The Franak association of Croatians saddled with the notoriously ballooned Swiss franc-pegged housing loans asked its members on Tuesday to send e-mails to MPs ahead of the vote naming the next Supreme Court head judge. The association said they would favor judge Radovan Dobronic, who was nominated for the job by President Zoran Milanovic.
Franak was formed to help people who had taken out kuna-denominated mortgages in the 2000s which were pegged to the Swiss franc – a common practice used by local banks at the time, who offered these loans to people with low incomes or credit scores.
As the Swiss franc later gained in value, the installments skyrocketed, and the matter became a huge social and political issue. Pressured by a series of legal challenges filed by debtors, banks later agreed to convert the loans and peg them to the euro. However, some lawsuits filed by debtors are still ongoing.
On 4 July 2013, the Zagreb Commercial Court delivered a ruling in favor of the Consumer Protection Association which had sued eight banks with regard to the Swiss franc foreign currency clause and their unilateral decision to increase interest rates.
The judgement was handed down by Judge Dobronic, who said at the time that the banks had violated consumers’ rights “by failing to fully inform them about all the parameters necessary to decide on taking loans.”
The ruling, which effectively annulled the foreign currency clause in contracts for loans pegged to the Swiss franc, was later upheld by the High Commercial Court in Zagreb.
“Eight years ago, judge Dobronic gave hope to all holders of Swiss franc-indexed loans,” the Franak association said today in an unsigned press release.
“We believe that we do not have to explain in great detail the reasons why we are confident that judge Dobronic is the only candidate who can launch the necessary changes in the judiciary. We believe that by expressing our support for him we can send a message to MPs and let them know who represents the citizens’ choice,” state agency Hina reported, citing the press release.
In a draft message of support for judge Dobronic, which can be sent by anyone to members of the parliamentary Judiciary Committee, which is to interview candidates for Supreme Court president, Franak messaged that “by supporting judge Dobronic for Supreme Court President, you will restore citizens’ hope and faith in judicial autonomy and a just Croatia.”
The Judiciary Committee is to interview the candidates on 9 September.
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