February 12, 2019
Delo reports that European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is only weeks away from deciding on Slovenia’s suit against Croatia, who according to the plaintiff unlawfully prevented repayment of the loans that Ljubljanska Banka (LB) made to Croatian companies. According to Delo, this will also be the first state-to-state property rights violation case in front of the EHRC, and only the fifth overall, as most cases at the ECHR are lodged by private persons.
In a dispute that began as both countries gained their independence, Slovenia had already been ordered to repay the LB foreign currency saving accounts that went missing following the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the consequent transformation of Ljubljanska banka into Nova ljubljanska banka.
Slovenia, who has been taken to court by Croatian savers and has already settled its €163 million debt according to the court’s decision, is arguing that if the Slovenian state had to repay LB debts to Croatian savers, then the unpaid loans taken by Croatian companies have to be repaid to LB as well.
Slovenia decided to lodge its application at the ECHR after exhausting all legal remedies in Croatia. According to its assessment the Croatian courts, Constitutional Court included, continue to prevent collecting claims from the Croatian companies for Ljubljanska banka, the plaintiff, with politics being one way to achieve this. As an example of the latter Delo cites the example of then finance minister Slavko Linić, who in 2007 prevented the execution of the final decision in favour of LB, claiming that until LB repays its Croatian clients’ saving accounts, there will be no ruling in favour of LB either. LB then took the case to theECHR, which eight years later ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over the matter since LB was a state-owned bank.
In a current lawsuit Croatia disputes ECHR's jurisdiction over the case, arguing that Slovenia filled an application out of dissatisfaction with the rulings of the Croatian courts.
The Grand Chamber of the ECHR will first decide on the admissibility of the Slovenian suit, only then will the content assessment follow.