National civil justice systems are deeply rooted in national legal culture and traditions. However, in the past few decades they are increasingly under the influence of integration processes at the supra-national, regional and international level. The emergence of economic and political unions and globalisation processes exert as a by-product pressure to harmonise or even unify the way in which national civil justice systems operate. In an attempt to create a ‘genuine area of justice’, new unified procedures are being developed. They operate in parallel with national civil procedures, and sometimes even strive to replace them. As a reaction to the forces that endeavour to harmonise and unify procedural laws and practices, an opposite trend is gaining momentum: a trend that insists on diversity and pluralism of national civil procedures. The basis of this trend is the claim for national procedural autonomy/sovereignty. The research within this project will focus on the evolution of procedural reforms in various jurisdictions, with a particular emphasis on Croatia, its broader region (successor states of the former Yugoslavia) and Europe. The purpose is to identify to what extent the tensions between the centrifugal and centripetal forces contribute to development of judicial structures that provide a higher level of proper and effective legal protection, and to which extent these tensions create confusion and produce legal transplants and irritants that are equally or less effective than traditional procedures.
Due to the multiplicity of topics that could be developed within this project, the research will specifically identify and pursue the issues of major importance. Subject to possible changes due to developments in the area of research, the priority topics that will be elaborated within this project are the following:
- Fundamental changes in the goals and functions of civil justice and civil procedure. What are the primary challenges in the transformation of civil justice systems, globally and regionally? Is there a procedural ius commune, and what is its content? What is the common core of procedural rights in the area of civil justice in the contemporary world? What is happening to the right of access to justice in modern civil justice systems?
- Civil justice in the service of public interests: new national and supra-national systems of collective redress and multi-party litigation.
- The challenge of modern technologies in civil courts: ‘old’ and ‘new’ concepts of written form in the procedure. Service of process and right to be heard in a digital era. Electronic communications and the keeping of protocols with support of audio-visual equipment. Access to IT data and their protection in the context of civil procedure.
- Modern trends in the development of the law of evidence. Common notions in the law of evidence in Europe and their historical roots. Transformation of the collection and taking of evidence and the means of proof in civil processes.
- Development of case and time management in civil proceedings. The powers of the court and the powers of the judge.
- Historical development and modern tendencies. Research regarding new forms of civil trial concentration and methods of shortening the duration of trials; the issue of preclusions.
- Means of recourse against judgments in the context of fighting delays and securing the uniform application of law.
- Special proceedings and their features – partial harmonisation or further diversity? Small claims; payment order; family law cases; resolution of commercial disputes; noncontentious proceedings; enforcement proceedings.
- Legal aid and costs of civil justice: dimensions of access to justice in the context of current trends and developments. - Private dispute resolution mechanisms and public policy: achieving access to justice outside of public courts, while securing the integrity of proceedings and effective legal protection. Arbitration and mediation in commercial, consumer and family law disputes.