Solicitors governing body: Advokatska Komora Republike Srpske (Bar Association of the Republic of Srpska), Advokatska/Odvjetnička komora Federacije BiH (Bar Association of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Competition authority: The Council of Competition of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Financial regulator: Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Banking Agency of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Securities Commission of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Banking Agency of the Republic of Srpska, Republic of Srpska Securities Commission
IFLR1000 ranking categories for this jurisdiction:
The current political structure in Bosnia and Herzegovina was born out of the Dayton Agreement at the end of the Bosnian war of the 1990s. The agreement, in an attempt to end the war and calm internal ethnic tensions, created two political entities within the country – the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (associated with Bosniaks and Croats) and the Republic of Srpska (associated with Serbs).
The two entities effectively form a secondary layer of governance with each having its own government and parliament. Within these entities there are also smaller regions called cantons which themselves have some legislative power. To add a further level of complexity there is also a special administrative zone - the Brčko District, which also has a level of self-governance.
This system means that the legal structure of the country is very complex, with both main entities maintaining legislative authority over their respective regions, and both maintaining a supreme court; while the country as a whole has a separate constitution, court and constitutional court but no supreme court.
The number of systems in play means that there is often legal discrepancy between the regions, with laws being passed at a cantonal or regional level before they are implemented or even fully discussed at a state level.
It is also worth noting that the country concluded the adoption of the EU’s Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) in June 2015, which establishes a free trade zone between the entities and sets out economic and political goals to be achieved to move closer to accession to the EU. From a legal perspective the main impact is a move towards bringing the country’s laws in line with those of the EU, and most new legislation now has (where applicable) EU law as its template.
Qualification as a lawyer is done at a federal level, with registration required through the Lawyers Association of one of the entities.
Most law firms are based in either Sarajevo or the primary city of the Republic of Srpska – Banja Luka. It is interesting to note that while Sarajevo is named as the capital of the Republic of Srpska in the latter’s constitution, most of the region’s public and governmental institutions are based in Banja Luka.
Like most of its neighbouring countries in the Balkans, the Bosnia and Herzegovina legal market is a mix of independent domestic firms and those who maintain association or cooperation agreements with Central and Southern European regional firms like CMS Reich-Rohrwig Hainz, Karanović & Nikolić, Schoenherr and Wolf Theiss. Lawyers at these firms often split their time between the country and offices in neighbouring states, primarily Serbia and Montenegro.
Given the size of the market, most lawyers are generalists and will handle work across the spectrum of business or corporate law including finance, M&A and restructuring matters.
BDK Advokati was engaged in a steel plant financing and in regulatory work for Paysafe during the research period. The firm also successfully advised on an acquisition by British American Tobacco working the buyer.
The firm’s key clients include Paysafe and British American Tobacco.
CMS has a strong regional network across the CEE region, and its Bosnian office is well established in the country and active on financial and corporate and projects work.
The research period saw the firm take on M&A, financing, and restructuring work for clients including international banks and investment funds. It also acted on an energy related PPP projects, advising the state.
Although most of its clients’ names are confidential, it can be said that it acts for international banks and established businesses. EBRD is one of the firm’s publishable client.
"In general we are very happy with the level of service we receive from CMS. We appreciate the level of responsiveness from the firm. We feel that CMS understands our requirements and consequently provides pertinent advice and delivers in a timely manner." – Banking, regulatory
"Professional, cooperative and flexible. Oriented to client and to the project, they strive to make the project work in a complex legal environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina." – Banking, capital markets, regulatory
"Very professional firm. All services have been performed in a timely manner." – Restructuring
"Cooperative and goal-oriented."
"Cooperative and goal-oriented."
"Very well connected, hands on approach, easy to work with and good understanding of the commercial side of a deal."
"Excellent legal expertise."
"Very professional and results-driven."
"She is intelligent and very helpful. She knows how to navigate complex matters and provides great advice, including in English."
"Generally very responsive and meets deadlines."
Established by a team from Karanović & Nikolić in 2016, Dimitrijević & Partners’ strength lies in project work.
The firm has been active on infrastructure and energy projects recently, advising on public procurement and project finance work. Its interesting mandates include advisory roles for contractors on the development of motorways. It has also been active on regulatory matters in relation to day-to-day business operations, advising the likes of Digital Finance International and PepsiCo during the research period.
The firm acts for PepsiCo and EFT group among others. New clients include the likes of Mercator and Mtel.
"Professional, confident and efficient." – Banking, M&A, restructuring
"We are extremely satisfied with the chosen law firm, especially with their expertise and knowledge of local legislation as well as with their responsiveness." – Project development
Femil Čurt Law Office works in cooperation with DLA Piper and has experience across all practice areas, advising on domestic and cross border mandates.
During the research period the firm acted for a mix of local and international banks on financing local wind power plants projects and establishment of pledge rights. It also acted for international investors on real estate financing transactions, working on the due diligence reports.
In M&A the firm advised the buyers on acquisitions of a local bank and micro credit company.
"Has significant work experience in banking business and corporate law. The quality of work is on very high level and you can rely on them to finalise everything on time, which is very important in our business. They are always at our disposal." – Banking, insolvency
"Super responsive and very knowledgeable. Bills are always reasonable." – Banking
Karanović & Nikolić in cooperation with local lawyers is one of the strongest law firms in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Adept in M&A, the firm has predominately been advising buyers on acquisitions of local companies during the research period. The firm has also been advising lenders on financing transactions, international corporations on entry into the Bosnian market and on joint ventures, and providing strategic restructuring advice to an international construction company.
In the projects space the firm has been working alongside EPEC and EBRD on the revision of legal framework for PPP projects and renewable energy.
Key clients include Zeochem and British American Tobacco.
Amina Đugum and Nihad Sijerčić
"Very responsive, on the point, efficient, knowledgeable."
Law Firm Sajić's memberships of the Adriatic Legal Network and Geneva Group International give the firm the necessary resources to take on cross border mandates.
The firm’s focus has recently been on general corporate work, consulting international clients on different areas of law in relation to corporate law among others.
The firm’s client includes the likes of Al Jazeera Media Network, Carmeuse, and NCR.
"Knowledgeable about the market, responsive, and excellent value for money." – Financial and corporate
"Positive, punctual, and supportive when needed." – Banking, M&A, project development, project finance
Law Office Miljković & Partners is focused on commercial and corporate law, and serves international companies active in the jurisdiction.
The firm has been advising investment firms and insurance company on M&A in the education and insurance sectors. The firm also advised lenders on project finance transactions and the financing of a Bosnian joint stock company. The firm is also advising on the first ever bankruptcy proceeding against a micro-credit foundation in the country.
In the projects space the firm has work on deals in the energy, infrastructure and real estate sectors advising on licensing, construction and agreements for contractors on the development of highways and power plants.
The firm’s client roster includes the likes of EBRD and PWC Moscow.
Marić & Co Law Firm is one of the largest firms in the country. Its size, experience and cross border network across the Balkan region – as part of the SEE Legal network – makes it an active presence in the jurisdiction.
During the research period, the firm has been active for banks as lenders in financing transactions. In project finance, the firm is engaged in financing the construction of thermo-electric power plant on the borrower side. Another highlight saw the firm advise UniCredit as its local counsel in the securitisation of syndicated loan.
In M&A, the firm has acted for buyers including foreign companies and private equity funds on takeover bids and acquisition of local companies.
The firm has also been engaged as the local advisor on the administration and restructuring of Agrokor.
The firm acts for the likes of Agrokor, Unicredit and Addiko bank.
"A good reputation and we trust in their knowledge and skills." – Banking, regulatory
"The firm has an international orientation and strong experience. The lawyers are respected for their dedication to the client and their creative legal solutions.” – Financial and corporate
"The involved persons are fast at responding to different tasks and provide clear answers." – M&A
Moravčević Vojnović and Partners benefits from working with Schoenherr, one of the largest firm in the CEE region, allowing it to take on large cross-border deals.
The firm has been engaged in M&A, advising the buyers on the local aspects of cross border acquisitions in the aviation and manufacturing sectors. It has also been active on regulatory mandates, advising the likes of AirBnb and Unicredit, and on financing transactions on the lenders’ side.
In the projects space, the firm is advising the lenders on financing the construction of the biggest shopping mall in Bosnia.
Sberbank, UniCredit and Airbnb are some of the clients the firm has represented this year.
"The service they provided may be considered as a high quality one. Their key strengths include experience and know how." – M&A, regulatory, restructuring
"They were providing complete and professional legal support, and were offering all other aspects of legal support in Bosnia and region. Support was provided in a timely manner with professional communication." – Regulatory
Wolf Theiss has an active presence in the country through its relationship with independent local lawyers. With its strong international network, the firm is well suited to handle cross border transactions.
The firm has been advising on the acquisition and sale of loan portfolios and acted for the creditors on rescue financing and loan transactions. It also advised the state on the issuance of sovereign bonds on the international markets.
In the projects space the firm is engaged in the construction of thermal power plant and a motorway, acting for the developers on the development and financing aspects of the projects.
In 2017 the firm welcomed back Lana Sarajlić in the position of counsel, four years after her departure to Karanovic & Nikolic.
Notable publishable clients include the likes of RMU Banovici and JP Autoceste.
"Prompt replies to urgent requests with clear explanation to the questions we raised." – Project development, regulatory
"The quality of advice and response time is excellent. Their team possesses in-depth industry knowledge which allows us to be comfortable that they will cover the specific legal matters and potential problems." – M&A, regulatory