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Bosnia Herzegovina Legal Profile

Proelium Law LLP

LEGAL SYSTEM OVERVIEW

Bosnia and Herzegovina are home to courts of different jurisdictions and competencies.

Bosnia and Herzegovina:

    1. Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
    2. Constitutional court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina:
    1. Constitutional Court of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
    2. Supreme Court of FB&H
    3. Cantonal Courts
    4. Municipality Courts
  • Republika Srpska:
    1. Constitutional Court of Republika Srpska
    2. Supreme Court of RS
    3. District Courts
    4. Basic courts
  • Brčko District:
    1. Appeals Court
    2. Basic Court

It is worth noting that there is no Supreme Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina although Bosnia and Herzegovina are a member of the Council of Europe and its citizens may approach the European Court of Human Rights.

The judicial system in Bosnia and Herzegovina is relatively slow in responding to corruption cases. The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina created a report, Trial Monitoring of Corruption Cases in BiH: A First Assessment. This is based on the observation of 67 completed corruption cases between January 2010 and September 2017.[1] The problems identified in the report relay the insufficient management of criminal legislation, inadequate capacity of prosecutors in drafting indictments and gathering evidence as well inconsistencies in the interpretation of the law by courts.[2]

On 19 April 2019 the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina presented its second assessment of the judicial system, Trial Monitoring of Corruption Cases in BiH: Second Assessment. This builds upon the first report issued in February 2018. The assessment presents 24 recommendations aimed at improving the judicial response to corruption, based on findings from the monitoring and assessment of 300 cases in courts at all levels of authority across Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2017 and 2018.

The report finds that the performance of the justice system with respect to the productivity of prosecutor’s offices and courts, the capacity of prosecutors and judges in the application of the law and their efficiency in processing cases is affected by serious problems.[3]

BUSINESS OVERVIEW

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina are the 100th largest export economy in the world and the 44th most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI).[4] Bosnia and Herzegovina’s total exported goods represent 15.2% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018.[5]

The top ten exports in Bosnia and Herzegovina are:[6]

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: $702.5 million
  2. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $677.3 million
  3. Wood: $480.5 million
  4. Machinery including computers: $461.7 million
  5. Footwear: $443 million
  6. Aluminium: $436.1 million
  7. Articles of iron or steel: $430.1 million
  8. Electrical machinery, equipment: $405.7 million
  9. Inorganic chemicals: $383.5 million
  10. Iron, steel: $379.8 million

The top 5 exporters:[7]

  1. Germany- $1,211 million
  2. Italy – $1,187 million
  3. Serbia – $1,166 million
  4. Croatia – $1,053 million
  5. China – $683 million

Bosnia and Herzegovina are ranked as the 83rd freest economy in 2019.[8] The economy is driven by post-war reconstruction.  Foreigners investment has until recently been discouraged due to the weak rule of law, market division and excessive bureaucracy although recent efforts to encourage foreign investment have begun.  The economy relies on its exports, foreign aid and Chinese infrastructure investment. Bosnia and Herzegovina owes 14 percent of their total foreign debt to China. On 7th March 2019 the House of Representatives in Bosnia’s Federation entity adopted a resolution that supports the government’s plan for the construction of a thermal power plant in the north-eastern Bosnian town of Tuzla.

In November 2017, Bosnia and Herzegovina electric power company Elektroprivreda BiH took a 700-million-euro loan from China’s Exim bank to finish the thermal power plant in Tuzla. This is the largest single post-war investment in the country.

 

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina, often known informally as Bosnia, is a country in South-eastern Europe, located within the Balkan Peninsula. Sarajevo is the capital and the largest city. Bosnia and Herzegovina are almost a landlocked country. It is bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south; Serbia to the east and Montenegro to the southeast. The current president is Milorad Dodik from the Bosnian Serb nationalist party. The languages spoken in Bosnia and Herzegovina are Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian and the religions in Bosnia and Herzegovina are Christianity and Islam. Bosnia and Herzegovina have a population of 3,501,774 and is ranked 135th as the most populated country.[9] Bosnia and Herzegovina rank 89th on the Transparency International Corruption index[10] and 86th on the Fragile States index.[11]

After World War II Bosnia and Herzegovina became a member of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.[12] In the early 1990s  war broke out in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia collapsing  the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which comprised of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia.[13] Majority of the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina voted for independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the 1992 referendum.[14] Much of the country’s Serb population, opposed the independence and boycotted the referendum.[15] On 6th April 1992 the European Union recognised Bosnia and Herzegovina independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This resulted in a war breaking out in 1992. In 1993 Bosnia and Herzegovina peace efforts failed and the war continued. In 1995 the Presidents of Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia signed the Dayton Accords which bought an end to the war and outlined the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The General Framework Agreement made Bosnia and Herzegovina as a single state made up of two parts, the Bosnia-Croat federation and the Bosnian Serb Republic, with Sarajevo remaining as the undivided capital city.

To this day Annex 4 of the General Framework Agreement still stands as the constitution for Bosnia and Herzegovina and continues to be the basis for the present political divisions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its structure of government.[16]

Report Footnotes
[1] OSCE report on judicial shortcomings in processing corruption cases in Bosnia and Herzegovina presented in Bihać, 21 June 2018, https://www.osce.org/mission-to-bosnia-and-herzegovina/385452

[2] OSCE report on judicial shortcomings in processing corruption cases in Bosnia and Herzegovina presented in Bihać, 21 June 2018, https://www.osce.org/mission-to-bosnia-and-herzegovina/385452

[3] OSCE presents report on judicial response to corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 19 April 2019, https://www.osce.org/mission-to-bosnia-and-herzegovina/417728

[4]Economic complexity ranking 2013-2017, https://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/rankings/country/eci/

[5] Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Top 10 Exports, Daniel Workman, 1 June 2019, http://www.worldstopexports.com/bosnia-and-herzegovinas-top-10-exports/

[6] Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Top 10 Exports, Daniel Workman, 1 June 2019, http://www.worldstopexports.com/bosnia-and-herzegovinas-top-10-exports/

[7] World Integrated Trade Solution, https://wits.worldbank.org/CountrySnapshot/en/BIH

[8] Economic Freedom index 2019, https://www.heritage.org/index/ranking

[9] Countries in the world by population (2019), world meters, https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/population-by-country/

[10] Corruption Perceptions Index 2018, https://www.transparency.org/cpi2018

[11] Global Data, Fragile States Index, https://fragilestatesindex.org/data/

[12] Bosnia and Herzegovina, Paula Pickering, John R. LampeNoel R. Malcolm, Encyclopaedia Britannica,

https://www.britannica.com/place/Bosnia-and-Herzegovina

[13] Dayton Accords, Bill Clinton, Encyclopaedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/event/Dayton-Accords

[14] Bosnia and Herzegovina, Paula Pickering, John R. LampeNoel R. Malcolm, Encyclopaedia Britannica,

https://www.britannica.com/place/Bosnia-and-Herzegovina

[15] Bosnia and Herzegovina, Paula Pickering, John R. LampeNoel R. Malcolm, Encyclopaedia Britannica,

https://www.britannica.com/place/Bosnia-and-Herzegovina

[16] Dayton Accords, Bill Clinton, Encyclopaedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/event/Dayton-Accords

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