Bank of Slovenia informed of Constitutional Court decision to stay implementation of Act on Judicial Relief Granted to Holders of Qualified Bank Credit

03/10/2020 / Press release

The Bank of Slovenia has been awarded a unanimous decision by the Constitutional Court staying the implementation of the Act on Judicial Relief Granted to Holders of Qualified Bank Credit in full. The court also ruled that it would treat the case as an absolute priority. When applying for the review of constitutionality, we highlighted that the aforementioned law breaches the fundamental principles of the functioning of the central bank, as set out by the constitution and also by EU law. The law is disputable primarily on the grounds of the ban on monetary financing, and the financial independence of the central bank, which has also been highlighted on several occasions by international institutions.

The Bank of Slovenia lodged an application to review the constitutionality of the Act on Judicial Relief Granted to Holders of Qualified Bank Credit on 10 January 2020. In its order announced today, the Constitutional Court decided to stay the implementation of the entire law until it has made a final decision. This suspends all litigation, and stops time being counted towards the statute-barring of compensation claims or towards the deadline for filing a lawsuit.

As we have often reiterated, the Bank of Slovenia welcomes the government’s intention to regulate judicial relief for holders of subordinated debt, but the current solution does not provide for it. During the process of drafting the law, we submitted several proposals for how to properly regulate the central bank’s position in judicial proceedings of this type, but these were not taken into consideration.

We are once again stating our arguments for why the Bank of Slovenia decided to petition the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia to review the constitutionality of the Act on Judicial Relief Granted to Holders of Qualified Bank Credit:

  • The law breaches the ban on monetary financing, under which central bank funds may not be spent on tasks that are not tasks of the central bank. The generally accepted view in the EU is that bank resolution is not a task of the central bank.
  • The draft law also stipulates that the Bank of Slovenia’s liability is potentially objective, while it is subject to a reversed burden of proof. In terms of the liability of public institutions, such strict liability is exceptional both in Slovenia and in the EU.
  • It requires the Bank of Slovenia to pay a flat compensation amount to individual investors, without any determination of why damage was incurred. The Bank of Slovenia reiterates that the central bank may not provide funds for measures of a social nature, a description that fits the aforementioned flat compensation amounts. The breach of the ban on monetary financing is even more evident under this arrangement.
  • The law also stipulates that compensation should be paid from the Bank of Slovenia’s future earnings, which would otherwise primarily be distributed to the general reserves, and from its existing general reserves. This encroaches on the financial independence of the central bank, which must have adequate funds at its disposal for performing its primary tasks, and must also have the opportunity to decide on creating its own reserves.

At the same time the Bank of Slovenia proposed that the court also assess certain procedural rules envisaged in the law. These do not provide for effective judicial relief, place the Bank of Slovenia in an extremely inferior position, encroach on the competences of EU institutions, and contravene the rules on the protection of confidential supervisory information applying in the EU. In addition, the law fails to provide for proper protection of confidential information obtained in the bank supervision and resolution procedure. 

On the basis of the decision by the Constitutional Court, the Bank of Slovenia has removed the notice previously published under Article 10 of the law from its website.

Additional details regarding the Bank of Slovenia’s comments can be found in previous observations: