Social Courts in Theory and Practice: Yugoslav Workers' Courts in Comparative Perspective

By Robert M. Hayden | Go to book overview

Epilogue, March 1990: The Demise of the CALs?

Since the conceptual basis of the CALs was originally so closely connected with the self-management system created by the 1974 constitution and the LAL, it is not surprising that, with the decline of selfmanagement as an ideology, the future of these courts is less than bright. They were not mentioned in the 1988 amendments to the federal constitution, perhaps because those changes dealt with topics that were more immediately pressing than the nature of the courts. This dispensation seems unlikely to last, however, as at least one concrete proposal for changes in the federal constitution, made by the FEC in February 1990, provided for the abolition of the CAL.1 This proposal was endorsed by the Committee on the Judiciary of the federal assembly on 14 March 1990( Borba, 15 March 1990, p. 3). Assuming that changes will indeed be made in the federal constitutional structure, it seems likely that the CALs will be eliminated.

Unfortunately, the reasons given for abolishing the CALs are not completely clear as this book goes to press. However, a brief newspaper account of the decision by the committee on the judiciary to eliminate them states that this step was recommended in recognition of the "general agreement on [the need for] strengthening the legal state [pravna država ]" which makes it "necessary to ensure the greater independence of the judiciary and the selection of the most highly qualified people for these positions." The CALs are seen as unsatisfactory because of "the fact that [they] have not achieved a satisfactory level of specialization, or, more precisely, that there is too much participation by laymen in the process of judgment" ( Borba, 15 March 1990, p. 3).

For readers of this book this rationale is rich in irony, for it seems clear that the CALs were never the lay courts that either their founders envisioned or the public imagined. It is, furthermore, an inversion of the criticisms made by those who wished to "reform" the CALS in the 1980s. But the irony compounds, in that the 1990 criticism is less accurate empirically than was that of the earlier reform campaign.

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