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Litigation in Serbia

Litigation in Serbia

Updated on Wednesday 21st July 2021

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Foreign entrepreneurs with businesses in Serbia can sometimes face different commercial disagreements whether with Serbian partners or companies. In this matter, there are two main methods through which the conflicts can end, one is the arbitration and the other one is litigation. Our Serbian litigation lawyers can conduct the situations of commercial disputes or business divergencies, therefore, it is suggested to ask for legal support and advice in front of the authorities. 
 

The types of courts in Serbia

 

From the beginning, it is good to know that the Supreme Court of Cassation represents the highest court of law in Serbia. The following important courts are the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court, the High Commercial Court, the Appellate Court, the Higher Misdemeanor Court ensued by the regional, municipal and administrative courts. According to the Law on Organization of Courts, the higher courts are immediately superior to the main courts in Serbia.

 

What are the responsibilities of the courts in Serbia?

 
 
The Serbian Constitutional Court is an independent state body which protects the legality and constitutionality of different regulations such as laws and general acts, statute and general acts of autonomous provinces and local self-government units, general acts of organizations, ratified international treaties as well as human and minority rights and freedoms. It is formed by 15 judges, five elected by the President of Serbia, five by the National Assembly, and five elected at the General Session of the Supreme Court of Cassation for a period of nine years. It’s mandatory to take the oath before the President of the National Assembly.
 
The Serbian Supreme Court or the Court of Cassation is considered the highest instance in the Serbian judicial system which reviews and, if necessary, overturns previous decisions made by lower courts. Beside this, it determines the jurisdiction in various cases, acts in order to provide uniform application of law by courts, delivers opinions on various acts which will determine the performance of the judicial authority and has an active role in selecting the members of the High Judicial Council from the judges and proposes candidates for one permanent member of the High Judicial Council. It is considered the highest instance in front of the Commercial Appellate Court, the Higher Misdemeanor Court, the Administrative Court, and the Appellate Court.
 
There are several appellate courts in Serbia: Apelacioni Sud Beograd, Apelacioni Sud Kragujevac, Apelacioni Sud Nis which are taking the final decisions in various appeals against decisions of municipal courts in criminal proceedings, against judgments of the municipal courts, on conflicts of the jurisdiction of lower courts, on the transfer of jurisdiction of primary and high courts. The following courts are also of high importance in Serbia:
 
  • the regional courts hear appeals against the municipal courts and are the first instance in major criminal and civil cases and the second instance in cases already heard at the municipal courts;
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  • the municipal courts are the first instance courts in criminal cases which imply a punishment time no longer than ten years and civil cases involving housing disputes, related to employment, any compensation for the damage suffered by an employee during work or related to work and others;
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  • the Serbian legal system is also composed of three administrative courts which hear administrative cases in Kragujevac, Nis, and Novi Sad. The administrative courts are in charge of protecting the civilians from the administrative legal measures taken by the authorities when those are considered to be inappropriate;
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  • the Serbian High Commercial Court is the higher instance in appeals against decisions of commercial courts, and in the first instance in certain cases decided by the law. It also decides on the jurisdiction transfer of the local commercial court;
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  • misdemeanor courts in the first instance adjudicate in minor offences, while the Higher Misdemeanor Court decides on appeals against its decisions or on conflict and transfer of jurisdiction of misdemeanor courts.
 

What are the responsibilities of the Arbitrary Court in Serbia?

 
 
The Arbitrary Court of Serbia decides mostly in commercial cases based on agreements signed between the parties which approve this method of settling a dispute. It is more advantageous than litigation because of the fact that it has lower costs, it is faster and the arbitrators can be chosen by the parties.
 

How long does litigation in Serbia take?

 
 
Litigation in Serbia may take from six months to several years, depending on the complexity of the case, the appeals made on the initial decisions, the availability of the judges and the lawyers. No matter the case you are involved in, our attorneys in Serbia can provide complete legal support in front of the authorities and can explain your rights.
 

The status of the judges in Serbia

 
The Constitution of the Republic of Serbia and particularly the Law on Judges governs the activity and the status of the magistrates in the country. It is good to know that a judge in Serbia will act independently and will respect the Constitution with the related laws. It is strictly forbidden to consider any influence in the exercise of the judicial role in Serbia. The High Judicial Court certifies the independence of the individual judges in Serbia and it is in charge of deciding the election of final magistrates for a particular period of time. We also mention that a judge in Serbia is not responsible for the vote given during the court verdict or for a stated belief, except for cases in which a magistrate has broken the law by committing a criminal offence in Serbia.
 
Judges in Serbia are selected for a period of three years and can use the powers in the court of law in which he or she has been appointed. The transfer of judges between the courts in Serbia is accepted only if they agree on this matter. We also mention that Serbian magistrates cannot involve in political matters or cannot be connected to the political parties in the country, as it is prohibited by the law.
 

How the Supreme Court of Cassation in Serbia makes decisions

 
The Supreme Court of Cassation in Serbia started to operate in 2010, the same year in which the jurisdiction was recognized. It represents the highest court of law in Serbia and the jurisdiction is established in two main directions: in-trial and out-of-trial. In-trial, the Supreme Court of Cassation in Serbia can decide on a dispute of jurisdiction between several courts except for the cases in which another court is competent to act so. In out-of-trial, the Supreme Court of Cassation can appoint the judges of the Constitutional Court and can review the ways in which the laws are applied in certain cases. 
 

International commercial arbitration in Serbia

 
There are often cases in which companies from abroad face particular business difficulties for which reconciliation is recommended. Instead of dealing with the courts of law in Serbia where lawsuits might take longer, it is recommended to adopt the commercial arbitration procedure in Serbia and consider the legal support of lawyers.
 
According to the Serbian Arbitration Act which addresses to both national and international commercial disputes, the companies involved can settle an arbitration agreement in compliance with the laws in Serbia and with complete information about the rights and liabilities of the parties involved. The Foreign Trade Court of Arbitration and the Belgrade Arbitration Center are two important institutions in Serbia, in charge of international commercial arbitration.
 

Mediation in Serbia

 
Mediation is a preferred alternative for handling disputes instead of dealing with the Serbian courts. This legal procedure is usually adopted for family disagreements, but also in financial matters and commercial issues. A mediator is in charge of communicating with the parties involved, in order to settle an agreement, in compliance with the provisions of the Law on Mediation in Serbia.
 
For more details about the judicial system, you may contact our attorneys in Serbia. We can also put you in touch with our local partners in Macedonia on request.