December 28, 2016.

Novelties deriving from the Law on Chambers of Commerce

According to the Law on Chambers of Commerce (“Official Herald of the Republic of Serbia” no. 112/2015, the “Law”) all legal entities doing registered business activity in the Republic of Serbia will automatically become members of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce as of January 01, 2017.

Those entities whose registered seat is in an autonomous province shall have dual membership paying only one membership fee.

Such a statutory requirement had existed before; it was abrogated under the previous law only now to be re-enacted. According to the Law, any registration of a legal entity in the Business Register kept by the Serbian Business Registers Agency (“SBRA”), automatically makes the entity a member of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (Article 10, paragraph 2 of the Law).

Each such member is required to pay an annual membership fee only to the Serbian Chamber of Commerce. The membership fee is based on the member’s annual income of the prior year, which is based on the member’s financial report filed with SBRA for that year.

The Law provides that the membership fee may be paid in monthly instalments or in a single instalment for the entire year. In respect of the above, the monthly membership fee in the year 2017, which shall be based on the filed financial report for 2016, will range from RSD 300 to RSD 185,000.

This mandatory membership in the Chamber of Commerce, as expected, has not received a seal of approval from the business community. A review petition has been filed with the Constitutional Court challenging the constitutionality of this provision, and a ruling is eagerly being awaited.

Another distinction in relation to the previous law regulating chambers of commerce worth mentioning is the new organizational structure of the Court of Arbitration of the Chamber of Commerce. Namely, according to provisions of Article 31 and 51, paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Law in lieu of the former Permanent Designated Court and the Foreign Trade Court of Arbitration of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, as of October 2016, there is only one court, the Court of Arbitration of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce having jurisdiction in cases with and without foreign element, i.e. irrespective of whether the parties in arbitration proceedings are domestic or foreign entities.