Pristina, 6 April 2009 – Kosovo courts still face difficulties in addressing disputes over immovable property rights, in particular disputes over ownership of immovable property, according to an OSCE report released today. 

The report, Litigating Ownership of Immovable Rights, analyses the handling of ownership disputes in Kosovo courts over the last five years. It found that courts often give greater weight to the testimony of interested parties than to documentary evidence; that they fail to cite legal provisions supporting their decisions and that they appoint temporary representatives for absent respondents without following proper procedures.

“Courts are essential to ensure that people do not lose their property without proper court processes. Property owners need to know that their rights are secured and that their property disputes are processed in a fair way,” said Markku Laamanen, Deputy Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo.

“Proper adjudication of disputes over immovable property is important because it enforces the rule of law, it promotes human rights and it enables the return of displaced persons. In Kosovo as anywhere, the effective protection of property rights is essential for economic development.”

The report, based on the OSCE Mission’s monitoring of courts, found that the legal framework covering immovable property rights is complex, often unclearly drafted and scattered throughout a variety of instruments, negatively affecting the courts’ ability to fairly and efficiently process property disputes.

The report includes recommendations to the responsible authorities on how the process could be improved. It forms part of the OSCE Mission’s efforts to support the development of a functioning and more effective justice system.

The report is available here (in English/in Serbian).

Source: OSCE