Tag: covid19

12 June, 2020
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New Reckoning by the EU Commission with the Lifting of Travel Restrictions

In case you are planning a trip to any of the EU countries, we have news for you. On June 11, 2020, European Commission (“Commission”) published a Communication on the third assessment of the application of the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU strongly encouraging the remaining Member States (those which have not lifted the ban yet) to lift the internal border controls and restrictions to free movement within the EU by June 15, 2020.  This is the third sequel of the Commission’s prolongation of travel restrictions into the EU+ area for travelers coming from third countries, however, […]

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08 June, 2020
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The curfew strikes again in North Macedonia

On March 18, 2020, North Macedonia declared a state of emergency due to the outbreak of COVID-19, which was accompanied by numerous measures, including bans on mass gatherings and movement, as well as imposition of self-isolation.  The development of the epidemiological situation in this country allowed temporary relaxation of measures, while the state of emergency has remained in force to this day. The latest decision to extend the state of emergency was made on May 30.  According to that decision, the state of emergency should last until June 14, which is the third extension of the state of emergency in […]

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26 May, 2020
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Crisis financing of businesses in Serbia

Maintaining liquidity became a hot topic for business in Serbia in the aftermath of the months-long crisis and state of emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Liquidity, defined as a debtor’s ability to settle debts towards their creditors, became more significant due to the economic fallout brought by the pandemic, and the fact that now, once the state of emergency has been lifted, the economy is expected to resume as usual after being stopped dead in its tracks at the start of the pandemic and incurring immense losses during lockdowns. When faced with liquidity issues, businesses may opt to sell […]

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26 May, 2020
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Western Balkans and COVID-19 – traveling amid the pandemic

Serbia – full border liberalization  With the public health situation improving, the Government of Serbia decided on May 19, 2020 that, as of May 22, neither Serbian nor foreign nationals will be required to be in possession of a negative PCR test or a special permit for entry into Serbia. The Government also rescinded the self-isolation measures that were mandatory upon arrival to Serbia, and passengers coming from abroad will instead be handed a memo informing them that the virus is still at large and instructing them how to prevent infection. Additionally, though negative PCR tests are no longer required […]

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25 May, 2020
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Additional explanations – Development Fund loans for maintaining liquidity and investing in working capital

As part of the legal framework to alleviate the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government passed the Decree approving the scheme of financial support to businesses for maintaining liquidity and working capital in aggravated economic conditions (“Scheme“) on April 10, 2020.   Since then, the Ministry of Economy, the Development Fund of the Republic of Serbia and the Serbian Chamber of Commerce have published a number of responses to frequently asked questions regarding loans approved under the Scheme. An overview of most important explanations is presented below.   Promissory notes of loan users and personal promissory notes of […]

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Airlines Serving Sardinia Challenged the European Commission’s Decision Declaring Illegal State Aid … And They Lost

On May 13, 2020, the General Court of the European Union (“Court”) dismissed the actions brought by airlines easyJet, Volotea and Germanwings, who sought the annulment of the European Commission’s (“Commission”) decision declaring illegal the aid granted by Italy to airlines serving Sardinia. The Court dismissed the airlines’ arguments relating to the absence of distortion of competition and of effect on trade between Member States.  In that regard, the Court explained that a national measure can be declared as State aid if such an aid is liable to affect trade and distort competition, without the necessity of establishing that such […]

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Second Amendment Adopted While Maintaining the Level Playing Field in the EU

Having recognized that the EU economy is, in its entirety, experiencing a serious downturn, the European Commission (“Commission”) saw it necessary to adopt a new State aid Temporary Framework to support the economy in the context of the coronavirus outbreak on March 19, 2020 (our article available here) (“TF”).  The TF helps target support for the economy while limiting negative consequences to the level playing field in the EU’s single market.  The first amendment to the TF was introduced on April 3, 2020 by which the Commission extended the TF to enable Member States to accelerate research, testing and production […]

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15 May, 2020
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COVID-19 and new entry protocol for Serbian citizens coming from abroad

After the state of emergency was introduced on March 15, 2020, the Government decided to seal the borders to virtually all passenger transit. However, those temporary restrictions did not apply to Serbian citizens, foreign nationals with approved temporary residence or permanent residence in Serbia, nor to accredited staff of foreign diplomatic and consular missions, staff of international organizations and their families, subject to 28 days mandatory isolation following entry.   With the situation improving and the state of emergency now lifted, the Government has decided to relax measures and gradually reopen border crossings, mainly for Serbian citizens coming from abroad. […]

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11 May, 2020
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Fighting the Onslaught of COVID-19 Litigation?

As worldwide lockdowns slowly recede and many of us, including courts, claimants and respondents, step back out of quarantines, we will be “greeted” by a plethora of complex litigation issues. The large number and complexity of these issues will require all sides to put in place even more sophisticated strategies to tackle the ensuing litigation onslaught.   According to Harold Kim, the president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, “[t]his early litigation is really, from our vantage point, the tip of the iceberg”.   Cue May 6, 2020: Serbia rescinded the almost two-month-long state of emergency and relaxed […]

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11 May, 2020
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Government passes Decree establishing a Guarantee Scheme – What can Serbian business owners expect?

On April 10, 2020, the Serbian government announced economic policy measures to reduce the impact of the pandemic on the Serbian economy. These measures include financial support to businesses, inter alia, through loans on favorable terms and financing of minimum wages. The list of measures announced on April 10 is not conclusive. Namely, another regulation is the Decree establishing a guarantee scheme as an economic support measure to mitigate the consequences of the COVID-19 disease caused by virus SARS-CoV-2 (“Decree“). According to the Minister of Finance, this Decree is the cornerstone of the entire economic program of the Serbian Government […]

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11 May, 2020
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The new Government Decree postponed the most important deadlines for business entities

The legal framework of economic support measures established on April 10, 2020 through a series of decrees, was followed less than a week later by another decree.  Namely, the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Decree moving the deadlines for holding the regular session of the general meeting and submitting annual and consolidated financial statements for companies, cooperatives, other legal entities and entrepreneurs, as well as deadlines for submitting corporate income tax returns and self-employment income tax returns, validity of authorized auditor licenses and real estate appraiser licenses which expire during the state of emergency declared because of […]

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08 May, 2020
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Decree postpones deadline for hiring qualified new employees

At the end of 2019 and at the beginning of this year, the world of IT entrepreneurs saw changes with the adoption of amendments to the Personal Income Tax Act and the introduction of the independence test in order to determine who is actually a lump sum entrepreneur and who is avoiding income tax payments (Independence test).  Namely, the amendments to the Personal Income Tax Act and the Compulsory Social Security Contributions Act set a significantly higher rate for taxes and contributions for entrepreneurs who would be found to have failed the Independence test, and special reliefs were given for […]

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08 May, 2020
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NBS issue recommendations to insurers

As part of its central bank remit, the National Bank of Serbia (“NBS“) also is responsible for the supervision of insurance company trading practices, and accordingly, it issued several useful recommendations to insurers as to how to weather the coronavirus storm. To protect the health of insurance customers and employees in the insurance sector and to prevent the further spread of diseases caused by the coronavirus, the NBS has taken steps to protect the rights and interests of insurance customers and at the same time enable those customers to continue using those services.   Deferred payment of insurance premiums Given […]

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08 May, 2020
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How limited liability company can issue corporate bonds?

The economic package measures adopted by the Government to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 virus pandemic included the Decree on the procedure for issuing debt securities (“Decree“).  For the Serbian economy, where bond issuance is rare, the content of this Decree is an exception, however, in countries with more developed financial markets, corporate bonds are a standard form of financing.  The Decree seeks to simplify the procedure for issuing debt securities during a state of emergency, as well as within 180 days of termination of a state of emergency, with aim to encourage companies to issue debt securities to […]

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07 May, 2020
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Courts to reopen – are masks, gloves and disinfectants the “new normal”?

Since the introduction of the state of emergency in Serbia on March 15, 2020, its judiciary has virtually been on a two-month hiatus. Back on March 19, 2020 the High Judicial Council (“HJC”) adopted the Conclusion postponing all court hearings until the cessation of the state of emergency, save for such proceedings where delays were not possible.   However, seeing that the National Assembly voted to rescind the national state of emergency on May 6, 2020, the HJC quickly jumped to action and issued a new conclusion on May 7, 2020, declaring that conditions were met for normalization of work […]

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30 April, 2020
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Last day for applying for Fiscal Benefits and Direct Grants

On 10 April 2020, the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted Decree on Fiscal Benefits and Direct Grants to Private Sector Companies („Decree“) that entered into force the same day. The Decree foresees numerous benefits for private sector companies comprising direct grants along with deferred payment deadlines of certain public revenues. If they meet the requirements laid down in the Decree, all business entities in the private sector can be beneficiaries of aid by filing a tax return.   Although the Decree has comprehensively clarified all aspects of the use of State aid, several questions have arisen in practice […]

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EDPB Addresses the Protection of Health Data

Keeping in mind that the development of new and more detailed guidance for the processing of health data is part of the annual work plan of the European Data Protection Board (“EDPB“), for now, the EDPB has adopted Guidelines 03/2020 on the processing of data concerning health for the purpose of scientific research in the context of COVID-19 outbreak (“Guidelines“) on April 21, 2020 with the aim of safeguarding everyone’s right to the protection of personal data in the midst of a global coronavirus pandemic. Due to the pandemic, there are many scientific research efforts being conducted to fight against […]

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28 April, 2020
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Development Fund loan repayment moratorium

Since the declaration of the state of emergency in Serbia, authorities have introduced scores of measures aimed at easing the financial pressure on both the economy and the public by the COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, the Government issued several decrees on fiscal benefits and financial support schemes, the National Bank of Serbia introduced a moratorium on repayment of bank loans and financial leasing instruments. Neither did Serbia’s Development Fund pass up the chance to contribute to the maintenance of commercial liquidity and financial stability. How so?   The loan repayment moratorium approved by the Development Fund   In line […]

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Contact-Tracing for the 21st Century

While governments and health authorities around the globe work together to find ways to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, they are keeping in mind the goal to protect lives and get society up and running normally. Governments and their public health authorities, as well as universities and NGOs, around the world, have been doing important work researching how to develop an opt-in contact-tracing technology. We are emphasizing the “opt-in” part for a reason: this means that no person will be traced nor will be driven to provide their own personal data or personal data of other persons, without their explicit […]

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16 April, 2020
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The Government of Serbia has answered to questions concerning fiscal benefits and direct payments to business entities

The legal framework for economic support measures was established on 10 April 2020 by adopting a number of regulations of the Government of the Republic of Serbia (“Government“). Within a week of their publication, however, the number of business owners’ concerns is growing. One of them is the Decree on Fiscal Benefits and Direct Benefits to Private Sector Companies and Financial Assistance to Citizens to Mitigate the Economic Consequences of COVID-19 (“Decree“), which addresses fiscal policy measures, including specifying the rules for grants made from the budget of the Republic of Serbia, VAT treatment of the sale of goods and […]

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15 April, 2020
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NBS cuts the key policy rate to 1.5% as negative effects of the pandemic on global economic growth are exceeding previous estimates

The Executive Board of the National Bank of Serbia (“NBS“) decided to additionally reduce the key policy rate to 1.5% at its meeting held on April 9.   This additional cut came almost a month after the previous decrease when the key policy rate was cut to 1.75% (more on that on https://www.coronavirus.geciclaw.com/the-covid-19-pandemic-response-of-central-banks/). According to the NBS’ officials, international indicators show that the effects of the pandemic on global economic growth are more severe than previously estimated, which will be reflected in movements in the international commodity and financial markets, as well as decisions of central banks and governments around […]

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EU+Travel Restrictions in Force for Another 30 Days

During the past month, the EU+ area saw a continuous rise in the number of new cases and deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of the pandemic has worsened since March 16, 2020 when the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council and the Council on a ‘Temporary Restriction on Non-Essential Travel to the EU’ (“Communication”) was adopted, as we informed you (here).  The 30-day ban, temporarily restricting all non-essential travel from third countries to the EU, is to expire in just a few days, considering that all Member States (including the Schengen Associated […]

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13 April, 2020
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BIH blocked increase of grocery and oil prices during the state of emergency

Due to the state of the emergency introduced as a result of the largest pandemic in modern times, all countries and economies of the world found themselves in challenging times.  Food and grocery retailers inevitably found themselves under pressure to meet requirements of all customers and supply enough quantities of goods. As it happens whenever there is a crisis in history, some retailers try to profit from it by increasing prices of basic foodstuffs. Therefore, the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (“FBiH”) issued a Decision to establish conditions for listing direct price control measures in the territory […]

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11 April, 2020
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Serbian Government published a Decree on State Aid to Businesses: This is how employers can receive minimum wage grants

On 10 April 2020, the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted the long-awaited legal framework for implementation of the Program of Economic Measures to reduce the adverse effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The adoption of part of the legal framework supporting this program was announced at a press conference by the Minister of Finance and the Head of the Coordination Body Sinisa Mali. One part of this adopted legal framework is the Decree on Fiscal Benefits and Direct Benefits to Private Sector Companies and Financial Assistance to Citizens to Mitigate the Economic Consequences of COVID-19 (“the Decree“). As […]

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09 April, 2020
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COVID-19 and annual leave – who may use it and when?

The state of emergency, introduced in Serbia on March 15, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, had a major impact on employment relations.  Many employees have switched to flexible ways of working, meaning working remotely or from home, while others have continued working on-site at their usual place of work. Regardless of whether they work remotely or on-site, employees may wonder how their rights, guaranteed under the Labor Act (“Act”), are affected by the current situation. Specifically, employees may wonder if they are entitled to use annual leave during the state of emergency. The Government stepped in to clarify.   […]

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09 April, 2020
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Not all human rights can be suspended during the state of emergency – obsolete*

Freedom of movement – the ever-tightening noose Since March 15 when the state of emergency was declared in the Republic of Serbia (“RS“), i.e. since March 18 when the Ministry of Internal Affairs issued the Order Restricting and Prohibiting the Movement of Persons on the Territory of the RS  (“Order“), the measures have been revised multiple several times in a bid to find the most effective way to tackle the coronavirus spread.  April 3 saw the latest amendment to the Order.  Given the abundance of public discourse, it is practically common knowledge what the measures are and who the restrictions, […]

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08 April, 2020
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Contracts: no exemption from the primary obligation or default interest in extraordinary circumstances

Lately, lawyers and businesses have widely exploited the concept of force majeure. A large number of foreign and domestic legal experts have tendered explanations of this legal institute. In light of the lengthy wrangling on this topic, we believe additional clarification is called for. This should not be a theoretical discussion about whether or not the pandemic and ensuing measures are force majeure because without getting into the nitty-gritty of each and every case there is no one answer fits all. The Contracts and Torts Act is clear when it comes to grounds for exemption from contractual liability for damages. […]

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08 April, 2020
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COVID-19 and employment – is there room for full salary compensation?

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the inevitable economic crisis, authorities are constantly looking for ways to lend a hand to the Serbian economy.  Yet, it is the employment relations that are likely to suffer the most in the state of emergency, as economic effects of the introduced measures routinely spill over to employees, who, in turn, often face salary reductions or layoffs. On the other hand, employees who continued working during the pandemic face another serious threat – the risk of COVID-19 infection.  Aware of this risk, the Government suggested certain financial measures to help employees who […]

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08 April, 2020
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Position of authorized exchange offices during the state of emergency

The central bank of Serbia – National Bank of Serbia (“NBS”) is a public institution in charge of safeguarding the value and purchasing power of money. The core purpose of the NBS is to provide monetary and financial stability. Monetary stability means maintaining low, stable and predictable inflation rate and confidence in the value of the national currency – the Serbian dinar. Financial stability means ensuring a sound financial system in which banks and other financial institutions function well and responsibly safeguard money and other assets of their clients.  By safeguarding the value of the national currency, the NBS contributes […]

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07 April, 2020
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Government invalidated its Conclusion on centralizing publication of information about the current state and consequences of the COVID-19 spread

The Government of the Republic of Serbia invalidated its Conclusion 05 no. 53-2928/2020 (“Conclusion“) which centralized the publication of information on the current state and consequences of the infectious disease COVID-19 through the Crisis Staff for suppression of the Infectious Disease (“Crisis Staff“) headed by Prime Minister Ana Brnabić,. The Government announced the Conclusion on March 28 and it was published on March 31 in the Official Gazette of RS no. 48/2020. On April 3, the Government invalidated the Conclusion (by adopting new Conclusion 05 no. 53-3010/2020, published in Official Gazette of RS no. 50/2020). Let us first remind you […]

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07 April, 2020
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Investment in securities during the state of emergency – What is new?

Several weeks after the state of emergency was declared, the Serbian Government took some economic measures in addition to the measures imposed to contain the coronavirus epidemic.  One of the economic measures enacted by the Government concerns the Deposit Insurance Agency of the Republic of Serbia („Agency“) and its ability to invest in securities. For this purpose, the Government issued a Decree on Emergency Investment in Foreign Currency Managed by the Deposit Insurance Agency[1] (“Decree“) on March 25, 2020, which immediately came into force. Security is a document which bestows property right (real rights or obligation rights) on its holder. […]

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Serbian Competition Authority time limits: what’s the story?

Adopted on March 24, 2020 and amended two days later, the Decree concerning time limits in administrative proceedings during the state of emergency (“Decree”) applies to all administrative procedures including those before Serbia’s national competition authority (“NCA” or “Commission”).  In that regard, the NCA has published a Notification on Deadlines During the State of Emergency (“Notification”). Wishing to protect both the interests of parties and public interest, the Commission has explained what changes the Decree introduces with respect to merger control, individual exemptions of restrictive agreements and other procedures governed by the Competition Act.   What happens to time limits […]

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06 April, 2020
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New COVID-19 restrictions – ban on beauty salons and casinos – obsolete*

Since the state of emergency was introduced in Serbia on March 15, 2020, authorities have issued a number of decrees regulating – or, better yet, restricting – certain rights of citizens and industry. However, as the public health situation deteriorates from day to day, authorities must keep up with the situation and respond swiftly to new developments by imposing new restrictions. Who are the shutters coming down next?   No beauty salons or gambling during state of emergency In order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 by minimizing potentially dangerous contacts among members of the public, the Serbian Government […]

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06 April, 2020
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Coronavirus repercussions on Contractual Relationships in Bosnia & Herzegovina

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the competent authorities to take measures to safeguard public health.  These measures have had repercussions for business in all countries affected by the coronavirus and Bosnia & Herzegovina is no exception.  The main question is whether COVID-19 pandemic can be treated as force majeure and whether it can affect contractual relations.  This is a very complicated question, with no one-fits-all answer and must be examined on a case-by-case basis.  As we have already advised in our article Is Covid-19 a case of force majeure? shrewdness is called for wise when contracting clauses regarding […]

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06 April, 2020
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Covid-19 pandemic puts Global Labor Regulations to test – Rights of Employees and Employers in Bosnia And Herzegovina

The COVID-19 pandemic has put labor law to the situational sensitivity test. How should the burden of emerging circumstances between employers and employees be shouldered considering that the income of both are at serious risk? Sources of labor law, to some extent, already contain answers to the flood of questions that have arisen. The trick is how to apply them adequately to each circumstance so that they protect the most vulnerable and that the burden of the economic effects of the pandemic, if possible, is equitably distributed. Here we analyze the relevant labor legislation and decisions issued by the authorities […]

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03 April, 2020
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Banking in times of crisis – Central Bank of Montenegro introduces new measures

Montenegro was one of the last countries in Europe to be affected by the pandemic.  Although the situation in the country is now under control, the impact on the country’s economy is already serious.  Small economies in countries such as Montenegro pose a big risk to the survival of banks, as crises such as this one open a bigger window for banks to perish. The Central Bank of Montenegro (Montenegrian: Centralna banka Crne Gore – “CBCG”), therefore, reacted promptly by adopting two provisional measures in order to preserve banks’ liquidity.   How are banks’ operations changing? The CBCG has introduced […]

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03 April, 2020
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National Bank of Serbia scraps transaction fees on donations

During the global coronavirus pandemic, it has become apparent that the State and general public cannot fight the disease alone.  The situation does not require just sound management by the authorities, but it also requires the general public to step up and take responsibility and show a sense of duty to help.  Companies and private individuals have donated funds to the State, healthcare facilities and vulnerable categories. To encourage those wishing to donate, the National Bank of Serbia (“NBS”) adopted a Decision on Transaction Fees on Donations to Combat Covid-19 (“Decision”). Special-purpose accounts are opened for donations and these transfers […]

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With Pro-competitiveness to Victory

Even in these trying times, competitiveness must be preserved. That being so, the Directorate-General for Competition (DG COMP) has set up a webpage “antitrust rules and coronavirus” outlining policies and antitrust measures in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak (available here).  The European Commission is eagerly offering guidance to companies and lawyers on acceptable cooperation during the pandemic, mindful not to infringe existing antitrust regulations.  To that end, companies and lawyers are being allowed to design temporary cooperation arrangements (which might not be permissible in normal circumstances), primarily through fast-track co-operation mechanisms to tackle the pandemic, all with the overriding […]

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Keeping the European Businesses Liquid

The European Commission (“Commission”) published a statement on March 27, 2020 (available here), wherein it proposed an extension of State aid Temporary Framework (“Temporary Framework” – available here) that was adopted on March 19, 2020 with the aim of supporting European economies in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak.  On a similar note, the changes introduced by the new State aid Temporary Framework were addressed in one of our recent articles (available here). The Commission’s Vice-President Margrethe Vestager has emphasized the importance of coordinated action and in that sense called for Member States to provide support for companies in these […]

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01 April, 2020
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Essential industries and key business during the COVID-19 outbreak

 The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has now spread to more than 200 countries all over the world and harsh measures taken to combat this even harsher nemesis are now leaving their mark on the economic sector. Many countries have opted to close all non-vital industries and sectors due to concern that workers that cannot switch to remote working are at increased risk of catching the coronavirus. This gave rise to two major issues. Firstly, those still working constantly run the risk of infection and reduction in their numbers, while those not working are at risk of running out of […]

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01 April, 2020
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Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Serbia rated “BB+ with stable outlook” by Fitch Ratings

As pessimistic economic forecasts, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, are pouring in suggesting that a global recession is inevitable, many states are attempting to implement economic and monetary measures to minimize the effects of the current humanitarian and economic crisis as much as possible. Serbia is no exception, in this regard. Indeed, due to the economic and monetary measures it has decisively implemented in the wake of these extraordinary circumstances, Serbia managed to maintain a positive credit rating with Fitch Ratings, one of the “Big Three” global credit rating agencies.   Positive credit rating well-deserved, Fitch Ratings says In its […]

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01 April, 2020
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Freezing subsidies – a possible blow to the renewable energy sector in Serbia?

With the state of emergency declared on March 15, 2020 and the discernible impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Serbian industry, the authorities are trying to navigate the crisis as best as they can to help the Serbian economy survive.  The key to this effort is preserving the stability of public finances, which may be done by revoking earlier incentives given to certain industry branches. For instance, the authorities might decide to discontinue subsidies offered to privileged electricity producers in order to preserve the economy.  But what would be the consequences of such measures?   Subsidies in the energy sector […]

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31 March, 2020
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The important link between the State and employers in the struggle against the Covid-19 pandemic

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed authorities to take measures to protect public health.  These measures have a growing impact on business activities in all countries affected by the coronavirus.  Furthermore, these measures caused employers to take multiple steps in order to maintain their business continuity. Because of these extraordinary circumstances, massive layoffs and other negative consequences on employees are surely to be expected. Despite all the efforts of the countries to boost their economies, it will be the employees who will be the most affected by the current situation. Thus, employees will suffer both from the pandemic’s potential […]

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31 March, 2020
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COVID-19 and temporary closures of small businesses – what happens to cash registers?

The outbreak of COVID-19 has undoubtedly affected all aspects of the Serbian economy.  While many company executives have come forth with pessimistic forecasts regarding the overall economic and business stability, most employees are in fear of losing their jobs and, thus, their livelihoods. But how is the escalating situation affecting small businesses, such as entrepreneurs?   Entrepreneurs bear the brunt Measures implemented by the authorities to thwart a massive outbreak of COVID-19 in Serbia included a ban on public gatherings, a curfew, restaurant and coffee shop closures, as well as closures of recreational and entertainment amenities.  The primary aim of […]

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30 March, 2020
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Tax reliefs in response to the COVID-19 crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina – obsolete*

Bosnia and Herzegovina (“BH”) recently declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic, believing this to be the adequate response to the current situation and the best foot forward in helping people cope.  As a part of initiatives to mitigate the ramifications of the coronavirus crisis, both the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (“FBIH”) as well as the Government of the Republic of Srpska (“RS”) announced tax reliefs and similar economic measures to ease the fallout on businesses and the public.   Measures Some measures adopted in FBIH and RS are identical. For example, both […]

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30 March, 2020
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The COVID-19 outbreak: An overview of measures taken by the authorities of North Macedonia – obsolete*

Many – if not all – states find it necessary to invoke some measures and/or restrict certain rights of their citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic just to stay afloat. Typically, states opt to give some tax reliefs to taxpayers, introduce financial injections to small and medium enterprises, freeze prices, introduce more favorable contractual terms for debt repayments, and, more generally, introduce economic measures to mitigate the consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak. On the other hand, states also opt to limit the freedom of movement by putting specific categories of people into complete lockdown and by introducing mandatory curfews for all […]

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27 March, 2020
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Effects of COVID-19 on business owners – are they entitled to rent reduction?

With the state of emergency measures hitting businesses throughout Serbia, business owners are scrambling for ways to cut expenses as much as possible. Seeing that many businesses, especially SMEs, lease their commercial premises, the obvious question is whether business owners must pay full rent while closed or operating at severely reduced capacity? The answer is by no means an easy or straightforward one.   What does the law say? The Contracts and Torts Act (“CTA”) regulates the landlord-tenant relationship by and large. Under the CTA, tenants must use the leased premises with the care of a prudent businessperson and only […]

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The EC Never Rests: Here Comes the Notification Template

After adopting the Communication on the Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy during the current COVID-19 outbreak (“TF”) (available here), the European Commission (“EC”) published the Notification Template (available here) on March 24, 2020, and invited Member States to provide their notifications.   Notification of each Member State shall, first of all, include general information i.e. description of the serious disturbance in the economy and the official reaction of its authorities.  By requiring this information and data, the EC aims to clarify specificities of the current situation in each country.  Countries shall also provide a general […]

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The EU Approves Six New Support Schemes under the New Temporary Framework

The European Commission (“Commission”) promptly approved six new State aid schemes under the Temporary Legal Framework  in order to support companies affected by this unprecedented situation caused by COVID-19 outbreak. In these circumstances, Margarete Vestager, Executive Vice-President in charge of Competition policy in the EU Commission, emphasized: “The economic impact of the Coronavirus outbreak is severe. Together with the Member States, we are working to manage this impact as much as we can. And we need to act in a coordinated manner, to help Europe’s economy weather this storm and bounce back strongly afterwards. “   United Kingdom The UK announced two […]

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27 March, 2020
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Covid-19 outbreak: Montenegro enters the lion’s den – obsolete*

The COVID-19 pandemic has finally caught up with the last bastion of Europe: Montenegro.  While no state of emergency is in place, Montenegrin authorities have adopted a series of measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.  Accordingly, the Ministry of Health of Montenegro issued the Order for Measures to Prevent the Introduction into the Country, Combat, and Prevent the Transmission of the New Coronavirus (“Order”).   Movement restrictions Pursuant to the Order: international passenger transport is suspended, except for the arrival of Montenegrin citizens, notified through diplomatic missions and consular posts to the Operational Headquarters of the National Coordinating Body […]

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27 March, 2020
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Government adopted additional regulation on medical devices – obsolete*

On 24 March 2020, the Government adopted the Regulation on Special Technical Requirements, Standards, and Application of Medical Devices During the Emergency Caused by the COVID-19 Disease, Caused by the SARS-CoV-2 Virus (the “Regulation” ), following recommendations contained in legal norms. This Regulation prescribes specific technical requirements, standards and instructions for medical devices during the state of emergency. It also foresees that medical devices, which were not manufactured following prescribed standards can be used in treatment, provided that the manufacturer or distributor delivers the appropriate documentation to the authorities, which includes the following: a copy of the description of technical […]

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27 March, 2020
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COVID-19 and personal data – are you protected?

An increasingly relevant issue in the COVID-19 pandemic era concerns the right to privacy and protection of personal data. A question often raised is – should personal information of individuals infected by the virus be made publicly available, or should it be swept under the rug? While some have argued in favor of publication, claiming it would allow citizens to better protect themselves, others have strongly been against it, arguing that it would lead to stigmatization and discrimination. And yet some countries, like Bosnia and Herzegovina (“BH”), seem to have taken the middle-ground approach, where the degree of protection of […]

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27 March, 2020
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Misinformation doesn’t know about the curfew – Srpska Republic punishes spread of panic

Parallel to the COVID-19 pandemic, another problem spreading through society is a sort of pandemic of misinformation in the media, social networks, as well as in the form of text and voice messages circulating on mobile networks. The most effective measures against the spread of the virus – self-isolation, curfews and border closures – are powerless in stopping the movement of misinformation globally and nationally. The activity of carriers of misinformation must be stopped by different measures. The Government of the Srpska Republic has, at the initiative of the Ministry of the Interior, announced the Decision on Prohibition of Spreading […]

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27 March, 2020
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Covid-19 outbreak: Status of legal aliens and other foreign nationals in Serbia during the pandemic

The state of emergency has witnessed more than 320,000 Serbian nationals return to the Republic of Serbia (“RS”) from abroad.  To prevent an onslaught of arrivals and in turn any exacerbation of the existing public health crisis, as of March 20, 2020 the authorities have sealed all borders to travelers, Serbian and foreign nationals alike. Serbian citizens returning from abroad who entered the RS prior to the border closures must self-isolate for 14 or 28 days and are subject to isolation order spot checks by police.  Many foreign nationals are “stuck” in the RS following global airport closures, and because […]

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26 March, 2020
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COVID-19 outbreak: The activity of retail and catering facilities during the state of emergency

According to the official website which tracks the COVID-19 outbreak in the Republic of Serbia (“RS”), as of 3 pm on 24 March, a total of 303 COVID-19 infection cases were registered. Due to this, the Government of the RS adopted new measures to prevent the spread of the virus, including the Order on the prohibition of gathering in the RS in public places indoors. It prohibits public gatherings on the entire territory of the RS in indoor public places when more than 5 (five) persons are gathered at the same time. However, according to the instruction of the Serbian […]

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26 March, 2020
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Banking Agencies in BIH announce coronavirus relief measures

Like most prudential regulatory bodies the world over, those in the Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina have adopted measures to facilitate the repayment of loans owed by private individuals and legal entities to banks in the Republika Srpska, and respectively to banks and non-depository financial institutions (microcredit organizations and leasing companies) in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, while maintaining the stability of the financial system.   Decisions adopted by the Banking Agencies On March 20, 2020, the Banking Agency of the Republika Srpska adopted the Decision on Temporary Measures to be implemented by Banks to […]

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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 […]

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26 March, 2020
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Employment during COVID-19: the Ministry has spoken

The tentacles of the COVID-19 pandemic have reached all aspects of life in Serbia.  Since the declaration of the state of emergency on March 15, 2020, authorities have been actively introducing economic support measures for both the public and private sectors, in a bid to stem the pandemic’s economic fallout. These measures are a huge shock for businesses in Serbia, but they also affect one of the most vulnerable categories of citizens – employees. Both employees and employers tend to be poorly informed about their own and each other’s rights and duties. To keep it simple and to keep everyone […]

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26 March, 2020
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COVID-19 vs privacy: The Government of Montenegro published the addresses of all individuals in self-isolation

Gecić Law office has already written about how “COVID-19 couldn’t care less about GDPR”. The recent measures adopted in Montenegro once again confirmed what we have written before. On March 21, the National Coordination Body for Infectious Diseases of Montenegro adopted the Decision on the publication of names and addresses of individuals who were assigned measures of self-isolation, because due to the previous failure to respect the obligation of self-isolation by some of them. The Agency for Personal Data Protection and Free Access to Information of Montenegro approved the Decision, stating that it is not contrary to the Personal Data […]

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25 March, 2020
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Tax measures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak – obsolete*

At a session held on 20 March 2020, the Government of the Republic of Serbia (“RS”) adopted a Decree on tax measures to mitigate economic consequences of the COVID-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus during the state of emergency (“Decree”) which was a co-signed by the President of the RS. The Decree includes tax relief measures and the decision to reduce the default interest rate in order to ease the tightened economic conditions and increase taxpayers’ liquidity during this time of extraordinary economic challenges. The Decree entered into force immediately, i.e. on 20 March 2020, as part of a […]

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25 March, 2020
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Central Bank of Montenegro imposes moratorium – What does it entail?

On March 19, 2020, the Central Bank of Montenegro (Montenegrin: Centralna banka Crne Gore – “CBCG”) adopted the Decision on interim measures to mitigate the adverse effects of the new coronavirus on the financial system imposing a minimum 90-day delay on bank loan repayments and which is applicable to all businesses. The moratorium applies to those using all types of financial instruments and loans: cash loans, mortgage loans, investment loans, overdrafts and so forth.   Obligations of banks and debtors In order for debtors to exercise their right to the moratorium on debt repayment, they must file a request for […]

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25 March, 2020
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Tax Administration of Montenegro postpones deadlines

Montenegro is the last European country to be hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.  While no state of emergency has declared, Montenegrin authorities have unveiled a series of measures to alleviate economic hardship and prevent the country from slipping into recession.  In light of the current situation, the Montenegrin Tax Administration is postponing filing deadlines for tax returns and financial statements.   Breathing space In ordinary circumstances, the statutory filing deadline for financial statements and income tax returns is March 31, 2020. The latest decision by the Montenegrin Tax Administration moves the deadline back by 15 days to April 15, 2020. […]

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25 March, 2020
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Coronavirus in Serbia: import of unregistered medicines and medical devices

Serbia is currently in the midst of a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  No area of healthcare has escaped the effects of the measures to combat the outbreak.  From the very outset, there was a rush on antiseptic, disinfectant, thermometers, protective masks and gloves in pharmacies and retail outlets, leading to shortages. It is only a matter of time before stocks of certain medicines being to run out. In this article, we look at what challenges lie ahead for pharmaceutical companies and healthcare institutions.  The EU has also recognized the need for health care measures, with special […]

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25 March, 2020
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Restriction of movement in Bosnia and Herzegovina – two Entities with a common foe

Many states – if not all – have deemed it necessary to restrict citizens’ rights during the COVID-19 pandemic just to stay afloat. Typically, states opt to limit freedom of movement by placing certain categories of people under what effectively amounts to house arrest and imposing mandatory curfews on the rest, irrespective of age. In that regard, Bosnia and Herzegovina (“BH”) is no exception. While the Council of Ministers of BH declared a “state of natural or other disaster” in recognition of the danger posed by COVID-19, measures that would hopefully slow the advance of the virus were announced by […]

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24 March, 2020
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The COVID-19 pandemic & response of central banks

Increased uncertainty about the economic outlook The global spread of the COVID-19 virus is a human tragedy on a massive scale and it strongly hit Europe, which is currently the epicenter of the global outbreak. As the virus rapidly spreads, it has become obvious that the global financial system will face its biggest challenge since 2008. Quantifying the economic impact of the current crisis is extremely complex and gives rise to significant uncertainty about the economic outlook and the associated negative consequences. Such an abrupt rise in uncertainty can put both the economic growth and financial stability at risk.  Investors […]

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24 March, 2020
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From the comfort of your home to the business relationship with the bank

Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, a state of emergency was declared in Serbia on March 15, 2020. Restrictions are in place on the movement of people in order to curb the spread of the virus and flatten the curve. Given that COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person, the only measure of protection is to avoid social contact. As of March 16, teaching at schools and universities has been suspended and kindergartens closed. That said, some institutions remain open, such as courts, municipal authorities, notaries public, banks and other financial institutions all with the aim of keeping the cogs of business turning. […]

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24 March, 2020
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Insolvency, enforcement and notarizing – the COVID-19 implications

Since the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the declaration of the state of emergency in Serbia, many people have been left wondering what this situation means for their everyday life. Should they expect enforcement proceedings to be initiated for that unpaid utility bill? Will parties be able to conclude and solemnize the sale and purchase agreement of real estate? And what about bankruptcy proceedings initiated over a company – will they be able to go on unhindered? These and similar questions are very important for citizens as well as businesses. Luckily, the Ministry of Justice (“MoJ”) anticipated these questions […]

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EU Approves German State Aid Package under the New Temporary Framework

The European Commission (“Commission”) approved the second State Aid Measure under the New Temporary Framework, as a response to the COVID-19 outbreak.  COVID-19 crisis is delivering a “major shock” to EU economies and, as Von der Layen previously promised, the Commission will give a leg up to the Member States to weather the storm.  In that regard, on March 22, 2020, the Commission promptly cleared, within 48 hours of the application being submitted, a State aid package by German Government, implemented through the German promotional bank Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (“KfW”). Not to be found wanting, the German government has gone […]

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EU Approves French Support Schemes under the New Temporary Framework

Having adopted the Temporary Legal Framework to support the economy in the current COVID-19 outbreak, the European Commission has cleared the first State aid schemes under the Framework. France was first to receive approval for three schemes notified under the Temporary Framework.  “These [State aid schemes] are expected to mobilise €300 billion of liquidity support for companies affected by this unprecedented situation”, said Executive Vice President in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager. Envisaged as a tool to ensure liquidity, the aid will be available under favorable conditions and limited to those who need it most in the current circumstances.  Covering guarantees […]

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23 March, 2020
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Deadlines in court proceedings on “pause” because of the COVID-19 pandemic – obsolete*

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 economy and the judicial system from collapsing. The latest in line with such protective measures were introduced on March 20, 2020 when the Government adopted the Decree on deadlines in court proceedings during the state of emergency (“Decree”).   What does the Decree stipulate? Although it comprises only three articles, the Decree effectively brings to halt deadlines in most court proceedings as of March 15, 2020. Firstly, the Decree suspends all deadlines […]

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23 March, 2020
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State of emergency: why you should emerge ahead – obsolete*

The COVID-19 pandemic has already had a tangible impact both on Serbia’s economy and its citizens.  As countries around the world are embroiled in the same fight to stop the virus from spreading and to slow down the contagion rate, many (e.g. Spain, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Italy) declared states of emergency and went into full lockdown, sealing borders and ordering the population into isolation, with permission to leave their homes only to go to work, shop for essentials, such as food, and assist others. Given the current developments and the increasing number of new cases, and sadly, deaths, especially […]

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23 March, 2020
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Legal threats to Italian volunteers who are producing 3D-printed valves used in life-saving COVID-19 treatments: true or false?

The current COVID-19 outbreak put the whole world in an extremely difficult position. It poses a huge challenge to all countries, but especially to those with an extremely large number of infected persons and casualties. As of 18 March, 2020, Italy has the highest number of active coronavirus cases, with more than double the number of active cases compared to any other country. In these circumstances, numerous challenges need to be addressed, including the shortage in adequate medical devices and the insufficient quality of devices that are available. For instance, a hospital in Brescia, a city in northern Italy where […]

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23 March, 2020
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High Judicial Council decision on the work of Courts

Acting on the Ministry of Justice Recommendations regarding the work of courts and public prosecutor offices during the state of emergency declared March 15, 2020, the High Judicial Council rendered a Conclusion setting down cases that are to be heard as a matter of priority. Namely, hearings are adjourned starting from March 19, 2020 until the state of emergency is lifted save for the following priority cases. In criminal law matters: hearing custody applications; Concerning crimes of “Illegal Trade”, “Failure to Act Pursuant to Health Regulations During an Epidemic” and “Transmitting Contagious Disease “; Against juvenile offenders, or where the […]

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20 March, 2020
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COVID-19: EU Amends Regulation on Medical Equipment Export Controls: EFTA out, Western Balkans still in?

As announced (see above tweet thread here) by Commission trade head, Phil Hogan, the EU already amended its Regulation so as to exclude EFTA and a number of other countries.  However, EU enlargement countries, including EU candidate countries, such as Serbia and Montenegro, continue to be subject to extraordinary export controls for basic equipment necessary to combat the COVID-19 outbreak (press release available here). On March 15, 2020, European Commission approved a Regulation on the export authorization requirement for exports of personal protective equipment (PPE) outside of the European Union (available here). Adopted by urgency procedure, and followed by the Guidance […]

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20 March, 2020
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(e)Registration of LLC in a state of emergency

Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, a state of emergency was declared in Serbia on 15th March 2020.  This decision had the effect of restricting movement of people in order to prevent further spread of the virus and reduce the number of those infected. As of 17th March, Serbia imposed a curfew which means further restrictions concerning day-to-day movement. All service counters in public institutions were ordered to be closed, except for those whose closure would endanger continuous functioning of the state for the duration of the state of emergency. This means that the counters within the Serbian Business Registers […]

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EU Introduces State Aid Lex Specialis: Direct Applicability to EU Association Countries?

Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy in the current COVID-19 outbreak adopted with immediate effect (available here). Earlier this evening, March 19, 2020, the European Commission adopted special State aid legislation, in the word of EU’s competition head, Margrethe Vestager, with the aim “to act fast to manage the [COVID 19 economic] impact as much as we can”, which “enables Member States to use the full flexibility foreseen under State aid rules to support the economy at this difficult time” [emphasis added] (video available here). The new Temporary Framework is based on Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on […]

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19 March, 2020
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Restrictions in the time of COVID-19 – are we free to move? – obsolete*

A state of emergency calls for extreme measures. The COVID-19 virus continued to spread in Serbia despite measures previously taken by the Government, which forced the state’s hand to take even more radical steps to reduce the risk of even greater outbreak. This time around, the state went for severe restriction of freedom of movement in order to save lives.   What do the new restrictions impose? On March 18, 2020 the Ministry of Internal Affairs announced the latest and (so far) most rigorous measures limiting citizen’s freedom of movement in the state of emergency. The measures, popularly dubbed “martial […]

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Applying for State Aid in the Time of the COVID-19 pandemic

There are no two ways about it – the COVID-19 pandemic has an enormous impact on the way businesses apply for State aid. In that regard, and as a part of the overall response to the negative economic effects of the outbreak, the European Commission (“Commission”) issued the Notification under Article 107(2)(b) TFEU (“Notification”). Fresh out of the Commission’s headquarters, the Notification provides detailed information on the content of State aid notifications under Article 107 (2) b to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”). The article in question enables Member States to provide aid for companies affected by […]

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19 March, 2020
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Day-to-day transactions & digital banking solutions

Even though the World Health Organization has not issued any warnings about the possibility of spreading the coronavirus through the use of cash, customer appetite for digital banking services is likely to increase, forcing many traditional financial institutions to fast-track digital innovations. As a result, many legacy banks and credit unions may turn to fintech firms for assistance in rolling out improved digital banking solutions. Accordingly, many banks have taken steps in their day-to-day functioning to reduce the risk from the coronavirus outbreak. Why take the risk with traditional payment methods which could expose countless people to the COVID-19 infection, […]

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COVID-19 Couldn’t Care Less About GDPR

As a general state of emergency envelopes the world, and everything in it, one aspect worth looking at in light of the COVID-19 outbreak is the dynamic between a person’s medical information and their personal data protection rights.  When declaring Covid-19 as a pandemic, World Health Organization (WHO) director general pleaded to all countries to “find, isolate, test and treat every case and trace every contact”.  Indeed, every day in almost every country around the world, a significant number of people are sent for testing, quarantined, and questioned about who they have come into contact with, all with the aim […]

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18 March, 2020
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COVID-19 outbreak: financial market ramifications

COVID-19 outbreak: financial market ramifications The COVID-19 pandemic has already left its mark on Serbia’s economy, and the belief is this is merely the tip of the iceberg for the financial sector in particular. Uncertainties abound. Bankers are concerned about borrowers’ ability to service their debts, while it might not be long before we see companies being hit with payment defaults. Additionally, there waning confidence about project finance transactions. Specific issues in financing agreements Loan agreements – payment defaults Companies could soon find themselves in the midst of a cash flow problem, which in turn could leave them vulnerable to […]

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18 March, 2020
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Travel, insurance and the pandemic – more turmoil on the horizon?

Many are worried over the expected spike of the COVID-19 infection cases in Serbia over the coming weeks. In light of the introduction of the state of emergency and the looming worsening of the effects of the pandemic, most are focused on preservation of their health, economic welfare and business. However, once the worst of the pandemic passes and life starts returning to normal, it is a question if the economy will be able to breathe a sigh of relief? That is, however, highly unlikely, especially for companies in travel and insurance sectors, as they will find themselves subject to […]

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Addressing the Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Merger Control and Restrictive Agreements

While Europe is facing the second week of the crisis caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, it is, by now, clear that no aspect of business operations will remain unaffected.  In light of the current situation, the European Commission (“Commission”) proclaimed that merger notifications will be subject to a special regime.  While DG COMP endeavors to ensure business continuity in the enforcement of the EU Merger Regulation, it, however, advises companies to postpone merger notifications, wherever possible[1].  Present circumstances make merger transactions, and closing thereof, significantly more complicated.  Due to the present working conditions, the Commission also announced that it temporarily […]

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18 March, 2020
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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 […]

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COVID-19: Compare multiple jurisdictions across the globe with TerraLex

We are pleased to share the TerraLex Coronavirus Business Response Resource Center with you. It is a compilation of business solution resources from TerraLex members, some of the finest and best ranked firms, from around the globe relevant to contracts, labor, business continuity, etc. TerraLex and its members understand that in the rapidly evolving challenges posed by coronavirus and the prospect of recessionary times ahead, businesses are struggling with a variety of issues and looking to their trusted advisors for help. This Resource Center functions just like our cross-border guides. Visitors can select specific topics of interest and specific jurisdictions […]

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EU Imposes Travel Ban & What Happens to International Trade?

On March 17, 2020, the European Council endorsed a 30-day travel ban to the EU together with a whole range of other boarder management measures.   EU Member States commenced with their implementation later that evening. The adopted travel restrictions are initially set to last for 30 days but may be prolonged if necessary.   It is noteworthy that not only Member States but also the four associated countries within the Schengen zone (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland) agreed to the travel ban. The adopted Guidelines for border management measures to protect health and ensure the availability of goods and essential services […]

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17 March, 2020
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National Bank of Serbia Introduces 90-Day Moratorium on Loan Repayments

National Bank of Serbia Introduces 90-Day Moratorium on Loan Repayments On March 17, 2020, Serbia’s central bank (Serb. Narodna banka Srbije – NBS) adopted two decisions on temporary measures, imposing a minimum 90-day delay on bank loan repayments and leasing repayments applicable to all businesses and the general public alike.  This newly adopted legislation is just one amongst the many introduced, and still being contemplated, measures to shore up liquidity in an attempt to preserve the country’s financial stability against COVID-19 fallout. The delay is generally applicable and includes natural persons, farmers, entrepreneurs, SMEs and corporations.  It will last for […]

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COVID -19: State of Emergency & Price Freeze – obsolete*

As the number of global COVID-19 infections continues to surge, Europe is currently considered one of the main hotbeds of the pandemic. According to the World Health Organization, Europe is now reporting more confirmed cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, excluding China.  As of March 16, Serbia has 55 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection. Because of this, Serbia imposed a state of emergency on March 15, in an extraordinary constitutional procedure (official gazette announcement is available here).  The sweeping measures include, inter alia, total closure of state borders, school shutdown and imposition of quarantine rules, breaking of […]

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Energy Community Shifts to Remote Working Mode

As the COVID-19 virus spreads worldwide and with Europe currently considered to be the hotbed of the pandemic, an increasing number of institutions are opting for remote work as a measure to curb the spread of the virus. In this regard, the Energy Community has imposed temporary measures to limit access to its premises to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  Namely, the Energy Community Secretariat will be closed to the public until March 27, 2020 at the earliest.  Therefore, all hearings will be de facto postponed. Furthermore, events scheduled for March and April will mostly be held online […]

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17 March, 2020
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Decree on Organizing the Activity of Employers During the State of Emergency – What will this change for employers? – obsolete*

After Gecić Law published its guidance and advice to clients on how to arrange their working relationships with employees who are working remotely through the Annex to the Employment Agreement, a binding decision was made by the Government of the Republic of Serbia.  The Government of the Republic of Serbia seemed to be reading our minds and, on March 16, 2020, adopted and published a Decree on Organizing the Activity of Employers during the State of Emergency. This Decree stipulates that during a state of emergency every employer is obliged to enable employees to perform their work tasks outside of […]

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17 March, 2020
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Covid-19 as rebus sic stantibus – change of circumstance

Will there be anyone to terminate commercial contracts?  We urge caution with unilateral terminations. As the Covid-19 pandemic progresses and increasingly stringent measures are introduced in both Serbia and the EU, this pandemic is gradually morphing into an event of force majeure owing to which commercial contracts simply cannot be executed for reasons beyond the control of the parties. However, a pandemic affects certain contracting parties in commercial contracts in a way that their performance remains in the control of the contracting parties, but the performance of which could practically scuttle their business. What then? How do you withdraw from […]

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16 March, 2020
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State of emergency and remote work of employees

Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic , a state of emergency was declared in Serbia on March 15, 2020. This decision had the effect of restricting movement of people in order to prevent further spread of the virus and reduce the number of those infected.  As of March 16, classes at schools and universities have been suspended, and kindergartens have been closed. According to the legal framework of the Republic of Serbia, a state of emergency can last for a maximum of 90 days, with the possibility of extension. In line with these measures, some employers have decided that their […]

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16 March, 2020
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COVID-19 pandemic: Hospitality and travel industry – first on the front line, first to respond

Hospitality and travel are industries which will unavoidably be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although Belgrade’s tourism sector was expected to grow in 2020, the global spread of COVID-19 is likely to make a significant dent in the sector’s prospects. In an official announcement on 10 March, Rasim Ljajic, the Serbian Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, claimed that the 80% of all travel bookings in Serbia in February and March 2020 have been cancelled and that cancellations are also expected in April and May. Ljajic went on to say that the official estimate of expected losses will be discussed […]

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16 March, 2020
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Arbitration and litigation in the time of COVID-19 – disruptions ahead?

No industry branch world-wide is likely to escape the negative consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the pandemic will also disrupt the due course of international commercial and investment arbitrations, as well as litigation before national courts, including those in Serbia.   International Arbitration  As the name suggests, international arbitration is not confined to the territory of a single state. Parties, arbitrators, counsel and witnesses routinely come from different countries. Under normal circumstances, the parties would all meet for hearings at one place, and given the common preference for neutrality, usually at a venue that is foreign to all parties. […]

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15 March, 2020
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COVID-19 Outbreak: Landlord and tenant – rights and duties

The COVID-19 pandemic is bound to give rise to issues for both landlords and tenants. In this respect, aside from contract clauses, the general principles of law on obligation in Serbia, are to be brought into force.   Can tenants be required to vacant premises if necessary? If an employee or member of the public suspected of having or later confirmed as having contracted COVID-19 has recently been in the workplace, there is no need to close the workplace since no orders to the effect have been issued by the authorities. On the other hand, as the guidance released from […]

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15 March, 2020
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COVID-19 Outbreak: Construction projects

The COVID-19 outbreak is sure to give rise to issues between Employers and Contractors regarding construction contracts. Construction projects could be affected in several ways, such as (i) delay caused by disruption to public services e.g. delay in issuing permits or approving drawings; (ii) delay caused by temporary suspension of work on site e.g. workers being asked to self-quarantine; or (iii) a lack of construction worker numbers in Serbia as a result of quarantine imposed by Serbian Government or travel bans imposed by other countries (e.g. Chinese government). The main issue here is the applicability of force majeure clauses in […]

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Addressing the Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Outbreak: State aid Measures

Addressing the Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Outbreak: State aid Measures Not only is the outbreak of COVID-19 in Europe an unprecedented health emergency, but it is also being greeted with widespread consternation by the global and European economy. Weathering the storm at global, European and national level requires a coordinated policy response that should support citizens, companies and economies. On March 13, 2020, the European Commission (“Commission”) set out a European coordinated response to counter the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.  The response includes a set of measures pertaining to State aid framework, fiscal policy, health policy etc. […]

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COVID-19 Outbreak: Does the Public Procurement Mechanism Apply?

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, it is obvious that certain exemptions from the general principles under public procurement regulations, in both the EU and Serbia, are to be triggered.  In this regard, the relevant derogations laid out in the EU acquis and the Serbian Public Procurement Act[1] (“PPA”), as well as the new Public Procurement Act[2] (“New PPA”), call for closer examination. EU framework EU Directive 2014/24/EU on public procurement (“PP Directive”), prescribes that contracting authorities may award public contracts by a negotiated procedure without prior publication in case of extreme urgency.  This exemption is applicable only if it […]

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14 March, 2020
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Multimember corporate body sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic

Given COVID-19’s pandemic status, the general recommendation from health and state authorities is to avoid direct face to face meetings and reduce our number of social contacts as much as possible. However, sessions of multimember corporate bodies cannot stop, and the decision-making processes should continue. In these unprecedented times all multimember corporate bodies of Serbian companies should look at the alternatives available under the Companies Act, which allow sessions to be held via modern communication equipment and devices. This document serves as a quick refresher as to how Serbian companies should go about holding sessions remotely. Article 212 of the […]

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14 March, 2020
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Changes in employers business results with regard to impact of COVID-19

Employers may lay off employees only after their businesses suffer losses from COVID-19 pandemic. Employers likely feel threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic and they wish to protect their businesses from the pandemic’s economic effects. To do this on a large-scale, they may choose to lay off employees in order to reduce expenses and potential losses, claiming they have valid economic reasons from Article 179 (5)(1) of the Employment Act. However, from our point of view, laying off employees before losses actually manifest in the company’s business results is against the law. The Serbian Supreme Court of Cassation shares this view. […]

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