Supreme Court says average duration of court proceedings shortened

Ljubljana – The average duration of court proceedings decreased in the first half of this year compared to the pre-pandemic the first half of 2019, the Supreme Court said. Durations have however increased for certain types of cases, such as inheritance proceedings.

This information was provided by the Supreme Court as part of a response to a parliamentary question on the effects that the Covid-19 epidemic had on the duration of court proceedings, addressed to Justice Minister Marjan Dikaučič by opposition Left MP Željko Cigler.

The Supreme Court stated that its president Damijan Florjančič had issued several orders regarding the operation of the courts during the Covid-19 epidemic.

Judges and court staff worked from home as well as at the courts, in accordance with the recommendations of the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), while some of the court staff were also placed on furlough.

They added that the president of the Supreme Court decides whether the courts schedule only urgent hearings or only rule on urgent cases. The order may also provide that certain cases are not to be considered urgent.

Last year, courts received 11% fewer total cases than the year before, resolved 13% fewer total cases and held 22% fewer hearings than in 2019, with a significant increase in the number of hearings held by videoconference.

As Cigler particularly mentioned the District Court in Ljubljana in his question in connection with the duration of inheritance proceedings, the Supreme Court explained that a total of 647 hearings in such cases were suspended between 13 March and 31 May last year.

As a consequence, the number of resolved inheritance cases significantly dropped and the average duration of proceedings increased, with the functioning of administrative units partially at fault as well.

When it was not possible to hold hearings, the court carried out other procedural tasks that did not require the physical presence of the parties involved, the Supreme Court added.