History has taught us that after all great tragedies, such as the one affecting the World currently, the age of revival arrives, as well as that during the extraordinary circumstances, no matter how serious they are, life finds its path. We at JPM are trying to spend our time working and making efforts so that our common work and goals does not suffer any or suffer minimal damage during the time that the restrictive measures imposed by all governments are in force.
Having in mind everything said above, we believe that it is important and useful to inform you about some of the measures regarding the functioning of the state authorities, and above all courts, during the state of emergency which has been proclaimed in the Republic of Serbia. First of all, on 20 March 2020 the Government of the Republic of Serbia has rendered the Regulation on deadlines in court proceedings during a state of emergency declared on 15 March 2020, which prescribes that the following deadlines will stop running from 15 March 2020 until the state of emergency ends: a) Submitting claims in litigation proceedings, submitting private criminal claims, deadlines in non-contentious proceedings, motions for initiating non-contentious, enforcement and security proceedings, claims in administrative disputes and constitutional appeals; b) Submission of legal remedies or other procedural actions in the proceedings listed above; c) Submission of appeals on the decisions on termination of criminal, misdemeanor and corporate offense proceedings, as well as extraordinary legal remedies in these proceedings.
As you can see, the above stated deadlines will start running as soon as the state of emergency ends. This means that, exampli causa, if the court delivers you a decision during the state of emergency, the deadline for appeal will start running on the first day after the state of emergency ends. Therefore, it would be good to prepare these appeals for submission shortly after the state of emergency ends or to inform us about the subject decision during the state of emergency, so that we could timely draft the respective appeals.
Having in mind everything stated above, it is our opinion that, if time permits you, during the state of emergency it could be useful to review your documentation for potential disputed situations with your business partners, and especially the ones in which the statutory deadlines for enforced collection may expire shortly after the state of emergency ends. Therefore, during the state of emergency you could, by yourself or with our aid, prepare warning notes to the debtors, draft enforcement motions, claims or other initial acts which could be submitted shortly after the state of emergency.
Other important decisions related to the state of emergency and functioning of the courts in the Republic of Serbia are the Recommendations of the Ministry of Justice regarding the functioning of the courts and public prosecution offices during the state of emergency proclaimed on 15 March 2020 dated 17 March 2020. The issues from the Ministry’s recommendations are further regulated in High Court Counsel’s Conclusion on holding the hearings which must not be postponed dated 18 March 2020. In accordance with the said acts, starting from 19 March 2020 the hearings before the Serbian courts will be held only in:
a) civil proceedings:
- in which it shall be decided on rendering, prolongation or abolition of the temporary injunction;
- in which it shall be decided on measures of protection from domestic violence;
- in which it shall be decided on confinement in neuropsychiatric healthcare institution;
- enforcement of executive documents concerning family law relations.
b) criminal proceedings:
- in which detention has been determined or requested;
- for prohibition of the distribution of press and information dissemination in mass media;
- for domestic violence;
- against juvenile perpetrators and in which the damaged party is a juvenile;
- for sexual offenses from the part XVIII of the Criminal Code in which the damaged party is a juvenile;
- for illegal trade from the article 235 of the Criminal Code and failure to act pursuant to health regulations during an epidemic and transmitting contagious disease from the article 248 of the Criminal Code;
- for crimes committed during the state of emergency or in relation to the state of emergency.
- In which there is risk of expiration of statutory deadline;
In all other proceedings, the hearings before the first instance courts are postponed until the end of the state of emergency without a particular decision of the competent court. The court is not obliged to inform the parties to the case about postponing of the hearing.
Further, it is recommended to the second instance judges to work from home, which means drafting second instance decisions. We do not expect that such decisions will be delivered to the parties during the state of emergency, including the decisions rendered in the cases not listed above, although such possibility cannot be excluded. If this happens, we advise you to inform us about such decision so that we can assess whether there is a possibility to submit an extraordinary legal remedy and, if this is the case, draft and submit such remedy after the state of emergency ends and the deadlines start running.
The third important decision is not directly related to the courts, but to other state authorities which you communicate with and might need to communicate during the state of emergency. The decision in question is the Conclusion on cessation of interaction with the parties through direct contact rendered by the Government on 16 March 2020.
In accordance with this conclusion all direct contact with the parties is suspended (ex. interaction with the public officials through counter windows), in all governmental authorities, authorities of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, local governments, special organizations, institutions, public enterprises and other organizations established by the Republic of Serbia, Autonomous Province of Vojvodina and local governments, , i.e. organizations in which the said entities have controlling interest.
All contact and interaction with the parties shall be continued via post, e-mail and telephone. All listed authorities are obliged to publish e-mail addresses for submission of motions on their web pages. The following authorities will not cease direct contact with the parties:
- Ministry of Finance – Customs Administration
- Ministry of Finance – Tax Administration
- Ministry of Finance – Treasury Administration
- Public Enterprise „Pošta Srbije“
- Public Enterprise „Elektroprivreda Srbije“
These entities are obliged to publish information which of their counter windows will be exempted from the suspension of direct contact. We hope that this information, which we tried to present in the briefest form, will be of use to you in your work and life in general during the state of emergency.
By Jelena Milinovic, Partner, JPM Jankovic Popovic Mitic