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Arbitration in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Bosnia and Herzegovina [BiH] is a country of rather complex territorial, political and legal structure. It consists of three units: two entities [Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) and Republic of Srpska (RS)] and one district [Brcko District], all of which have autonomy to regulate certain matters.

BiH does not have one coherent law providing for a detailed regulation of the matter. There is a complex system of different laws in place, which govern arbitration proceedings, recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards, while in cross-border disputes, private international law add an additional layer of rules. Under this set of rules, parties can opt for either ad hoc or institutional arbitration.

Main statutory provisions on arbitration come down to nineteen articles set forth in the civil procedure acts adopted in 2003. Therein, arbitration is classified as a “special procedure”, and placed alongside other types of “special procedures” such as expedited procedure in employment disputes, or special procedures concerning small claims. In any case, these nineteen provisions cover the formal validity of an arbitration agreement, the composition of an arbitral tribunal, the challenge of arbitrators, court involvement in the procedure, limited procedural aspects, and rendering and setting aside the arbitral award.

BiH is signatory country to the New York Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958. BiH made two declarations and a reservation, namely that it will apply the Convention only to awards made in territory of another Contracting State, only to differences arising out of commercial relationships and only to those awards rendered after the Convention comes into force. Foreign arbitral awards that do not fall within this scope will be recognized under relevant private international law rules. In any case, a foreign arbitral award is considered foreign when the arbitral award has been rendered outside of BiH, or when the tribunal applied foreign procedural law.