Law on Lobbying (“Official Herald of RS”, No. 87/2018)
On 13 November 2018, the Law on Lobbying (“Official Herald of RS”, No. 87/2018, hereinafter the “Law”) was published and will come into force 9 months after the date of publishing, i.e. on 14 August 2019.
The Law prescribes conditions and methods of lobbying, rules of lobbying, registration and lobbying record keeping, as well as other important issues for lobbying.
The Law defines lobbying as “any activity by which influence is exerted on government authorities of the Republic of Serbia, autonomous provinces and local-self-government units, holders of public authority, whose founder is the Republic of Serbia, autonomous province, or a local-self-government unit (hereinafter the “Government Authority”), in the passage of any laws, other statutory enactments or general acts that fall within the jurisdiction of the Government Authority, for the purpose of realizing interests of the lobbying beneficiary, in accordance with the Law.
The Law defines all participants in the process of lobbying and in that regard we have:
- Lobbyist, a physical person who meets the criteria to become a lobbyist set by the Law, and is registered in the Register of Lobbyist;
- Legal Entity Conducting Lobbying Activities (hereinafter the “LECL”), a company or an association that meets the criteria to become a LECL set by the Law, and is registered in the Register of Legal Entities Conducting Lobbying;
- Unregistered Lobbyist, a physical person who is not registered in the Register of Lobbyist, but who is a statutory representative of or is employed by the lobbying beneficiary or who represents interests of an association or a company in which the lobbying beneficiary is a member;
- Lobbying Beneficiary, a physical or a legal person in the interest of whom the lobbying is conducted;
- Lobbied Person (hereinafter the “LP”), any person that is elected, nominated, appointed, employed or otherwise engaged in any work for the Government Authority, as well as any person whose election, nomination, or appointment has to be approved by the Government Authority, who participates in the preparation and adoption of laws, other statutory enactments, and other general acts or can influence the content of the laws, other statutory enactments or general acts.
Foreign lobbyists or foreign LECLs can lobby in Serbia provided they are registered for lobbying activities in their home country, and are entered into special records of foreign lobbyists kept in Serbia.
The Law also prescribes the mandatory order of initial activities in lobbying. Before approaching LP, the lobbyist needs to enter into a lobbying contract with the lobbying beneficiary (“Contract”). The Contract must identify the contractual parties, subject matter of lobbying, method and duration of lobbying, amount of compensation for lobbying, and include a statement of compliance, made by the lobbyist, with the Law and the Code of Conduct of participants in lobbying (the Code of Conduct has yet to be adopted).
After concluding the Contract, the lobbyist shall send a written statement to the LP, alongside a confirmation that he is a registered lobbyist, a copy of the Contract, and a note specifying the regulations to be dealt with.
The lobbyist has the right to request a meeting with the LP, to request information on the regulation he is lobbying for/against, as well as to be notified by the same of any future public debate regarding the preparation and adoption of the regulation.
Lobbying is scrutinized in a number of ways:
- Lobbyists and LECLs have to be registered in special registers kept by the National Anti-Corruption Agency (“ACA”);
- After receiving the written statement from the lobbyist, LP is required to inform ACA of the statement within 15 days after receiving the written statement;
- Lobbyist or LECLs are required to send to ACA an annual report on their work;
- For the purpose of checking the accuracy of those reports, ACA can request the Contract from the lobbyist, information from the lobbying beneficiary, and request information from the PLs and the Government Authority.
LECLs can be fined for any failure to comply with the obligations set in the Law with fines that range from 50,000 RSD and 2,000,000 RSD, while lobbyists can be fined with fines that range from 30,000 RSD and 150,000 RSD. The lobbying beneficiary can also be fined for not providing to ACA the requested information, with fines in the amount set between 50,000 RSD and 2,000,000 RSD in case of legal entities, or in the amount set between 30,000 RSD and 150,000 RSD in the case of physical persons.
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