In June, Amendment C to the Administrative Dispute Act (“ZUS-1“), published in the Official Journal of the Republic of Slovenia No 49/2023 of 28 April 2023, will enter into force.
The amendment introduces several important novelties, the most significant of which is undoubtedly the change in the composition of the court under Article 13 of the ZUS-1. The primary form of adjudication in administrative disputes has been changed from a single judge to a three-judge panel. Nevertheless, a single judge may submit a proposal to the President of the Court that a case be heard by a three-judge panel if it is a complex case on questions of law or fact or if the determination of the action may be expected to resolve an important question of law, in particular if it is a question of law on which there is no case-law or the case-law is inconsistent. The single judge may make such a submission up to the date of the preparatory hearing and the first date of the main hearing or the date of submission of the case to the sitting. The President of the Court shall rule on his or her motion by special decision against which there is no appeal. The composition of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia when it decides on the appeal depends on whether it was a single judge or a panel of judges that decided the case at first instance. If the decision at first instance was taken by a single judge, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia will also rule according to a single judge. If the appeal was decided at first instance by a panel of judges, the Supreme Court will also decide the appeal in a panel of three judges. The same applies to the proceedings on the application for a retrial.
The amendment of the provisions on the preparation of the material will also be important to improve the efficiency of the administrative dispute procedure. The court will be able to limit the size and number of pleadings to be filed by the parties and to set a time limit within which each party must prepare a written summary of its pleadings. The time limit should not be less than 15 days. If a party fails to submit a summary of the pleading within the time limit, the pleading will not be taken into consideration. The court must, of course, specifically warn the party of this consequence.
Above all, the fact that the court will now be able to decide without a hearing if the factual situation on which the administrative act is based is not disputed between the parties will contribute to the efficiency and speed of administrative litigation. However, if the factual situation is disputed, the court will still be able to rule without a hearing in certain cases, provided that:
- it is apparent from the lawsuit, the contested act and the administrative files that the lawsuit should be upheld and the contested act annulled on the basis of Article 64(1) of the ZUS-1, and that there was no side participant with an opposing interest in the administrative proceedings,
- the parties merely adduce new facts and evidence which cannot be taken into account by the court in accordance with the present law (Article 52 of the ZUS-1), or the new facts and evidence adduced are not relevant to the decision,
- the parties propose only evidence that is not necessary to establish the disputed facts, which can be established without the taking of the proposed evidence,
- the dispute is between the same parties, involves a similar factual and legal basis and has already been finally decided by a court,
- the court decides only on the basis of the documents and the parties have agreed not to hold a main hearing, and the court is not bound by the facts established in the procedure for issuing the administrative act.
Now, in the event of annulment of a contested administrative act, the court may also determine in the judgment the manner in which its decision will be enforced (Article 64(3) of the ZUS-1). In such a case, the competent authority must issue a new administrative act within 30 days of receipt of the judgment or within a time limit set by the court. In doing so, in accordance with Article 64(5) ZUS-1, it is bound by:
- pronouncement of judgment;
- the facts as established by the court at the main hearing;
- the court’s legal opinion on the application of the substantive law;
- other positions of the court relating to the proceedings.