Civil and Commercial Division of the Supreme Court

The Civil and Commercial Division is the fundamental organisational unit of the Supreme Court responsible for ensuring uniformity and lawfulness in the decision-making of courts in civil proceedings. It does so within its own decision-making jurisdiction in extraordinary appeal proceedings against decisions of courts of appeal and within its non-decision-making jurisdiction by providing standpoints on different decision-making approaches taken by courts to cases of a certain kind and by approving selected decisions for publication in the Collection of Decisions and Standpoints of Case Law.

The Civil and Commercial Division consists of the Head of the Division and judges allocated to 12 court departments (of which 8 are civil departments and 4 are commercial departments). The assignment of judges to individual three-member panels and the distribution of cases among individual departments is specified in the Work Schedule.

The crux of the decision-making activity of the Division’s panels is deciding extraordinary appeals from final judgments of courts of appeal, where allowed by law. The system of distributing cases among individual departments is based on their subject matter specialization. The constitution of individual panels, unless directly inferable from the Work Schedule, and the allocation of cases to individual judges, is determined by the managing member of the respective panel, who also appoints the particular presiding judge of the panel in the procedural sense of the word. This judge prepares a draft decision, but the decision itself is made only by a majority (or unanimous) vote of the members of the panel.

As the result of the fact that the case load of the Supreme Court exceeds the decision-making capacity of the panels, decisions on extraordinary appeals are issued with a certain delay after the date of filing (in many cases amounting to one to two years). In principle, cases are dealt with in chronological order, according to the date of filing with the Supreme Court, yet priority is given to the aspect of the total length of the proceedings and the public and individual significance of the cases. Reduction of the length of the proceedings and concentration of judges on the essence of the decision-making at the highest judicial instance is to be facilitated by assistants to judges (currently, each judge has one or two assistants), and this constantly helps increase the number of settled cases. However, the accomplishment of the statutory mission of the Supreme Court in the decision-making activity is significantly affected by a large percentage of extraordinary appeals not eventually decided on the merits by the court of extraordinary appeal due to proceedings having been discontinued or extraordinary appeals rejected on the grounds of inadmissibility. Only admissible extraordinary appeals can lead to their dismissal, if they are unsubstantiated, or to vacation of the decision of the court of appeal (or the court of first instance), if they are substantiated.

If a panel of the Supreme Court arrives, during its decision-making, at a legal conclusion that is different from a conclusion specified in a prior decision of the Supreme Court, the panel will transfer the case to a Grand Panel comprising 15 judges (13 representatives of individual court departments, the Vice - President of the Supreme Court and the Head of the Division, who will preside over the Grand Panel).

At the level of the non-decision-making activity, the Division fulfils its unifying role by providing standpoints on the decision-making activity of courts in cases of a certain kind on the basis of evaluation of final decisions of courts, generally containing mutually contradicting legal conclusions. For an opinion to be adopted, it must be approved by a majority vote of present members of the Division (all judges allocated to it) with at least two thirds of all its members present. In the interest of uniform decision-making of courts, the Supreme Court issues the Collection of Decisions and Standpoints, in which important decisions of the Supreme Court or other ordinary courts are published by the decision of the Division made by a majority vote of present members with at least half of the members of the Division present.