Legislative proposal for amendment of Act on provisional measures for judicial, administrative and other public matters to cope with the spread of infectious disease SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)

23 April, 2020

Due to gradual release of restrictive measures, it is likely that the decision-making in non-urgent judicial and administrative procedures will soon continue. This and some other changes are envisaged in the proposed amendment of the Act on provisional measures for judicial, administrative and other public matters to cope with the spread of infectious disease SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) (hereinafter: »ZZUZUDJZ«), which was published by Slovenian government on 21 April 2020.

With the enforcement of the proposed Act, the courts will soon continue to rule and serve court documents even in non-urgent cases, provided that they are able to respect the requirement for safe and undisturbed work (to be determined by order of the President of the Supreme Court) and to organise work in such a way as to prevent the spread of the virus and to guarantee the protection of human life and health. Under this provision, the courts will be able to decide for themselves whether they are able to provide work under the above requirements. Notwithstanding the continuation of ruling process in non-urgent cases, the time limits for both the parties and the courts will remain suspended for the duration of the measure.

Another significant amendment relates to insolvency proceedings. Although they are considered to be urgent procedures under the Courts Act, they were determined as non-urgent by the President of the Supreme Court by order of 30 March 2020. For the insolvency proceedings, Article 121 of the Financial Operations, Insolvency Proceedings, and Compulsory Dissolution Act stipulates that in case of failure to meet the deadline or unjustified absence from a hearing at which the party should submit or file proposals, statements and objections, he/she can no longer do so after the deadline. This provision is generally intended to expedite the proceedings and, in particular, to protect the rights of parties and other persons in the proceedings. However, in the current emergency situation this could significantly interfere with the rights of parties who, due to the epidemic and the related restrictive measures, were not able to exercise their rights in a timely manner. The government therefore proposes that the courts decide on applications even if a person has missed a deadline or failed to attend a hearing and the court has not yet made a decision. The party will still have to demonstrate a cause for the delay, associated with the COVID-19 epidemic, when carrying out the procedural act.

Mitigation of restrictive measures is also foreseen for administrative procedures. Oral hearings and other procedural actions where the official, party or other persons are in direct contact are expected to continue. Further on, administrative authorities will begin to serve decisions, orders and other documents also on non-urgent matters. As with court proceedings, administrative procedures will only be allowed, if the prevention of the spread of the virus is ensured and life and human health are not endangered. Instead of personal service, the government proposes to serve documents by mail or electronically. However, these rules on service do not apply to misdemeanour procedures. The proposed amendment is without prejudice to the provisions of the Act providing for the suspension of time limits for clients and administrative bodies. As before, the deadlines will not expire after the entry into force of the amendment, however, these changes will enable the continuation of procedures and thus the reduction of further delays.

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