Lisbon 8-9 June - Lay judges in Administrative Courts
In connection with the General Assembly of AEAJ in Lisbon the Working Group Independence and Efficiency will discuss the system with lay participation in the Administrative courts. We will therefore ask a representative from each country to give an oral representation at the WG meeting based on the following questions:
Do you have lay judges in your countries?( If not: 1. What is the reason for this? 2. If your country has lay judges in general courts you may describe that system instead.)
In administrative courts in the Republic of Croatia there are no lay judges at all. Until 1st January 2012 in the Republic of Croatia was only one Administrative court as the court of the state level and the court of the first and the last instance. This court has originated from the Supreme court. As a consequence of a new jurisdiction reform from 1st January 2012 we have four first instance courts and High administrative court (to which Administrative court of the Republic of Croatia was transformed). As lay judges have never been involved in administrative jurisdiction, there are no lay judges in administrative jurisdiction now.
In what kind of courts? Which instances?
In general courts we have got lay judges but only in the first instance courts (civil and criminal). There are also lay judges in specialized commercial courts.
How are the lay judges nominated? Politically or in other ways?
Any citizens of the Republic of Croatia who has reached the age of eighteen and who is worthy of performing the function of juror may be appointed a juror. Jurors shall be appointed for a period of four years, and may be re-appointed.
Jurors of municipal courts, commercial courts and county courts shall be appointed by the County Council or the City Assembly of the City of Zagreb on the basis of nominations by municipal councils, city councils, trade unions, Employers’ Associations and the Chamber of Commerce.
Jurors of other courts shall be appointed by the Parliament of the Republic of Croatia on the basis of nominations proposed by the Minister of Justice in such a way that the proportional representation of all counties shall be provided for.
Regarding the nominees for jurors, the opinion of the President of a respective court shall be obtained before the appointment is made.
How many lay judges serve in the same bench?
Usually the bench consists of one professional judge and two lay judges.
What is the purpose with the lay judges? (To represent the public, to possess local knowledge, to have special competence, other?)
To represent the public.
Do they swear an oath?
Before assuming their function, jurors shall give the following solemn oath:
"I swear by my honour to perform the duty of a juror in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Croatia, and to perform the juror’s duty conscientiously and impartially."
Jurors of municipal courts, commercial courts and county courts shall give the oath in front of the President of the County Assembly or the City Assembly of the City of Zagreb. Jurors of High commercial court of the Republic of Croatia shall give the oath in front of the President of the Parliament of the Republic of Croatia, or in front of a representative who may be designated by the President.
Do they have an individual vote?
Can they overrule the professional judge?
It usually never happens.
Is there any discussion going on in your country concerning the role of the lay judges?
What is your personal experience of working with lay judges?
As administrative court judge we have no experience working with lay judges.
Do you have others, besides the professional judges, who may take part in the adjudication process, like experts in different fields?
In High administrative court we can engage law experts but only while reviewing the general acts. In administrative dispute concerning individual act there is no such possibility.