Croatian Law On Arbitration And Unicitral Model Law On International Commercial Arbitration by Elma Beganovic

Elma Beganovic


Introduction: Free-Market Democracy and International Arbitration Law

In 1991, after a short-war against Serbia, Croatia emerged as an independent nation.[1] Its political leadership and people were eager to leave the communist past behind and integrate themselves into Western Europe.  To establish itself as a free market democracy, Croatia had to completely reform its legal system, including its law on international commercial arbitration.  International commercial arbitration is particularly important because of Croatia’s lucrative Adriatic Coast; the prospect of economic development along Croatia’s coast quickly proved attractive to foreign investors and international companies.[2] Recognizing its potential as a tourist Mecca, the Croatian government realized that an established and stable legal system would reduce the perceived risk of investing in the country and attract foreign trade and investment.[3] Subsequently, Croatia adopted a single statute that embodied its national arbitration law in 2001.[4]

This paper via a comparison with UNICITRAL Model Law illustrates that while Croatia has implemented a sophisticated arbitration act, its eagerness to implement arbitration law may have compromised the act’s clarity and some basic rights of parties.  Reform of Croatia’s 2001 Act is desirable to clarify the jurisdiction of arbitral tribunal; to explain the role of national courts in assisting arbitrations conducted abroad; to allow for service of process to addressees; and to protect against unauthorized arbitration agreements by agents.

This text will: first, discuss the judicial development of international commercial arbitration in Croatia; second, explain the scope of the Croatian law on arbitration; third, analyze Croatia’s definition of arbitration agreement; fourth, examine the ability of an arbitral tribunal to rule on its own jurisdiction; fifth, consider the role of Croatian courts in arbitrations taking place abroad; sixth, scrutinize the Croatian service of process in arbitration; and finally, explore maritime disputes under Croatian Law on Arbitration.

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