The Slovenia Times

Slovenia Wins ECHR Appeal of LB Ruling


The decision of a five-member panel of the Grand Chamber means the matter will now be referred to the 17-member Grand Chamber for a final decision, which may take up to two years.

The Foreign Ministry hailed the decision to uphold Slovenia's appeal against what the country's officials had previously labelled as a biased ruling.

The court had found in its 6 November ruling that Slovenia had violated the right to effective legal remedy and the protection of property enshrined in the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

In the case of three Bosnian applicants versus Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia and Macedonia, the court ruled that only Slovenia (with regard to LB Sarajevo) and Serbia (Tuzla branch of Investbanka) had violated the convention.

The court ordered Slovenia to "undertake all necessary measures" within six months to allow the applicants "and all others in their position" to be paid back their foreign-currency savings "under the same conditions as those who had such savings in domestic branches of Slovenian banks".

Slovenia expects that the Grand Chamber will take into account the latest developments, including the recent Slovenia-Croatia agreement stipulating that the issue of LB Zagreb deposits will be resolved as part of talks on the succession to the former Yugoslavia.

Slovenia has insisted for years that all deposits were guaranteed by the countries on whose territories the banks in question were when the old country fell apart. It also sees the whole issue as part of succession negotiations.

In its appeal to the 6 November ruling, Slovenia argued that the judgement was a departure from the court's previous case law, including the 2008 case of Kovačić v. Slovenia, when the court took into account the succession framework and established that this is an issue on which the successors to the former Yugoslavia need to reach an agreement.

It also said it ignored the "guiding principle of succession - the territorial principle", the statement says, noting that Slovenia had paid all account holders on its territory.

Among other things, Slovenia challenged the court's conclusion that old foreign currency deposits, rather than being sent to the Yugoslav National Bank as Slovenia argues, probably remained in Slovenia.

Slovenia also noted that the seven-member chamber which ruled on the case in the first instance included five judges from successors to the former Yugoslavia.

After the break-up of Yugoslavia, Slovenia took over the guarantees for all deposits on its territory, but LB bank had branches elsewhere in Yugoslavia and those have proved to be problematic.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the issue of old deposits remains unresolved, some 165,000 LB account holders are demanding EUR 90m from LB Sarajevo.

In Croatia only a portion of the deposits at LB were transferred to public debt, leaving some 132,000 savers who are demanding EUR 178m from LB Zagreb.

Serbia and Montenegro transferred all LB liabilities to public debt.


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