19. 1. 2016

Start of the notice period in the event of judicial termination of a lease agreement for office space

In a recent judgment (No. III Ips 40/2014, dated 28 October 2015), the Slovene Supreme Court ruled that the notice period in the event of judicial termination of a lease agreement for office space starts to run from the service of the termination on the contracting party. By this decision, the Supreme Court responded to the disputed question of when the notice period in the event of judicial termination begins.

One particularity of a lease agreement for office space is that it should be terminated by means of a judicial procedure. Instead of serving the "termination" of a lease agreement by post, a lessor who wishes to terminate such contract must file with a competent court a motion for a warrant to vacate the business premises. The same rule applies in the event of termination by a tenant, with the exception that a tenant does not need to file a special motion for a warrant to vacate the property. In the event of lease agreements for an indefinite period of time, the notice period amounts to at least one year. In practice, despite clear legal provisions, lessors have terminated lease agreement in several ways, which is why the case law was not unambiguous. Judicial practice, which basically blindly followed the proposals of lessors, thus failed to observe the basic principles of contract law.

Pursuant to a general principle of contract law, a notice period shall start to run from the date of service of termination on the opposite (contractual) party. Notwithstanding this rule, the courts have often blindly followed the proposals of lessors that linked the starting point of the notice period to the date of filing a motion before the court, regardless of when the tenant actually received the termination. In reality, this often led to a reduction in the minimum one-year notice period to 10 months or even less, as due to the functioning of the court (e.g. the notice period for the payment of court fees, the drafting of court orders, serving documents, etc.) it often took up to two months before the tenant received and/or was informed of the termination.

For this reason, in case No. III DoR 104/2013, dated 10 December 2013, the Supreme Court allowed a revision regarding the following questions: (i) when does the notice period start to run in the event of judicial termination of a lease agreement for office space and (ii) does a decision on the (minimum) one-year notice period for eviction from an office space address the question of the correct application of substantive law?

The following issue regarding the above-mentioned legal questions can be extracted from judgment of the Supreme Court No. III Ips 40/2014, dated 28 October 2015: The notice period in the event of the judicial termination of a lease agreement for office space starts to run from the service of termination on the contracting party. The court should, before issuing a warrant to vacate the business premises ex officio and after issuing a warrant based on an objection, always check if the notice period has been correctly observed.

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