In Slovenia, the claimed amount determines the court before which the proceeding should be initiated, namely: (i) for claimed amounts of EUR 20.000 or less, the circuit court (Okrajno sodišče) shall have jurisdiction; (ii) for claimed amounts exciding EUR 20,000, the district court (Okrožno sodišče) shall have jurisdiction. It shall however be noted that in commercial disputes (e.g. disputes between commercial entities) the district court shall have jurisdiction regardless the amount of the claim. For all the commercial disputes applicable Civil Procedure Rules governing commercial disputes shall apply (which among others enable the court to issue a judgement without a hearing in certain cases,..).
The claimed amount determines the type of the proceeding, namely: in commercial disputes where the claimed amount does not exceed EUR 4,000, the rules on the Summary Process Disputes (postopek v sporih majhne vrednosti) shall be applied (in non-commercial disputes the relevant threshold shall be EUR 2,000). Where the value of dispute exceeds the above specified thresholds, the rules applicable to the “ordinary procedure” shall apply.
The Summary Process Dispute has some specifics, namely:
- the court’s decision is, in principle, adopted only based on written submissions of the parties;
- in certain cases, the court may issue a judgement without conducting the hearing;
- the claimant shall be obliged to provide all the arguments and evidence already in the lawsuit and the defendant in the response to the lawsuit; each party shall then be able to submit only one additional submission in which it may respond to the other party’s statements and evidence;
- special sanctions apply if the parties do not attend the hearing;
- deadlines for filing the response to the lawsuit and written submissions are short (i.e. shall be filed within 8 days);
- deadlines for filing the appeal are shorter (8 days after receipt of the court’s decision instead or 15 days applicable to “ordinary procedure”);
- a party may file an appeal only against the decisions by which the procedure is terminated (and there is no right to appeal other decisions issued throughout the proceeding - those may be challenged only in the appeal against the decision by which the proceeding is terminated);
- reasons for which the court’s decision may be challenged are very limited.
As an alternative, irrespective of the claimed amount, the creditor can initiate an Order for Payment Procedure (“Postopek za izdajo plačilnega naloga”) before the competent court. This is a fast and automatic procedure without hearing.
To initiate the procedure, the creditor must demonstrate that the debt is due and payable and evidenced by so called “authentic instrument” (“verodostojna listina”) (the following documents are considered authentic instruments under the Slovenian law: an invoice; a bill of exchange/promissory note; or a cheque with protest and a return invoice when these are required for the origination of the claim; an official instrument; an extract from the accounting books certified by an authorised person; a private document notarized according to applicable laws and a document having the nature of an official instrument according to special regulations). The authentic instrument(s) evidencing the claim must be submitted to the court (however, such documents are not required if the claimed amount does not exceed EUR 2,000).
Once the lawsuit with the proposal for issuance of the payment order is filed, the court issues a payment order (“plačilni nalog”) ordering the debtor to either pay or contest the creditor’s claim within 8 days from the receipt of the order (or in cases of bill of exchange/promissory note or cheques within 3 days). If the debtor does not pay and does not contest the order within that time limit, then the creditor is entitled to apply for an enforcement order (“predlog za izvršbo”) in a separate enforcement procedure. If the debtor contests the payment order and files an objection in due time, court cancels the issued payment order automatically and the proceeding shall then continue as a regular court proceeding before the competent court (considering applicable rules e.g. for commercial disputes rules, summary proceeding rules..). In such a proceeding, both parties must support their statements with respective documentary evidence and/or witnesses and/or other means (e.g. onsite inspections, experts,..) and the court then issues a judgement. Parties have the right to appeal the judgment.
Choosing the Order for Payment Procedure may be reasonable where the creditor expects that there will be no objection raised by the debtor (it is however more common that enforcement proceeding as described further below is commenced in such cases).
However, in Slovenia the most common way to start a recovery claim in case of unpaid invoices is to commence an enforcement proceeding on the basis of so called “authentic instrument” (“verodostojna listina”) (the following documents are considered authentic instruments under the Slovenian law: an invoice; a bill of exchange/promissory note; or a cheque with protest and a return invoice when these are required for the origination of the claim; an official instrument; an extract from the accounting books certified by an authorised person; a private document notarized according to applicable laws and a document having the nature of an official instrument according to special regulations). In case of enforcement motion on the basis of an authentic instrument (predlog za izvršbo na podlagi verodostojne listine) the enforcement court issues an enforcement order by which the court is ordering the debtor to pay the claimed amounts. The debtor may object within 8 days (or in cases of bill of exchange/promissory note or cheques within 3 days). If the debtor files a substantiated objection in which it contests the grounds and/or the amount of the claim and proposes evidence in this regard, the enforcement court cancels the issued enforcement order automatically and the proceeding shall then continue as a proceeding for Order for Payment Procedure as specified above before the competent court.
Once the final judgement is issued in the ordinary court procedure or in the Order for Payment Procedure, the creditor shall in any event be obliged to commence an enforcement proceeding if the debtor fails to fulfil its obligations.