Legal Tips

Organization of the judicial system in Croatia


The relevant institutions of the Croatian judicial system are: the State Attorney’s Office, Attorneys at Law, Notaries Public, the Judicial Academy, the National Judicial Cuncil, and the Courts.


2.1. Legal framework and types of courts

Laws relevant for the organization of courts are: the Judiciary act and The Law on the areas and the seats of the courts. There are regular and specialized courts in Croatia, and the Supreme Court, as the highest court of Croatia. Regular courts are: municipal and county courts. Specialized courts are: commercial courts, administrative courts, magistrate courts, the High commercial court of the Republic of Croatia, the High administrative court of the Republic of Croatia, and the High Magistrate court of the Republic of Croatia.

2.2. Organization and jurisdiction

Here we will focus on the domain and authority of municipal and county courts, as well as the Croatian Supreme court. Municipal courts are established for the areas of municipalities, towns, or parts of city areas. County courts are for the area of a county, or part of a county, while the Supreme Court is established for the whole area of the Republic of Croatia.

Authority and domain are primarily managed by the Judiciary act, but we must not ignore the special regulations which further expand the authority and domain of the listed courts. The following table will show the simplified authority system according to the Judiciary act:

AUTHORITY non-litigation and enforcement proceedings Investigation and notary public disciplinary proceedings for disciplinary offense and decisions regarding these offenses in the first degree Ensures the equal application of law and the equality of all in this application
probate cases execution of a foreign punitive decision decides on regular legal remedies when it is prescribed by a special law
keeps the land registry decisions on appeals on decisions in disciplinary proceedings for the irregularity in the work of notaries public decides on exceptional legal remedies against valid court decisions of Croatian courts
land registry cases International legal aid in the cases in its jurisdiction solves competence conflicts when it is prescribed by a special law
recognition and enforcement of decisions from foreign courts International judiciary cooperation with states members of EU in the cases in its jurisdiction considers current affairs of court practice, analyses needs for expert education of judges, court advisers and court trainees, and performs other legally prescribed work
international legal aid in proceedings from its jurisdiction    
international judicial cooperation with EU member states in proceedings from its jurisdiction    

2.3. A special look at the organization of courts in Istria

With the change in the Law on the areas and seats of the courts, 43 municipal courts ceased to exist, so the Istria county courts became branches of the Pula municipal court. According to the Law on the areas and seats of the courts, we cite the following directive which contains the exact range of County and Municipal court in Pula:

  • „Pula County court for the area of Pula Municipal court.“
  • „Pula Municipal court for the areas of municipalities: Bale, Barban, Brtonigla, Cerovlje, Fažana, Funtana, Gračišće, Grožnjan, Kanfanar, Karojba, Kaštelir-Labinci. Domenica, Kršan, Lanišće, Ližnjan, Lupoglav, Marčana, Medulin, Motovun, Oprtalj, Pićan, Raša, Sveta Nedelja, Sveti Lovreč, Sveti Petar u Šumi, Svetvinčenat, Tar-Vabriga, Tinjan, Višnjan, Vižinada, Vrsar and Žminj and towns: Buje, Buzet, Labin, Novigrad, Pazin, Poreč, Pula, Rovinj, Umag and Vodnjan.“

The network of commercial courts is reorganized, and the Pazin Commercial court is re-formed for the area of Istria county.

2.4. Difference between cadastre and land registry

The Croatian system of registering real-estate is based on two, institutionally separated registries: cadastre and land registry.

Cadastre is a record which stores land areas, buildings and other constructions which are permanently on the surface of the earth. This record is kept by district offices of State Geodetic Administration – cadastre offices. A cadastre office can provide a copy of a cadastre plan, a copy of a deed, and different certificates about the information recorded in the cadastre. Cadastre offices check and confirm parcelling surveys. Based on the parcelling survey and a request for its execution, a change can be made in the cadastre, and a special certificate can be issued. Based on a parcelling or a different kind of survey, one can for example, form a lot, or record a house. When a lot is formed or a house recorded, the cadastre office reports this to the land registry office of the competent court, which officially has to record this change in the land registry.

Land registries are records about the legal state of real-estate, competent for legal transactions. Land registries are kept by land registry offices of municipal courts. In a land registry office one can submit a proposal for recording property, a mortgage, change of address and other information. One can also see the land registry and obtain land registry excerpts, or copies from the land registry.

Information on the real-estate from the land registry and the cadastre have to match. If there is any difference between the information entered in the cadastre and the information in the land registry, for example lot number, area difference or real-estate description, those information should be corrected.


3.1. The term notary public and authority

Notaries public are impartial party confidantes, and they are exempt from the rules, like judges. Their official duty is to perform actions based on their clients’ demands. They have to keep notary public secret and are independent in their work, and cannot be transferred.

Authorities of notaries public can be divided into the following groups:

  • official creation of public documents about legal affairs and statements which are bases for rights,
  • official record keeping of legal actions which they performed or were present for,
  • certification of private documents,
  • safekeeping documents, money, items of value for their handover to other perrsons or competent bodies,
  • performing official acts on orders from courts or other public bodies,
  • advising and warning as well as taking care of all persons involved in creating a notary public document,
  • performing acts of volunteer lien or fiduciary insurance,
  • they can make decisions of inheritance for cases which are not being disputed.

3.2. Comptence

The number of notary public positions is limited. The territory of Croatia is divided into notary public areas on which notaries public have to have their official headquarters (office and place of residence). The official area of the notary public is the area of the municipal court in which they have their headquarters, unless the Ministry of Law states otherwise.

The actions of creating and certifying documents can be done by the notary public only on their official area, unless the party’s personally justified reasons do not justify performing an action outside that area. Specifically, the notary public cannot perform his acts outside the area of Croatia.

3.3. Types of notary public documents

  • Notary public act: document which is made by the notary public on the legal dealings and statements of the parties, in a special form, with a special content and following procedural rules. Thanks to this, the document achieves the status of a public document.
  • Notary public record and notary public certificate: confirm acts which the notary public had done themselves, oral statements from the parties given in their presence, events they have witnessed and the facts noted by direct observation.

For the legal value os certain types of legal acts, the determined form of a notary public act is necessary. Notary public documents can also have the property of enforcement documents. The Croatian legal system recognizes three types of documents which can obtain such a property through an intervention by a notary public:

  • notary public act,
  • notarized private documents,
  • private documents with a certified signature from the debtor.