Natisni vsebino

2.4. Justice

Annual Report 2001

2.4. Justice

2.4.1. Judicial procedures

While the number of complaints relating to judicial procedures fell, these complaints still represent the majority. Within this, the largest number of complaints are linked to civil proceedings, and especially to litigious and execution matters. There was also a drop in the number of cases in the area of labour and social disputes, while there was a rise in the number of complaints relating to administrative judicial procedures. The drop in complaints addressed to the ombudsman stemming from allegations of infringements in judicial procedures concur with the court statistics, which for 2001 show for the third time in succession a fall in the number of unresolved cases.

The courts of first instance in particular had encouraging data to report for 2001 regarding the fall in the number of unresolved cases, less backlogs, and some even on record numbers of cases resolved. The regular report from the European Commission on Slovenia’s progress in integrating with the European Union also notes for 2001 that major advances have been observed in reducing the backlogs in the courts. The measures introduced by the government between 1999 and 2001 to remove the backlogs have proved to be successful (which does not, however, apply to the land register, where the number of unresolved cases continues to grow).

Despite the undoubted positive shift in the state of Slovenia’s courts, we cannot yet be entirely satisfied. On the contrary, several circumstances indicate that a state based on the rule of law in no way functions precisely in the sensitive area of ensuring judicial protection of rights and legally recognised interests such that in practice the guaranteed constitutional right to judicial protection would be without unnecessary delays. After bringing an action, waiting for several years for the first appointment for the main hearing in civil cases, and especially in local courts, is almost the rule.

Special concern is aroused by the marked increase in the number of unresolved cases in the appeals courts. The higher courts of general jurisdiction record the number of unresolved cases at the end of 2001 as having increased by 16 per cent over the previous year, and at the Higher Labour and Social Court, which often decides on disputes which have the significance for the affected party of social survival, the increase in the number of unresolved cases stands at almost 9 per cent. As a consequence there is a wait of a year, if not even several years, for appeals decisions, and this often pushes judicial decisions into periods that are beyond reasonable time frames.

With all the efforts to achieve faster judgements it is pertinent to reiterate that alongside rapid and effective judicial practice, the right to fair judgement includes the right to quality in judicial decisions. In addition to a reduction in the court backlogs, it is just as important for individuals that there are high-quality judgements. The aim of judicial action is not simply speed, but primarily the issuing of a correct and lawful judicial decision. By lodging a request for judicial protection, the client justifiably expects conscientious and painstaking establishment of the actual and decisive situation and a professional and legally correct decision in the dispute. For this very reason, regardless of what is now the highly fashionable emphasis on speed of judgements, the client must be given the opportunity in the proceedings to present his views and submit evidence for them. The right of the client to state his views in the proceedings, is balanced on the other hand by the duty of the court to take all the statements of the client into consideration, to weigh up their relevance and in respect of those statements that are of vital importance for the decision, to set out its views in the explanation of the judicial decision. The justified expectation of the client in judicial proceedings is not speed, but quality of the judicial decisions, whereby in proper proceedings clients may expect fair judicial decisions.

In 2001 there were several regulations passed that should contribute to greater speed and efficiency of judicial procedures. It was thus that the amendment to the Judicial Service Act (ZSS-C) enabled the implementation of the Hercules project (whereby experienced judges should help in resolving cases at courts with the biggest backlogs) through the organisational provision that a judge may be temporarily reassigned to another court of the same or lower instance, to work there full or part time.

The purpose of the revised Court Taxes Act (ZST-I) is to help reduce the number of unresolved cases by offering financial incentives to parties to settle disputes by mutual agreement. It introduces new exemptions on the duties payable: no court tax is paid for settlement, or for withdrawal of the action, suit, legal remedies or other applications. In this way the legislator wishes to encourage and facilitate the resolving of disputes by mutual agreement, which should in consequence translate into less work for the courts.

A good example of alternative resolving of disputes is the offer made by the Ljubljana District Court (and perhaps by some other courts in Slovenia), which after an action has been brought offers mediation in resolving disputes. Parties who have consented to the mediation procedure are aided by the mediator, a neutral third person, to reach an agreement that resolves the dispute and effects a new arrangement of mutual rights and obligations, especially those relevant to future cooperation. This free mediation procedure enables parties to reach a rapid and comprehensive resolution, by mutual agreement, of the disputed situation, and it also benefits the court, since it reduces their workload. But the possibility of mediation to resolve disputes does not exonerate the state from the duty of ensuring regular and efficient judgements, even if an individual decides to request an authoritative judicial resolution of the situation in dispute.

After several years of efforts, the Free Legal Aid Act (ZBPP) was finally adopted, and this should provide the possibility of actual and effective exercising of the right to judicial protection for anyone, regardless of their social situation.

There are individual provisions in the ZBPP authorising the minister of justice within three months of the entry into force of this act, in other words by 11 December 2001 at the latest, to issue the implementing regulations required for the implementation of the act. Three of the four implementing regulations, including the Rules on the referral form for claiming free legal aid, were already issued by the minister in September, and the last in October 2001. This is a rare case of legal acts necessary for the implementation of a law being issued in good time. In November 2001 the justice ministry also issued a brochure providing help and information to the users of free legal aid.

At the end of 2001 the National Assembly amended and supplemented the Criminal Procedure Act (ZKP), now for the fourth time since its entry into force. The frequent amendments and supplements to the act indicate the insufficient gravity employed in the preparation of procedural regulations. The system must ensure that a procedural regulation functions as a whole in a harmonised way for the individual field. And this is possible chiefly with account being taken of practical experience of many years of practice in the application of earlier regulations and comparative models of foreign legislation. Frequent amendments and supplements do not contribute to the legal safety of the individual or to the credibility of Slovenia as a state ruled by law. It is illustrative that through the latest revision, amendments or supplements were made in at least nine cases to the wording of individual articles that had already been subject to earlier amendments and supplements. This points to the uncertainty of the legislator, who is clearly learning from the mistakes of earlier amendments and supplements to the act. And it means most particularly that at least some of the earlier intrusions on the ZKP were insufficiently considered and inadequately drafted on the professional level.

The main backward step is the deletion of the provisions on (compulsory) audio recording of the main hearing. The transcript of the audio recording of the main hearing should faithfully capture the entire proceedings, for it is impossible to expect the president of the panel to note the proceedings and enter them into the record with “photographic accuracy”. Such promising amendments to the recording of proceedings at the main hearing were introduced into the ZKP in the revision of 1998, with a deferred deadline for entry into force. This deadline was later extended, which even then suggested that the predictions surrounding the adoption of provisions on audio recording of the main hearing were at the least hasty, taking into account the actual possibilities for technical, spatial and personnel dimensions of implementing such an important change in the procedure.

The latest revision again provided a firm footing for all the hopes in this regard, with the amendment of Article 314 of the ZKP whereby a record of the main hearing must be written down, and this must record the essential substance of the whole proceedings of the main hearing. The Yugoslav Law on Criminal Procedure, adopted more than 30 years ago, contained just such a provision. Audio or visual recording is now provided merely as a possibility that may be ordered by the president of the panel of judges. Yet there is clearly still a long way to go before reaching this kind of at least majority practice. Until then it is worth noting the thought that accompanied the revision on (compulsory) audio recording of main hearings in 1998, that every “reduced evidence” given by the defendant, witnesses or expert witnesses reduces the “credibility of the record in terms of the authentic noting of events in the main hearing”. Here may we add that the ombudsman frequently receives complaints alleging that the record of the main hearing does not contain a faithful account of the proceedings and evidence given in the main hearing. In this regard, audio or visual recording could make a major contribution to the full substance of the principle of the main hearing being oral, direct and adversarial.

In at least three cases the ZKP-D accommodates the suggestions of the ombudsman set out in previous annual reports:


  • in the revision of Article 117 the legislator has responded to the ombudsman’s recommendation for a supplementation of the rules on delivery by authorised legal and natural persons in criminal procedures (Annual Report 2000, page 37),

  • the supplementation of the wording in Article 161 of the ZKP observes the ombudsman’s proposal for adoption of a system which would explicitly authorise the public prosecutor to determine a deadline within which internal affairs bodies must respond to the prosecutor’s request to gather the necessary information and carry out other measures to uncover crimes and their perpetrators (Annual Report 2000, p. 40),

  • amendment of Article 213. b of the ZKP observes the ombudsman’s request for an assessment of constitutionality in the provision of the said article whereby every encroachment on the protection of secrecy of detainees’ letters must be limited in time and essential, and unavoidable for the progress of criminal proceedings, where for monitoring of detainee correspondence a court decision is needed (Annual Report 2000, p. 18).

The Execution and Insurance Act (ZIZ) is further proof of hastiness in the legislative procedure. The new system of execution, which was supposed to ensure a swift and efficient procedure, has brought merely more expensive, more complicated, more bureaucratic and less accessible execution.

The government responded to the numerous cautions and criticisms over the flaws in the system of execution with a proposed Act Amending and Supplementing the Execution and Insurance Act (ZIZ-A), whose hundred and more articles delve into the ZIZ, which entered into force over three years ago. The extensive revision requires greater expertise, thoroughness and precision in individual provisions, and that they be harmonised with the entire system of rules governing the court procedures for compulsory execution based on executory title.

The greatest difficulties in the new system of execution are indicated by the complaints to the ombudsman precisely in the area of the newly re-implemented system of private executors. Executors have significantly increased their fees to clients for performing executions, without providing a proportionate reflection of this in the swifter performance of execution.

The speed of judicial protection is one of the fundamental conditions for its effectiveness. The number of unresolved cases and court backlogs point to the excessive burdening of Slovenian courts. Yet many court procedures end later than is justified by the actual circumstances.

Before the entry into force of new procedural legislation, the courts excused their slow decision-making with the procedural regulations, which prevented more rapid judgements being made. Yet even after the entry into force of the new ZPP we have ascertained that there is still much held in reserve in terms of consistent observance of the powers accorded to judges by procedural legislation.

We have noticed for several years now that expert court witnesses are also to blame for the ineffectual decision-making process. We are constantly receiving complaints indicating that courts are not acting in accordance with their authorisation, if an expert witness unreasonably exceeds the deadline set for production of an expert opinion. The explanation of a judge that the expert witness does not respond to reminders to produce the expert opinion, and that he does not even return the file upon the court’s demand, when he has exceeded the deadline for producing the expert opinion by a year and more, diminishes the authority and standing of the courts.

The cases where judges do not adhere to the legal deadline for the issuing of a written judgement are unlawful. In civil cases the judgement must be written up and delivered to the parties within thirty days of the end of the main hearing. For criminal cases, a 15-day deadline applies to the issuing of written judgements if the defendant is in custody, and in other cases the deadline is 30 days. The explanations sent to us by the courts, that these involve extensive cases, while judges are overburdened with other work, fail to convince. The legislator set the legal deadlines taking into account the full workload of judges. When we checked out the cases of delays in issuing written judgements, we found that for the most part they involved subjective causes.

The cases are rarer involving violation of the three-month deadline within which criminal appeals courts must send a decision with the files to the court of first instance, if the defendant is in custody. Exceeding the legal deadline, which has the effect of making custody longer than is absolutely necessary, is in exceptional cases perhaps possible to understand from the point of view of the judge, but never from the point of view of the person who has been deprived of liberty.

The police carried out an order for production of persons in court, detaining two defendants and bringing them to court for the purpose of delivering a judgement. It was then ascertained that the defendants had already lodged an appeal. The delivery of the judgement was not indicated in the court file, but the judge established that the company authorised to make delivery had already handed over the judgement to the defendants.

The deprivation of liberty and production of the defendants in court were unnecessary and therefore unlawful, simply because the judgement had been delivered to them 13 days previously and the purpose of bringing them to court was thereby nullified. The court reported to the ombudsman that prior to her departure on holiday the judge had agreed with the company authorised to deliver judgements that they would “stop delivering and return the two judgements to the court”. The judge apologised to the defendants, since owing to her absence she had overlooked the fact that the judgement had meanwhile been delivered to them. The company that made the delivery explained to the complainants that they received no message from the court in connection with the appointed delivery of court mail. On the intervention of the ombudsman the president of the court took the view that the judge’s actions were correct, and that the defendants would “evade every measure taken in connection with delivery of the judgement so that they might regularly and promptly pick up the court’s correspondence”.

On the basis of a court order for production, the police officers took the defendants into custody and brought them to court. Production in court signifies an encroachment on the constitutionally guaranteed right to personal liberty. Encroachment on human liberty is permissible and lawful if the conditions provided by law are fulfilled. Since the deprivation of liberty involves the restriction of a human right, the relevant legal authorisation must be interpreted narrowly. Therefore pursuant to Article 194 of the ZKP the court can also order the production of a defendant if it has been unable to make proper delivery of a summons, and if from the circumstances it is clear that the defendant has been avoiding this. The law therefore allows production only for the delivery of a summons, and not for other court correspondence.

Although legal analogies are not prohibited in criminal procedure, it is impermissible on this basis to make interpretations to the detriment of the defendant. The ZKP indeed provides rules primarily to protect the individual from the might of the state. A summons is a narrower term than (court) correspondence, so we cannot take this term to mean all court correspondence. If the legislators had also permitted production in court for the delivery of other court correspondence, they would have explicitly provided this in the law. We therefore believe that the production in custody of the defendants for the purpose of delivering a judgement is without legal foundation and signifies an impermissible encroachment on the right to personal liberty. We therefore suggested to the Local Court in Ljubljana that it should not employ production in order to make delivery, except in the case of delivering a summons, and if the conditions are established as provided by law for such a measure in order to effect the successful conducting of the criminal procedure.

2.4.2. Public prosecutors

According to data available to the ombudsman, in the second half of 2001 there were still 26 unresolved court cases dealing with events connected to the armed clashes during the struggle for Slovenian independence in June and July of 1991 from the aspect of possible criminal acts. Just five unresolved cases are in the appeal stage, one case is in appeal following acquittal, and one was returned for a new judgement at the court of first instance after the overruling of the judgement. The other cases are in the stage of bringing criminal information or supplementing it, under investigation or in the stage of performing individual investigative acts. In eight cases the perpetrators are still unknown.

The ombudsman does not doubt that at least some cases involve serious crimes that require decisions from a criminal court. At the same time one should not overlook the length of time that has elapsed since those events and the changed circumstances which emerged through the consolidation of Slovenia’s statehood and the international legal position and standing of Slovenia in the world. The stage of the procedures governing the individual cases dealing with the events of 1991 do not indicate that the perpetrators of the acts would be identified as guilty and sentenced in a reasonable time, if ever at all. Here it should be stressed that each individual has the right to have the court decide on the charges against him without undue delay. Suspects and defendants must within a reasonable period of time be cleared from legal uncertainty and the unpleasantness connected to the trial of crimes of which they are suspected or accused.

The Gordian Knot of the lengthy procedures dealing with criminal acts during independence must be cut at the earliest opportunity. A state based on the rule of law requires that the criminal procedure ends as soon as possible. The length of these procedures is already arousing concern. At the same time the ombudsman offers to the competent bodies, and especially the public prosecutor, for consideration whether it might not be in order here to propose an amnesty, and that criminal prosecution be revoked at least for certain crimes. An amnesty signifies an act of mercy, and at the same time it is also an expression of political wisdom whereby account is taken of the legal and non-legal circumstances which can in specific cases determine and justify its use.

The National Assembly adopted the first and only amnesty act in independent Slovenia at the end of 2001. At that time the opportunity was not taken to address the possibility of abolition, in other words the revoking of criminal prosecution at least for certain crimes committed in the days when the young state was gaining independence.

The ombudsman nevertheless suggests a more rapid and priority resolving of these cases both by the public prosecutor and the courts. This is demanded by the time and other above-mentioned circumstances. This involves a chapter in history which after a decade must now finally be closed, without forgetting the victims of those events.

2.4.3. Misdemeanour procedures

For 2001 we can repeat the finding that misdemeanour judges are faced with a large quantity of work, such that many misdemeanour proceedings lapse. The ombudsman has stressed a number of times that a state which prescribes certain behaviour as a misdemeanour, but then cannot sanction the misdemeanour committed, is not a state based on the rule of law. Such a state of affairs demands immediate and effective changes, primarily on the regulatory level. As a part of punitive law, the body of law governing misdemeanours must be rearranged and in this an effective system must be ensured for prosecuting or dismissing actions that are determined by regulations as misdemeanours. At the end of 2001 the Ministry of Justice submitted the text of the proposed Misdemeanours Act, which prior to the legislative procedure in the National Assembly is awaiting the determination of the wording by the government.

The Act Amending and Supplementing the Misdemeanours Act (ZP-L), which entered into force in April 2000, laid down that the provisions of the article introducing the institution of cautioning, will begin to be applied when the Government adopts a regulation with more detailed provisions. This new feature adopted to deal with misdemeanours promised greater efficiency and a reduction in the workload for misdemeanour judges, so it was essential that the caution system start being applied without any undue delay. But the Government only issued the Regulation on the manner, forms and record-keeping for cautions given by police officers immediately on the scene of a misdemeanour, a year and three months after the legal entry into force of the institution of cautions. This is a new example of the slow response of the executive branch of power preventing the swifter implementation of legal provisions whose aim was at least partly to reduce the burden on misdemeanour judges.

A consequence of the overworking of misdemeanour judges is the constant re-determining of misdemeanours treated as priorities. Since 1998 the Rules on internal operations of bodies for misdemeanour procedures have thus been amended three times, precisely because of additional determination of which misdemeanours are treated as priorities. Since the misdemeanour judges deal primarily with cases that are determined as urgent or priority, they set aside other cases, which frequently lapse. The implementing regulation and the practice of judges are clearly set in the view that this is almost a state of emergency, which justifies the setting aside of non-priority cases from being processed. Such a state of affairs demands the earliest possible, effective systemic change.

The rules on the order of dealing with misdemeanours cannot be understood as meaning that a misdemeanours judge could on this basis justify the suspension of hearing of a case which had already been started. And yet this happens. In this way a misdemeanours judge in Novo Mesto interviewed the defendants in September 2000, three months later the police officer as a witness, and then she took the view that in order to clear up the affair it would be necessary to have a face to face meeting with the defendants. But this was not done and in 2001 the proceedings lapsed completely.

One of the defendants, who asserts that he is in truth a victim and injured party, asked the ombudsman to intervene in order to speed up the proceedings. He wants a decision, since he asserts that he committed no misdemeanour. In his complaint he states that he approached the misdemeanours judge several times with a request for the proceedings to be continued. In the office he was supposedly sent away with the explanation that the misdemeanours judge had “work to do that was sufficiently more serious than dealing with one punch-up”. He alleges that he was also told public order and peace misdemeanours are “not priority”, so he would have to wait “quite a long time for a judgement”.

Defendants have the right to a decision on a motion to institute misdemeanour proceedings without undue delay. This involves not only the timing of when the misdemeanour is next in line for a hearing, but also the right of the defendant to regular, ongoing and concentrated hearing of the case. The fact that the misdemeanours judge had already performed individual actions in the proceedings, means that he had begun the hearing. So the case was next in line, and a suspension of the proceedings cannot therefore be justified with the explanation that this did not involve a misdemeanour determined as requiring priority treatment. At the same time, by conducting an interview, the misdemeanours judge drew the defendant directly into the proceedings. He required the defendant’s cooperation or at least his presence in the proceedings. The defendant may therefore justifiably expect the misdemeanours judge to deal with the initiated proceedings regularly and currently, and to decide on the said misdemeanour.

The suspension of validity of a driving licence applies to all categories of motor vehicle and not just for the category of vehicle with which a misdemeanour has been committed. The purpose of such a legal arrangement is to entirely prevent the perpetrators of the most serious violations of road traffic safety regulations from using the roads. Yet in seeking to ensure the principle of expediency, such that to the greatest possible extent it is dangerous drivers that are excluded from using the roads, encroaching on the principle of legality in punitive law is not permitted. The law does not prohibit the obtaining of a driving licence for a new category of motor vehicle, for which at the time of the misdemeanour the perpetrator did not have a licence. A person who has committed a misdemeanour may therefore during the proceedings with the misdemeanours judge take a driving test for any category of motor vehicle, and this is confirmed in that person’s driving licence. On the suspension of the driving licence the punished person must hand over the driving licence to the administrative unit. In this way the validity of the driving licence is then actually suspended for all those categories of motor vehicle acquired after the declaration of the sanction, right up until the handing over of the driving licence to the administrative unit.

The principle of legality requires that a punitive sanction relates only to the removal of rights enjoyed by the punished person at the moment of the punishment being imposed. This means that the punitive sanction of suspension of a driving licence can only be imposed for the categories of motor vehicle which the defendant had already acquired prior to the passing of the sanction and which he therefore held at the time. Otherwise the precise extent of the punishment upon its imposition is not known, and the misdemeanours judge hands down a punishment without knowing which rights he is thereby taking from the punished person.

The ombudsman received several complaints that the punishment of suspension of a driving licence for all categories of motor vehicle encroaches on the rights that the punished person has acquired after the decision of the misdemeanours judge has been issued. Such cases signify an unlawful encroachment by state bodies on the legal position of persons punished with the suspension of their driving licence.

The decision to temporarily ban dangerous drivers from using the roads is of course justified. Yet the legitimate goal does not permit unlawful avenues for pursuing it. The ombudsman therefore suggests an appropriate amendment of the regulations on road traffic misdemeanours, perhaps with the introduction of the sanction of banning the acquisition of a driving licence for all categories of motor vehicle for a certain time.

The punitive sanction has its proper effect if it is handed down and imposed in the shortest possible time after the actual perpetration of the misdemeanour. Instead of the state dealing instantly with a dangerous violator of road traffic safety regulations, handing down a punishment and imposing it, the practice is in fact quite different. There is questionable sense in a punishment, if a driver, who by driving under the influence of alcohol or psychoactive substances has shown that they are not worthy of the trust enjoyed by those using the roads, is still able to drive around independently and unimpeded more than two years after committing a misdemeanour. Such was the case of a complainant, when two years and four months after committing a misdemeanour, he received a judgement with the punishment of suspension of his driving licence. He received the summons to surrender his driving licence to the administrative unit a few weeks later.

The valid legislation and its implementation in procedures with misdemeanours judges do not allow for effective measures to protect other road users, while for the actual offender the imposition of the punishment is put off to a time when the punishment might already have lost its significance and purpose. The fundamental purpose of a punitive sanction, to secure immediate and effective protection against violation of road traffic safety regulations, is thus nullified. Lengthy decision-making procedures also jeopardise the principle of justice as a primary function of punitive sanctions, whereby they are imposed only at that time and up to such time as they are justified in terms of prevention and resocialisation.

2.4.4. The legal profession

As a part of the justice system, lawyers have an important role within the exercising of the judicial branch of power. Lawyers perform their legal services as a freely pursued vocation. Although lawyers are independent in their work, this does not mean that they can perform it irresponsibly. The state admits to the legal profession a privileged, almost monopoly position, since it is as a rule only lawyers that can represent parties in court. Certain procedural laws recognise the right to advocate and represent for an empowered person who is an attorney. In some procedures, representation by a lawyer is even set down as compulsory. For this reason the client justifiably expects professional, efficient and beneficial services.

The ombudsman has no direct jurisdiction in relation to lawyers in the performance of their services on the basis of (contractual) authorisation by the actual client. Yet since lawyers are compulsorily assembled in the Attorneys’ Chamber, which is a holder of public authorisation, the ombudsman holds jurisdiction in relation to their professional association and thus indirectly in relation to lawyers. And the ombudsman has heightened jurisdiction of oversight in cases of compulsory representation, and when the state is the contracting client of the lawyer.

Lawyers are liable to damages and disciplinary action for infringements of their duties in performing legal services.

The route to claiming damages is lengthy. A client who asserts that they are an injured party frequently runs up against silence or a poor response from the lawyer, which renders difficult or prevents claiming damages from the insurance company with which the Attorneys’ Chamber has insured the lawyer against liability for damages.

In disciplinary procedures the ineffectiveness of the disciplinary commissions of the first instance at the Attorneys’ Chamber still gives rise to concern. Despite the obvious efforts of the leaders of the chamber and the ongoing work of the disciplinary prosecutor, there are unreasonable hold-ups in the work of the disciplinary commissions.

A client who alleges improper action by a lawyer usually only submits a report to the Attorneys’ Chamber after the contractual authorisation has ended, when there is no longer a fear that such reporting could have a negative influence on the confidentiality of the relationship between the client and lawyer. Since the statute of limitation for prosecuting disciplinary infringements runs from the day of the infringement, there are often cases where the decision-making ends with a lapsed prosecution. A solution may lie in the statute of limitation not running during the period of authorisation, when the lawyer is representing the affected client.

There have been many complaints to the ombudsman that lawyers have not issued receipts to clients for payment, and that they have not presented accounts or bills. And where confirmation of payment has been issued, this has been in the form of a cash register receipt, with simply the total given against the entry “payment for services rendered”, which does not permit identification of which legal services the client has thereby paid for.

It is especially unpleasant and also damaging if a lawyer does not actually perform the service requested. We dealt with such a case from a complainant who requested a lawyer in Kranj to bring an action in a labour dispute stemming from termination of employment, against his employer. On the assurance of the lawyer that she would prepare and present the action at the competent court, he made a downpayment to her in the spring of 1997. In 2000 it turned out that the lawyer had not brought the action. In the interim period she distracted the client with various excuses and assertions that the action had indeed been brought. It was only when he obtained confirmation at the court that the action had not been brought, that the lawyer admitted her mistake. Since she still had not brought the action in May 2000, the complainant reported her to the Attorneys’ Chamber. But the disciplinary procedure came to an impasse at the disciplinary commission of the first instance.

At the urging of the ombudsman the Attorneys’ Chamber reported that the disciplinary commission was expected to deal with the case in December 2001. The lawyer did not “show up” for the hearing, but sent a written apology. A later hearing was successful, and the lawyer was disciplined.

Letno poročilo 2001 - Poglavje 2.4.1.


2.4.1. Sodni postopki

Čeprav se je število pobud, ki se nanašajo na sodne postopke, zmanjšalo, le-te še vedno pomenijo največji delež. Med njimi je največ pobud povezanih s civilnim postopkom: zlasti s pravdnimi in izvršilnimi zadevami. Zmanjšalo se je tudi število zadev na področju delovnih in socialnih sporov, povečalo pa število pobud, ki se nanašajo na upravne sodne postopke. Tudi tokrat je največ pobud zatrjevalo dolgotrajnost sodnih postopkov. Manj pritožb, naslovljenih na varuha zaradi zatrjevanih kršitev v sodnih postopkih, se ujema s sodno statistiko, ki za leto 2001 že tretje leto zapored kaže manjše število nerešenih zadev.

Zlasti sodišča prve stopnje so v letu 2001 sporočala spodbudne podatke o zmanjšanju števila nerešenih zadev, o manjših zaostankih, nekatera celo o rekordnem številu rešenih zadev. Tudi redno poročilo Evropske komisije o napredku Slovenije pri vključevanju v Evropsko unijo 2001 ugotavlja, da je opazen velik napredek pri zmanjševanju sodnih zaostankov. Ukrepi, ki jih je vlada uvedla v obdobju 1999 - 2001 za odpravo zaostankov, so se izkazali za uspešne (kar pa ne velja za zemljiško knjigo, kjer se število nerešenih zadev še vedno povečuje).

Kljub nespornim pozitivnim premikom s stanjem slovenskega sodstva vendarle še ne moremo biti zadovoljni. Prej nasprotno, saj več okoliščin kaže, da pravna država prav na občutljivem področju zagotavljanja sodnega varstva pravic in pravno priznanih interesov nikakor ne deluje tako, da bi bila v praksi zagotovljena ustavna pravica do sodnega varstva brez nepotrebnega odlašanja. Večletno čakanje po vložitvi tožbe na prvi narok za glavno obravnavo v pravdnih zadevah, zlasti pred okrajnimi sodišči, je skoraj pravilo.

Posebno skrb zbuja občutno povečanje nerešenih zadev na pritožbenih sodiščih. Tako višja sodišča splošne pristojnosti zaznavajo povečanje števila nerešenih zadev konec leta 2001 za več kot 16 odstotkov v primerjavi s prejšnjim letom, na Višjem delovnem in socialnem sodišču, kjer se pogosto odloča o sporih, ki imajo za prizadeto stranko pomen socialnega preživetja, pa je povečanje števila nerešenih zadev skoraj 9-odstotno. V posledici je treba na pritožbeno odločitev čakati leto dni, če ne celo več let, kar pogosto potiska sodno odločanje v čas zunaj razumnih rokov.

Ob vseh naporih za hitrejše sojenje pa gre znova poudariti, da pravica do poštenega sojenja poleg hitrega in učinkovitega sodnega poslovanja vsebuje tudi pravico do kakovostnega sodnega odločanja. Poleg zmanjšanja zaostankov na sodiščih je za posameznika prav tako pomembna tudi kakovost sojenja. Cilj sodnega ravnanja ni zgolj hitrost, temveč predvsem izdaja pravilne in zakonite sodne odločbe. Stranka z vložitvijo zahteve za sodno varstvo utemeljeno pričakuje vestno in skrbno ugotavljanje odločilnega dejanskega stanja ter strokovno in pravno pravilno odločitev v sporu. Prav zato mora biti stranki ne glede na zdaj tako modno poudarjanje hitrosti sojenja, omogočeno, da v postopku predstavi svoja stališča ter zanje predlaga dokaze. Pravici stranke, da se v postopku izjavi, na drugi strani odgovarja obveznost sodišča, da vse navedbe stranke vzame na znanje, da pretehta njihovo relevantnost ter da se glede tistih navedb, ki so za odločitev bistvenega pomena, v obrazložitvi sodne odločbe tudi opredeli. Temeljno pričakovanje stranke v sodnem postopku ni hitrost, pač pa kakovost sodnega odločanja, ko lahko v poštenem postopku pričakuje pravično sodno odločbo.

V letu 2001 je bilo sprejetih več predpisov, ki naj bi pripomogli k večji hitrosti in učinkovitosti sodnih postopkov. Tako je sprememba Zakona o sodniški službi (ZSS-C) omogočila izvedbo projekta Hercules z organizacijsko določbo, da je sodnik lahko začasno dodeljenna drugo sodišče iste ali nižje stopnje, za polni ali za del polnega delovnega časa.

Namen novele Zakona o sodnih taksah (ZST-I) je pri pomoči k zmanjšanju števila nerešenih spisov tako, da tudi finančno spodbuja stranke k sporazumnemu reševanju sporov. Uvaja novo taksno oprostitev: sodna taksa se ne plača za poravnavo, za umik tožbe, predloga, pravnega sredstva oziroma druge vloge. S tem želi zakonodajalec spodbuditi in olajšati sporazumno reševanje sporov, kar v posledici pomeni tudi manj dela za sodišča.

Varuh je že v poročilu za leto 1997 predlagal spremembe Sodnega reda, da bi bilo poslovanje sodišč bolj prijazno in lažje dostopno za uporabnike: za stranke, pa tudi za odvetnike. Tako smo predlagali, naj Sodni red omogoči poleg pisnega tudi ustno in telefonsko komuniciranje strank s sodiščem. Pri tem smo kot pretirano togost označili dejstvo, da stranka ali njen odvetnik po telefonu ne more zvedeti niti tako osnovne informacije, kot je na primer, ali je sodnik preklical razpisani narok za glavno obravnavo. Takšna ureditev po Sodnem redu ni prinašala strankam zgolj neprijetnosti, ampak tudi stroške in pogosto celo daljši postopek, kar je vse v nasprotju z načelom procesne ekonomije in pospešitve postopka.

Tudi zaradi varuhovih predlogov so bile konec leta 2001 sprejete spremembe Sodnega reda. Te omogočajo, da lahko stranke, njihovi pooblaščenci in druge osebe v nujnih primerih vpogledajo v spis ali javno knjigo in pridobijo podatke tudi zunaj uradnih ur, vendar v okviru poslovnega časa sodišča. Določena je tudi možnost telefonskega posredovanja tistih podatkov, ki so nujni za uspešno izvedbo postopka. Tako je zdaj podana pravna podlaga za telefonsko informacijo, ali je glavna obravnava morda preklicana, ali so vabila izkazana, kar bo strankam v postopku, zlasti ko gre za sodišče zunaj kraja njihovega prebivališča, pogosto prihranilo čas in denar. Prijaznejšo ureditev poslovanja sodišč pomeni tudi določba, da mora vpisničar v nujnih primerih podatke o stanju zadeve, kot izhajajo iz vpisnika, dati tudi zunaj uradnih ur, kar bo prav tako pripomoglo k večji učinkovitosti sodnega poslovanja in lažji dostopnosti nujnih podatkov za ravnanje strank v poslovanju s sodišči.

V letu 2001 se je začel izvajati projekt Hercules, po katerem naj bi izkušeni sodniki pomagali pri reševanju zadev na sodiščih z največ zaostanki. Kljub ambicioznim načrtom, povezanim s tem projektom, pa verjetno vendarle drži, da lahko Hercules pomaga predvsem manjšim sodiščem, hkrati pa se odsotnost vsakega sodnika pozna pri tistem sodišču, pri katerem dodeljeni sodnik sicer opravlja sodniško funkcijo. Tako sta dva višja sodnika prišla na pomoč Okrajnemu sodišču v Domžalah, ki se je lahko “pohvalilo” s 570 nerešenimi zadevami na sodnika. Sodnika prihajata v Domžale s pravdnega oddelka Višjega sodišča v Ljubljani, ki se tudi samo otepa s čedalje večjim številom nerešenih zadev. Tako projekt Hercules dolgoročno ne more učinkovito pripomoči k zmanjšanju zaostankov.

Dober primer alternativnega reševanja sporov je ponudba Okrožnega sodišča v Ljubljani (in morda še katerega od sodišč v Sloveniji), ki po že vloženi tožbi ponuja posredovanje (mediacijo) pri reševanju sporov. Strankam, ki so dale soglasje za postopek posredovanja, posrednik kot nevtralna tretja oseba pomaga doseči sporazum, ki razrešuje spor in na novo ureja medsebojne pravice in obveznosti, zlasti tudi z vidika bodočega sodelovanja. Brezplačen postopek posredovanja omogoča strankam hitro in celovito sporazumno razrešitev spornega razmerja, koristen pa je tudi za sodišče, ker zmanjšuje obseg njegovega dela. Možnost posredovanja pri reševanju sporov pa države ne odvezuje obveznosti, da zagotavlja redno in učinkovito sojenje tudi če se posameznik odloči, da bo zahteval avtoritativno sodno razrešitev spornega razmerja.

Po večletnih prizadevanjih je bil vendarle sprejet Zakon o brezplačni pravni pomoči (ZBPP), ki naj zagotovi možnost dejanskega in učinkovitega izvrševanja pravice do sodnega varstva vsakomur, ne gledena njegov socialni položaj.

Posamezne določbe ZBPP so pooblastile ministra za pravosodje, da v treh mesecih od dneva uveljavitve tega zakona, torej najkasneje do 11.12. 2001, izda podzakonske predpise, potrebne za izvajanje zakona. Tri od štirih podzakonskih aktov, vključno s Pravilnikom o obrazcu napotnice, s katero se uveljavlja brezplačna pravna pomoč, je minister izdal že septembra, zadnjega pa oktobra 2001. Gre za redek primer, da so pravni akti, nujni za izvajanje zakona, izdani pravočasno. Novembra 2001 je ministrstvo za pravosodje izdalo tudi brošuro za pripomoček in informacijo uporabnikom brezplačne pravne pomoči.

Konec leta 2001 je državni zbor že četrtič po njegovi uveljavitvi spremenil in dopolnil ZKP. Prepogosto spreminjanje in dopolnjevanje zakona kaže na premalo resno delo pri pripravi procesnih predpisov. Ureditev mora zagotavljati, da postopkovni predpis tudi kot celota učinkuje usklajeno za posamezno področje. To pa je mogoče predvsem ob upoštevanju praktičnih izkušenj dolgoletne prakse v uporabi prejšnjih predpisov in primerjalnih zgledov tujih zakonodaj. Pogoste spremembe in dopolnitve ne pripomorejo k pravni varnosti posameznika in kredibilnosti Slovenije kot pravne države. Ilustrativno je, da je bilo z zadnjo novelo v najmanj devetih primerih spremenjeno ali dopolnjeno tudi besedilo posameznih členov, ki so bili predmet že prejšnjih sprememb in dopolnitev ZKP. To kaže na negotovost zakonodajalca, ki se očitno uči na napakah prejšnjih sprememb, in dopolnitev zakona. Predvsem pa to pomeni, da so bili vsaj nekateri prejšnji posegi v ZKP premalo domišljeni in strokovno ne dovolj pripravljeni.

Največji korak nazaj je črtanje določb o (obveznem) zvočnem snemanju glavne obravnave. Prepis zvočnega snemanja glavne obravnave naj bi verodostojno povzel celotno dogajanje, saj je nemogoče, da bi predsednik senata dogodke beležil in vnašal v zapisnik s“fotografsko natančnostjo”. Tako obetavne spremembe zapisa dogajanja na glavni obravnavi so bile v ZKP vnesene z novelo v letu 1998, in to z odložnim rokom. Ta rok je bil kasneje podaljšan, kar je že dalo slutiti, da so bile napovedi ob sprejemanju določb o zvočnem snemanju glavne obravnave vsaj prenagljene, upoštevaje dejanske možnosti za tehnično, prostorsko in kadrovsko izpeljavo tako pomembne spremembe v postopku.

Zadnja novela je vse tozadevne upe znova postavila na realna tla s spremembo 314. člena ZKP, da se mora o glavni obravnavi pisati zapisnik, v katerega se vpisuje bistvena vsebina vsega poteka glavne obravnave. Takšno določbo je imel že jugoslovanski Zakon o kazenskem postopku, sprejet pred več kot 30 leti. Zvočno ali slikovno snemanje je zdaj določeno le kot možnost, ki jo lahko odredi predsednik senata. Do takšne, vsaj večinske prakse, pa je očitno še daleč. Do takrat velja zapisati misel, ki je pospremila novelo o (obveznem) zvočnem snemanjuglavnih obravnav v letu 1998, da se z vsakim “reduciranjem izpovedi” obdolženca, prič in izvedencev zmanjša“verodostojnost zapisnika v smislu avtentičnega beleženja dogajanja na glavni obravnavi”. Naj ob tem dodamo, da varuh pogosto prejema pobude, ki zatrjujejo, da zapisnik glavne obravnave ne vsebuje verodostojnega zapisa dogajanja in na glavni obravnavi podanih izpovedi. Zvočno ali slikovno snemanje bi v tem pogledu lahko pomembno pripomoglo k polni vsebini načela ustnosti, neposrednosti in kontradiktornosti glavne obravnave.

ZKP-D vsaj v treh primerih upošteva tudi predloge varuha, navedene v prejšnjih letnih poročilih:

z novelo 117. člena se je zakonodajalec odzval na priporočilo varuha za dopolnitev pravil o vročanju po pooblaščenih pravnih in fizičnih osebah v kazenskem postopku (Lp 2000, stran 37), dopolnitev besedila161. člena ZKP sledi predlogu varuha za sprejem ureditve, ki bi državnega tožilca izrecno pooblaščala, da določi rok, v katerem morajo organi za notranje zadeve odgovoriti na tožilsko zahtevo, da zberejo potrebna obvestila in izvedejo druge ukrepe, da se odkrijeta kaznivo dejanje in storilec (Lp 2000, str. 40), sprememba 213. b člena ZKP sledi varuhovi zahtevi za oceno ustavnosti v določbi navedenega člena, da mora biti vsak poseg v varstvo tajnosti pisem pripornikov časovno omejen in nujen, neogiben za uvedbo ali potek kazenskega postopka, pri čemer je za nadzor nad dopisovanjem pripornika potrebna sodna odločba (Lp 2000, str. 18).

Zakon o izvršbi in zavarovanju (ZIZ) je še en dokaz o zaletavosti v zakonodajnem postopku. Nova ureditev izvršbe, ki naj bi zagotovila hiter in učinkovit postopek, je prinesla le dražjo, bolj zamotano, zbirokratizirano in manj pregledno izvršbo.

Na številna opozorila in kritike zaradi pomanjkljivosti v ureditvi izvršbe se je vlada odzvala s predlogom Zakona o spremembah in dopolnitvah Zakona o izvršbi in zavarovanju (ZIZ-A), ki z več kot sto členi posega v ZIZ, uveljavljen pred dobrimi tremi leti. Obsežna novela zahteva več strokovnosti, dorečenosti in natančnosti posameznih določb ter njihovo usklajenost v celotnem sistemu pravil, ki določajo sodni postopek za prisilno izvršitev na podlagi izvršilnega naslova.

Največ težav pri novi ureditvi izvršbe izkazujejo pobude varuhu pravna področju na novo uveljavljenega sistema zasebnih izvršiteljev. Izvršitelji so izvršbo za stranke močno podražili, ne da bi bil sorazmeren odmev v hitrejši opravi izvršbe. ZIZ določa, da mora upnik dati predujem za stroške za opravo izvršbe v roku, ki mu ga določi sodišče v sklepu o določitvi izvršitelja. Predujem nakaže na izvršiteljev račun. Če upnik tega v postavljenem roku ne stori, sodišče ustavi izvršbo. Tako smo obravnavali več primerov, ko je upnik moral sorazmerno visok znesek predujma, tudi do 100.000 tolarjev in več, plačati v kratkem, osem- ali 15-dnevnem roku. Po plačilu predujma pa je moral čakati osem in več mesecev, ne da bi izvršitelj opravil že plačano izvršbo. Medtem se je denar plačanega predujma na računu izvršitelja obrestoval, seveda v njegov žep. Bolj“iznajdljivi” izvršitelji plačane predujme celo“plemenitijo” oziroma porabljajo nenamensko, prav tako vse zgolj v lastno korist. Upniki pa nemočno čakajo, kdaj bo njihova zadeva prišla na vrsto.

Poseg v veljavni ZIZ terja tudi odločba ustavnega sodišča z dne 21.1.1999, št. U-I-339/98, ki je ugotovila, da je določba prve točke prvega odstavka 102. člena ZIZ v nasprotju z ustavo, če ne določa, daje nezarubljivi del plače sorazmerno večji, če dolžnik preživlja otroke ali druge osebe, za katere obstoji zakonita dolžnost preživljanja. Ustavna odločba, ki temelji na načelu socialne države ter pravice do osebnega dostojanstva in varnosti, terja zagotovitev eksistenčnega minimuma ne le za lastno preživljanje dolžnika, temveč tudi za preživljanje oseb, ki jih je slednji po zakonu zavezan preživljati. V takšnih primerih bi zato moral dolžniku ostati višji nezarubljivi znesek.

Čeprav ustavna odločba podpira socialne razloge, kar terja čimprejšnjo uskladitev protiustavne določbe ZIZ z ustavo, pa zakonodajalec ni spoštoval naročila ustavnega sodišča, da ugotovljeno neskladje odpravi v enem letu od dneva objave te odločbe v uradnem listu, torej do 19. 2. 2000. Zakonodajalec se niti v letu 2001 ni odzval na ugotovljeno protiustavnost.

Hitrost sodnega varstva je eden temeljnih pogojev za njegovo učinkovitost. Število nerešenih spisov in sodni zaostanki kažejo na preobremenjenost slovenskih sodišč. Vendar se marsikateri sodni postopek konča kasneje, kot to utemeljujejo objektivne okoliščine.

Pred uveljavitvijo nove postopkovne zakonodaje so sodišča opravičevala počasno odločanje s procesnimi predpisi, ki onemogočajo hitrejše sojenje. A tudi po uveljavitvi novega ZPP ugotavljamo, da je še vedno veliko rezerve na področju doslednega spoštovanja pooblastil, ki jih sodnikom daje procesna zakonodaja.

Načelo pospešitve in ekonomičnosti postopka pravdno sodišče zavezuje, da opravi postopek brez zavlačevanja in s čim manjšimi stroški, hkrati pa mora onemogočiti vsako zlorabo pravic, ki jih imajo stranke v postopku. Prav zaradi hitrejšega in učinkovitejšega sodnega varstva je v 286. členu ZPP uzakonjena t. i. eventualna maksima. Ta določa, da mora stranka najkasneje na prvem naroku za glavno obravnavo navesti vsa dejstva, ki so potrebna za utemeljitev njenih predlogov, ponuditi dokaze, ki so potrebni za ugotovitev njenih navedb, in se izjaviti o navedbah in ponujenih dokazih nasprotne stranke. Če je bil pred uveljavitvijo ZPP že opravljen prvi narok za glavno obravnavo, pa smejo stranke novote predlagati le še najkasneje na prvem naroku za glavno obravnavo po uveljavitvi ZPP. Pritožbe pobudnikov kažejo, da uzakonjena prekluzija navajanja novih dejstev in dokazov ni vedno dosledno spoštovana, kar ne pripomore k hitrejšemu sodnemu postopku, stranke pa takšno kršitev zakonske določbe hitro povezujejo s pristranskim sojenjem.

Že leta opozarjamo, da so za premalo učinkovito odločanje krivi tudi sodni izvedenci. Nenehno prejemamo pobude, ki kažejo, da sodišča ne ukrepajo v skladu s pooblastili, če izvedenec nerazumno prekorači rok, določen za izdelavo izvedenskega mnenja. Pojasnila sodnika, da se izvedenec ne odziva na urgence za izdelavo izvedenskega mnenja, da celo ne vrne spisa na poziv sodišča, ko je za leto in več prekoračil rok za izdelavo izvedenskega mnenja, zmanjšujejo avtoriteto in ugled sodišč.

Kazen v denarju do 300.000 tolarjev je skrajno sredstvo za discipliniranje izvedenca in ga sodišča uporabijo le izjemoma. Zaradi neprofesionalnega odnosa izvedenca lahko pride do neupravičenega zastoja v sodnem postopku, kar strankam povzroča še dodatno škodo. Ne poznamo primera, da bi sodišče uporabilo pooblastilo iz tretjega odstavka 248. člena ZPP ter na zahtevo stranke naložilo izvedencu, da mora povrniti stroške, ki jih je povzročil s tem, da neupravičeno ni prišel na narok za glavno obravnavo, ali da je neupravičeno odklonil izvedensko delo.

Nezakoniti so primeri, ko sodniki ne spoštujejo zakonskega roka za pisno izdelavo sodbe. V pravdnem postopku mora biti sodba pisno izdelana in vročena strankam v tridesetih dneh od dneva, ko je bila glavna obravnava končana. Za kazenski postopek velja 15-dnevni rok za pisno izdelavo sodbe, če je obtoženec v priporu, v drugih primerih pa 30-dnevni rok. Pojasnila, ki nam jih pošiljajo sodišča, da gre za obsežene zadeve, sodniki pa so prezaposleni še z drugim delom, niso prepričljiva. Zakonodajalec je zakonski rok določil ob upoštevanju polne obremenjenosti sodnika z delom. Ko smo preverjali primere zamud pri pisni izdelavi sodbe, smo ugotovili, da gre največkrat za subjektivne vzroke.

Redkejši so primeri kršitve roka treh mesecev, v katerem morapritožbeno kazensko sodišče poslati svojo odločbo s spisi sodišču prvestopnje, če je obtoženec v priporu. Kršitev zakonskega roka, ki vpliva,da je pripor daljši, kot bi bilo nujno potrebno, je v izjemnem primerumorda mogoče razumeti s stališča sodnika, nikakor pa ne s stališčaosebe, ki ji je odvzeta prostost.

Sodnica je januarja 2001 v pravdi na Okrajnem sodišču v Ljubljani na glavni obravnavi sprejela dokazni sklep o postavitvi izvedenca. Sam sklep o postavitvi izvedenca naj bi izšel pisno, a vse do konca decembra 2001 sodišče ni izdalo takega sklepa. Predsednica sodišča je pojasnila, da je sodnica, ki je zadevo obravnavala, avgusta 2001 odšla na drugo delovno mesto, njene spise pa je prevzela druga sodnica.

Odhod sodnice, ki je zadevo obravnavala, na drugo sodišče ter dodelitev zadeve novi sodnici, ne opravičuje nerazumno dolgega zastoja v postopku, ki je bil začet s tožbo leta 1989 in katerega predmet je tožbeni zahtevek za plačilo odškodnine iz naslova nepremoženjske in premoženjske škode. Sodnica je imela vse do avgusta (torej osem mesecev) čas, da izda pisni sklep o postavitvi izvedenca, pa tega iz nerazumljivega razloga ni naredila. Prav tako stranke, ki je predlagala izvedbo tega dokaza, ni pozvala, naj založi znesek, potreben za stroške, ki bodo nastali z izvedencem.

Tudi sodnica, ki je spis prevzela po odhodu prejšnje sodnice, ni opravila nobenega procesnega dejanja, in to kljub urgenci pooblaščenca tožnice za pospešitev postopka, ki je ostala brez odmeva. Tako skoraj v letu dni ne prva ne druga sodnica nista storili ničesar za redno in učinkovito obravnavanje, da bi se postopek sploh nadaljeval. Predvsem prva sodnica je s svojim neodgovornim opravljanjem sodniške funkcije zanemarila načelo pospešitve postopka, po katerem si mora sodišče prizadevati, da se postopek opravi brez zavlačevanja. Dolžnost sodnikaje skrbeti za to, da se sporni predmet vsestransko razišče, da pa se vendar pri tem postopek ne zavlačuje. Obe pravdni stranki sta utemeljeno opozarjali na kršitev določb ZPP, katerih namen je zagotoviti hiter in učinkovit postopek.

Pisni sklep o postavitvi izvedenca je sodišče izdalo 28. 12.2001. Hkrati smo odgovor sodišča razumeli kot zagotovilo, da bo v prihodnje vendarle prišlo do obravnavanja brez nepotrebnega odlašanja ter ob strogem spoštovanju vseh postopkovnih določb, katerih namen je zagotoviti sojenje v razumnem roku, kot to zagotavlja pravica do sodnega varstva po 23. členu slovenske ustave oziroma pravica do poštenega sojenja po 6. členu Evropske konvencije o varstvu človekovih pravic in temeljnih svoboščin.

Kasneje je predsednica sodišča sporočila, da je pred izdajo pisnega sklepa o postavitvi izvedenca morala sodnica odločiti še o predlogu za oprostitev plačila stroškov postopka in pri tem opraviti številne poizvedbe, tri mesece pa je bil spis zaradi zaprosila na Okrožnem državnem tožilstvu v Ljubljani. To naj bi bile objektivne ovire, da sodnica “sklepa o postavitvi izvedenca ni mogla izdati”. Ocenili smo, da ta okoliščina ne opravičuje zastoja, ki je nastal po naroku za glavno obravnavo. Sklep o postavitvi izvedenca bi moral biti izdan, še preden je bil spis poslan tožilstvu. Očitno sodišče tudi ni učinkovito ukrepalo, da bi bil spis vrnjen v razumnem času.

Sodišče izvede dokaz z izvedencem, če za ugotovitev ali razjasnitev kakšnega dejstva potrebuje strokovno znanje, s katerim samo ne razpolaga. Izvedenec je torej strokovni pomočnik, ki sodišču pomaga pri sprejemu pravilne in zakonite odločitve v sporu. Postavitev izvedenca je procesno dejanje, ki ustvarja predvsem razmerje (procesno in pogodbeno) med postavljenim izvedencem in sodiščem oziroma državo.

Pobudnika je tedanje Sodišče združenega dela v Postojni leta 1993 postavilo za izvedenca za izdelavo izvida in mnenja v sporu zaradi priznanja tehnične izboljšave in plačila odškodnine. Izvedenec je opravil zaupano izvedensko delo, sodišče mu je odmerilo nagrado za to delo in povračilo stroškov. Ker predujem za stroške izvedenca ni bil položen, je sodišče v sklepu o odmeri nagrade in stroškov naložilo nasprotnemu udeležencu, da plača nagrado in stroške neposredno izvedencu. Ta svoje obveznosti ni izpolnil. Kasneje je bil nad to gospodarsko družbo uveden stečaj in izvedenec je ostal brez plačila.

Pobudnik je, da bi prišel do plačila, vložil tožbo zoper državo. Z vložitvijo tožbe zaradi plačila že s pravnomočno sodno odločbo priznane nagrade in stroškov pa se je spustil v dolgotrajen in predvsem negotov spor.

Ob postavitvi pobudnika za izvedenca je veljaven Zakon o pravdnem postopku (Ur. list SFRJ, št. 4/77 - Ur. list RS, št. 19/94) določal, da mora stranka po nalogu sodišča vnaprej založiti znesek, potreben zastroške, ki bodo nastali z izvedbo predlaganega dokaza. Namen te zakonske določbe (ki jo vsebuje tudi sedaj veljavni ZPP) je zagotoviti, da bo sodišče razpolagalo z zadostnim zneskom denarja, da bo lahko neposredno plačalo postavljenemu izvedencu nagrado in stroške za opravljeno delo.

Glede povračila stroškov in nagrade za izvedenca se je takratni Zakon o pravdnem postopku v 256. členu skliceval na 249. člen istega zakona, ki kot pravilo določa, da sodišče odredi, naj se stroški za priče izplačajo iz predujma. Če predujem ni bil založen, pa sodišče naloži stranki, naj plača določen znesek priči v osmih dneh. Ta zakonska določba, ki je smiselno veljala tudi za povračilo stroškov in nagrade za izvedence, je torej kot pravilo določala izplačilo izvedencu priznane nagrade in stroškov iz položenega predujma. Zakonska ureditev, kako naj sodišče ravna, če predujem ni bil položen, je očitno subsidiarne narave. To izhaja ne zgolj iz same vsebine in vrstnega reda  uzakonjenih možnosti za plačilo stroškov za priče, kot je bilo določeno v tretjem odstavku 249. člena takratnega Zakona o pravdnem postopku, temveč tudi iz že navedenega 153. člena istega zakona, ki kot pravilno sodišču nalaga ravnanje, da pravočasno poskrbi za zadosten znesek predujma, preden stroški z izvedbo dokaza sploh nastanejo. Ker gre pri odmeri nagrade in stroškov izvedenca praviloma za znatno večje zneske kot pri odmeri stroškov za priče, je moč besedilo takratnega drugega odstavka 256. člena Zakona o pravdnem postopku razumeti predvsem tako, da določbe glede povračila stroškov za priče veljajo smiselno za izvedence s poudarjenim temeljnim pravilom, da te stroške izvedencu izplača samo sodišče iz položenega predujma. Tako je zavezanec zaplačilo sodišče, ki je izvedenca pritegnilo v postopek ter z njim stopilo v pogodbeno razmerje. Skrb, da bo izvedenec po opravljenem izvedenskem delu dobil pravočasno in korektno izplačano nagrado in stroške, je torej predvsem zaveza sodišča. Če ni pravočasno poskrbelo za plačilo predujma, škodljivih posledic takšnega ravnanja ne sme trpeti izvedenec, ki je po nalogu sodišča opravil izvedensko delo.

Posebej smo poudarili, da poleg zgoraj razčlenjenih določb takrat veljavnega Zakona o pravdnem postopku plačilo nagrade in stroškov izvedenca v breme sodišča utemeljujeta tudi načelo pravičnosti in dobrega upravljanja. Ni prav, da pobudnik, ki je na zahtevo sodišča opravil izvedensko delo (brez svoje krivde), ni mogel priti do poplačila priznane terjatve. Čeprav se je tega morda lotil na ne najbolj učinkovit in primeren način, smo ocenili, da bi sodišče oziroma država ne glede na vse kasneje nastale okoliščine morala pobudniku kot izvedencu jamčiti in zagotoviti plačilo odmerjenih stroškov za opravljeno delo. Zato smo predlagali, naj Delovno sodišče v Kopru s svojim oddelkom v Postojni pobudniku s primerno poravnalno ponudbo izsredstev sodišča zagotovi plačilo s pravnomočno sodno odločbo priznane nagrade in stroškov za opravljeno izvedensko delo. Hkrati smo predlagali tudi sporazum glede stroškov, ki so nastali v odprtem sodnem postopku zaradi plačila nagrade in stroškov izvedenca. Predlog smo poslali tudi državnemu pravobranilstvu, ki v pobudnikovem sodnem sporu zastopa državo.

Delovno sodišče v Kopru je sprejelo naš predlog in v ta namen zagotovilo plačilo iz sredstev sodišča. Sklenitev poravnave je sodišče prepustilo državnemu pravobranilstvu. Kmalu je pobudnik sporočil, da je sklenil sodno poravnavo in tudi že prejel dogovorjeni znesek plačila za opravljeno izvedensko delo.

Ker po izrečeni sodbi Okrajno sodišče v Ljubljani ni moglo vročiti pisne sodbe neposredno obema obdolžencema, grozilo pa je absolutno zastaranje, se je sodnica odločila za vročitev sodbe po podjetju, ki je pooblaščeno za vročanje pošiljk. Ker sodišče ni pravočasno prejelo dokaza o vročitvi sodbe, sodnica pa je naslednji dan odšla na večtedenski dopust, je izdala trajno odredbo za privedbo z utemeljitvijo, da obdolženca sodišču nista dosegljiva in naročilom, da ju policija po prijetju pripelje v kazensko pisarno sodišča.

Policija je odredbo za privedbo izvršila, obdolžencema odvzela prostost in ju privedla na sodišče zaradi vročitve sodbe. Takrat pa je bilo ugotovljeno, da sta obdolženca že vložila pritožbo. Vročitev sodbe v sodnem spisu ni bila izkazana, pač pa je sodnica ugotovila, da je podjetje, pooblaščeno za vročanje, obdolžencema pred tem že vročilo sodbo.

Odvzem prostosti in privedba obdolžencev na sodišče je bila nepotrebna in zato nezakonita že zgolj zato, ker jima je bila 13 dni pred tem vročena sodba in je bil tako namen privedbe izjalovljen. Sodišče je varuhu sicer sporočilo, da se je sodnica pred odhodom na dopust dogovorila s podjetjem, pooblaščenim za vročanje, da“prenehajo z vročanjem in sodbi vrnejo sodišču”.Sodnica se je opravičila obdolžencema, ker je zaradi odsotnosti spregledala, da jima je bila sodba medtem že vročena. Podjetje, ki je opravilo vročitev, pa je pobudnikoma pojasnilo, da od sodišča ni prejelo nobenega sporočila v zvezi z naročenim vročanjem sodne pošte. Na posredovanje varuha je predsednica sodišča ocenila, da je bilo ravnanje sodnice pravilno, obdolženca pa bi se “vsem ukrepom v zvezi z vročitvijo sodbe izognila tako, da bi redno in sproti dvigala sodna pisanja”.

Na podlagi sodne odredbe za privedbo so policisti obdolžencema odvzeli prostost in ju privedli na sodišče. Privedba pomeni poseg v ustavno zagotovljeno pravico do osebne svobode. Poseg v človekovo svobodo je dopusten in zakonit, če so izpolnjeni pogoji, ki jih določa zakon. Ker gre pri odvzemu prostosti za omejitev človekove pravice, je treba tozadevno zakonsko pooblastilo zožujoče razlagati. Tako lahko sodišče na podlagi 194. člena ZKP odredi privedbo obdolženca tudi, čemu ni bilo mogoče v redu vročiti vabila, iz okoliščin pa je očitno, da se mu obdolženec izmika. Zakon torej dopušča privedbo le zaradi vročitve vabila, ne pa tudi drugih sodnih pisanj.

Čeprav v kazenskem postopku zakonska analogija ni prepovedana, pa na tej podlagi ni dopustno tolmačenje v škodo obdolženca. ZKP namreč določa pravila predvsem zaradi varstva posameznika pred premočjo države. Vabilo je ožji pojem kot (sodno) pisanje, zato pod tem pojmom ne moremo razumeti vseh sodnih pisanj. Če bi zakonodajalec dopustil privedbo tudi za vročitev drugih sodnih pisanj, bi to v zakonu izrecno določil. Tako menimo, da je privedba obdolženca zaradi vročitve sodbe brez zakonske podlage in pomeni nedopusten poseg v pravico do osebne svobode. Zato smo Okrajnemu sodišču v Ljubljani predlagali, naj ne uporablja privedbe zaradi vročanja, razen v primeru vročitve vabila, če so podani pogoji, ki jih zakon določa za tak ukrep za uspešno izvedbo kazenskega postopka.

Okrajno sodišče v Mariboru je opravilo narok za glavno obravnavo, obravnava pa je bila nato preložena na nedoločen čas. Razlog za to je bil predlog tožeče stranke za preložitev glavne obravnave na nedoločen čas, ker “zadeva ta hip ni aktualna”.Poročilo sodnice v tej zvezi pojasnjuje, da “tožnik, ki s tožbo sicer zahteva sodno varstvo, predmetne zadeve ne šteje za nujno”. Na tej podlagi je sodnica zaključila, da“bo naslednji narok za glavno obravnavo ponovno razpisan, ko bo tožeča stranka to predlagala oziroma zahtevala”.

Takšno stališče pomeni, da je zgolj od tožeče stranke odvisno, kdaj bo sodišče nadaljevalo obravnavanje.

Pravdni postopek se začne s tožbo, z vročitvijo tožbe toženi stranki pa začne teči pravda. Toženki je bila v postopku tožba že vročena. Še več, že se je spustila v spor, saj je prerekala tožbeni zahtevek. S tem je tudi toženka pridobila določene pravice v postopku. V odgovoru na tožbo je predlagala izdajo sodbe z zavrnitvijo tožbenega zahtevka. Njen pravovarstveni interes je bil, da sodišče v razumnem roku odloči v sporu in jo tako reši pravne negotovosti. Tudi za toženko velja pravica do poštenega sojenja brez nepotrebnega odlašanja. Če bi smel tožnik sam in enostransko odločati, kdaj se bo začelo ali nadaljevalo obravnavanje v pravdi, bi to pomenilo, da razpolaga tudi s toženkino na ustavnih določbah temelječo pravico.

Sodnikova nekritična pritrditev enostranskim predlogom stranke lahko pomeni pristransko sojenje v nasprotju z določbami ZPP. Pravni položaj stranke v postopku temelji na ustavnem načelu enakosti pred zakonom. Obe stranki imata pod enakimi pogoji enake procesne pravice. Sodišče je tako zavezano spoštovati pravico toženke, da se brani pred procesnimi dejanji nasprotne stranke, ki lahko vplivajo na njene pravice in interese. Zato mora voditi postopek ob spoštovanju temeljne zahteve po enakopravnosti in procesnem ravnotežju strank ter preprečiti, da bi katera od strank postala le predmet postopka.

ZPP tudi za sodišče določa, kaj sme ali kaj mora storiti v določeni procesni situaciji. Spoštovanje pravil postopka pomeni jamstvo za neodvisnost sodnika in sodišča, kar stranki zagotavlja enakost pred zakonom in s tem tudi pravno varnost. Načelo zakonitosti v pravdnem postopku nalaga sodišču, da ne sme odreči odločitve o zahtevku, zakaterega je pristojno. Poleg zahtevka tožnika imamo v pravdi tudi zahtevek nasprotne stranke, da sodišče zavrne tožbeni zahtevek. Odklonitev odločitve je torej nezakonita tudi v razmerju do toženke in njenega zahtevka v procesualnem pomenu, ki ga uveljavlja v odgovoru natožbo.

Vse to smo v intervenciji sodišču poudarili in nismo soglašali s stališčem, da bo sodišče obravnavanje pravdnega postopka nadaljevalo,“ko bo tožeča stranka to predlagala oziroma zahtevala”. V vlogi amicus curiae smo predlagali, naj sodišče pravdni postopek obravnava, kot to narekujejo časovne okoliščine in pravilo o vrstnem redu reševanja zadev, upoštevaje naravo spornega razmerja. Opozorili smo, da je za pobudnico, ki je toženka v pravdi, izjemnega pomena, da se postopek čimprej konča, saj gre za spor o njeni pravici, da uporablja stanovanje, iz katerega je bila očitno samovoljno in nezakonito izseljena.

V odgovoru je sodišče pojasnilo, da bi predlogu toženke za ponovni razpis naroka za glavno obravnavo sledilo tudi brez posredovanja varuha, hkrati pa je določilo nov narok.

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