Serbia is paving its way towards the European Union, and the process of accession, according to Ksenija Golubovic Filipovic, Partner at Zivkovic Samardzic in Belgrade, is not always straightforward. “On the one hand," she says, “we are trying to create secure investment environment for potential investors and achieve high standards of living. On the other hand the process requires that our legislation be harmonized with the EU laws.”
Although the two goals are not mutually exclusive, Golubovic says, there can be conflict. For example, she says the recent “On Centralized Record of Beneficial Owners” law that was enacted at the end of May, 2018, requires companies registered in Serbia to filikeep clear records of all beneficial owners of companies. The new regulation became applicable on July 8, 2018, Golubovic reports, and by the end of the year a Business Registers Agency is expected to have established a specific registry for beneficial owners. “Even though we can understand the reasons for the new law, unfortunately we cannot disregard the amount of additional obligations, paper work, and costs it imposes on clients,” she says, explaining that the limited time companies have been given to comply with the new legislation could have a negative effect on multinational companies. As a result, she says, “we hope fines and penalties will not be imposed immediately and some additional time will be provided to clients to collect all of these documents, since they should come from abroad.”
On the brighter side, Golubovic reports that the government has taken action to improve the “inadequate performance” of the real estate cadastre that has been affecting the market for years. On June 8, 2018, the new “On the Registration Procedure with the Cadastre of Real Estate and Utilities” law entered into force. While the solution proposed by the law is not universally supported, the change is encouraging, she says, as the government has finally “recognized the existing issue.” Besides, she says, the law is designed to simplify and accelerate the process of registration of the real estate cadastre by “supporting the latest trends in legislation going towards the use of higher technology.”
Golubovic says there have been no significant changes in the legal market recently, but she reports that the new management of the Belgrade Association Bar that was elected on May 13, 2017, has already started making positive changes. The newly elected management, she says, is expected to “finally perform their primary obligation — assisting and protecting their members,” for example by organizing general medical examinations, or by taking steps toward providing additional medical and pension insurance to its members.