The enforcement procedure - options for improvement

USAID's Justice Project works with Municipal Court Sarajevo

Published on: February 26, 2015
A jointly organized round table by the Municipal Court in Sarajevo and USAID’s Justice Project in Bosnia and Herzegovina was held on 26 February 2015 under the title “The Enforcement Procedure - Options for Improvement”. The primary goal of the round table was to initiate a discussion among professionals towards improving the legal framework and practice of conducting the execution of court decisions and other executive documents, which should result in greater legal certainty for citizens and an improved environment for doing business in the country. Due to the large backlog of cases and a complex legal framework relating to the execution of decisions that create delays in the proceedings, as well as lack of uniformity of practice, participants at the round table had the opportunity to analyze the current situation, to detect problems in the enforcement procedure, and initiate expert discussion on finding the best solutions.

The moderator of the round table was Mrs. Janja Jovanović, president of the Municipal Court in Sarajevo. In her opening speech, she welcomed representatives of USAID's Justice Project in BiH, and praised their activities geared towards the improvement of the enforcement procedures. She stressed that the enforcement proceedings must be fast and efficient, but noted that existing legislation, unfortunately, makes that impossible. "Through this Project we will try to find the best solutions in order to simplify the execution procedure, and allow creditors to exercise their rights within shortest time possible.”

“I must point out that based on an analysis we conducted it was found that defendants in 95% of cases do not want to meet their obligations voluntarily within the voluntary obligation fulfillment deadline as determined by the judgment, therefore the plaintiffs must exercise their rights through the enforcement procedure. Under current law it is a time consuming process"- President Jovanović.

Ana Bilić Andrijanić, Head of the Project for Improving Efficiency of Justice at the HJPC, in her presentation pointed out that a large number of pending cases in the courts is caused by the enormous influx of certain types of cases, particularly cases stemming from unpaid utility bills (i.e. Utility cases). The number of these cases is constantly on the rise. Although their monetary value is often very small, solving utility cases requires the same engagement of judges as does resolving matters of far greater value and often slows down the process of execution on the basis of an executive court decision. For this reason HJPC is constantly working on finding new solutions to solving problems of long duration of the enforcement procedure, in the form of concrete measures in the courts and in the form of the initiatives to change the laws.

"An example of such an initiatives is the adoption of “Analysis of legislative changes for utility cases and enforcement cases relocation from the courts to public or private enforcement agencies. These activities are in line with the recommendations of the European Commission for the implementation of the Strategy for Justice Sector Reform in BiH and the Structured Dialogue concerning the introduction of a series of measures to solve the problem of long duration of the enforcement procedure "- Bilić Andrijanić

Ms. Biljana Potparić Lipa, director of USAID’s Justice Project in BiH, pointed out that the enforcement of court decisions is an integral part of the court proceedings and it represent the final part of the process in which certain rights have been acquired/assured. There are numerous difficulties and obstacles to the efficient execution process and the need for improvements in this area has been given significant focus within the framework of the USAID’s Justice Project for a good reason. “The primary goal of today's round table was to gather as many experts who directly and frequently face difficulties in enforcement procedure and to identify as many issues with the aim of initiating an expert discussion on finding the best solution, and USAID's Justice Project will provide professional and technical support to this process.”

Round table participants have agreed that the problem of non-enforcement of court decisions is a serious issue that concerns not only the judicial community, but also the executive and the legislative branches and that a solution should be system wide. Lack of enforcement creates an unfavorable economic environment, causing distrust of investors, increasing unemployment and dissatisfaction of citizens, ultimately affecting the rule of law system and causing harmful effects to the whole society.

The round table was attended by representatives from HJPC BiH, the judiciary of the Brčko District of BiH, the BiH courts and ministries of justice, FIPA, banks in BiH, employers, investors, lawyers and notaries.