Croatia International Trade in Legal Services

Croatia International Trade in Legal Services


Is there legislation governing the legal sector

Law on the Legal Profession (Zakon o odvjetništvu, Official Gazette "Narodne novine" No. 9/94, dated January 27, 1994 and No. 117 dated October 13, 2008

Under what title do lawyers practise?

Odvjetnik/odvjetnica translated as lawyer or attorney

How does an individual lawyer obtain a "licence" to practise law? How often must this be renewed?



Article 48 of the Lawyers Act states that "The right to be enrolled in the list of attorneys shall be given to the person fulfilling the following conditions: 1. that the person is of Croatian citizenship; 2. that the person possesses business capacity; 3. that the person's health conditions are such as to allow the performance of law practice activities; 4. that the person has graduated from a Faculty of Law of the Republic of Croatia;
5. that upon graduation the person has completed at least three years of apprenticeship in a law office or has had legal jobs in judicial bodies or has worked for at least five years on other legal jobs; 6. that the person has an active knowledge of the Croatian language; 7. that the person has passed the Bar Examination in the Republic of Croatia; 8. that no investigation and criminal procedure are conducted against the person as ex officio prosecution; 9. that the person is not employed; 10. that the person is worthy of carrying out the legal profession; 11. that the person does not perform other jobs which are incompatible with the legal profession.

Does this entitle the holder to practise throughout the country? If the law license only permits one to practice on a sub-national level, please explain the jurisdictional limits

The licence to practise in Croatia is a national one.

Are there certain activities that are "reserved" to those who are licensed to practise law in the jurisdiction?

Article 3 of the Lawyers Act defines 'legal assistance' as ithe work of lawyers which allows them to do the following:  give legal advice, draft documents (contracts, wills, statements, etc.), draw up claims, complaints, motions, requests, extraordinary legal remedies and other pleadings; represent their clients. Article 6 of the Act gives the Croatian Bar Association the right to initiate proceedings against non lawyers rendering legal assistance.

Do you need to hold local nationality to be eligible to practise law?

The Lawyers Act requires Croatian citizenship for enrollment as a lawyer. Since joining the EU in July 2013 Croatia must now allow other EU nationals the possibility to qualify as Croatian lawyers.

What legal forms can lawyers work in? (e.g. self employment, partnership, limited liability partnership, multi-disciplinary partnership, incorporation)



Croatian lawyers can use the following forms: (1) Sole practice - the principal can employ as many trainees or other personnel without limits. The only restriction is that he or she cannot employ other attorneys-at-law. He or she can have only one office; (2) Joint offices or partnerships made up of two or more lawyers enrolled with the Croatian Bar Association. These partnerships are regulated by the Law on the Legal Profession (ZAKON O ODVJETNISTVU) and the Law on Obligations (ZAKON O OBVEZNIM ODNOSIMA, the official gazette 'NARODNE NOVINE' No. 53/91, 73/91, 3/94); (3)  As a law firm with separate legal personality.

What other ethical or regulatory requirements must a licensed lawyer comply with? 

The Attorneys' Code of Ethics was passed at the Assembly of the Croatian Bar Association on 18 February, 1995 and amended on 12 June, 1999. It is available at the Croatian Bar website (

Do law firms need to receive a "license" (or permission/approval) to practice law?

Partnership or law firm agreements must be registered with the Bar.  Law firms and partnerships are govered by the rules of the Company Law - ZAKON O TRGOVACKIM DRUSTVIMA (the official gazette 'NARODNE NOVINE' No. 111/93 and by the Law on Obligations.

Which authority issues licences? Are there different authorities for individuals and firms? 

Both lists of individual lawyers admitted to practice in Croatia and legally established law firms are maintained by the Croatian Bar Association.


Are there any explicit rules or restrictions other than visas on fly in fly out practice of law? Ie. Do you need to obtain a licence for temporary practice?

Under the terms of Croatia's accession to the EU, lawyers from other EU, other EEA countries and Switzerland will in future be permitted to practise law on a fly in fly out basis in Croatia without restriction. Lawyers of other nationalities are not permitted to practise law, unless they are Croatian citizens and enrolled in the register of attorneys held by the Croatian Bar Association.

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a visa to visit clients or to market but not to practice?

Croatia grants business visas to natural persons who stay temporarily in Croatia without acquiring remuneration from or within Croatia and without seeking employment in Croatia. This includes natural persons who stay temporarily in Croatia in order to conclude the contract for the sale of a service on behalf of the enterprise they are employed or mandated for or to participate in business meetings, fairs and other similar activities. Persons not based in Croatia and receiving no remuneration from a source located in Croatia, who are engaged in activities related to representing a services supplier for the purpose of   negotiating for the sale of the services of that supplier. Those representatives can not be engaged in making direct sales to the general public or in supplying services themselves. Some non-EEA countries (e.g. the US) are exempt from business visa requirements.

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a licence to establish and practise as a foreign legal consultant and what is the scope of this limited licence?

Only EU, EEA and Swiss nationals are permitted under the terms of Croatia's accesstion to the EU to practise as registered European lawyers. They may practise their home country law, European law and Croatian law in association with a Croatian lawyer.

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled once a foreign lawyer has been granted a limited licence (e.g. residency requirement)

A European lawyer registering with the Croatian Bar Association once its new rules are in place will be required to practice under his or her home professional title and abide by the Croatian Bar's code of ethics.

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled for a foreign lawyer to qualify for a limited licence? (e.g. prior practice)

Under its WTO commitments, Croatia has committed that in proceedings involving international elements, parties can be represented before arbitration courts by lawyers who are members of bar associations of other countries

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation? Article 47 of the Lawyers' Act states that "In the procedures before the Permanent Arbitration Courts in legal matters with a foreign element, parties may be represented by attorneys enrolled in the lists of associations of other countries."
Are foreign lawyers allowed to appear in court under any circumstances?

Representation of parties before courts can be practised only by the members of the Bar Council of Croatia. Under the terms of Croatia's accession to the EU, lawyers from other EU states will now be permitted to appear in court provided they do so in association with a local lawyer.

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?

Not at present although under the terms of Croatia's accession to the EU, EU,  EEA and Swiss lawyers will be able to requalify either by way of an aptitude test or assimilation into the local profession.


Can a foreign law firm obtain a licence to open an office?

To date the only possible way for a foreign law firm to operate in Croatia is through a written contract with other domestic or foreign law offices in order to carry out activities of common interest and to provide mutual service.  Following its accession to the EU however, EU, EEA and Swiss law firms will be permitted to establish offices in Croatia.

Even if a foreign law firm does not require a legal licence must they register in some form in order to set up an office? (e.g. with a ministry of company affairs etc)

Croatian law offices that enter into affiliation arrangements with foreign law firms must submit a copy of the contract on affiliation to the Bar Association
Are there different types of foreign law firm 'licence'  (e.g. Joint Law Venture, stand alone foreign licence etc)

Not applicable

Is there a quota on the number of licences available?

Not applicable

Are there geographical restrictions on foreign firm licences or on the number of branches a foreign firm can have?

Not applicable

Are there "scope of practice" rules that apply directly to foreign law firms (as opposed to lawyers themselves)? (e.g. home, host, international law), if so, what are they?

Not applicable

Are there restrictions on the corporate form a foreign law firm can take? EEA and Swiss law firms establishing in Croatia under the rules which Croatia will introduce in order to implement the EU Establishment Directive, will need to follow local rules on permitted forms of practice.  Croatian lawyers may practise as sole practitioners or in partnerships.
Are there rules about the name a foreign law firm can take? Once the relevant legislation is enacted, EEA and Swiss law firms would be expected to conform to the local rules on the names of law firms
What entity grants a 'license' to a foreign law firm? If that entity is on the Internet, please provide the URL The Croatian Bar Association ( will approve all applications from EU and EEA law firms once the expected provisions implementing Croatia's accession commitments are implemented.


Are there restrictions on the ownership share of foreign lawyers in a law firm?

Foreign lawyers are not permitted to have ownership interests in Croatian law firms. Once the Establishment Directive is implemented in Croatia EEA lawyers will be able to own law firms outright and to enter freely into partnerships with Croatian lawyers.

May a domestic lawyer be employed by a foreign lawyer or law firm?

No - although this will change once the Establishment Directive is implemented and EEA or Swiss lawyers will be able to employ Croatian lawyers.

Can a domestic lawyer enter into partnership with a foreign lawyer?

No - although this will change once the Establishment Directive is implemented and EEA or Swiss lawyers will be able to enter partnerships with Croatian lawyers.

Can a domestic lawyer or domestic law firm employ a foreign lawyer?

No although this will change once the Establishment Directive is implemented and Croatian lawyers will be able to employ EEA or Swiss lawyers to work as lawyers.


Other useful sources or comments or links

Croatian Bar Association: