In the commercial sector, due to corona crisis impact and amid nationwide state of emergency, we are receiving the following questions with reference to a transaction between two commercial entities. In our answers, we have not, however, considered any distinctions which might be necessary if the transaction involved consumers. Nevertheless, distinctions between the treatment of transactions which are principally for the sale of goods and those which are principally for provision of services have been taken into account.
The worldwide pandemic of the COVID-19 has forced governments to undertake actions in order to fight the rapid spread of this infectious disease. Since March 15, 2020, Serbian authorities have been imposing various kinds of measures for the purpose of protecting its citizens and preventing the spread of the COVID-19.
After the declaration of the state of emergency in Serbia, caused by the global outbreak of the coronavirus, businesses introduced and implemented a series of extraordinary requirements, conditions and measures, some of which significantly affect and challenge the continuation of the traditional concept of employment relationship.
The Republic of Serbia has officially closed its border crossings for passengers in road, rail, air and water traffic at 8.00 a.m. on 20 March 2020. The passing of humanitarian aid and crossings of national importance that are approved by the competent authority are still allowed. International passenger traffic to and from the Nikola Tesla Airport has been suspended in accordance with the Government of Serbia’s decision on 19 March 2020 from 12.00 p.m. onwards.
Like many other states throughout the World, the Republic of Serbia (henceforth: the Republic) has proclaimed the state of emergency due to the epidemic of the infectious disease COVID-19 on the whole territory of the Republic (henceforth: the State of Emergency) by rendering the Decision on Proclamation of the State of Emergency.
Since the state of emergency was declared in Serbia on 15 March 2020, the status of foreign citizens has been uncertain. This is because the Directorate for Foreigners has been closed for serving parties at the counters (as well as all other public institutions except for Tax Administration, Customs Administration and Treasury Department). Due to the fact that the Directorate for Foreigners has not yet introduced the possibility of submitting requests and documentation electronically, foreign citizens residing in Serbia were basically unable to initiate proceedings in order to regulate their stay.
The National Bank of Serbia announced moratorium on all debts towards banks and finance lease providers as a measure to preserve stability of the financial system of Serbia. The measure is part of actions undertaken by Serbian authorities during the declared state of emergency to fight the coronavirus.
The state of emergency due to COVID 19 pandemic was proclaimed in the Republic of Serbia on March 15th 2020, and the Decree on Measures during the State of Emergency („Official Gazette of RS“, no. 31/2020 dated March 16th 2020) and the Decree on Organization of Work with the Employer during the State of Emergency („Official Gazette of RS“, no. 31/2020 dated March 16th 2020), both aiming to regulate in more detail the effects of introduced state of emergency, followed right after. Decrees do not regulate the duration of the state of emergency, whereas the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia prescribes that the state of emergency may last up to 90 days, and it may be renewed under the same conditions upon the expiry of the 90 day deadline.
Pursuant to the Decree on Organizing the Work of the Employers during a State of Emergency (“Official Gazette of the RS” No. 31/2020), each employer is obliged to enable employees to perform work outside the premises of the employer (working remotely or working from home), at all workplaces where this type of work organization is possible. Equal obligation is foreseen also in the Serbian Labor Law (“RS Official Gazette”, No. 24/2005, 61/2005, 54/2009, 32/2013, 75/2014, 13/2017 – US Decision, 113/2017 and 95/2018 -aut. interpretation) as part of the employer’s obligation to provide employees with safety and health at work (Article 12. of the Labor Law) and in accordance with the Law on Health and Safety, (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 101/2005, 91/2015 and 113/2017).
History has taught us that after all great tragedies, such as the one affecting the World currently, the age of revival arrives, as well as that during the extraordinary circumstances, no matter how serious they are, life finds its path. We at JPM are trying to spend our time working and making efforts so that our common work and goals does not suffer any or suffer minimal damage during the time that the restrictive measures imposed by all governments are in force.