Conference on “Dissenting opinions in constitutional jurisdiction” with the participation of regional constitutional courts

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ
Bosnia and Herzegovina

On 11 December 2020, IRZ and the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina organised a regional conference on “Dissenting opinions in constitutional jurisdiction”. Judges from the constitutional courts of Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia also took part in the online event.

During the first part of the conference, the speakers presented the possibility of dissenting opinions in the case law of the participating constitutional courts and the relevant practices in this area. The speakers were:

  • Zlatko M. Knežević, President of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Hamdija Šarkinović, interim director of the Constitutional Court of Montenegro
  • Dr. Mato Arlović, a judge at the Constitutional Court of Croatia,
  • Sali Murati, President of the Constitutional Court of North Macedonia
  • Prof. Dr. Rajko Knez, President of the Constitutional Court of Slovenia
  • Snežana Marković, President of the Constitutional Court of Serbia

The German point of view was provided by Prof. Dr. Michael Eichberger, a former constitutional court judge in Germany. The lectures mapped out many similarities, as well as some different positions, which led to intense discussions and a lively exchange of experiences.

One common feature for all the constitutional courts represented at the conference is the possibility of a dissenting opinion, which is relatively new to the region. These can be dissenting opinions, which disagree with the majority opinion, as well as dissent in the form of simply demonstrating an alternative way of reasoning.

The participants underlined the positive aspect of an announcement of a dissenting opinion by a judge being enough to provoke more in-depth discussions in the relevant Senate and very well-founded reasoning by the majority. They also reported on cases, in which the majority was led to revise its original opinion once it had analysed a dissenting opinion. Since the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg adheres in isolated cases to the dissenting opinion and not to the majority opinion when reviewing decisions, a dissenting opinion can also encourage scientific debate of the legal issue in question. Dissenting opinions can, however, also have negative effects, such as when their reporting in the media gives the impression that a constitutional court is not united. The participants therefore agreed that dissenting opinions should be reserved for rare cases in which, out of principle, a judge cannot defend being identified with the majority verdict. Dissenting opinions should on no account be used with a view to potential re-election, for example, or to continue a career beyond the end of a judge’s official mandate in certain political circumstances.

Background information

IRZ organises the annual regional conference on constitutional law, which is financed by the German Federal Foreign Office (AA), in turn with the constitutional courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia or Montenegro.

Gefördert durch:
Auswärtiges Amt

Online seminar on property law

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ
Bosnia and Herzegovina

On 14 and 15 September 2020, the Centre for Judicial and Prosecutorial Training of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and IRZ organised a two-day online seminar on “The practical Application of Property Law”. Around a hundred judges from all parts of the country took part in the event.

Following the opening of the seminar by Dr. Davor Trlin and Dr. Stefan Pürner, representing the two institutions respectively, Prof. Dr. Meliha Povlakić gave the lecture on the first day of the seminar. Professor Povlakić is the leading property law expert in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She has also worked for several years in a notary’s office in Germany. This meant that she was able to share her expert knowledge of the property law of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which came into force five years ago. The law incorporates solutions from German law, as well as being based on Austrian and Croatian laws.

The lecture by Professor Povlakić was supplemented on the second day of the seminar by a lecture by Adnan Baručija, a judge at the canton court in Zenica. In this way, the seminar led to fruitful discussions between academics and practising judges.

The discussions, which are very important in terms of investment and therefore also the economy, centred on the legal institutions taken from German law, such as the basic principle that buildings and plots of land share the same legal status or the principle of public faith in the land registry. It became clear that courts frequently interpret the relevant provisions differently. The seminar can therefore also contribute towards the standardisation of case law, since so many judges took part in the event. The participants are also being sent written articles on the topics discussed at the seminar.

This seminar proves that online events are a good way, given the present circumstances, of getting plenty of people involved.

Two seminars on consumer protection

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ
Bosnia and Herzegovina

As part of the IRZ programme for Bosnia and Herzegovina, two events on consumer protection took place between 8 and 12 June 2020.

Online seminar: The practical effects of European law on national law, using consumer law as an example

This online seminar for judges took place on Friday 12 June 2020, in partnership with the Judicial and Prosecutorial Training Centre of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. IRZ expert Prof. Dr. Zlatan Meskic (see below) presented practical cases from consumer legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina at the event. Using these cases as examples, the speaker introduced European directives as the basis for national legislation. Professor Meskic pointed out that some of these national directives had been inadequately or inappropriately implemented and that the subject of general terms and conditions of business was also regulated by various legal provisions. In this context, the processing and solving of the cases he presented brought up some highly complex legal issues, which he discussed in detail with the judges, who were taking part in the event from their offices in Bihac, Mostar, Zenica and Sarajevo.

Online seminar: The case method in German legal training based on consumer law

The previous two-day online seminar held on 8 and 10 June with postgraduate students from the Law Faculty at the University of Zenica took a somewhat different approach. Since this postgraduate course has a good reputation in the region, a participant from Croatia also took part in the event. During the online seminar, IRZ expert Prof. Dr. Zlatan Meskic presented the case method in German legal training based on cases from consumer law. Consumer legislation is particularly suitable here in that, in addition to traditional interpretation methods, the technique for interpretation in compliance with directives is also possible. This is a new development for those countries, which are still trying to join the EU but have already harmonised some of their legislation.

Professor Meskic was the main speaker, supported by Dr Stefan Pürner, who is the IRZ Head of Section for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Dr. Pürner speaks the local language and spent time studying abroad to complete nostrification of his qualifications in 1989 to become a certified lawyer in what was then Yugoslavia. Both speakers were therefore able to work as a team, with no need for interpreters, to discuss in detail the national law of the participants in this area that is shaped by European law. This is a particular advantage for online events, which can lead to delays and loss of information even without interpreting.

About the speaker

Prof. Dr. Zlatan Meskic is currently teaching at the Prince Sultan University in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. He studied and completed his court training in Vienna, where he also obtained a doctorate in “European consumer protection”.