26 March, 2020
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Administrative proceedings: new time limit rules

Since the declaration of the state of emergency in Serbia on March 15, 2020, authorities have issued a number of decisions aimed at maintaining order and preventing the collapse of the economy and the judicial system.  One of the protective measures announced on March 24, 2020 was the Government Decree concerning time limits in administrative proceedings during the state of emergency (“Decree”).

 

What does the Decree impose?

The Decree provides crucial guidance regarding time limits in administrative procedures.

First off, the Decree stipulates that parties to administrative proceedings before state bodies, bodies of local self-government units, provincial bodies, as well as other bodies governed by public law, will not face any consequences if they fail to act within the statutory time limits during the state of emergency.  This rule applies to both general administrative procedures and special administrative procedures.  Practically, this means that if a dissatisfied party has not filed a complaint within the statutory time limit, it does not lose the right to file a complaint as would it be the case in the ordinary course of events.

Another important rule enacted under the Decree concerns time limits and their applicability in this respect. In this regard, time limits that run from the service on parties of writs and other correspondence in the administrative procedure shall not count during the state of emergency. The correspondence shall be deemed served 15 days after the state of emergency is lifted, and time limits shall run as of that date.  For instance, if service was effected on March 25, it will not be considered served until the 15th day after the state of emergency is lifted.

Additionally, time limits expiring during the state of emergency, and which concern administrative actions, the conclusion of administrative procedures, and hearing appeals, will be deemed expired 30 days after the state of emergency is lifted.

Another measure relates to the procedures for determining and paying public revenues.  In particular, the effect of Decreeis limited solely to the time limits for submitting legal remedies against first instance decisions of the competent tax and customs authorities.

The last measure concerns the filing of appeals against oral decisions of a competent authority issued in the application of emergency measures.  This measure also applies to requests for written copies of an oral decision.  In these cases, time limits run from the day the state of emergency is lifted.

 

What does this mean for parties?

A party that fails to submit an appeal or other legal remedy within the statutory time limit would lose the right to submit it.  The Decree was adopted for this very reason – to prevent the detrimental effects of the preclusion of parties’ rights, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, since parties are likely to have difficulty adhering to time limits due to reasons beyond their control.

 

For more information, please contact us via covid19@geciclaw.com