Thousands of people win right to recover ‘old’ foreign-currency savings

Ališić and others v. Serbia and Slovenia  |2014

Thousands of people win right to recover ‘old’ foreign-currency savings

Whereas some delays may be justified in exceptional circumstances . . . the Court finds that the present applicants have been made to wait too long

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, July 2014


Thousands of people were left unable to access their ‘old’ foreign-currency savings after the breakup of Yugoslavia and the collapse of its banking system.  

The savers held deposits at branches in Bosnia-Herzegovina of banks that were based in Serbia and Slovenia.

Serbia and Slovenia were unable to reach an agreement with other former Yugoslavian states over the settlement of old debts for which the newly nationalised banks were liable. This left savers unable to access their money. 

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The European court ruled that the savers’ inability to freely access their funds for over twenty years was in breach of their right to the peaceful enjoyment of their property. 

It ordered Serbia and Slovenia to make changes to enable depositors to recover their ‘old’ foreign-currency savings.


Slovenia set up a repayment scheme in 2015 which enabled ‘old’ foreign-currency savers to receive their funds. By the end of November 2017, a total of approximately €224.3 million had been paid to eligible savers. 

Serbia followed suit in 2016 by introducing its own repayment scheme. By 2020, the verification part of the scheme was nearly complete. Most applications had been resolved positively, and 75% of the total amount claimed by depositors had already been ordered for repayment.