The database of the Constitutional Court contains all decisions, rulings, conclusions and separate opinions (hereinafter: decisions) rendered in the period from 1996 to date. The users have a possibility to search the database using different criteria. A simple search, i.e. entering a search criterion in the field “search term”, allows for a search by the case number and by the words contained in the text of a decision.
If you know the number of a decision of the Constitutional Court you are searching for, it suffices to enter the said number in the field “case number”. You need to make sure to enter the number as required, e.g. AP-5/10 or e.g. U-1/11.
If you know the name of an appellant or of an applicant, it suffices to enter the name (e.g. Niko Nikić) in the field “appellant/applicant”.
It is possible to do a search also by the challenged act in the field named “challenged act” (e.g. Ruling of the Municipal Court in Mostar no. 58 0 P 016040 11-I of 7 July 2015). In this part, it is possible to enter also part of the name of the challenged act or only the name of the court, which will yield far more results. If you enter only a part of the name of the challenged act, e.g. “Ruling of the Municipal Court in Mostar”, you will get a list of decisions containing the challenged rulings of this Court. If you enter only the name of the court you will get all decisions/judgments/rulings etc., of the selected court.
The field “type of case” allows you to select one of the two types of cases of the Constitutional Court (“AP” and “U”). If you are searching for the decisions from within the appellate jurisdiction, the jurisdiction referred to in Article VI (3) (b), you will select “AP” in the type of case. If you are looking for the cases from within the jurisdiction under Article IV (3) (f) – vital national interest, VI (3) (a) – review of constitutionality and VI (3) (c) – the issue referred by an ordinary court, you will select “U” in the type of case.
The field “type of decision/ruling” allows for a possibility to select the type of a decision of the Constitutional Court (Decision on Admissibility, Decision on the Merits, Decision on Interim Measure, Ruling on Non-enforcement, Ruling, Conclusion, Information and other acts).
The fields under “date of decision” allow you to filter the case-law you are searching for either through a precise date of the session or a specific period. If you are interested in the decisions adopted on the date of the session of the Constitutional Court, e.g. 16 March 2021, it is necessary to enter this date in both fields. If you are searching for the decisions for a specific period then you will enter the dates rounding the desired period (e.g. the period of five years, which includes the time between 1 January 2016 as the start date and 31 December 2020 as the end date).
The criteria (“type of case”, “type of decision/ruling” and “date of decision”) are useful as filters when doing comprehensive searches or for statistics. For instance, by using these criteria you can obtain information about the number of “U” decisions on the merits rendered by the Constitutional Court during a period of time, e.g. a period of five years. It is possible to get that piece of information by selecting an item “U” in the field “type of case”, a decision on the merits in the field “type of decision/ruling” and the start date of e.g. 1 January 2016 and the end date 31 December 2021, in the field “date of decision”. You can obtain the same piece of information for the AP cases too, where, instead of the item “U”, you select the item “AP” in the field “type of case”.
Unlike the previous criteria, the search by keywords is somewhat more complex. It allows the search by using a number of types of classifications of keywords: under the European Convention, under the Constitution of BiH, according to the admissibility and according to an alphabetical glossary.
The search using keywords under the European Convention is, actually, the search according to Articles of the European Convention and identifies them by starting with the numbers 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 that represent a specific Article of the European Convention. (If a keyword starts with a number 2 then it pertains to Article 2 of the European Convention, if it starts with 3, it pertains to Article 3 of the European Convention etc.). The decisions in the cases, considered under a specific article or paragraph of the European Convention, or a term within an article of the European Convention, may be easily found by selecting a keyword that corresponds to that article/paragraph or the term concerned. For instance, Article 5, paragraph 2 of the European Convention reads, “Everyone who is arrested shall be informed promptly, in a language which he understands, of the reasons for his arrest and of any charge against him.”
The keywords attached to this article or paragraph of the European Convention are determined precisely as they follow from the very text of the mentioned article: prompt information (keyword 5.2. – prompt information), information in a language which he/she understands (keyword 5.2.1 - information in a language which he/she understands), information about charges (keyword 5.2.2 – information about charges in the context of Article 5 of the European Convention). Keywords for other articles of the European Convention are determined in the same way. We believe that this search method is very precise and simple. Here, it is necessary to provide only an elaborate explanation of keywords containing the name of the article of the European Convention and of the word in general (e.g. “Article 6 of the European Convention – right to a fair trial – in general”).
Namely, these keywords are used for decisions, which cannot be attached to a more precise keyword, given the circumstances of the case at issue. Accordingly, e.g. the decisions wherein Article 6 was considered in general, without specifying any of the aspects of that Article, are attached to the keyword “Article 6 of the European Convention – right to a fair trial – in general”. The same goes for other keywords, namely articles of the European Convention.
Keywords under the Constitution of BiH are determined according to the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court set forth in the Constitution of BiH and are classified into three keywords: jurisdiction under Article IV (3) (f) (vital interest), Article VI (3) (a) (review of constitutionality) and Article VI (3) (c) (an issue referred by an ordinary court).
The keywords according to admissibility are determined based on the jurisdiction of the Court under Article VI (3) (b) of the Constitution (appellate jurisdiction) and according to the requirements for admissibility under Article 18 of the Rules of the Constitutional Court. These keywords are used to search for the decisions where the requirements for the admissibility of an appeal were not met (appeals were rejected as inadmissible on the grounds of any of the cases referred to in Article 18 of the Rules of the Constitutional Court. For instance, an appeal was rejected for being ratione materiae inadmissible. This ground is contained in Article 18 (3) (h), while the keyword reads D18.3.h. When it comes to the admissibility of a request under Articles VI (3) (a), VI (3) (c), IV (3) (f) of the Constitution and Amendment I, the keywords were determined according to Article 19 of the Rules of the Constitutional Court. These keywords allow search of the decisions where requirements were not met for the admissibility of a request under Articles VI (3) (a), VI (3) (c) and IV (3) (f) of the Constitution (requests were rejected as inadmissible on the grounds of any of the cases referred to in Article 19 of the Rules of the Constitutional Court. For instance, a request was rejected as inadmissible because the Constitutional Court is not competent to take a decision. This concerns Article 19 (a) of the Rules of the Constitutional Court, and the keyword is D19.a. The keywords pertaining to the admissibility under Articles 18 and 19 of the Rules of the Constitutional Court can be identified as starting with a letter “D”. The number following thereafter represents the number of Article of the Rules.
In addition, yet another type of keywords within this classification are the keywords pertaining to the termination of the proceedings (Article 63 of the Rules of the Constitutional Court), interim measures (Article 64 of the Rules), requests for review (Article 68 of the Rules) and the ruling on non-enforcement (Article 72 of the Rules).
In the context of the search using keywords, it is important to mention that within the menu “Case-law” which contains the section for the search of decisions within the title “Digest of the Case-law” you can find an electronic version of the publication of the Constitutional Court. This is the Digest of the Case Law of the Constitutional Court of BiH, which covers the complete case-law of this Court since May 1997. The case-law in this publication is presented in the form of brief positions and legal opinions through the keywords system, which we have just explained here (the keywords are classified under Articles of the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Rules of the Constitutional Court and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms). The titles of keywords in this publication represent, in fact, its headings and subheadings. All paragraphs contained in this Digest, within each heading are arranged in a chronological order, so that in a way it is possible to follow the development and change of the case-law of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This publication is continuously updated.
The search by alphabetical glossary should be the simplest one. By selecting one term or by combining a number of the terms a user finds a decision he/she is interested in. For example, if you are looking for a position of the Constitutional Court related to expropriation and determination of a statutory default interest (a date from which it starts) on the awarded compensation for expropriated real properties, you will select three keywords from the alphabetical glossary: “compensation”, “expropriation” and “interest”.
When searching for decisions it is very important to use all available keywords and remember, once you have selected the predefined keywords you can additionally strengthen the search by searching the text (“search by the contents of a decision”).
The search of the decisions of the Constitutional Court does not allow for articles of law to be searched, as keywords have not been predefined in that sense. However, the search of articles of law is available by searching the text. For example, you are looking for the case-law where ordinary courts have dismissed the claim for the compensation for non-pecuniary damage due to expiry of the statute of limitations on the claim, in accordance with the provisions of Article 376 of the Law on Obligations. In this case, you can search for the case-law by keywords according to the alphabetical glossary “compensation for damage”, “non-pecuniary damage”, “statute of limitations”, keywords under the European Convention “6.1.17. – a fair trial -the application of law and establishment of the facts (arbitrariness)”. In searching the text, you can enter the following combinations: “Article 376 of the Law on Obligations”. In addition, you can additionally limit the search by entering the date of a decision, as explained above, if you wish to get only the most recent case-law. In order to perform a more comprehensive search of the text, it is important to use different combinations of phrases and to bear in mind that a certain number of the decisions of the Constitutional Court is available only in one of the official languages in BiH. For example, when it comes to this example of the search for the case-law the phrase “Article 376 of the Law on Obligations” can/should be used.
When it comes to the language variants of the decisions of the Constitutional Court, we have introduced a novelty. In case of a search by the text of a decision in the Latin alphabet, it is now possible to search for that same phrase in the decisions available only in the Cyrillic script. It is not necessary to perform the search by the same phrase in the Latin alphabet and then in the Cyrillic alphabet. The system does it simultaneously now.
The search of the decisions of the Constitutional Court includes also the search by the criterion “violation” and “no violation”, which allows for decisions to be searched according to whether a violation of the right under the Constitution/the European Convention in the case concerned has been established or not. For example, if you wish to limit the search of the case-law only to the decisions where a violation has been found, then in the field “violation” you will select a desired article of the Constitution or of the European Convention (e.g. Article II (4) of the Constitution and Article 14 of the European Convention). This search method is rather simple.
However, certain issues or ambiguities may arise when it comes to “U” decisions. When it comes to these types of decisions, the issue of compatibility and incompatibility with the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina may arise (concerning the jurisdiction referred to in Articles VI (3) (a) and VI (3) (c) of the Constitution of BiH) and destructiveness to the vital national interest (Article IV (3) (f) of the Constitution of BiH). To do a search of the decisions where it has been established that the challenged law or a provision of law are not compatible with the Constitution of BiH, you will select a keyword “compatibility with the Constitution” in the field “violation”. If you wish to find decisions where it has been established that the challenged law or a provision of law are compatible with the Constitution of BiH, you will select the same keyword in the field “no violation”. The same goes for the issue of a vital national interest. To do a search of the decisions where destructiveness to the vital national interest has been established, you will select the keyword of the same name in the field “violation”. For an opposite situations, you will select the keyword “destructiveness to the vital national interest” in the field “no violation”.
Also, it is important to note that in a situation where you have selected a number of keywords, the system searches the decisions which all selected keywords are related to. In case where a large number of results is generated, you can narrow down the search by using filters where, for instance, you can select for the results to be narrowed down to a certain type of proceedings (e.g. for civil or criminal cases to be singled out only). You may also select such decisions to be singled out, where a violation has been established or a precisely specified aspect of a specific right under the Constitution of BiH or under the European Convention.
One of the novelties of the search is the option “no keywords”. This option allows certain keywords to be excluded. For example, you are searching the cases where a violation of Article 6 of the European Convention has been established (in the section of keywords “violations”), but you do not wish to generate in the results the decisions pertaining to the length of the proceedings. In that case you will select the keyword “Article 6 of the European Convention and Article II (3) (e) of the Constitution of BiH” among the keywords “violations”. In the section “no keywords” you will select the keyword under the European Convention “6.1.10 – a fair trial – within a reasonable time”. Alternatively, for instance, you wish to find criminal cases where a violation of Article 6 of the European Convention has been established, but for the decisions not to include the issue of presumption of innocence and the length of the proceedings. In that case you will select the keywords under the European Convention “22.214.171.124 – criminal proceedings”, in the section of violations the keyword “Article 6 of the European Convention and Article II (3) (e) of the Constitution of BiH”. In the section “no keywords”, you will select the keyword under the European Convention “6.1.10 – a fair trial – within a reasonable time” and “6.2. – presumption of innocence”.
Depending on the paragraph or issue you are searching for, the search of decisions by different search engines oftentimes can be complex and time-consuming. We therefore recommend to use all possibilities that the search engine offers, starting with keywords, and then filtering results by using other criteria (type of decision, violation/no violation, type of case etc.).