Contributor: Ilej & Partners, in cooperation with Karanovic & Partners
Author: Boris Dvoršćak and Vito Jankov
1. Is there specific legislation in Croatia ruling the using of documents (such as Leases, Security Agreements, Mortgages, Lease Assignments, Novation and IDERAs) executed with the use of digital platforms or any electronic signatures by the local Aviation Authority?
There is no specific legislation in Croatia governing the use of documents executed with the use of digital platforms/ electronic signatures by the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency (“CCAA”) specifically.
However, Regulation (EU) no. 910/2014 (the “eIDAS Regulation”) established a framework for the use of e-signatures, e-seals, website authentication certificates, etc., for the entire EU area. In accordance with the eIDAS Regulation, all qualified electronic signatures have the equivalent legal effect of handwritten signatures.
On the other hand, all documents submitted to the Croatian Registry of Civil Aircrafts (“Registry”) maintained by the CCAA must be executed with signatures certified by a notary public. Since Croatia has not yet implemented digital notarization systems, provisions of the eIDAS Regulation that deem equal the legal effect of qualified electronic signatures and handwritten signatures are still without effect in these matters.
2. If your answer to (1) is yes, is there any specific requirement for the validity of such signatures, such as completion with a specific cryptographic platform developed by any local institute of technology?
There is no requirement for qualified electronic signatures to be executed by use of a locally developed cryptographic platform.
However, in accordance with the eIDAS Regulation, all qualified electronic signatures must be a) uniquely linked to the signatory, b) capable of identifying the signatory, c) created using electronic signature creation data that the signatory can (with a high level of confidence) use under his sole discretion, and d) linked to the data signed therewith in such a way that any subsequent change in the data is detectable. Additionally, eIDAS Regulation prescribes in detail all technical requirements for qualified certificates and qualified trust service providers.
3. Does the Aviation Authority in Croatia use an electronic register for Aircraft Documents or Aircraft Lease Documents (including Leases, Security Agreements, Mortgages, Lease Assignments, Novation and IDERAs)?
The Registry is maintained in electronic form and keeps track of all civil aircraft, as well as the rights and encumbrances over such aircraft. Ownership rights, encumbrances (pledges and mortgages), lease on aircraft and pre-emption rights on aircraft all must be registered with the Registry.
While the Registry is partially available online (with easy access to information on manufacturer and type of aircraft, serial number, and information on the owner) and updated on a monthly basis, full access to the Registry, i.e., access to registered encumbrances and leases on aircraft is obtained either physically, directly at the CCAA, or via an official request for access to certain information (by post or by email). In addition, all documents pertaining to aircraft are submitted to the CCAA in their original form, with all signatures certified by a notary public.
4. If your reply to question 3 is yes, is it possible to upload electronic files for registration, such as Leases, Security Agreements, Mortgages, Lease Assignments, Novation and IDERAs with the Aviation Authority in Croatia?
It is not possible to upload electronic files for registration with the CCAA since the relevant regulations prescribe that any documents submitted to the CCAA for registration must be executed with handwritten signatures certified by a notary public and then submitted in their original form.
5. Do the courts of Croatia consider valid and enforceable documents executed by the use of some type of digital signature or certification even if not registered (or registrable) with the local Aviation Authority?
When there are no regulations prescribing other legal requirements pertaining to the execution of documents (e.g., a requirement of handwritten signature certified by a notary public, a form of notarial deed, etc.), all documents may be signed by a qualified electronic signature, with legal effect equal to that of a handwritten signature (in accordance with the eIDAS Regulation).
6. Is it possible to upload lawsuits, pleadings, and procedural documents electronically in Croatia?
It is possible to upload lawsuits, pleadings, and other procedural documents via the specialized “e-communications system” used by all courts, administrative bodies, state attorney’s office, and other legal entities in proceedings before courts in Croatia. This service is managed by the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration, and its use requires prior registration with Croatia’s “e-citizen” system and implementation through the ministry’s internal system. The service is accessible only after full registration and implementation is completed.
7. Do the courts of Croatia accept procedural documents executed digitally? Is there any specific certification required? Does Croatia make any distinction between official digital signatures and private digital signatures?
The courts in Croatia accept procedural documents executed digitally by qualified electronic signatures. Only documents signed with a qualified electronic signature can be validly submitted to the courts and are of equivalent legal effects as handwritten signatures.
Advanced electronic signatures are also commonly used; however, with respect to the submission of procedural documentation in digital form to the courts specifically, only qualified electronic signatures are accepted.
8. Are there any formal requirements for the validity of documents executed by digital signatures? Ex.: Does the consent of the parties to digital signatures have to be expressly referred to in the agreement?
There are generally no formal requirements for the validity of documents executed by digital signatures. However, certain regulations and case law prescribe special forms in which the documents must be executed in (e.g., a security agreement for the establishment of a mortgage which is to be registered with the Registry of civil aircraft must be executed in the form of a notarial deed), and such special form often excludes the possibility of execution by digital signature.
9. Can foreign entities not located in Croatia execute Lease Agreements or any Finance Documents with digital signatures to be filed for registration with the Aviation Authority in Croatia? Are there any other formalities required?
Due to Croatian legislation prescribing that signatures on any documentation to be filed for registration with the Registry must be notarized by a notary public (and with Apostille if executed in a country for which an Apostille is required), digital signatures are not possible yet.
10. Does the Aviation Industry in Croatia usually use digital tools such as blockchain technology for the purpose of control of Aircraft Documents in substitution of printed paper Aircraft Documents?
Due to Croatian legislation and CCAA practice being very rigid with respect to paper forms of documents and signatures notarized, the use of digital tools, especially blockchain technology, is practically impossible.
11. Are there any Notary or Apostille requirements in Croatia? If so, do they apply to electronically executed documents, and how does this affect the possibility of electronic execution and delivery of aviation documents?
a. Has Croatia implemented the e-Apostille program?
With respect to the execution of documents that require registration with any official Registry (including the Registry of Civil Aircraft maintained by the CCAA), all such signatures must be notarized before a notary public of the country of execution. Regarding Apostille requirements, Croatia is a signatory of the 1961 Convention on Apostille and therefore recognizes the process of Apostille confirmation of documents issued by competent authorities on the territory of a foreign country.
Croatia has not implemented the e-Apostille program.