UPDATE: Republic of Slovenia Legal System and Legal Research

By Maja Čarni and Špela Košak

Update by Dr. Iztok Štefanec

Iztok Štefanec holds a law degree (2010) and Ph.D in Law, Constitutional Law (2018), both from the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. He is a teaching assistant for constitutional law and currently works as an adviser to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia.

Published January/February 2020

(Previously updated by Špela Košak in January 2013)

See the Archive Version!

1. Introduction

With its 20,000 square kilometers and 2 million inhabitants, the Republic of Slovenia has enjoyed its independence only for a little more than two decades. It was a part of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia that fell apart in the 1990’s in the cruel fights between the ethnic groups in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. As Slovenia is not as ethnically colorful as the other Federal States were, its secession was not as painful. After a 95% approval of the citizens in the referendum on December 23, 1990, Slovenia declared its independence on June 25, 1991. Although it had to face an invasion of Yugoslav armed forces, the war only lasted for 10 days and without the massacres that happened in the southern parts of the ex-Yugoslavia.

Slovenia shares its borders with Italy on the West, Austria on the North, Hungary on the Northeast and Croatia on the South and East. It also borders the Adriatic Sea to the Southwest. Geographically it lies on the borders of the Balkan Peninsula but historically it has always been connected to the Central Europe, being a part of Habsburg’s Empire for centuries.

The new constitution of the independent state was adopted on December 23, 1991. On May 1, 2004, Slovenia became a full member of the European Union. It adopted the Euro as its currency on January 1, 2007. On 21 December 2007, Slovenia also became a member of the Schengen Agreement. Slovenia became a member of the United Nations on May 22, 1992, a participating state to the OSCE on 24 March 1992 and joined the Council of Europe on May 14, 1993.

The official language in Slovenia is Slovene (a language that belongs into the Slavic language group). The particularity of the language is that it uses also dual in addition to singular and plural forms. In the parts of the country by the borders of Italy and Hungary, in those municipalities where Italian or Hungarian national communities reside, the official languages are also Italian and Hungarian respectively (Art. 11 of the Constitution). The capital of Slovenia is Ljubljana (Art. 10 of the Constitution).

2. Political System

Slovenia is a democratic republic (Art. 1 of the Constitution) and it endorses the parliamentary system of democracy. According to the Constitution, Slovenia has an “incomplete bicameral system,” meaning that the upper chamber (in the Slovenian case, the National Council) does not have equal competences with the lower chamber (in the Slovenian case, the National Assembly) but it only supervises the work of the lower chamber. The President of the Republic is elected in direct general elections.

It is also a territorially unified and indivisible state (Art. 4 of the Constitution). Slovenia is organised in a two-level system; the national level and the local (municipal) level that has a constitutionally guaranteed right to self-government (Art. 9 of the Constitution).

Nevertheless, the idea of introducing the regional level got a broad support when joining the European Union in 2004. This resulted in changing the Constitution in order to facilitate the establishment of the regional level.[1] The National Assembly agreed on regulating the organization of regional level with a law, which is yet to be enacted. For the past decade, however, the idea does not seem to be on the political agenda any longer.

2.1. State

2.1.1. Legislative Power The National Assembly

The National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia is the supreme representative and legislative institution, exercising legislative and electoral powers as well as control over the Executive.

Competences and functions of the National Assembly: In its legislative power, the National Assembly

In its electoral power, the National Assembly elects, appoints (and in some cases, dismisses):

In its supervisory power, the National Assembly:

The National Assembly exercises control also through parliamentary questions and motions to the Government and individual ministers. In addition to the above three fundamental functions, the National Assembly decides on the declaration of war or state emergency, and on the use of armed forces. The National Assembly confirms the election of deputies and decides on the immunity of deputies and judges.

The National Assembly is composed of 90 deputies, of which 2 posts are guaranteed for the representatives of the autochthonous national minorities (Italian and Hungarian). The National Assembly is elected for four years. However, the President of the Republic dissolves the National Assembly and calls new elections if the President of the Government is not elected after two or, if decided by the National Assembly, three attempts. Individual deputies cannot be recalled.

See the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia’s website for more information. The National Council

The National Council (“the upper chamber”) is, in accordance with the Constitution (Art. 96), the representative of social, economic, professional and local interest groups. The forty-member National Council comprises 22 representatives of local interests, six representatives of non-commercial activities, four representatives of employers and four of employees and four representatives of farmers, crafts and trades and independent professionals. National Councillors are elected in indirect elections held within interest groups or local communities by voting bodies (i.e. via electors). They are elected for a term of five years.

Powers of the National Council:

Tha National Council had a competence to demand from the National Assembly to call a legislative referendum before the promulgation of a law. However, in 2013 the constitutional amendment was adopted, granting the right to demand a legislative referendum exclusively to the voters (40.000). The Constitution regulates the legislative referendum in Art. 90.

See the website of the The National Council of the Republic of Sloveniafor more information (copy and past the link into browser if it doesn't work directly).

2.1.2. Executive Power The Government

The government is a collective body presided over by the Prime Minister. Other members are the ministers responsible for a certain field of work. Currently the government is composed of 16 ministers heading the 16 ministries and the Prime Minister. The Government of the Republic of Slovenia (RS) is the executive body and, at the same time, the supreme body of state administration. Thus, the function of the Government is twofold: executive-political and administrative. Its executive-political function involves mainly the execution of policies agreed by the National Assembly and the implementation of the laws and other regulations passed by the National Assembly. In accordance with the Constitution, with the laws and with other general acts of the National Assembly, the Government sets, directs and harmonises the implementation of state policies. As the highest body of the state administration, it issues regulations and passes legal, political, economic, financial, organizational and other measures, which are needed for development of the state and the regulation of conditions in all the areas of the state’s jurisdiction.

See the websites of The Government of Republic of Slovenia and Office of the Prime Minister for more information. The President of the Republic

The President of the Republic represents the Republic of Slovenia. He is the commander-in-chief of the defence forces (Art. 102 of the Constitution). The President is elected in direct, general elections by secret ballot for a term of five years.

The President of the Republic:

Where required by the National Assembly, the President of the Republic must express his opinion on an individual issue. In the event that the National Assembly is unable to convene due to a state of emergency or war, the President of the Republic may, on the proposal of the Government, issue decrees with the force of law (art. 108 of the Constitution).

There is a constant debate whether the competences of the president are not too weak given the fact that he/she is being elected in general elections; however, no changes have been made to the function since the adoption of the Constitution after the independence.

If in the performance of his office the President of the Republic violates the Constitution or seriously violates the law, the National Assembly may impeach him before the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court decides either that the impeachment charges are justified or it dismisses the charges, and it may further decide on relieving the President of office by a two-thirds majority vote of all judges. Upon receiving a resolution on impeachment from the National Assembly, the Constitutional Court may decide that pending a decision on impeachment the President of the Republic may not perform his office.

See the website of the Office of the President of the Republic for more information.

2.1.3. Judicial Power

Judges are independent in the performance of judicial functions (Art. 125 of the Constitution) and their office is permanent (Art. 129 of the Constitution). The Constitutional provision on the direct participation of citizens in the exercising of judicial power (Art. 128 of the Constitution) is achieved by the institute of lay judges that sit on some panels as provided by law. In Slovenia, there is no institute of a jury that passes verdicts of guilt; all the decisions are brought by the single judge or by the panel.

Slovenia faced a serious problem with the number of the cases waiting for the process. Namely, in 2006 judges still had to adjudicate cases from 1998. Due to that fact, Slovenia was condemned in more than 200 cases in front of the European Court for Human rights in Strasbourg for violating the right to a hearing within a reasonable time - Par. 1, Art. 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The systemic problems were addressed in a series of governmental reforms and reforms conducted by the courts (project Lukenda), which have given good if not completely satisfactory results. By the 2019, the average length of court proceedings has significantly decreased.

The Courts Act regulates the jurisdiction and composition of the Courts in Slovenia. In general, there are two different kinds of courts of first instance (44 Local courts and 11 District courts) and 2 stages of appeal, first one being higher courts (4) and the second one the Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia. In cases of alleged violations of human rights, the rulings can also be examined by the Constitutional Court after exhausting all legal remedies. Beside the general civil and criminal courts there are two types of specialized courts in Slovenia; their competences are defined by special acts and they proceed pursuant to special rules of procedure. Specialized courts (courts of specialized jurisdiction) have the jurisdiction ratione materiae and not ratione personae (there are no specialized courts for juvenile cases, for example). Specialized courts in the Republic of Slovenia are:

It is prohibited to establish extraordinary courts. It is prohibited to establish military courts in peacetime as well (Art. 126 of the Constitution). It is in the domain of the Civil District courts and of the Labor courts to organize the legal aid for the people that cannot afford to pay the costs of the legal procedure and their lawyers. The costs are paid from the budget, but the aid is limited to the people, which do not exceed the census of the legally determined minimal salary. Courts of General Jurisdiction

Civil Courts: The general civil jurisdiction lies with the civil courts. The rules regulating courtroom procedure are governed by either the Civil Procedure Act or Non-litigious Civil Procedure Act. The courts of first instance are local and district courts. The jurisdiction between them is divided according to the subject of the trial.

In general, the local courts are competent to adjudicate in the property-law related disputes, when the value of dispute does not exceed 20.000 EUR, the disputes on trespassing, easement, real encumbrance and disputes on lease or tenancy relations. Beside the civil department, local courts are furthermore divided into:

There is always one judge conducting proceedings and adjudicating or deciding in front of the local courts.

On the other hand, the district courts bring to trial property-law related disputes, when the value of a dispute exceeds 20.000 EUR, disputes arising from family relations, copyrights, disputes relating to the protection or use of inventions and marks of distinctiveness or to the right to use a firm name, in disputes relating to the protection of competition, commercial/business disputes, and disputes arising from bankruptcy proceedings. District courts also have following departments:

As a rule, the District Courts are constituted by a single judge, except in the cases foreseen by the law. In such cases, the courts sit as a panel in the composition of one judge and two lay judges. In deciding disputes on the rights of intellectual property, the District Court in Ljubljana has exclusive territorial jurisdiction at the first instance, except for disputes between employers and workers in connection with inventions, forms of bodies, pictures, drawings and technical improvements.

Appeals are to be solved by higher courts that sit in the panels in the composition of three judges: a president of the panel, a judge rapporteur and a member.

To review the rulings of the higher courts, extraordinary legal remedies are possible, namely revision and request for protection of legality, both trialed by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia sitting in the composition of 5 judges. Revision is automatically allowed in claims exceeding 40.000 EUR. For the cases dealing with lower amounts, the Supreme Court can allow it only in cases where the precedents of the courts defer from each other in order to unify legal practice (changes brought by law in 2008). The request for protection of legality can only be presented by the Public Prosecutor Office. The third way of reviewing a valid court decision is opening a new trial within the absolute period of 5 years.

Criminal Courts: The criminal procedure in Slovenia is a contradictory one with the strong influence of the “material truth” principle, which gives the judge an active position in the procedure and that is why Slovene criminal procedure is mixed (with elements of inquisitorial procedure; it has to be noticed, though, that the presumption of innocence is strictly followed). The criminal procedure law (governed by the Criminal Procedure Act) regulates courtroom procedure (together with the composition of the courts) as well as actions of the police and the investigational procedure before the court (the pre-hearing procedure).

In Slovenia, there is no death sentence and the highest punishment foreseen by the Penal code is life imprisonment in exceptional cases (adopted in 2008), otherwise 30 years of imprisonment.

The courts of first instance are local and district courts. The jurisdiction between them is divided according to the severity of the punishment foreseen by the Penal Code for the committed criminal offence.

According to the Courts Act, local courts have jurisdiction in criminal matters to adjudicate at the first instance on criminal offences which are punishable by a fine or to a term of up to three years of imprisonment, except in matters of criminal offences against honor and reputation committed by press, via radio, television or other means of public information and to perform investigatory actions regarding these criminal offences.

Within local courts there is a department adjudicating minor offences. It applies a special procedure, the court of appeal in those cases is the Higher Court. In a local court the proceedings are conducted and adjudicated or decided by a single judge, the same goes also for the investigation acts before the trial.

District courts have jurisdiction in criminal matters on criminal offences, which are punishable by more than three years of imprisonment and to carry out an investigation or investigatory actions concerning those criminal offences; to perform preliminary proceedings and adjudicate at first instance on criminal offences of minors; to decide at first instance on the enforcement of a criminal judgment issued by a foreign court; to execute criminal judgments (of both, local and district courts); to decide about permission for the encroachment in human rights and fundamental liberties; to reach decisions in a non-trial panel (also in criminal matters falling within the jurisdiction of local courts); and to exercise supervision regarding the lawful and correct treatment of convicts and supervision over detainees.

Besides the investigation, department district courts also have a special department for criminal offences of minors (if the defendant committed the criminal offence as a minor (under 18 years old) and was not yet 21 years old at the beginning of criminal procedure). The public in those procedures is excluded and the whole criminal procedure follows special rules of conduct. The court sits as a panel in the composition of a judge for minors and two lay judges that are elected among professors, teachers, tutors and other persons having experiences with education of minors. Also Higher courts and the Supreme Court have special panels in composition of three judges to decide about the appeals.

District courts sit as a panel in the composition of two judges and three lay judges when adjudicating criminal offences, which are punishable by fifteen years or more of imprisonment, and in the composition of one judge and two lay judges when adjudicating in other cases. Investigation acts before the trial are carried out by investigation judges. Non-trial panels (izvenobravnavni senati) in the composition of three judges decide without a hearing about the appeals against the decisions of investigation judges and judges of the local courts when performing investigation acts.

Higher courts decide on appeals in panels composed by three judges. The appeal withholds the execution of the sentence and in case that only the defendant files an appeal, the verdict cannot be changed in his detriment.

The Supreme Court adjudicates at third instance on regular legal remedies against the decisions of courts of second instance. Five judges compose the panels of the Supreme Court in these cases.

See the website of the Judiciary of the Republic of Slovenia for more information. Labor and Social Court

The jurisdictions of the labor and social courts are determined by the Labor and Social Courts Act. They have the position of district courts at the first instance and their appeal court is the Higher Labor-Social Court in Ljubljana. Appeals against rulings of the Higher Labor-Social Court as well as extraordinary appeals are trialed by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia. Both first instance courts sit in panels in the composition of one judge and two lay judges (one of them being elected by the National assembly among employers/institutions and one of them being elected among employees/insurants for the fixed period).

Labor courts adjudicate disputes arising from working relations between employers and employees, such as disputes concerning working contracts, beginnings and endings of working relations, etc. (individual labor disputes). Labor courts also have jurisdiction over collective labor disputes, such as validity and execution of collective agreements, accordance of the collective agreements with the law, accordance of the general acts of the employers with the collective agreements and laws, legality of the strikes, participation of the workers at the management, etc.

There is only one Social Court, seated in Ljubljana, although it also holds hearings in its external departments. It adjudicates disputes arising from pension and disability insurance, unemployment insurance, health insurance, social and family incomes; it is competent to review legality of the acts issued by institutions dealing with the above insurances.

See the Labor and Social Court website for more information. Administrative Court

The establishment, organization and function of the Administrative Court of the Republic of Slovenia are governed by the Administrative dispute act. The court is situated in Ljubljana and holds the external departments in Nova Gorica, Celje and Maribor.

In Ljubljana, the workload is divided among five departments: department for public finances; department for property relations; department for protection of constitutional rights; department for environment, spatial planning and construction; and department for customs and other taxes.

The administrative court ensures in accordance with the Administrative dispute act judicial protection of rights and legal interests of individuals, legal and other persons if they hold rights and responsibilities against decisions brought by administrative or other state bodies authorized by law.

This procedure is followed when the court decides: on legality of the final individual decision that is enacted by state bodies, self-government bodies or other bodies holding a public authorization; on legality of individual decisions and actions violating constitutional rights of an individual, if there is no other legal remedy; on legality of regulations enacted by state bodies, self-government bodies or other bodies holding a public authorization so far as they regulate individual relations. The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the highest appellate court in the state. It functions primarily as a court of cassation. It is a court of appellate jurisdiction in criminal and civil cases, in commercial lawsuits, in cases of administrative review and in labor and social security disputes. It is the court of third instance in almost all cases within its jurisdiction. The grounds of appeal to the Supreme Court (defined as extraordinary legal remedies in Slovenian procedural laws) are therefore limited to issues of substantive law and to the most severe breaches of procedure.

Apart from administering justice (reviewing cases in its jurisdiction), the Supreme Court also determines most cases of disputes over jurisdiction between lower courts, grants the transfer of jurisdiction to another court in cases provided by law and keeps records of the judicial practice of courts.

The Supreme Court also takes care of the uniform case law. To decide on questions related to the uniform practice of the courts, the court sits in the panel composed of all the judges of the Supreme Court – Joint Session (občna seja).

The Court is organized in six departments: Criminal Department, Civil Department, Commercial Lawsuits Department, Labor and Social Security Disputes Department, Administrative Review Department and the Registry Department.

See the Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia’s website for more information, as well as Supreme Court key decisions (in english). Constitutional Court

On June 25, 1991, the Republic of Slovenia became an independent and sovereign State. The Constitutional Court of the former federal unit of the former Yugoslavia, which had been established in 1963 (on 5 June 1963 the first President and eight judges of the then Constitutional Court were appointed), thus became the constitutional court of the newly independent State. With the new Constitution coming into force, the Constitutional Court acquired new important powers and the position of the highest body of judicial power for the protection of constitutionality, legality and human rights.

In relation to other State bodies, the Constitutional Court is an autonomous and independent State body. It regulates its organization and work by the rules of procedure and other general acts. The existing organization is determined by the Constitutional Court Act, Rules of Procedure of the Constitutional Court and the Rules on the Internal Organization and Office Operations of the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court is composed of nine judges, elected on the proposal of the President of the Republic by the National Assembly. The judges are elected for a term of nine years and may not be re-elected. The President of the Constitutional Court shall be elected by the judges from among themselves for a term of three years.

Most powers of the Constitutional Court are explicitly determined in the Constitution. However, they may also be determined by statute.

According to the Constitution, the Constitutional Court decides on:

Statute determines the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court to:

A constitutional complaint may be lodged due to a violation of human rights or fundamental freedoms against individual acts by which state authorities, local community authorities, or bearers of public authority decided the rights, obligations, or legal entitlements of individuals or legal entities.

See the website of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia for more information.

2.1.4. Court of Audit

The Court of Audit has been brought to Slovene legal system with the new Constitution. It is the highest body for supervising state accounts, the state budget and all public spending (Art. 150 of the Constitution); it may audit any act on past operations as well as the acts on the planned operations of public fund users. The Court of Audit cannot be categorized within any of the three branches of power, legislative, executive or judicial. The court is independent in the performance of its duties and bound by the Constitution and laws - its functioning is determined in the Court of Audit Act as well as in number of other laws dealing with functioning of public fund users.

The Court has three members: a president and two deputy presidents; they are appointed for a term of nine years on a proposal from the President of the Republic by the National Assembly by majority vote of all the deputies in a secret ballot. In addition to the members, the Court of Audit also has a maximum of six Supreme State Auditors, who head the audit departments and have the status of public officials. They are appointed by the President of the Court of Audit for a term of nine years. The Court of Audit is accountable to the National Assembly and the public for the implementation of its tasks; it has the right and the duty to report on its audit findings.

2.1.5. Ombudsman

The institute of the Human Rights Ombudsman was created in Slovenian law according to the Scandinavian model by the new Constitution in 1991 (Art. 159 of the Constitution). The function is a constitutional category that does not fall under the executive, judicial or legislative branch of authority; it is therefore not part of any mechanism of authority, but rather acts as an overseer of authority, since, as an institution, it restricts its capricious encroachment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In his work, the Ombudsman is not only limited to handling direct violations of human rights and freedoms in the Constitution – he may act in any case whatsoever dealing with a violation of any right of an individual arising from a holder of authority. He can intervene also in the case of unfair and poor state administration in relation to the individual. The Human Rights Ombudsman is elected by the Parliament upon the nomination made by the President of the Republic for the term of 6 years.

Before turning to the Ombudsman, all regular and extraordinary legal remedies have to be exhausted, except in cases where it would be useless for the petitioner to start or continue such proceedings, or if individuals would suffer great or irreparable damage in the meantime. Among other means of acting, the Ombudsman can request the Constitutional Court to review the constitutionality and legality of specific regulations or acts or file a constitutional complaint about a rights violation in the name of the applicant and with his authorization. He can also submit suggestions for changes to statutes and other regulations to Parliament or the Government.

According to the Constitution, the Special Ombudsmen for the rights of citizens may also be established by law for particular fields, but that provision has not been realized in practice yet. The position and functioning of the institute of the ombudsman is regulated by the Human Rights Ombudsman Act.

See the website of the Human Rights Ombudsman for more information.

2.1.6. Information Commissioner

The Information Commissioner is an autonomous and independent state body with competences in the field of the protection of public information and personal data. The institution has been established by Information Commissioner Act, which implemented the Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and Council into the Slovene legal order.

The Information Commissioner is an appellate body against the decisions of public bodies (such as state bodies, local government bodies, public agencies, public funds and other entities of public law, public powers holders and public service contractors) regarding access to or re-use of public information as well as against the decisions of the data controllers. It also supervises implementation of the Information Commissioner Act, Access to Public Information Act and Personal data protection Act.

The Information Commissioner is appointed by the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia on proposal of the President of the Republic of Slovenia for a five-year term and can be reappointed once.

See the website of the Information Commissioner for more information.

2.2. Municipalities

According to the Constitution, municipalities represent self-governing local communities (Art. 139 of the Constitution). The territory of a municipality comprises a settlement or several settlements bound together by the common needs and interests of the residents. A municipality is established by law following a referendum by which the will of the residents in a given territory is determined. Law also defines the territory of the municipality. Currently Slovenia has 212 municipalities.

The competences of the municipality are either autonomous, dealing with local affairs affecting residents, or are delegated from the state level with the prior consent of the municipality. The state may by law vest specific duties within the state jurisdiction in the municipality, if the state provides financial resources for this purpose. The proper and competent performance of duties (delegated by the state) is supervised by the state, while the general acts enacted within the scope of autonomous competences can only be challenged before the Constitutional Court.

The competences may vary also upon the status of the municipality. Already the Constitution itself determines a specific form of municipality – urban municipality. The conditions to attain the status and its competences are determined by law (the Local Self-Government Act).

Municipality is defined as a community capable of meeting the needs and interests of its residents and to carry out other tasks laid down by the law. The community is considered to meet the requirements when it provides complete elementary schooling, primary citizens’ health care, municipal services (drinking water supply, removal and purification of waste water, electricity supply), postal services, a library, and premises for local community administration (Art. 13 of the Local Self-Government Act). The lower limitation of number of inhabitants is 5000, though exceptions can be made for not less than 2000 in the case of special circumstances.

The urban municipality (20,000 inhabitants minimum), in addition to the previously mentioned requirements, needs to ensure at least 15,000 working posts, of which at least half must be in tertiary and quaternary activities and it is the geographic, economic and cultural centre of its gravitational area (Art.16 of Local Self-Government Act).

The main municipal bodies are the municipal council, mayor and supervisory committee. The municipal councilors and mayor are elected in direct, general elections by secret ballot for a term of four years (the local elections are governed by the Local Elections Act). The municipal council holds “the legislative” power, mayor and municipal administration an “executive” one, while the supervisory committee supervises the municipal expenditure.

The Constitution provides for the establishment of regions. Art. 143 of the Constitution was amended in 2006. According to the amendment, a region is a self-governing local community that manages local affairs of wider importance, and certain affairs of regional importance provided by law. According to the Constitution, regions are established by law, which also determines their territory, seat, and name, and is adopted by the National Assembly by a two-thirds majority vote of deputies present. By law, the state transfers the performance of specific duties within the state competence to the regions and must provide to them the necessary financial resources to enable such. However, the law establishing regions has not been adopted yet.

3. Legal System

The Slovene legal system is part of the continental legal systems with the strong influence of German law and legal order. As the territory of today’s Slovenia was a part of the Austrian Empire for a long time, the influence has rather historical roots. The law was transformed after the socialist models in the post-war time when the territory joined the Yugoslav Republic. The impact of the institutions such as socialized property, socialistic self-management, protection of workers and lower social class can still be found in the legal system today (such as denationalized procedures that are about to come to an end, social security system, special arrangements of the labor and social courts, etc.).

In 1991, after the favorable plebiscite on secession from Yugoslavia (December 23, 1990), the Slovene Assembly enacted the Basic Constitutional Charter on the Sovereignty and Independence of the Republic of Slovenia (June 25, 1991), which became the legal basis for its independence. The Constitution was adopted on December 23, 1991 and hereinafter the laws started to pass; until they were put into force, the old Yugoslav Republic and Federal laws and rules have been applicable. In this legislation activity, the legislators followed the German model in a lot of the areas.

Legislation is still very vivid in Slovenia; it was especially necessary before joining European Union (with taking over aquis communitaire). In addition, the Constitution has been changed several times since it entered into force. The latest amendment was adopted in 2016, which constitutionalized the right to drinking water (Art. 70a of the Constitution).

3.1. Sources of Law

3.1.1. Constitution

Slovenia has a Constitution in the formal meaning of the word - it is written in a single document and it is the top of the Slovene legal system, hierarchically above the other legislative acts: the international treaties, laws and regulations. The Slovene Constitution regulates the foundations of the Slovene political and legal order. It is divided in 10 chapters:

In the Slovene Republic, the Constitution can be amended by a Constitutional Act. The Slovene Constitution can be defined as an entrenched constitution meaning that there are special provisions governing its amendments, which are stricter than the normal legislative procedure. This procedure has two stages. The first stage begins with the proposal to initiate the procedure for amending the Constitution, which has to be put forward by twenty deputies of the National Assembly, the Government or at least thirty thousand voters. The National Assembly then decides upon such proposal by a two-thirds majority vote of deputies present. In case of the rejection of the proposal the procedure ends. On the other hand, if adopted, the second stage of the procedure is deciding upon the wording of the suggested amendment. Acts amending the Constitution are adopted with 2/3 majority votes of all the deputies. Furthermore, the people can also be included in the process of the Constitutional amendments: The National Assembly must submit a proposed constitutional amendment to voters for adoption in a referendum, if so required by at least thirty deputies. Such an amendment is adopted in a referendum, if a majority of those voting voted in favor of the same, provided that a majority of all voters participated in the referendum (Art. 170 of the Constitution). A contrario: if the necessary votes are not obtained the amendments cannot be adopted.

Besides the Constitution (and Constitutional Acts as the means of amending the Constitution), the constitutional level of legal acts in Slovenia also includes the Basic Constitutional Charter on the Sovereignty and Independence of the Republic of Slovenia (hereinafter “Constitutional Charter”). The Constitutional Charter is a sui generis constitutional legal act that provided for the constitutional basis for the Slovene independence. Two of its provisions are especially important even today: it characterizes the Republic of Slovenia as a sovereign and independent state and defines the borders of the state.

The text of the Slovene Constitution is available in English, Italian and Hungarian.

3.1.2. International Treaties

In the Slovene Republic, international law gets to be a part of the inner law after its incorporation in the Slovene legal system. In principle, an international treaty has to be ratified and published in the Official Gazette in order to be directly applicable (Art. 8 of the Constitution). The National Assembly ratifies treaties by a majority of votes cast by those deputies present, save where a different type of majority is provided by the Constitution or by law.

As for the hierarchy of the legal acts, laws must be in conformity with generally accepted principles of international law and with valid treaties ratified by the National Assembly, whereas regulations and other general legal acts must also be in conformity with other ratified treaties (Art. 153 of the Constitution). “Other ratified treaties” are treaties ratified by the Government, and those are, according to the Art. 75 of the Foreign Affairs Act, protocols, programs and similar acts that have been adopted for implementation of other adopted international treaties and which do not include new obligations.

The Constitutional Court has a special role supervising the conformity of laws and other regulations with ratified treaties and with the general principles of international law on one hand and the conformity of the international treaties in the process of ratifying with the Constitution on the other hand. Namely, in the process of ratifying a treaty, the Constitutional Court, on the proposal of the President of the Republic, the Government or a third of the deputies of the National Assembly, issues an opinion on the conformity of such treaty with the Constitution. The National Assembly is bound by the opinion of the Constitutional Court (Art. 160 of the Constitution).

Legal acts adopted by the European Union have, however, different status as international treaties. Like the other member states, EU law has supremacy over national law. In order to adjust the legal order to that Community principle, before entering in the European Union, Slovenia had to change the Constitution. In 2003, the Constitutional act added Article 3a to the Constitution which provides in the third paragraph that legal acts and decisions adopted within international organizations to which Slovenia has transferred the exercise of part of its sovereign rights are applied in Slovenia in accordance with the legal regulation of these organizations.

3.1.3. European Legislation

Since the membership in the European Union in 2004, European legislation became a source of law in the Republic of Slovenia in accordance with the rules of the European legal order.

3.1.4. Laws

Laws/acts (zakoni) are the main general law acts in the law system. Hierarchically they are subordinated to the Constitution and International treaties ratified by the National Assembly and must be in accordance with them (the principle of constitutionality). The laws are adopted by the National Assembly according to the procedure described below (section 4.2.4.).

In Slovenia, there are no different types of laws (as there are, e.g. in federal states; federal laws and state laws) but in practice, a type of law called “codes” (zakonik) are used. This term is used for the laws that systematically and entirely govern the legal regulation of a large area of social life. However, they are not above the other laws - if there is an antinomy between a code and a law, the usual principles of the legal interpretation are to solve the conflict. Slovenia has several codes, such as Penal code and Civil code.

Laws have to be published in the Official Gazette and they enter into force on the fifteenth day after its publication unless otherwise determined in the act itself.

3.1.5. Case Law

In the Slovene legal system case law is not recognized as a formal source of law, but it often happens that it represents one with the power of its arguments. That means that in practice lower courts often use precedents in judging cases, not because they were obliged to, but because they follow the argumentation of the decisions. When applying to the term case law in Slovene legal area one should not have in mind the meaning of the term that is used in Anglo-American legal system but rather the collection of the decisions made by the courts. One of the functions of the Supreme Court of Slovenia is also to assure uniform case law.

3.1.6. Regulations

Regulations and other general legal acts must be in conformity with the Constitution, laws and all ratified treaties. They can be both general and individual, they are issued by government, ministries, local communities and other bearers of public authority. Regulations must be published prior to coming into force. A regulation comes into force on the fifteenth day after its publication unless otherwise determined in the regulation itself. State regulations are published in the Official Gazette of the state, whereas local community regulations are published in the official publication determined by the local community. The legislative procedure is described below (3.2.1., 3.2.2., 3.2.3.).

The Administrative court has jurisdiction to review administrative acts and to decide on the legality of final individual acts with which state authorities, local community authorities and bearers of public authority decide on the rights or obligations and legal entitlements of individuals and organizations, if other legal protection is not provided by law for a particular matter.

If other legal protection is not provided, the Court also decides on the legality of individual actions and acts, which intrude upon the constitutional rights of the individual.

3.2. National Legislation and Regulation

In compliance with the legislative regulation in the Republic of Slovenia, legal acts are adopted and issued by the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia as the legislative authority, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia and individual ministers within the executive branch of power, and the bearers of public authorities to whom public powers for implementation of certain state administration functions are granted by the law. The procedures for the adoption of legal acts differ depending on which of the above stated entities is adopting or issuing them.

3.2.1. Procedure of Adopting Laws in the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia

The main responsibility of the National Assembly lies in adopting laws regulating social relations, rights and obligations of nationals and other persons and in providing the basis for further normative regulation. The legislative procedure in the Republic of Slovenia is determined in detail by the Rules of Procedure of the National Assembly.

First, it should be noted that in the majority of cases, the proposer of legislation in Slovenia is the Government. A draft law may also be submitted by a deputy, the National Council, or at least 5.000 voters, but the percentage of these proposals is very low. This means that a vast majority of the laws undergoes not only the procedure as laid by the Parliament’s rules of procedure, but also the procedure described under the preceding point.

A draft law in the National Assembly undergoes three stages in the legislative procedure. The first reading is intended to present the draft law and is done by submitting it to the deputies. It may however include also a general debate on the reasons for the adoption of the law and on the principles, goals and basic solutions of the draft law. It should be emphasized that this is not obligatory and takes place only if requested by at least 10 deputies (out of 90). During this debate, the National Assembly decides whether the draft law is appropriate for further reading or not. In the latter case, the legislative procedure is terminated.

The second reading of a draft law is first held within the responsible working body of the National Assembly. In this stage, individual articles of the draft law are debated, and amendments are tabled. Amendments to a draft law may be tabled by deputies, a deputy group, certain working bodies and the Government – but the latter only where it is not itself the proposer of the law. After the discussion on amendments and articles, a supplemented draft law is drawn up by including all the adopted amendments. Such text is then discussed by the National Assembly as a whole. In this stage, an amendment may be tabled to those articles of the draft law to which amendments were adopted by the working body responsible. Amendments may be tabled by a deputy group, at least ten deputies, or the Government where it is not itself the proposer of the law. If amendments to less than a tenth of the articles of the supplemented draft law have been adopted during the second reading, the National Assembly may decide that it will continue with the third reading of the law at this same session.

In the third reading, the National Assembly debates and votes on the draft law in its entirety. In this stage, amendments may be tabled to those articles to which amendments have been adopted in the second reading. Amendments may be tabled by the proposer of the law or a deputy group or the Government where it is not itself the proposer of the law. After a debate and a vote on amendments, the National Assembly votes on the draft law.

The parliament’s rules of procedure provide also for a shortened and urgent procedure for the adoption of a law. The proposer of a law may propose shortened procedure in the event of minor amendments to the law, less demanding harmonization of the law with other laws or with the law of the European Union, or amendments to laws related to decisions of the Constitutional Court. Urgent procedure for the adoption of a law may only be proposed by the Government in the interests of the security or defense of the state, or in order to eliminate the consequences of natural disasters, or to prevent consequences regarding the functioning of the state that would be difficult to remedy. The merits of these two procedures are reduced time limits determined for the regular legislative procedure and implementation of all stages of the legislative procedure at one and the same session.

When a law is adopted, it comes into force by its promulgation on the part of the President of the Republic of Slovenia and by its publication in the Official Gazette. However, the Slovenian regulatory framework provides for two exceptions: under the first one, the National Council of the Republic of Slovenia (herein after the National Council) may vote on a suspensive veto against the adopted law. In consequence, the National Assembly has to decide again on the law as a whole and adopt it by the absolute majority of the votes cast in contrast to the regular procedure where the adoption is granted by the majority of votes cast by the deputies.

Our legislative regulation includes the possibility that at least 40.000 voters request that the adopted law be reconsidered on a subsequent referendum. If such a request is given, the National Assembly is obliged to call such referendum. This results in delaying the enactment of the law by several months, since the initiators of referendum (supported by the signatures of at least 2.500 voters) must be given a time limit by which they have to collect the required 40.000 signatures of voters (30 days).

The new constitutional arrangement of the legislative referendum of 2013 has affected the three components of the referendum arrangement: the referendum initiative (the National Council and one third of the deputies cannot demand it anymore; the initiative is exclusively in the hand of voters), the subject of referendum decision-making (constitutional restrictions and the ban of the referendum) and raising the legitimacy threshold at the referendum. The referendum can no longer be called for certain specific laws, while the legitimacy of a referendum decision strengthens the rejection quorum (at least one-fifth of all of the voters must reject a law). According to the Art. 90 of the Constitution, a referendum may not be called on laws on urgent measures to ensure the defense of the state, security, or the elimination of the consequences of natural disasters; on laws on taxes, customs duties, and other compulsory charges, and on the law adopted for the implementation of the state budget; on laws on the ratification of treaties; on laws eliminating an unconstitutionality in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms or any other unconstitutionality.

A referendum cannot be call also in case it would cause unconstitutional consequences, which, however, are decided on by the Constitutional Court.

3.2.2. Bearers of Public Authorities

In compliance with Article 121 of the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia, self-governing communities (municipalities and regions), enterprises and other organizations may be granted public powers by the law for implementing certain state administration functions. Public powers may also be implemented by issuing general acts that may have the same effect as the public regulation, which means that their norms are binding for all the entities concerned. Such acts are subordinated to the laws. The procedure of issuing them is not as formalized with respect to its legislative regulation as is the case with other authorities, because these are mostly general acts issued by particular organizations whose activities are not as manifold as are those of the state administration, and they are not the representatives of different interests as reflected in the coalition structure of the Government, and are not the subject of political confrontation and discourse, which are the prime characteristics of legislative authorities. The main task of these organizations is thus professional implementation of public powers granted to them within the regulatory framework. Considering the above, these cases hardly involve formal standardized procedures that would be as highly structured as those of legislative decision-making or decision-making at the Government's sessions. Within the legislative regulation of the Republic of Slovenia, public agencies should be mentioned in the first place as the bearers of public authorities that are granted the power of issuing general acts with the capacity of regulations. The actual examples below are given in illustration and confirmation of the above:

However, the procedure of adopting such acts may be determined in more detail by the rules of procedure of the bodies adopting these regulations, but these are internal acts and not regulations regulating such matter. General acts on the execution of public powers are published in the Official Gazette and in certain cases (for example, under the Energy Act), the consent of the Government is required in the issuing of these acts and the latter also has the power to suspend their implementation, if it believes them to be contrary to the law or in disagreement with the Constitution and to institute the relevant proceedings before the Constitutional Court.

3.2.3. Regulations Issued by the Ministers

Within the legislative regulation of the Republic of Slovenia, standardized procedures determined and applicable to the issuing of regulations on the part of the ministers exist only to a limited extent. First, the Constitution requires the issuing of any such regulation to have a statutory basis, meaning that primary normative regulation by the executive branch of power is not allowed. The Constitution also explicitly provides that the rights and duties of citizens and other persons may be determined by the National Assembly only by law (Art. 87). The ministers may thus issue regulations only when there is an explicit statutory basis or when they estimate that their regulation is necessary in order to implement the provisions of a certain law.

The procedure of issuing a regulation within the Ministry is not regulated and indeed, no regulation is needed, because any given case involves an individual decision of the responsible minister. It is another question, however, when and what kind of regulation should be issued. Such decisions depend on the particular ministries and on the relation between expert services and political function, which, however, is not the subject of prescribed standardized procedures. Formally, the procedure of issuing ministerial regulations is regulated only in the following respects:

Finally, it should be mentioned that even in the case of ministerial regulations, the coordination among several ministries may at times be indispensable – even more so when a certain regulation is issued jointly by several ministers or when it is issued by one minister in agreement with another one.

3.2.4. Government Regulations

Like ministerial regulations, Government regulations must also have a regulatory basis, but their issuing procedure is essentially different from the issuing procedure on the part of the ministers. The Government is a collective authority and all ministers are responsible for its work. On the other hand, the Government is also a place where different coalition interests collide for the first time and where the most important decisions are drafted and adopted. For the above reasons, the procedure of issuing regulations and adopting other decisions is highly formalized and elaborated in detail in the governmental rules of procedure. These Rules of Procedure determine in detail the method of processing any material (including the drafts of regulations) undergoing the governmental procedure. In summary, this procedure could be described in the following way: first, the governmental rules of procedure determine in detail the elements that any material undergoing the government procedure must contain (among other things, assurance of the proposer[2] on the conducted impact assessment of the proposed decisions on public financial resources, conformity with the EU acquis, reduction of administrative burdens and public administration, judicial authorities, economy, environment and social situation of individuals). Furthermore, the governmental rules of procedure require all material to be coordinated with the ministries and government offices concerned before they are submitted for the governmental procedure, and all drafts of regulations to be coordinated with the Ministry of Finance and the Government Office for Legislation. Non-coordinated material may proceed into the governmental procedure only if it could not be coordinated or if thus required by the urgency of the procedure.

The governmental rules of procedure thus determine a 14-day period for inter-ministerial coordination and a further 5-day period available to the Office for Legislation and the Ministry of Finance for their repeated opinion if the stage of inter-ministerial coordination produced changes in the submitted material. All government material is then published in the information system of the Government. Ministers and directors of government offices responsible directly to the Prime Minister may submit their respective comments within three days after its publication, oppose the procedure, and the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Public Administration and the Government Office for Legislation may in certain cases demand the extension of the before stated period available for the submission of comments to nine days. The procedure of processing such uncoordinated material is continued after the notification of the successful coordination or its failure. As a rule, the material is then processed by a responsible working body of the Government and at a Government's session. The decisions of the Government may also be taken at correspondence sessions. When and what will be decided on at a correspondence session depends mostly on the Prime Minister.

4. Judicial Profession

There are 3 law faculties in Slovenia: one in Ljubljana (created in 1919), one in Maribor (created in 1975) and one in Nova Gorica (created in 2005 and the only private one). All of them offer also post-graduate studies. All are also included in the Erasmus program of the European Union. The Ljubljana Law faculty’s library offers some 118.000 titles and access to some databases such as Ius info. The faculty also has the United Nations Depository Library DL-27 in the framework of the Institute for international law and international relations. It mostly contains documents, monographic and serial publications and other UN materials. Borrowing of the materials is on disposal free of charge for all the citizens of Republic of Slovenia. Maribor Law faculty’s library contains some 32.000 titles, free access to Ius info, Lexis Nexis, European Review of Contract Law and INIS Database. The library of the European Law faculty in Nova Gorica is under construction (with 1.351 entries in the libraries database).

Students can enter the law faculty after they have successfully passed the matriculation (matura) at the end of high school - gymnasium (4 years). After the reform of the higher education (Bologna reform), the studies are divided in 3 cycles. The first cycle, lasting for 3 or 4 years (depending on the faculty) is an undergraduate program and gives the title Bachelor of Law. The second cycle comprises 1 or 2 years and ends with the title Master of Laws. The third cycle is a doctoral program lasting for 3 or 4 years.

See the websites of University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Law, University of Maribor, Faculty of Law, and New University, European Faculty of Law for more information. Additionally, see Recognition and Assessment of Education and the Ministry of Education, Science, and Sport for more information.

In order to be a lawyer in Slovenia, in principle one only needs a degree from one of the law faculties in Slovenia, but in order to practice some specific law professions (such as judge, attorney-at-law, state prosecutor, notary) or to represent clients in front of some courts one needs also the state’s law exam. Before taking that exam, a graduated lawyer needs to work either for two years following a special program at the court or three years in some legal professions or 4 years in public or private service as a lawyer. The state’s exam is composed of two parts, written (to write one verdict in criminal and one verdict in civil matter) and oral (knowledge of the law system and laws in all legal areas).

To become an attorney-at-law, it takes furthermore 1 year of work as an “attorney-at-law candidate” in a legal office after passing the state’s law exam. Attorneys-at-law are connected in the Bar Association of Slovenia that has to approve the new members. The Bar Association registers the candidates on the list of attorneys-at-law and keeps the register of the foreign attorneys-at-law that can practice law in Slovenia; they have to be citizens of any European Union member state, speak actively Slovene and (among other conditions) show the knowledge of Slovene legal system by passing an exam. It is not possible to find a law firm in Slovenia; lawyers have to act in their own name. The list of registered lawyers can be found on the webpages of the Bar.

The notary is a public service: notaries draw up public and private documents and they assure legal protection at making contracts and other legal transactions. Notaries are appointed by the Minister of Justice. They are represented in the Chamber of Notaries.

The interests of the Republic of Slovenia and some other state’s institutions before domestic, foreign and international courts are represented by State Attorney’s Office.

Judges are elected by the National Assembly on the proposal of the Judicial Council. The Judicial Council of the Republic of Slovenia is composed of eleven members, five of them being elected by the National Assembly on the proposal of the President of the Republic from among university professors of law, attorneys and other lawyers, and the other six members are elected by judges holding permanent judicial office from among their own number. Among other conditions, the candidates for judges have to be lawyers with the State’s law exam, with at least 3 years of work in law after the exam and at least 30 years old. Judges are independent in the performance of the judicial function and their office is permanent. Judicial office is not compatible with office in other state bodies, in local self-government bodies and in bodies of political parties and with other offices and activities as provided by law. Judges are protected by immunity; according to the Constitution, no one who participates in making judicial decisions may be held accountable for an opinion expressed during decision-making in court. Furthermore, if a judge is suspected of a criminal offence in the performance of judicial office, he may not be detained, nor may criminal proceedings be initiated against him without the consent of the National Assembly.

State Prosecutors file and present criminal charges and have other powers provided by law. The State Prosecutor General is appointed by the National Assembly on the proposal of the Government, on the other hand, the others are appointed by the Government on the proposal of the Minister for justice and their function is permanent. The organization of State Prosecution Office follows that of the courts: State Prosecutor General (the head of State Prosecution Office), Supreme State Prosecutors, Higher State Prosecutors, District State Prosecutors and State Prosecutor’s assistant.

5. Sources for Legal Research

5.1. Online Resources

Legal information System: The governmental register of laws, regulations, international treaties, case law, EU law and other relevant legal sources in Slovenian language. Unofficial consolidated text of the legislation is accessible with links to the Official Gazette's web pages. The webpage offers a list of legislation translated in English with links to the texts as well.

URADNI LIST: The Official Gazette publishes the Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia weekly (in principle), and from 1.1.2006 it also has the on-line version of the Gazette, that has the same content, setting up and is published at the same time as the paper version. This very useful database is accessible without registration and free to all but unfortunately only in Slovene in the time of this writing. The documents are accessible in PDF format.

The Case Law search engine: The search engine of the case law of the Slovenian courts (the Constitutional Court excluded) and the Court of Justice of the EU in Slovenian language, maintained by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia. Supreme courts key decisions (in English).

The Constitutional Court Case Law search engine: The search engine of the case law of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia in English.

IUS INFO: IUS INFO/EURO IUS INFO and TAX-FIN-LEX are the two most elaborated tools for searching legal materials in Slovene. They have databases of laws and regulations, decisions of Higher courts, the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court, articles, legal opinions, legal dictionaries, registers of legislation, and legislation of the European Union. European Union law databases are also accessible in English, but most of them are only accessible with the password obtained by the paid registration. Besides the wide coverage, the biggest quality is an easy searching engine. As they update their databases frequently, they are used also by Slovene courts and Public administration.

Parliament database The National Assembly has a database of the adopted legislation from 1996 on. It consists of the following databases: Consolidated Texts of Laws, Adopted Laws, Draft Laws - draft laws submitted for discussion in the current term of the National Assembly, Readings of Laws - End of Procedure, Draft Acts, Readings of Acts, Draft Ordinances, and Readings of Ordinances - End of Procedure. Database has also a searching engine, not as elaborated as the previous ones, though, and it is only available in Slovene in the moment of writing.

The best sources of Slovene legislation in English are Ministries and Governmental offices, which keep English translations (although mostly unofficial), of the most important laws in their area:

5.2. Legal Publishers

Although most publishers publish legal literature among the other literature, there are several more or less specialized legal publishers in Slovene (most of the web pages are not accessible in English yet):

5.3. Legal Journals

5.4. Miscellaneous

5.5. Selection of Major Commentaries


Criminal Code

Code of Criminal Procedure

General Administrative Procedure Act

Administrative Dispute Act

Civil Code

Code of Civil Prodecure

Law of Property Code

Companies Act

Prevention of Restriction of Competition Act

Financial Operations, Insolvency Proceedings, and Compulsory Dissolution Act

Employment Relationships Act

Family Code

5.6. Selection of Printed Legal Resources in English

[1] The Constitution allowed the establishment of the regional level, but it predicted an integration of municipalities on a voluntary basis, which turned out to be impossible to organize.

[2] Proposer - that is the word taken from the official Slovene translations of the Government regulations. It supposed to mean the one who "proposes the law to be adopted" to the Parliament or to any other organ responsible for the legislation (the initiator). The word was not changed because the acts are also using it and we wanted to avoid the vagueness.