Lack of legal security of businesses regarding property rights hinders the country’s economic development

Prishtina, October 16, 2020 – Property issues are an extremely important aspect of doing business, as various challenges stem from legislation governing immovable property rights in the country, the widespread degree of informality in the property sector, and the inconsistent implementation of these rights. This was said, among other things, during the latest virtual roundtable organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo in cooperation with the USAID Commercial Justice Activity.

Matthew Cullinane, Private Enterprise Officer at USAID’s Economic Growth Office, said that the government must pave the way for businesses by facilitating the procedures for conducting their activities, as well as through comprehensive regulations, thus creating better opportunities for economic growth and development. Cullinane briefed participants on USAID’s market and enterprise-oriented strategy, while emphasizing that special importance is given to the application of arbitration, mediation, and alternative dispute resolution methods. According to him, legal systems of all countries have room for improvement, however a reliable legal system within the state, especially in commercial terms, is key to ensuring the development of the private sector and increasing the attractiveness of businesses in front of foreign investors.

Erblina Krasniqi, lawyer and legal representative of Tregtia, stressed that some of the most crucial challenges that businesses face in relation to property rights stem from bureaucracy in institutions. According to her, this creates excessive challenges, especially considering the increase in the number of new constructions since the post-war period, which often aren’t registered properly. Further, she added that contradictions among laws do exist in the country, where she mentioned the challenges faced in the process of ownership transfer. Krasniqi stated that such objections occur as a result of the laws being drafted from an individual rather than business perspective, which creates unusable collateral, as these properties cannot be mortgaged, sold or alienated. Finally, Krasniqi said that the establishment of the Commercial Court, which has now passed the stage of public consultation, would be a great advantage for Kosovo in terms of resolving commercial disputes.

Kujtesa Nezaj-Shehu, Head of Office and Lawyer at SDP Kosova, emphasized that in business assets, in addition to monetary and tangible property, intellectual property is also a very important part, adding that this property is what distinguishes a business from its competitors. Related to the challenges faced by businesses in the country, Nezaj-Shehu stressed that awareness of the importance of intellectual property is not at desirable levels, which makes its identification and protection impossible. She placed special emphasis on the protection of intellectual property rights, while calling on businesses to view the protection of intellectual property as an investment, and to follow the necessary administrative procedures to ensure the protection of intellectual property such as copyrights, patents, trademarks and designs which much be registered with the competent authorities.