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Serbian Constitutional Court Rules Belgrade Bar Association Voting Limitations Unconstitutional

Serbian Constitutional Court Rules Belgrade Bar Association Voting Limitations Unconstitutional

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On March 2 the Constitutional Court of Serbia ruled that the recently adopted bylaws which limited the voting and participation rights of lawyers in the Belgrade bar were unconstitutional.

The bylaws (reported on by CEE Legal Matters when still in draft form here) aimed to limit the potential collective voting power of commercial law firms in terms of the Bar Association's elections, with one Belgrade Board Member stating to CEE Legal Matters at the time that those who work for law firms "are employed by lawyers and have lost their independence as a result."

The provisions limiting voting and participation rights were challenged on constitutional grounds and a temporary injunction towards applying the limitations was issued. Since that injunction was granted, the incumbent leadership of the Belgrade Bar has repeatedly postponed running new elections in the subsequent months, claiming that it was waiting for a final decision. 

Several lawyers who spoke to CEE Legal Matters on an anonymous basis have expressed hopes that, once a final constitutional court decision is reached, there will no longer be a reason to justify the deadlock and new elections for the Belgrade Bar will be organized soon. 

A more thorough analysis of this issue can be found in the March 2017 issue of the CEE Legal Matters magazine.

Editorial Note: The Constitutional Court's ruling is reprinted here in full (thank you to Viktor Prlja of the Prlja-Zilovic Law firm for providing the English translation).

Original Constitutional Court announcement in full (Translated)

"In today's session, The Constitutional Court of Serbia has reached a decision regarding the disputed articles of the Statute of the Belgrade Bar Association (Article 34 section 2, section 4 pertaining to "other gathered data" and section 5), which prohibits practicing lawyers, who are part of law firms, in any capacity other than partner, from voting or taking office in the Belgrade Bar Association, that they are not in accordance with the Constitution and the Law."

Original Constitutional Court announcement in full (Serbian) 

Ustavni sud je na današnjoj sednici doneo odluku kojom je utvrđeno da osporene odredbe Statuta Advokatske komore Beograda (član 34. stav 2, stav 4. u delu koji glasi „i drugih prikupljenih podataka“ i stav 5), a kojima je advokatima koji obavljaju advokatsku delatnost u advokatskom ortačkom društvu a nisu članovi tog društva uskraćeno pravo da biraju i da budu birani za članove organa Advokatske komore Beograda, nisu u skladu sa Ustavom i zakonom.

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