Bosnia and Herzegovina

On 26 November, a well-attended seminar was held in Banja Luka to provide an introduction to European law for newly appointed judges at the Centre for Education of Judges and Prosecutors of Republika Srpska, the smaller of the two entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The event was organised jointly by the Centre for Education and the IRZ. The objective of the event was above all to provide participants with practical knowledge.

One of the speakers was the German lawyer Holger Hembach who spoke about the European Convention on Human Rights as part of European law in the broader sense. Since Mr. Hembach was employed for several years by the OSCE both in Macedonia and in Serbia, he was able to draw on his experience in the region.

A lecture on European law in the narrower sense was given by Professor Dr. Zlatan Meskić from the Faculty of Law in Zenica, who obtained his doctorate in European consumer protection in Vienna and also gives regular lectures on European law for students from non-EU member states in the West (including Saarbrücken and Pittsburgh, USA).

Meskić focussed in his lecture on the application of the legal provisions of consumer protection law in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the light of the relevant EU guidelines. He used concrete examples to show how interpretations of the law in violation of European law, which are a risk due to inaccurate translations during the development of national regulations, can be avoided through access to the relevant EU directives in their various language versions.

The concept behind the event, during which various cases were analysed, included discussions with the participants, who talked about their own cases. One of the main topics of discussion was the evaluation of general terms and conditions of business. The peculiarity here is that the 1978 Law of Obligations covering the whole of Yugoslavia, which still applies in some succession states including Bosnia and Herzegovina, includes rules governing T&Cs. This law leaves many questions open, which are now being clarified in the overview of the consumer protection law of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina with Council Directive 93/13/EEC of 5 April 1993 on unfair terms in consumer contracts.

These kinds of measures in further education mean the IRZ can support the EU’s strategy for the Western Balkans by strengthening the capacity of the justice system to start applying national regulations in compliance with European law.