When Neven* was sacked from his job, he hoped that his claim for unfair dismissal would be processed quickly and fairly. Instead, the court proceedings dragged on without an outcome for 11 years, putting Neven under great personal and financial strain.
Neven finally contacted Transparency International (TI) Croatia, explaining that he couldn’t afford a lawyer and wasn’t entitled to free legal aid under Croatian law. His former employers could drag out the court proceedings for years because Neven lacked the legal expertise to represent himself properly.
TI Croatia provided Neven with free legal advice, and helped him make an appeal for his case to be fast tracked on the grounds that the process had been unnecessarily lengthy. Soon after, Neven was informed by the county court that his case had been reclassified as a priority case. Within a month, his appeal was heard and Neven won the case against his former employers.
As well as securing justice and compensation for Neven, TI Croatia created a public debate about the often excessive duration of minor court cases in Croatia, which results from high lawyer fees and narrow eligibility criteria for receiving free legal aid. Neven’s experience is not an isolated case and highlights the urgency for much needed improvement in the country’s judicial system. TI Croatia continues to push for a fair and expedient legal system, as well as providing legal advice to those who struggle to receive justice.
*Names have been changed.