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In Slovenia local (okrajna sodišča) and district (okrožna sodišča) courts have jurisdiction over civil disputes, for claims at the first instance. They adjudicate on all typical civil law matters and disputes (award of compensation, property, family disputes). The demarcation of jurisdiction between local and district courts is dealt with in Point B below.
By contrast only district courts have the jurisdiction to hear and adjudicate on cases relating to commercial law at the first instance. Commercial disputes are those in which one party in a civil case is a legal person (company, institution, collective). Commercial disputes also include cases in which one of the parties is the state or another self-governing local community, such as a municipality.
The law assigns jurisdiction for labour disputes to labour and social courts, even if the case involves a civil dispute. Labour disputes involve relations between an employer and employee and a violation of the rights and obligations arising from such relations. Labour courts have jurisdiction on individual labour disputes (disputes arising from employment relations, disputes relating to property rights relating to such relations), collective labour disputes (disputes in which one of the parties is usually a trade union or other institutional form of employee representation), disputes relating to the legality of strikes and disputes relating to employee rights to co-determination (employee participation in company management), which is enshrined in Slovenian law. Social courts adjudicate on rights arising from disability and pension insurance, health insurance, unemployment insurance and the right to family and social benefits.
As the issue of jurisdiction only arises when an action or claim has been submitted to a court (before a court hears and adjudicates upon a case, it first determines whether the case comes under its jurisdiction), it is recommended that one first consult a lawyer to avoid delays. A court must in all proceedings pay attention to the issue of its jurisdiction, and ensure that no other body has jurisdiction over a case (e.g. an administrative body). If that is the case, the court must dismiss the plaintiff’s claim, which results in unnecessary loss of time and increased expenses of a party.
Information on the organisation, location and jurisdiction of courts can be found on the official website of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia at the following address: http://www.sodisce.si/eng/.
An action may be filed at any court in the Republic of Slovenia, but anyone filing an action should pay attention to the jurisdiction ratione materiae (which court has jurisdiction over the content of the case) and territorial jurisdiction. Basic information including the addresses of every local and district court in the Republic of Slovenia is available at the internet address given above.
Jurisdiction at the first instance or the possibility of a court being able to adjudicate on a specific claim is shared between local and district courts. The following factors affect the decision on which court will adjudicate upon a case:
The general rule is that a district court adjudicates on more important disputes, where the subject of dispute is of high value and where disputes have significant relevance to the life or living of a party, or if these are legally complex, as the courts must, in their adjudication, apply laws that address complex and sensitive legal issues (e.g. divorce, child maintenance).
High courts, of which there are four in Slovenia, adjudicate at the second instance and it is not possible to file an action directly with them. Higher courts adjudicate on appeals against the decisions of local and district courts. They also adjudicate on disputes relating to jurisdiction between local and district courts in their region.
The Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia has jurisdiction to adjudicate on appeals against judgments of the high courts, especially decisions relating to revisions and the protection of legality. In the case of proceedings before the Supreme Court, an interested party must be assisted by a lawyer, as only qualified lawyers can legally carry out specific procedural acts before that court.
As stated in the previous point, jurisdiction at the first instance is divided between local and district courts, but these two courts are not in a strict subordinate-superior relationship. The jurisdiction of the courts is determined by law, but in general it is true that the district courts do generally hear cases that legally and in fact are more complex.
The law stipulates that local courts (there are 44 in total in Slovenia) have jurisdiction in the following cases:
District courts (there are 11 in the Republic of Slovenia) have jurisdiction in the following cases:
In principle an action can be filed at any of the first instance courts mentioned above. The court to which a party submits an action must decide on its jurisdiction to hear the case before adjudication starts. If it finds that it does not have territorial jurisdiction, it can declare that it does not have jurisdiction and submit the case to another court, but only if it has informed the opposing party thereof. It must follow this procedure in the case of another court having exclusive territorial jurisdiction (cf. Point 2b). Notwithstanding this, there are some general rules in determining territorial jurisdiction that are taken into account with regard to ensuring that costs are kept low and the case resolved as quickly as possible.
Slovenian legislation has a rule on general and specific territorial jurisdiction, which is determined in relation to the subject of the dispute and parties thereto. The details are set out in the following points.
This stipulates that in an action filed against a natural or legal person, the action must be filed with the court where the defendant has permanent residence or where a legal person has its registered office. If it is a case against a foreign natural or legal person, the court with general territorial jurisdiction is the court where the foreign natural person has residence in the Republic of Slovenia or where the foreign legal person has its branch.
In certain cases the law gives parties to a case the possibility of filing an action with another court, and not that with general territorial jurisdiction. In specially defined cases (with respect to the subject or content of the dispute), a party may only file an action with the only court with jurisdiction for such a case (this is referred to as exclusive territorial jurisdiction).
If a plaintiff files an action with a court that does not have territorial jurisdiction, it is declared as such and the case is transferred to another court that has jurisdiction, where the case continues as if it had commenced there.
As stated, in certain cases two courts can simultaneously have territorial jurisdiction. In such a case an interested party may choose with which court to file the action (selective jurisdiction).
Jurisdiction of this type is defined in Articles 49 to 65 of the Civil Procedure Act, so only the most important cases, and those of most relevance to the life or living of interested parties are set out below.
In disputes relating to maintenance, it is not only the court with general territorial jurisdiction that has jurisdiction, but also the court where the plaintiff (maintenance beneficiary) has permanent residence. The option of selecting courts is also available to parties in a marital dispute (divorce cases), where the court in which the spouses had their last permanent residence has jurisdiction. In disputes on determining or challenging paternity or maternity, the court where the child permitted by Slovenian legislation to file an action has permanent residence also has jurisdiction. In non-contractual disputes for compensation (usually cases relating to traffic accidents) the court in which damage occurred (location of traffic accident) has jurisdiction, or the court where the injured party has permanent residence. In disputes arising from contractual relations between parties, jurisdiction lies with the court in the area determined as the location in which the contractual relations are fulfilled; the same applies to disputes relating to bills of exchange or cheques (court in the place of payment).
Other cases of selective jurisdiction are set out in the Civil Procedure Act.
In specific cases the law prescribes a special territorial jurisdiction and defines a court as the only one with jurisdiction to adjudicate on specific cases. This is termed exclusive territorial jurisdiction and applies as follows:
Slovenian legislation enables parties in a specific case to agree upon the jurisdiction of a first instance court. An agreement between them can change the territorial jurisdiction stated by law, although it must be stressed that parties cannot make an agreement determining jurisdiction ratione materiae (that is only determined by law – cf. explanation above).
Parties may agree that a first instance court that does not otherwise have territorial jurisdiction may hear their case. The basic condition that the parties must meet is that the court agreed upon has the jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the content of the case (cf. the separation of jurisdiction between local and district courts). An agreement is also not permitted when the law defines exclusive jurisdiction for a court (cf. previous point).
An agreement between parties must be made in writing and must relate to a specific dispute arising from their legal relationship. The document on the agreement must be attached by the plaintiff to the action instituting proceedings before the court in question. It is important to point out that an agreement on territorial jurisdiction cannot be made during proceedings – that is when an action has already been filed at a court, without such an agreement attached.
The Slovenian judicial system does not have specialised courts in the field of civil and commercial law (e.g. special family courts to resolve marital disputes or disputes between parents and children), as all disputes are resolved at local and district courts, or their civil and commercial departments. Courts have organised departments (civil, commercial, execution, non-litigious, probate). In general specialised judges adjudicate in these departments on disputes and issue court decisions.
Special courts are only organised for labour disputes, the jurisdiction and organisation of which are set out in the introduction.
Last update: 27-03-2006