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On 3 August 2019, National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia has adopted the long-awaited amendments to the Enforcement and Security Act (“Act”), which entered into force on 1 January 2020. Having in mind the extent of amendments (more than 170 Articles), we can say the we practically have a new Enforcement and Security Act.

Republic of Serbia (“RS”) has recently amended its tax law provisions on individual income tax by adopting Act on Amendments of the Individual Tax Act, published in the Official Gazette of the RS, No. 86/2019 (“Act”). Among many changes, the one that attracts the most attention is the inclusion of a test on “dependence” and its influence on the tax status of entrepreneurs. The Act sets out the criteria which are to be applied by the tax authorities (“TA”) to determine cases in which the entrepreneur is not actually independent from his client. Entrepreneurs that do not pass this test will be similarly treated as if they were employees, and will, therefore, be subject to a different tax regime.

CMS has advised Britain’s Poseidon Group and Belgium’s Mitiska REIM on the divestment of Capitol Park Rakovica, the largest retail park in Belgrade, to Israel’s BIG CEE Group. Cvetkovic, Skoko & Jovicic advised BIG CEE on the transaction, which closed in December 2019.

Since 2013 and adoption of the Rulebook on conditions of breeding of Cannabis Sativa L, a.k.a industrial hemp, the Republic of Serbia acknowledged its production and cast a new light on domestic agriculture. Even though industrial hemp has been a prodigy to older generations for its miraculous multi-purpose benefits, younger generations often misplace it for marijuana, derived from a similar sort – Indian hemp. Regrettably, a similar misunderstanding in regards to its effects is often made by competent state authorities.

“There are no major movements between firms, or any new firms popping up," says Petar Mitrovic, Partner at Karanovic & Partners in Belgrade, about the Serbian legal market. “There have been some movements, some partners leaving their law offices and moving to the private sector, but nothing worth writing home about."

Serbian National Parliament adopted Act on the Protection of Whistleblowers (“Official Gazette of RS”, no. 128/2014, hereinafter “APW”) on December 4th, 2014, rightfully recognizing that whistleblowers are essential elements of an ethical social and economic environment and hence deserve additional institutional protection (especially because of their exposure to employers’ retaliation).

On October 10, 2019 the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Law on Alternative Investment Funds and Law on Open-Ended Investment Funds with a Public Offering, where both of the laws came into force on October 19, 2019 and will become applicable on April 20, 2020.

On 12 November 2019 in Belgrade, Ministry of Justice signed a cooperation agreement with EUROJUST, an EU agency dealing with judicial co-operation in criminal matters among agencies of the member states. The signing of the agreement took place in Belgrade after Serbia fulfilled the prerequisite by adopting the new Act on personal data protection, which was the final step in complete harmonization with EU regulations and directives. Eurojust has cooperation agreements with 12 countries, 3 of which are Western Balkan countries: Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Albania.

Some might say that Serbia’s banking sector is blooming and steadily consolidating. Others may argue that actual consolidation is still far away. Either way, players on the local market are changing. This is clear now following the exit of Societe Genarale, BNP’s Findomestic, and two Greek banks, followed by the bold revamp of Hungary’s OTP and the strengthening of domestic investors such as AIK and Direktna Bank.

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Karanovic & Partners is a regional legal practice in Southeast Europe with tradition spanning two decades and cooperating offices in Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. With more than 100 attorneys at law cooperating across the region, we take pride in our work, dedication and understanding of our clients' industries and needs.

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We work with some of the most respected and reputable businesses in the world, banks, as well as governments, state-owned entities, startups and NGOs. We see our clients as long-term partners.

We focus on straightforward solutions and tailor-made advice. Lawyers cooperating with us are fully immersed in our clients’ culture and industry to ensure that the work is delivered intelligently and reliably.

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In our company culture, excellence is a must. We are reliable, adaptive and fast.

Karanovic & Partners operates under the “one team” principle, combining our regional reach and local know-how to deliver coordinated legal advice necessary for achieving our clients’ goals.

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