History


The Supreme Court of the Czechoslovak Republic was established in 1918 by the Act No. 5/1918 in Coll. Even though its seat was originally in Prague, the Supreme Court was soon after its establishment moved to Brno in 1919. The Supreme Court was the third instance for both civil and criminal matters, and, moreover, it could make suggestions for passing laws relating to justice as well as amendments thereto. Its structure was almost identical to that of the Supreme Court of Justice and Cassation in Vienna functioning until 1918. The Supreme Court consisted of the First and the Second President, seven presidents of the panels (after 1930 their number increased to 9) and forty council members (forty-eight council members after 1930).

After 1945, two supreme courts existed – the original Supreme Court of the First Republic was complemented by the Slovak Supreme Court with its seat in Bratislava. In 1945 and 1946, the agreements with the Slovak National Council were reached stating that the two supreme courts would be considered, keeping their structure and jurisdiction according to the then current legislation, as a part of one Supreme Court seated in Brno.

As the Act on the Popularization of the Judiciary was adopted in 1948, the composition of the Supreme Court was completed by appointing required number of lay judges. The panels were made up of two professional judges and three lay judges. When deciding a case, their votes were equal. The lay judges even took part in decisions on complaints of the violation of law. In view of the fact that in this cases the lay judges were appointed by the government, the principles of impartiality and independence were seriously violated.

With 1968 Constitutional Act on the Czechoslovak Federation, new structure of federal authorities was established. Besides the Supreme Court of the Czechoslovak Federation, the Supreme Courts were also established in the Czech Republic as well as in the Slovak Republic. The Supreme Court of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic seated in Prague was the highest judicial authority for the entire Federation. Its main task was to oversight legality of court decisions and to ensure uniformity of the case law. Its jurisdiction was practically identical to the one presently existing, except that the Supreme Court has never decided cases as the court of first instance. Specifically, the Supreme Court reviewed legality of final decisions, where death penalty was imposed. By that time, there were only panels made up of three or five members, all solely professional judges and the court had three divisions - civil, criminal and military.

After 1989, there were only personnel changes in the entire system of judiciary. The Court's organizational structure and jurisdiction remained unchanged. The fundamental change came with the break-up of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, the system of federal and republic authorities was cancelled and the jurisdiction belonging to the Supreme Court of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic were passed onto the Supreme Court of the Czech Republic on January 1, 1993.