> Prevention and Resolution of Disputes

Once again limited operation of courts and interrupted time limits

The proclaimed pandemic and the measures that have been implemented to curb it have again led to extensive limitations to the regular operations of the courts. Similar to the courts shutting down in the spring, there have also been two major changes in this shut down cycle: (i) the scope of court operations is limited to urgent matters and (ii) some time limits in court matters have been interrupted. Continue reading to find out how this will affect exercising your rights in court proceedings.

Court operations limited to urgent matters

As it follows from the order on special measures, issued by the President of the Supreme Court, courts will continue to operate in urgent matters practically uninterrupted, in accordance with the limitations as provided in the expert recommendations by the National Institute of Public Health RS. Which matters are urgent is determined in Article 83 of the Courts Act. For example, security proceedings with interim injunctions are considered urgent, as well as insolvency proceedings. The procedural deadline in urgent matters are not considered interrupted and continue to run.

The courts will continue issuing decisions and serving court documents even in non-urgent matters, but will not be holding hearings or performing other procedural activities that inevitably require the clients or other participants in the court proceeding to be present in person. Procedural time limits in non-urgent matters are stopped. In these matters, the procedural time limits will continue on the first day following the day the order on special measures is cancelled.

Holding hearings via videoconference?

Hearings in non-urgent matters are considered to be cancelled, however, hearings in said matters may be carried out during this time if they are held i.e. carried out via videoconference. In our experience, courts are reluctant to hold hearings that are to be carried out via videoconference. Even if they do, the parties may not consent to this, so additional delays in court proceedings where the main hearing needs to be carried out before the issued judgement are definitely to be expected.

What about time limits?

As explained above, the Supreme Court order provides that procedural time limits in non-urgent matters are stopped, while they continue on in urgent matters. Procedural time limits in non-urgent matters, such as the time limit for filing an appeal against a decision, the time limit for responding to a lawsuit, etc. are stopped during the duration of the Supreme Court order.

A decision of the Government of the RS of 19 November 2020 also stopped material time limits for a period of 30 days. The government has decided to temporarily stop the legally determined time limits for clients exercising their rights in judicial proceedings. The decision enters into force on the day following the publication, namely from 20 November 2020 onward.

These provisions apply only to judicial proceedings and not to administrative proceedings as well. Consequently, general rules currently continue to apply to administrative proceedings, with no exceptions. However, it should be mentioned that the proposed PKP6 states that the law would create a legal basis for the Government to pass similar measures for administrative proceedings to the ones that this article describes for judicial proceedings.