1. What are the different types of (court) procedures in case of a commercial dispute?
In addition to alternative ways of resolving commercial disputes, we know two types of court settlement – regular proceedings and small claims proceedings. Slovenian procedural law in civil proceedings stipulates that the court always begins the hearing with an attempt to settle an agreement between the parties; only if this is not possible, then the court begins to resolve the dispute on a regular legal procedure. Like other EU Member States, Slovenia also offers mediation to litigants in court proceedings on the basis of Directive 2008/52/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008, on certain aspects of mediation in civil and commercial matters (the Mediation Directive). It is an informal procedure under the auspices of a court, where the dispute is resolved by an expert, who is neither a lawyer nor a judge in the case in question.
As already mentioned, in the narrower sense of judicial dispute resolution, we know the usual procedure and the procedure in small claims (in commercial cases, this value is below EUR 4,000.00). These procedures are about special features or characteristics that reflect the principle of economy and acceleration of the procedure: a limited number of written applications (each party only two); strict preclusion of stating facts and proposing evidence (all essential statements must be given and all evidence proposed in the lawsuit or defence, in the second pair of applications the parties can only respond to the statements of the opposing party from the defence or the first preparatory statement), shorter deadlines for answering the lawsuit and for the appeal (8 days); the failure to respond to the action results in the fiction of recognition of the claim; the main hearing is not mandatory, but must either be explicitly requested by the party or the court must consider that a hearing is necessary; emphasized the literacy of the procedure, the possibility of limiting the evidentiary procedure so as to ensure proportionality between ensuring adequate protection of the rights of the parties and the objective of speeding up and cost-effectiveness of the procedure; the possibility of issuing a judgment without explanation; there is no specific appeal against decisions that do not constitute termination, the grounds/reasons of appeal against the final decision are limited.
2. What is the working language of the different (court) procedures?
Working language is Slovene. Documents in other languages must be translated in Slovene.
3. When is the relevant body competent to take cognisance of the dispute?
In principle, the court closest to the defendant’s place of residence is competent to take cognisance of the dispute, unless parties have (contractually) agreed upon a different jurisdiction.
4. Which law is applicable to the different (court) procedures?
Before Slovenian courts, Slovenian law applies (which means also EU Law), unless the parties have agreed otherwise in the contract.
5. Does the judge have specific knowledge of the market?
Commercial disputes include specialized judges in this field, who work only in the commercial departments of the courts, but are not economists and are not trained in more detail and focused on individual segments of the economy.
6. Are the procedures and the rulings confidential?
The pre-trial proceedings with settlement agreement are confidential, but when the courts reach a judgment, the trial is subject to publicity, except in specially designated proceedings. Proceedings at first instance are not confidential, but judgments of courts of first instance are not published in most cases (except in high-profile and public cases). Most of the decisions of the courts of appeal and the Supreme and Constitutional Court are published (anonymized).
7. What are the costs of the different (court) procedures?
The costs (court and attorney’s fees) of court procedures depends on the value of the dispute, they usually amount to somewhere between 10 to 15 % of the value of the disputed object (more in disputes of small value and less in disputes with very high value).
8. Can the losing party be ordered to pay the costs of the proceedings?
Yes, in accordance with the rules of civil procedural law, the losing party is generally ordered to pay the costs in the amount, recognized by the court according to the Law of court fees and the Attorney Tariff. After the court decision has become final, the loser must reimburse the costs to the successful party in the given fulfilment period. However, the principle of success applies, according to which each party bears a share of the costs in accordance with the percentage of success in litigation.
9. What is the average lead time of the different (court) proceedings?
The usual lead time of court proceedings is:
- At first instance in small claims 1,5 years, in ordinary disputes 2 years;
- At the appeal stage: 9 – 12 months;
- At the Supreme and Constitutional Court: 1 to 2 years.
10. Is the judgment consigned in other EU member states and can it be enforced there? And outside the EU?
In order to force the other party (the defendant or the debtor) to enforce a court decision issued against him (to pay), it is necessary to turn to the enforcement authorities. In accordance with Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, governing the recognition and enforcement of judgments in cross-border cases may, if you have an enforceable judgment Member State of the European Union, contact the enforcement authorities in another Member State where, for example, the debtor’s assets are located. The debtor against whom you are requesting enforcement may apply to the court for a refusal of enforcement.
Enforcement is usually intended to recover sums of money, but there may be other types of obligations that must be fulfilled (an obligation to perform an act or to refrain from it, namely to supply goods, complete work or refrain from disturbing possession). In cross-border civil cases, different European procedures may be used (such as the European order for payment procedure, the European Small Claims Procedure and the European Enforcement Order procedure), but in all these proceedings the judgment must be enforced in accordance with national rules and regulations of the executing State (usually the State in which the debtor or his assets are located). In practice, you need an enforceable document (court decision or notarial deed) to request enforcement. Enforcement procedures and the bodies they carry out (courts, debt collection agencies and bailiffs) are defined in the national law of the Member State in which enforcement is sought.
However, the enforcement of a judgment outside the EU varies, in accordance with the bilateral agreements between countries.