Justice administration


The organization of the judiciary commenced in 1805 by establishing a Soviet, which had administrative and legal authority. Already in 1807 each region had its magistrate – a court of three judges, who ruled together with the Soviet in criminal, civil and marriage litigation. In 1811, the National or Great Court was established in Belgrade. By an agreement made between prince Milos and Marasli Ali-Pasha, a dual trial system was established. The Sultan’s edict from 1830 allowed Serbian courts to be organized on the entire territory of the principality.

The Visitation of the Virgin Mary constitution (1835) regulated a division of government, and an independent judiciary, as guarantee of the citizens’ rights. The Turkish Constitution (1838) laid the foundations of a legal order, private ownership was guaranteed and three types of courts were established: the primary, first instance and appeals court.

By a Decree of the Ministry of Justice, the Court of the City of Belgrade was established in 1841, which was a first instance court and encompassed the entire territory of the city. On the basis of the act from 1865 it had jurisdiction over civil, criminal and civil litigation. It operated via councils and was under the jurisdiction of the Appeals Court.

In 1852 the Court of Cassation was established, which ruled and dismissed. The Commercial Court in Belgrade was established on the basis of the Act on the Organization of a Commercial Court in 1859, which operated until 1944.

The Regency Constitution (1869) confirmed the role of the National Assembly and brought freedom to the press. The foundations were laid for the judiciary: a multi- tiered system with public and independent trials, evaluations and material laws, as well as the right to be defended.

During this period, on the basis of the Judiciary Organization Act of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1872), judiciary was separated from administration. The King’s District Courts were established as first instance courts. At that time even a court in Zemun was established which was higher than the local courts, while lower than the Court of Appeals in Sremska Mitrovica.

The constitution from 1888 regulated court organization into: a first instance court, an appeals court and a cassation court, a unique court for the entire territory of Serbia, and it prescribed conditions for becoming a judge. It was abolished in 1901, by adopting the imposed constitution and subsequently reinstalled in 1903.

In 1928 legal regulations were passed which regulated the judicial system in the entire territory of the state. Regular courts carried out judicial authority in the country: county, district, commercial and cassation courts. Following the January Sixth Dictatorship from 1929 a new act emerged on regular courts organization, which was subsequently modified and amended in 1934 and 1939. Besides the regular courts, special ones existed as well: the State Protection Court, the Military Court, the Church Court and Land, Disability and Municipal Courts. During the occupation from 1941, the courts continued with their operations, while old laws were in effect with lesser amendments. In 1944 the District Court for the City of Belgrade ceased with its operations (evolved from the Court of the City of Belgrade) as well as the County Court in Zemun.

The judiciary of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was organized in accordance with the provisions of the constitution of 1946 as a people’s judiciary. Administrative – territorial changes influenced judicial changes in the sense of their jurisdiction. In 1966 the district courts changed their names into municipal courts. The higher body of all regular courts was the Republican Secretariat for Justice and General Administration, i.e. the president of the higher courts.


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