Key facts of the case:
The Complainant, a legal person doing business in the field of insurance, had concluded an insurance contract with the accountable, which bound that person to paying the agreed insurance premiums. Contrary to the insurance contract, the accountable failed to pay the agreed premiums for the service duly provided by the Complainant, forcing the Complainant to turn to the Arbitration Court in compliance with the arbitration clause included in the contract. The Arbitration Court issued a verdict that ordered the accountable to pay owed insurance premiums. The executor asked the district court to issue authorisation to launch distraint procedures, attaching the Complainant’s complaint and the distraint title to the motion. The district court asked the executor to present the credit contract the Complainant had concluded with the accountable and the terms of the insurance contract. The district court established the facts of the case anew, ignoring the case file of the Arbitration Court. Based on gathered evidence, it refused to schedule a hearing and adjudicated without the Complainant’s participation, rejecting the executor’s motion for the commencement of distraint procedures. The Complainant appealed to the regional court, which upheld the district court’s decision. Eventually, the Complainant appealed to the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic, which turned down the appeal. The Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic examined whether the conduct of the district court, which established the facts of the case anew without summoning the parties, conformed to Article 48 Paragraph 2 of the Slovak Constitution that guarantees everyone the right to have his case tried in his presence and to deliver his opinion on all pieces of evidence.
Beyond that, the Constitutional Court pointed out, there was a Directive 93/13/EEC of irreplaceable importance to the decision on the case and therefore may also refer to the related case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union. In the judgment in Case C-472/11, Banif Plus Bank Zrt against Csaba Csipai and Victoria Csipai of 21 February 2013 (paragraphs 29 and 30), the Court of Justice of the European Union held: “However, in implementing European Union law, the national court must also respect the requirements of effective judicial protection of the rights that individuals derive from European Union law, as guaranteed by Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Among those requirements is the principle of audi alteram partem, as part of the rights of defence and which is binding on that court, in particular when it decides a dispute on a ground that it has identified of its own motion (see, to that effect, Case C 89/08 P Commission v Ireland and Others  ECR I 11245, paragraphs 50 and 54).” “Thus, the Court has held that, as a general rule, the principle of audi alteram partem does not merely confer on each party to proceedings the right to be apprised of the documents produced and observations made to the court by the other party and to discuss them, but it also implies a right for the parties to be apprised of pleas in law raised by the court of its own motion, on which it intends to base its decision, and to discuss them. The Court has pointed out that, in order to satisfy the requirements associated with the right to a fair hearing, it is important for the parties to be apprised of, and to be able to debate and be heard on, the matters of fact and of law which will determine the outcome of the proceedings (see Commission v Ireland and Others, paragraphs 55 and 56).” From that judgment, but which was adopted after the declaration of the order of the Supreme Court, there is some way in which the national court should follow when deciding on the acceptability of certain contractual terms in consumer contracts. It is already in the application of national legislation which transposes Directive 93/13/EEC, therefore, in applying the provisions of Article 52 et seq. of the Civil Code. Conclusions of the Court of Justice of the European Union consents with the conclusions of the Constitutional Court in the relation to the need to ensure the protection of fundamental rights under Article 48, Paragraph 2 of the Constitution.