courts (appellate courts). County courts, 21 of them, perform investigation procedures as well and adjudicate certain number of criminal cases at the first instance. The Administrative Court of the Republic of Croatia decides upon appeals against final administrative acts (administrative disputes). The Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia is according to the Constitution the highest court that ensures uniform application of laws and equality of citizens.
At present there are 215 courts in the Republic of Croatia.
As of 31. December 2009 there was a total of 1.886 judges at Croatian courts, with 1.251 or 66 % of them being women. In addition, there are 527 judicial advisers and associates employed at the courts, 152 graduated lawyers in the status of judicial apprentices and 6.189 court civil servants and employees. Therefore, a total of 8.754 judges and other employees were working at the courts.
In administration of justice lay assessors participate in conformity with law.
In the year 2009 there were a total number of 2.475,293 cases adjudicated at all courts in the Republic of Croatia, with 1.588,421 of them being new cases in which parties addressed the court for the first time. Out of that total number 1.667,955 cases were resolved by courts and 795,722 cases have remained pending.
Court hearings are open to the public and judgments are pronounced publicly in the name of the Republic of Croatia.