How do I find a good lawyer to act on my behalf?

This is the one person that you appoint to act on your behalf so how do you find out who you can trust?  Of course, there’s no foolproof answer, but here’s a few pointers…

  • You need to use a lawyer certified to practise law in Montenegro. There are very few living outside of Montenegro.
    Lawyers in Montenegro work in general practice with a wide remit, they are not solicitors specialising in conveyancing.
  • Use an independent lawyer to handle your property purchase. Find out who the seller is using so that you don’t use the same one and be wary if the agent can only recommend one lawyer. If they can provide a choice, this can be more reliable.
  • Another option is to try to get a recommendation from another buyer. Many lawyers have acted on behalf of other foreigners and can be more accustomed to the communication required by foreigners. Just being able to speak English is not necessarily enough.
  • Ask the lawyer questions so that you are clear on what service they will provide. It is not the same in every country. For example, in Montenegro it is normal to give power of attorney to a lawyer to sign contracts on your behalf, but it is not normal for a local authority search or similar to be done. If you are concerned about the land surrounding your prospective purchase, you would need to specify to your lawyer to check if the land in front has already got planning, what could be built there, etc.
  • Giving your lawyer power of attorney (POA) to sign contracts, access your Montenegrin bank account, etc does make sense, so that you do not need to be present. The signed POA must be ratified in the notary’s office. If you do not have time to do this, you can sign the POA in front of a public notary in your own country and send by courier to your lawyer in Montenegro.
  • The POA to buy a property has usually been worded as such. It may also have an expiry date. When you come to sell the property, you will most likely have to sign a new POA permitting your lawyer to sell the property on your behalf.
  • Insist on a contract in a language you are fluent in,  which should be translated by a court appointed translator. Expect to pay for this.
  • Do keep a copy of the deeds, ownership list (List Nepokretnosti), contract and any other documents related to the property yourself. Check thoroughly that everything has been recorded correctly. It has been all too common for part of the plot such as a courtyard or driveway to have been omitted from the ownership list by mistake. It is far easier to rectify immediately after the event rather than when you come to sell it in years to come.