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Yugoslavia: Court System
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Government Structure > Court System


Yugoslavia had two national court systems, one for resolution of civil and criminal cases, the second to judge the conformity of national law with the Constitution and the conformity of laws passed by republics and provinces with national law. In 1990 the federal constitutional court found recent amendments to the constitutions of all the republics except Montenegro to be at variance with the federal Constitution. The court did not have the authority, however, to take action against such infractions. Its judgments were passed to the Federal Assembly for action. The federal constitutional court also resolved disputes of authority between regional bodies or between a regional body and the national government, but it did not act as an appeals court for the regional level. The republics and provinces also had constitutional courts, which dealt with constitutional questions on their level. For national uniformity, the members of the regional courts held regular consultations on procedures and constitutional interpretations.

The regular court system consisted of the federal, republican, and provincial supreme courts, and local (commune) courts, each resolving civil and criminal cases involving laws at their level of government. Local regular courts included untrained citizens elected by their communes, as well as professional jurists. This provision partially fulfilled the function of trial by jury, which did not exist. The Yugoslav system also had no habeas corpus law. Only professional judges served on the regular courts of the republics and the federal Supreme Court. The system also included local- to federal-level self-management courts (courts of associated labor), which heard only cases involving acts of the self-management organizations, not involving government law. The military courts completed the Yugoslav justice system.

Each republic and province had its own law code, separate from the Criminal Code of the Socialist Federaled Republic of Yugoslavia. By federal law, political crimes were first tried at district level, then cases could be appealed at the republic and federal levels of the regular court system. The federal Supreme Court was the final court of appeal for lower courts of all types. The chief civil law enforcement officer was the public prosecutor, elected by the Federal Assembly. The republics and provinces had corresponding officers, similarly elected and under the direction of the federal prosecutor.

Data as of December 1990

Last Updated: December 1990

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Yugoslavia was first published in 1990. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Yugoslavia Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 137 of 208


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