The Constitution of the Republic of Croatia is based on the separation of powers into the traditional three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The principle of separation of powers includes various forms of mutual cooperation and reciprocal checks and balances provided by the Constitution and law.
The judicial power in the Republic of Croatia is exercised by the courts. The judicial power is to be autonomous and independent, and courts administer justice according to the Constitution, law, international agreements and other applicable sources of the law.
As the highest court, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia guarantees uniform application of law and equal justice for all. The President of the Supreme Court is elected and relieved of duty by the Croatian Parliament based on the proposal of the President of the Republic, with a prior opinion obtained by the General Assembly of the Supreme Court and of the competent committee of the Croatian Parliament. The President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia is elected for the term of four years.
The law defines the proceedings before the courts, their establishment, and scope of review, composition and structure of governance.
Once appointed, a judge holds his or her position for life. A judge shall be relieved of duty in the following cases:
- At his/her request;
- If he/she loses capability to perform official duties;
- Gets convicted for a criminal offence that brings him or her into disrepute for the performance of judicial office;
- If, pursuant to the law, the National Judicial Council reaches such a decision due to grave misconduct,
- When he/she reaches the age of seventy.
According to the law, judges enjoy immunity. When taking part in the administration of justice, judges and lay judges (assessors) may not be called to account for an opinion or a vote given during the course of a legal proceeding, except in case where a judge contravened the law thus committing a criminal offence.
In conformity with the Constitution, the National Judicial Council autonomously reaches decisions on the appointment, professional advancement, re-assignment, relieve of duty and disciplinary responsibility of judges and presidents of courts, with the exception of the President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia. The National Judicial Council is composed of seven judges, two university professors of law and two members of the Croatian Parliament, where one of the two members comes from the opposition.