The Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia has two judicial departments, each with its own registrar for recording data and monitoring judicial practice.
1. Civil Law Department
2. Criminal Law Department
A departmental president is in charge of the work of each department. Departmental presidents are appointed by the President of the Supreme Court within the annual assignment of tasks.
Each departmental president assigns judicial panels to judicial cases and coordinates the work of the department and its administrative units.
The president of the department convenes and chairs departmental conventions aimed at discussing issues relevant to the work of the department, such as the internal organization of the department, improvements in working practices, the professional development of justices and court advisers, discussions on disputable legal issues and the uniform application of the law, and the issuing of opinions on draft legislation from within their field of law.
Civil Law Department
The Civil Law Department of the Supreme Court has five judicial panels, each with five Supreme Court justices. Each judicial panel acts in sessions chaired by the president of the panel, with a reporting judge presenting the case.
The judicial panel decides on extraordinary legal adjustments to final decisions rendered by Croatian courts in the fields of civil, commercial and administrative law; on appeals against county court decisions issued at the first instance; on appeals against decisions issued by the High Commercial Court and the Administrative Court; and on disputes regarding court jurisdiction.
Within the Civil Department there is also a second-instance administrative panel for lawyers.
Criminal Law Department
The Criminal Law Department of the Supreme Court has five judicial panels for adjudicating criminal matters in second instance, with three justices of the Supreme Court in each. It also has a judicial panel for juveniles, and two judicial panels with seven justices each for adjudicating criminal matters in third instance.
Within the Criminal Law Department of the Supreme Court there are also disciplinary panels for adjudicating disciplinary matters against lawyers and public notaries in second instance.
Judicial panels of the Criminal Law Department decide on appeals against first instance decisions, appeals against second instance decisions, interlocutory appeals, renewal of criminal proceedings, extraordinary mitigation of sentence, requests for the protection of legality, and requests for an extraordinary judicial review of a final verdict.
Registrar for recording data and monitoring judicial practice
The tasks of recording data and monitoring court practice lie with the registrars assigned to the civil and criminal law departments of the Court.
These registrars are primarily responsible for the following:
- monitoring general legal opinions and legal positions in order to ensure the uniform application of the law and the equal protection of citizens before the law;
- participating in the drafting of general legal opinions and other materials for the departmental conventions and the for the General Convention of the Court;
- maintaining records of relevant judicial decisions (the collection of decisions);
- maintaining records of legal positions (principal decisions) concerning judicial practice;
- reviewing each decision of a judicial panel to ensure that it is in compliance with the legal position applied in some prior or coincident decision, as well as whether it is consistent with the content of the file and in compliance with the law;
- selecting decisions to be published in the publications of judicial practice;
- monitoring the judicial practice of lower courts.
Recorded decisions from the collection of decisions, as well as the general legal positions (principal decisions and opinions) are processed by an information technology system and form a unified database of judicial practice.
The General Convention of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia
The President and all justices of the Supreme Court form the General Convention of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia.
At the General Convention the justices shall:
- establish general positions for ensuring the uniform application of the law and the equal protection of citizens before the law;
- issue opinions on draft laws, or other acts, when such legislation regulates the authorities of the court or other issues significant for the operation of courts or the judicial system in general;
- develop instructions for lower courts regarding the monitoring of court practice;
- draft reports to be presented to the Croatian Parliament;
- propose persons eligible as candidates for membership of the State Judicial Council;
- perform other duties regulated by the Law on Courts, procedural and other acts, and by the Rules of Procedure of the Supreme Court.
The General Convention is convened and chaired by the President of the Supreme Court. At least two thirds of all judges must be present at the General Convention in order for its decisions to be valid. Decisions are reached by a majority vote of all justices of the Supreme Court.
A general legal position adopted by the General Convention of the Supreme Court is binding on all the panels of the Supreme Court and may be altered only by the General Convention.