Bosnia and Herzegovina

Reviews

Practice area

IFLR1000 Reviews

Overview

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 SrpskaRepublic of Srpska Securities Commission

IFLR1000 ranking categories for this jurisdiction:

Financial and corporateProject development

Jurisdiction overview

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.

Financial and corporate
BDK Advokati

BDK Advokati advises foreign investors on their activities in the country. During the research period the firm mostly advised on acquisitions and financing transactions.

Recent Deal Data highlights

•BC partners acquisition of United Group 

•Klekovača ski resort and hotel

CMS Reich-Rohrwig Hainz

The Sarajevo office of international firm CMS is strong across the board in the financial and corporate area. It often works for international funds and financial institutions on joint ventures, acquisitions and financings in the country. Its work for domestic clients is often when businesses are being sold but it also advises on regulatory matters.

Recent Deal Data highlights

•EBRD €10 million financing

•Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation / KPA Unicon joint venture 

Client feedback

"In general very flexible and easy to approach, including on short notices. Response time is good and has very good cooperation." – M&A 

"Very precise and quick advice." – M&A

Dimitrijević & Partners

Dimitrijević & Partners is among the younger firms in the market, and was formed by the former regional managing partner of the Bosnian office of Karanović & Nikolić. It is part of SEE Legal, a network of regional firms and is noted for regulatory expertise in the energy sector.

Since opening, the firm has secured some notable clients and acted on innovative projects – such as the establishment of first private pension management fund in the country. 

In the project space recently, the firm advised a mix of private and state-owned companies and the government on a combination of financing, development, joint venture and concession agreement work on PPP and other projects. 

Recent Deal Data highlights

•Gacko 2 350MW thermal power plant

•Wood biomass power plant PPP

Client feedback

"Excellent. Very professional, responsive and well trained." – M&A

Karanović & Partners in cooperation with local lawyers

Karanović & Partners in cooperation with local lawyers is among the strongest firms in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The firm has built a strong reputation in M&A, often cooperating with global firms on cross border mandates. 

The energy sector yielded several transactions for the firm recently. It advised international financial institution providing project financing for thermal power plants. It also advised on a potential joint venture in the sector and on acquisitions of thermal power plants. 

Recent Deal Data highlights

•United Media acquisition of Pink M and Pink BH

•Virgin Pulse acquisition of Piksel Interactive 

• Toplana Zenica gas-fired power plant 

Client feedback

"The cooperation was very pleasant and competent." – M&A 

"Strong local team expertise in the telecoms sector and the competition law, strong support from its headquarter office, dedication of local team and proactive approach in solution scenarios analysis." – M&A 

Law Firm Sajić

In the financial and corporate space Law Firm Sajić typically provides regulatory advice to banks and financial institutions. 

During the research period the firm advised a Chinese construction company on a concession agreement and project finance loan for a motorway. In the energy sector it has been providing consultation to Austrian companies on the execution of projects in the country, and it advised another Chinese company on a joint venture for the development of a thermal power plant.

Recent Deal Data highlights

•Banja Luka – Prijedor motorway 

•Gacko 2 350MW thermal power plant

Client feedback

"Fully professional, timely and very helpful." – Banking 

"Very satisfied with all the services provided by Law firm Sajic to our Bank. We have daily communication and every time we need advice or information about some of the cases, they are efficiently providing it in a short period. Very concise, precise and efficient relationship." – Banking

"Strength is definitely their availability and efficiency. They react and work fast. They also have good knowledge of the working and legal environment so we have a good overview of not only the legislation, but also the practice area." – Project development 

Law Office Miljković & Partners

Law Office Miljković & Partners primarily services international clients active in the country, advising investment firms, insurance companies and corporations from other industries including oil and gas and aviation. 

During the research period the firm built experience across several practice areas, including working as issuer’s counsel on a share capital increase, lender’s counsel on several financings, buyers' counsel on takeovers, and advising creditors and debtors on bankruptcy and restructuring matters.

Recent Deal Data highlights

•Apollo Fund €54 million acquisition of Hypo Alpe Adria Bank loan portfolio 

•INA Zagreb capital increase 

•Toplana Zenica gas-fired power plant

Client feedback

"Very professional, helpful and detail-oriented." – Banking 

"Good communication, judgement, analytical skills, research and experience." – Banking 

"Law Office Miljković & Partners is one of the best law firms we had a chance to work with. They are our reliable partner with a deep connection and trust between us." – Capital markets: equity  

"Comprehensive analysis of regulatory framework in Bosnia with specific M&A, Project management and Competition Act overview." – M&A

Law Office Miljković & Partners provide high-level services. They are business and solution-oriented, experienced in various legal practices, and have very good knowledge of the market. They have international experience and standards, which sets them apart from other local firms. On the other hand, value for money aspect sets them apart from international firms, as local firms offer very competitive prices comparing to international ones." – M&A 

"Experienced in local and international matters with excellent local relationships in business and politics." – Project development

Law Office Mirna Milanović-Lalić and Jasmina Suljović

Law Office Mirna Milanović-Lalić and Jasmina Suljović is a full-service corporate law firm. It was most active in the media sector during the research period and advised a US network company on its operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Lawyers Office Prebanić & Jusufbašić-Goloman

Lawyers Office Prebanić & Jusufbašić-Goloman covers a broad range of practice area work.

During the research period the firm advised international clients on lending into the country through project financing – including advising Export-Import Bank of China on large financing for an infrastructure project – and advised companies in restructuring processes. 

In late 2018 senior partner Bojana Tkalcic-Djulic retired from practice.

Recent Deal Data highlights

•Xella Group restructuring 

Client feedback

"Straight-forward, responsive and knowledgeable on international financings." – Capital markets: debt

Marić & Co Law Firm

Marić & Co Law Firm is one of the largest firms in the country and benefits from its membership to SEE Legal, a regional law firm network.  

During the research period the firm acted alongside its network members providing due diligence support to buyers in M&A deals. It also acted as local counsel to international clients with Bosnian subsidiaries, working on deals ranging from acquisitions to restructurings. Elsewhere, it advised a state-owned company on the financing of Tuzla thermo-electric power plant.

Recent Deal Data highlights

•Agrokor restructuring 

•Steiermärkische Bank und Sparkassen €1.2 million takeover of Sparkasse Bank 

•Tuzla thermal power plant (450MW Unit 7)

Client feedback

"Strengths include experience and good reputation before the courts and other institutions." - Banking

"They are a professional team with experts on certain areas of law. They are straightforward in writing and have good reputation before the court. They are always available and recognise urgent situations." – Banking 

"Marić & Co Law Firm has shown expertise, dedication, responsiveness and persistence in the negotiation process with the opposite party." – Capital markets: debt 

"Cooperation and communication with Marić & Co Law Firm were excellent. All associates and employees were very supportive, reliable and professional." – M&A

"The firm is a reputable and knowledgeable partner for legal matters in Bosnia. Our primary contact, Ms. Anisa Tomić, can surely be ranked as a rising star on the market. It is easy to recommend the firm as they are a perfect combination of responsiveness, experience and up to date legal knowledge." – Project development 

"They are responsive and make an effort to understand the client's underlying concerns so as to provide focused advice in a timely manner. Their advice is detailed and logical and their work of international standard." – Project development 

"The firm and its managing partner are well established on the market and have access to main institutions. They are client and business-oriented, focused on finding pragmatic solutions." – Restructuring and insolvency 

"Marić & Co are well versed in the Bosnian law. They are solution-oriented and responsive and have a diverse team of specialised lawyers." – Restructuring and insolvency

Moravčević Vojnović and Partners in cooperation with Schoenherr

Austrian firm Schoenherr maintains a presence on Bosnia and Herzegovina through a partnership with local law firm Moravčević Vojnović and Partners. The firm is broadly known for its strength in M&A and this is true for the Bosnian office too. 

During the research period the firm has mostly acted for the buyers, including global investment firm and local entities, on M&A deals in sectors including pharmaceuticals and telecommunications. It also advised lenders to retail and healthcare projects. 

Recent Deal Data highlights

•Agrokor restructuring 

•KKR €20 million acquisition of Pink

•Mtel acquisition of Elta-Kabel 

Client feedback

"The entire company staff is highly competent, diligent, command a high level of expertise in their respective fields and complete their tasks in a professional and timely manner." – Banking

"They focus on solutions for clients and businesses. They are very professional, readily available and competent with specialised knowledge of their fields. We are very pleased with their response time and value for money. We believe they are the best law firm in the market." – M&A 

"I highly appreciate that even in case of short deadlines and surprise actions that need to be taken, the firm has always been available (even on very short notice) and on-point with their legal support. They have great English skills and are flexible, highly experienced, and have always delivered the desired results." – Project development

Wolf Theiss in cooperation with local lawyers

Austrian firm Wolf Theiss operates in Bosnia and Herzgovnia in cooperation with local lawyers. The full service firm is strong across the board and draws upon its network to act on large, complex regional deals such as the first placement of sovereign bonds on a foreign exchange. 

The firm often works in conjunction with its international offices advising on cross border acquisitions, financings and restructurings. In the projects space it has experience advising clients on PPP projects in the social infrastructure sector. 

Client feedback 

"Very high quality, clear advice, excellent response times and great overall service." – Banking  

"Good cooperation, quality output and good responsiveness." – Banking