"There are certain developments influencing our day-to-day business,” says Adela Rizvic, Partner at Advokatski Ured Tkalcic-Dulic, Prebanic, Rizvic i Jusufbasic-Goloman in Sarajevo.
For instance, she says, in April of last year, the Constitutional Court of the Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina — one of two entities in Bosnia & Herzegovina, along with Republika Srpska — declared several provisions of the Federation’s Notary Law unconstitutional, making certain documents that previously were required to be executed as Notarial Deeds no longer requiring notarial assistance. According to Rizvic, “this theoretically means lawyers can produce the company acts themselves, which of course has a significant impact on us, and on our fees."
Although Rizvic is encouraged by the development, she has concerns. “This is only the case in the Federation,” she says, "and it is not true in the Republika Srpska, so there’s now a real discrepancy between the two entities. That’s the first problem. The second problem is that the Constitutional Court has failed to produce any guidance or instruction on how its ruling should be implemented — and no legislation has, as yet, followed. Courts are currently accepting secretarial documents of companies without notarization … but of course notaries are complaining. So that’s an ongoing dispute."
For the time being, Rizvic and her colleagues have "decided to produce these documents ourselves and to advise clients to proceed consistent with current court practice, because we see that courts are accepting our points of view.” Even though Rizvic concedes the legislature may eventually produce laws — for instance new law on registering business entities — once again requiring notarization, "in our opinion any new legislation should not have adverse affects on current documents. You never know, of course, but we believe that even if legislation does once again require notarization, it will not affect documents prepared following current court practice."
The Federation’s Parliament is currently considering proposals on potential new legislation, Rizvic notes, “but,” she says, "unfortunately none has been enacted so far."
Another issue that continues to trouble Rizvic, she says, is the “legally prescribed lawyer’s tariff in Federation on what certain lawyer’s acts cost,” which she says are now over a decade old and limited in a certain manner regardless of case value. She notes that lawyers and clients can always set their own fees with clients, so these tariffs don't effect lawyers so much, but the tariffs do affect clients’ ability to recover legal fees after successful actions in court. According to Rizvic, “this is frequently discussed in the bar.” She says, “we’re very unhappy because the tariffs are limited (and therefore so low), but so far we have not been successful.” She sighs. "It appears there is not so much political will."