Municipalities in Trial: Between Lack of Accountability and Protection of Local Interests

The subject of this study is the protection of property rights at the local level in Montenegro.

Just like the central state, local governments appear before courts more frequently as defendants than as plaintiffs. The most frequent type of charges brought against them involve work-related rights. These can also be dealt with via mediation, but information on the number of mediation cases or settlements in work-related disputes is not proactively published. Data privacy rules did not allow us to get the municipal level information from the Agency for peaceful settlement of labour disputes. Overall, there is little transparency in this area: reports on the work of municipal bodies in charge of legal representation and protection of property are not proactively published.

In the upcoming period, Ministry of Finance should regulate the rules for reporting on spending on court-related nes and insist on uni ed and transparent presentation of amounts budgeted for court-related costs as a condition for the Ministry’s approval of local self-governments’ budget decisions. This could be accomplished by amending Regulations on the single classi cation of accounts for the Budget of Montenegro, budgets of extra-budgetary funds and budgets of municipalities. Local self-governments should regularly published analytical cards, and municipal bodies in charge of representation and protection ought to proactively publish report son their work, and inform the relevant authorities in local self-governments about the state of court disputes in order to ensure timely initiation of negotiations with plaintiffs and more frequent use of alternative settlement procedures. State Audit Institution ought to conduct a thematic audit of expenses incurred through court proceedings by all local self-governments.

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