Marjan Dikaučič appointed new justice minister

Ljubljana – Marjan Dikaučič, an official receiver, has become Slovenia’s new justice minister after the National Assembly voted 44:41 in favour on Tuesday. He succeeds Lilijana Kozlovič, who resigned due to the government’s decision to suspend the appointment of Slovenia’s members of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Speaking to reporters after he was appointed, Dikaučič said the programme of work at the ministry had largely been determined already and was circumscribed by the presidency of the EU.

Among the tasks ahead, he singled out a reform of insolvency law, legislation on the protection of personal data, and legislation implementing several Constitutional Court decisions.

The 39-year-old earned a law degree in 2006 and passed his bar exam in 2009, whereupon he started working in the private sector to eventually become an official receiver managing insolvency procedures. He was not widely known in the public before his nomination.

The vote capped just four hours of debate during which the coalition highlighted his credentials in the legal profession and him not being a member of any “legal networks”.

Dejan Kaloh, an MP for the Democrats (SDS), said this was a sign that Dikaučič will work free of pressure and can dedicate himself to the justice portfolio.

The Modern Centre Party (SMC), which nominated him, said he had a broad vision and would work for independence of the judiciary while putting justice at the core of his efforts.

MP Mojca Žnidarič said he knew the justice system from the inside and in his presentation he identified the key issues that needed to be addressed.

The opposition criticised his lack of experience and connections with insolvency procedures that some media report alleged involved shell companies.

Dikaučič dismissed any links to shell companies. “I am saddened about the political culture of certain individuals, who want nothing more than to discredit a person willing to do hit job responsibly,” he said.

They also criticised his refusal to take a position on the Slovenian delegated prosecutors.

During the committee hearing last week, Dikaučič said he had to “avoid any act or word that could contaminate the procedure” given that legal action had been announced both by the Prosecution Council and the two candidates that had failed to be appointed.

In today’s debate, LMŠ deputy group leader Brane Golubovič described him as a “shell candidate”, with Prime Minister Janez Janša actually pulling the strings.

Left MP Željko Cigler said little was known about him and he had no political experience or professional credentials. His committee presentation was so general any candidate for any minister could have used it.

SAB deputy Maša Kociper said his refusal to speak about the delegated prosecutors’ procedure cast him in a bad light, a point also raised by the Social Democrats (SD).

After the vote SMC president Zdravko Počivalšek said Dikaučič enjoyed the full trust of the party and the coalition. “I am confident he will realise all the commitments that we signed up for in the coalition agreement, and resolve all issues that have accumulated in this portfolio since then.”

Prime Minister Janša was originally supposed to present the candidate but did not make an appearance in parliament.

Marjan Dikaučič (bio)

Justice Minister Marjan Dikaučič, 39, joins the Janez Janša government as a newcomer to politics. He has promised a fresh and unburdened approach.

Having obtained a bachelor’s degree in law in 2006, Dikaučič initially worked as trainee at the Ljubljana Higher Court. He passed the bar exam in 2009 and then pursued a career in the private sector.

He subsequently passed the exam for official receiver and started working as one. More recently, he has dedicated himself to the study of insolvency legislation, according to the official biography circulated by the Modern Centre Party (SMC).

Dikaučič has singled out insolvency law as one of his top priorities, arguing at last week’s committee hearing that insolvency law had to protect honest businessmen and preserve the healthy portions of insolvent companies.

He told the committee he was currently working for a law firm but would not say which one. As for criticism that he lacks experience, he said he had sufficient experience and knew the system from the inside, including problems that smaller players in the judiciary face.

The SMC has stressed that Dikaučič is not dependent on any networks and would hence be able to do his job more easily, without pressure and excess baggage.

Dikaučič has unsuccessfully applied for director of the Šmarje pri Jelšah Community Health centre and for a position of notary public. In both cases, he was passed over for lack of experience.

His predecessor Lilijana Kozlovič resigned after the government annulled the procedure for the appointment of delegated prosecutors to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Dikaučič would not state his position on the matter with the argument that he had to “avoid any act or word that could contaminate the procedure” given that legal action had been announced both by the Prosecution Council and the two candidates that had failed to be appointed.

Overall, he says he sees the justice minister primary as an arbiter who has to strike a balance between proposals and interests, within the justice system as well as between the judiciary and other systems in government.