On 29 January 2019 the new Act on International Private Law (“IPL Act”) will substitute almost forty years old “Act Concerning the Resolution of Conflicts of Laws With the Provisions of Other Countries in Certain Matters” (in Croatian “Zakon o rješavanju sukoba zakona s propisima drugih zemalja u određenim odnosima” or abbreviated ”ZRS”) which Croatia took over in 1991 after dissolution of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
The IPL Act (from 29 January 2019 onwards, former ZRS) provides for rules on applicable law for private relations with an international element; determines rules on judicial jurisdiction and jurisdiction of other Croatian authorities for deciding legal disputes over private relationships with an international element; and sets up the rules on recognition and enforcement of enforceable foreign decisions and public deeds regulating private relationships.
Since Croatian accession to the EU, the EU Law has become part of the Croatian legal system. This inter alia applies to legal rules governing international competence, applicable law and recognition and enforcement of decisions in civil and commercial matters. During this significant lapse of time between 1982 and 2019 Croatia has faced numerous remarkable changes on a political level (dissolution of Yugoslavia resulting in Croatia becoming an independent state, Croatian accession to the EU) while at the same time ever increasing globalization and the development of new technologies have caused the international commerce and trade law to face new, back to forty years ago, fairly unknown kinds of commercial contracts.
In particular the 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 and the Regulation (EC) No 593/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 on the Law Applicable to Contractual Obligations (ROME I) have urged necessity of adjusting existing Croatian international private laws with acquis.
Taking into account that the IPL Act regulates entire range of legal matters with international element, presentation of which would exceed the informative purpose of this review, the paper aims at outlining only those most distinctive provisions departing from the principles and rules of former ZRS.
As a general principle the IPL Act shall not affect the application of international treaties that are in force in Croatia, nor shall it affect the EU laws or provisions of the special laws regulating matters covered by the IPL Act (lex specialis) which shall prevail over IPL Act.
With certain exceptions (such as in respect of legal and business capacity of a natural person, personal name, conditions for conclusion of marriage) and opposed to the rules and principles of ZRS which in case of reference to foreign law referred to the rules of international private law, the application of the law of a state to which the provisions of the IPL Act refer to, shall mean the application of the legal rules as in force in that state other than its rules on the determination of the applicable law (international private law rules).
Save for where the parties have chosen the applicable law or where by referring to a law of particular country they strive to achieve certain material legal effects, the law that is applicable under the provisions of the IPL Act shall exceptionally not apply if in all circumstances it is obvious that the private-law relationship with that law has only insignificant link whereas it has obviously closer connection to the law of some other country.
Another novelty is introduction of the so called “Direct application rules” (“Pravila neposredne primjene”) under which Croatian court may apply a provision of the Croatian law deemed to be that important for the protection of the Croatian public interest, such as it would be political, social and economic system and which is to be exercised to all situations falling within its scope of application and irrespective of the applicable law.
When it comes to the law applicable to contractual relationships, the IPL Act directs to the Regulation (EC) No 593/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 on the Law Applicable to Contractual Obligations (ROME I) whereas in respect of non-contractual obligations to Regulation (EC) No 864/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2007 on the Law Applicable to Non-Contractual Obligations (Rome II).
Concerning jurisdiction, in civil and commercial matters, the jurisdiction of the Croatian courts shall be determined in accordance with the Regulation (EU) No. 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on Jurisdiction, Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (transposed) which shall apply also where the defendant has, in the sense of the concerned Regulation, a residence in a state other than the European Union.
The parties may agree on the jurisdiction of a court of a non-EU Member State unless the court of the Republic of Croatia or any other Member State of the European Union is exclusively competent to decide the dispute.
The IPL Act shall apply to legal relationships arising as of the date of entry into force of the law (29 January 2019) and to legal proceedings initiated after 29 January 2019.