The Serbian Parliament terminated the state of emergency on 6 May 2020, following the flattening of the epidemic curve and the creation of conditions for the gradual attainment of collective immunity. Since the introduction of the state of emergency, the Serbian Government issued 44 regulations that were aimed at combating the COVID-19 crisis, including the health, safety, and economic measures, as well as to maintain the functioning of the judicial system and administrative authorities.
As a reminder, the statutory deadlines for submissions before the Competition Commission during the state of emergency were still applicable, however, the parties could not have been fined for missing the deadline during this extraordinary situation.
Following the termination of the state of emergency, the deadlines applicable for the parties before the Serbian Competition Commission are running as usual, meaning that the parties may be sanctioned in case they omit the deadlines.
Nevertheless, on 8 May 2020, the Serbian Competition Commission issued a statement with an interpretation that the merger control deadlines which expired during the state of emergency shall be considered expired 30 days after the state of emergency, i.e. on 5 June 2020. Such an interpretation does not seem to be in line with explicit provision stipulated under the previous state-of-emergency regulation, nevertheless, the Commission seemed to have adopted a more lenient approach in relation to merger filing deadlines. For the purpose of full legal certainty, however, it is advisable that the parties consult lawyers in advance of their merger filing plans.
The letters issued by the Competition Commission during the state of emergency shall be deemed delivered to the interested parties within 15 days after the termination of the state of emergency, and this applies only in relation to the authority’s letters containing deadlines which cannot be extended.
On the other hand, the statutory deadlines concerning the termination/finalization of the pending proceedings before the Competition Commission which elapsed during the state of emergency will be deemed to have elapsed after 30 days as of the termination of the state of emergency, i.e. on 5 June 2020.
By Bojan Vuckovic, Partner, independent Attorney at Law in cooperation with Karanovic & Partners