Clarification of measures to reduce work of the courts in the recommendation of the ministry of justice

The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Serbia announced the Recommendations for the work of the courts and public prosecutor’s offices during the state of emergency declared on March 15, 2020. The Recommendations further clarify what is meant by “reduced work of the courts” as mentioned in the statement given by Nikola Selaković, the secretary general of the President and the former Minister of Justice.

The Ministry of Justice made their twelve-point recommendations. We highlighted points of greatest importance to potential and current parties in judicial processes so that they can realistically evaluate if and how a  court or prosecutor’s office relevant to their case will operate in the coming period.

Remote work

  • Casework should (primarily) be conducted from home in the case of the Supreme Court of Cassation, the Commercial Court of Appeal, the Misdemeanor Court of Appeal and other courts of appeal except when it is necessary to hold sessions of judicial panels and in other urgent cases when in-person presence is necessary at the seat of the court.

 

  • Judges of higher, basic, commercial and misdemeanor courts will conduct their casework in the Courthouse, unless remote work is deemed possible, at the discretion of the president of the relevant court.

 

  • Casework will be conducted by public prosecutor’s deputies in the public prosecutor’s office, unless it is possible to conduct work remotely, which is at the discretion of the public prosecutor or the Republic Public Prosecutor.

 

  • In terms of the work of the Administrative Court, it is recommended that the President of the Administrative makes an extraordinary work schedule so that acting judges can perform certain tasks from home. Tasks requiring in-person presence by the judges are performed in the court building. These decisions aim to ensure efficient work of the court and to minimize disturbances in the decision-making process, especially in urgent cases.

 

  • It is also recommended that court and public prosecutors’ office employees (regardless of functional jurisdiction) who are over 60 years of age, have chronic health problems or have children up to the age of 12 are allowed to work from home based on the decision of the president of the court or the public prosecutor. Furthermore, if both spouses are employed by a court or public prosecutor’s office, it may be possible for one of them to work from home.

Prevention of the spread of the pandemic

  • It is recommended that supervisors of court buildings organize work of judicial guards in a way which ensures continuous on-call duty and enables control of persons entering judicial buildings in order to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

Hearings

  • Measures ensuring reduced work of courts and public prosecutors’ offices in criminal cases differ depending on case type. Procedures will be conducted in cases where detention has been ordered or sought, as well as in the cases of prosecution for the criminal acts of “Illegal Trade”, “Failure to Act Pursuant to Health Regulations During Epidemic” and “Transmitting Contagious Disease”. The same applies to cases against juvenile offenders, cases where a minor is harmed, domestic violence cases, cases where there is a risk of obsolescence, and to other criminal offenses for which a large number of criminal complaints have been received and those that were performed during the state of emergency and in connection with the state of emergency. In other cases, main hearings and conduct of procedural steps before indictment are postponed.

 

  • Civil law departments are advised to delay hearings in civil litigations, hearings in non-litigation procedures as well as conduct of enforcement actions in enforcement proceedings, except for execution of alimentation. The delay does not apply to: civil disputes that are considered urgent by law; hearings in urgent proceedings in non-litigation matters and executive matters; legal and international legal assistance procedures regarding legalization of documents (with prior announcement to the president of the court); bankruptcy and reorganization proceedings; decisions on prohibition of press dispersion and prohibition of the spread of information in public media; procedures regarding establishing or contesting existence of maternity or paternity and to procedures regarding disputes about discrimination protection against and workplace abuse.

In civil cases in the courts of second instance, judges should conduct their work from home, except when it is necessary to hold sessions of judicial panels.

  • Misdemeanor courts are recommended to proceed in cases involving juvenile offenders and where the injured person is a minor, in cases involving domestic violence, public order, in cases at risk of obsolescence, as well as in other misdemeanor cases for which a large number of requests for initiating misdemeanor proceedings have been received and where misdemeanors were performed during the state of emergency and in connection with the state of emergency. In other cases, hearings before the misdemeanor courts and the conduct of procedural actions before indictment are delayed.

 

  • In order to implement these recommendations, it is recommended that presidents of courts and public prosecutors issue instructions in accordance with the law, the Rules of Judicial Procedure and the Rulebook on administration in public prosecutors’ offices.

 

  • In all other cases, including commercial disputes, it is recommended that all hearings be adjourned.

 

 Receipt of submissions and issuing of certificates

  • Receipt of submissions should be organized through one counter, accessible by a controlled number of parties. Access to the cases should be restricted to those covered in these Recommendations. Issuing of certificates will be possible only if applicants assert that urgent issuing is justified. Issuing will be done in a way which prevents spread of infectious diseases. Information on whether and how the aforementioned actions can be performed should be prominently displayed on the official websites and in the premises of courts and public prosecutor’s offices, as well as on the Ministry of Justice website.

 

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