Arbitration proceedings are governed by the Serbian Arbitration Act, which entered into force on 10 June2006. The Arbitration Act applies to both domestic and international arbitration proceedings where the seatof arbitration is in Serbia. International arbitration is generally defined as arbitrations whose subject matterconcerns disputes arising out of international commercial business relations. In general, Serbiancompanies are willing to sign arbitration clauses, especially concerning international commercial andbusiness transactions.
The last few years have seen a number of developments with respect to Serbian arbitration institutions.The Belgrade Arbitration Centre was established in 2013 as a permanent arbitral institution thatadministers domestic and foreign disputes in accordance with its BAC Rules. The BAC also assists intechnical and administrative aspects of ad hoc arbitral proceedings under rules other than its own andfurthermore organizes and conducts mediation sessions.
Also, as of June 2016, the Permanent Arbitration at the Serbian Chamber of Commerce was establishedas an arbitration institution. This is only formally a new institution as it was formed by merging two long-standing independent arbitration institutions that existed at the Chamber of Commerce, namely, theForeign Trade Court of Arbitration and the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Other chambers andorganizations may also establish institutional arbitration courts, if their professional rules allow. Forexample, according to the Serbian Securities Act and the legal provisions governing the Belgrade StockExchange, disputes related to stock exchange transactions between members and participants of theStock Exchange, or between these entities and the Stock Exchange, may be resolved by the StockExchange Arbitration Court.
Under Serbian law, the arbitration agreement must be in writing, and is deemed to be in writing ifcontained in documents signed by the parties or in other forms of communication exchanged between theparties that provide written proof of the existence of the parties' mutual agreement to settle the disputethrough arbitration.
Arbitration may only be agreed upon for the resolution of proprietary disputes arising out of rights of theparties over which they may freely dispose. Claims where the subject matter is in the exclusive jurisdictionof the state courts (such as disputes concerning real estate in Serbia, marital and family disputes, personalstatus rights etc.) are not arbitrable.
The Arbitration Act does not stipulate a maximum duration of the arbitration proceedings. However, the Actdoes require the arbitrators to diligently and efficiently carry out their duties as arbitrators. The parties arefree to agree on the substantive law, the procedural rules, the seat and language of arbitration.
Depending on the agreement between the contracting parties, arbitration proceedings may be presidedover by an arbitral tribunal or by a sole arbitrator. There may only be an odd number of arbitrators. Inaddition, the parties may agree on the procedure for appointing the arbitrators. However, if no agreementhas been stipulated in the arbitration agreement or reached between the parties in this respect, a localcourt shall decide how the arbitrators should be appointed.
The decisions of arbitral tribunals are based on material laws, legal rules, agreements and customs; however,the tribunal may also decide on the basis of what is just and fair (ex aequo et bono) if the parties have soagreed. If the parties have not agreed on the applicable substantive law and legal rules governing the arbitralproceedings, the arbitral tribunal or arbitration court may decide on the basis of conflict of laws rules.
The Arbitration Act provides that arbitral tribunals have the authority, unless the parties to the arbitrationagree otherwise, to order upon request of a party such interim measures as the tribunal deems necessary.
The Arbitration Act stipulates that the parties may request interim measures from a court either before orduring arbitral proceedings (Article 15 Arbitration Act). The Arbitration Act also stipulates that this possibilityexists even when the arbitration agreement relates to arbitration that has its seat outside of Serbia.
Under the Arbitration Act domestic arbitral awards (i.e. awards rendered in Serbia) may be challenged byway of a claim for annulment. The Arbitration Act contains an exhaustive list of grounds for such challenge(Article 58 Arbitration Act). Those grounds include:
-invalidity of the arbitration agreement;
-lack of due process;
-incorrect composition of the arbitral tribunal;
-lack of arbitrability;
-violation of Serbian ordre public; and
-false testimony or a criminal act of an arbitrator or a party to the proceedings
(if established by a final court judgment).
2. ENFORCEMENT OF FOREIGNARBITRAL AWARDS
Foreign arbitral awards may be enforced only if the foreign award has been previously “admitted” to theSerbian legal system in recognition proceedings. When recognized by a Serbian Court, a foreign awardreceives the same status as a domestic award.
Serbian courts will refuse to recognize foreign arbitral awards, upon a proposal of a party against whichthe enforcement is sought, based on grounds which are essentially the same as the described grounds forchallenge of domestic arbitral awards. However, whereas the false testimony or criminal act of anarbitrator or a party to the proceeding is not among the grounds for refusal of the recognition of a foreignaward by Serbian courts, the recognition of the award may be refused based on one additional ground.Namely, if the foreign award has not yet become binding for the parties, or if it has been annulled or itsenforcement has been stopped by a court of the state where or based on whose law the award wasrendered, the Serbian court will be entitled to refuse its recognition (and enforcement).
Serbia is a party to the New York Convention of 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign ArbitralAwards, with the reservations that the Convention will only be applied to the recognition and enforcement ofawards made in the territory of another contracting state, will only be applied to differences arising out oflegal relationships, whether contractual or not, that are considered commercial under the national law andwill only be applied to those arbitral awards which were adopted after the entry into effect of the Convention.Serbia is also a party to the 1961 European Convention on International Commercial Arbitration.
PROCEDURE AND ASSUMPTIONS
TYPE OF PROCEEDINGS
According to the Permanent Arbitration, at the time of submission of a request forarbitration, a claim, a counterclaim, or a set-off claim, the party shall deposit the amount ofEUR 200 as a registration fee.
Assumption: The amount in dispute is EUR 1,000,000: Total costs: registration fee ofEUR 200 and administrative fee of EUR 27,000.
Assumption: The amount in dispute is EUR 10,000,000: Total costs: registration fee ofEUR 200 and administrative fee of EUR 63,600.
Assumptions based on an amount in dispute of EUR 1,000,000: Review of 100 pagesof documents; no challenge to the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal; two exchanges ofsubmissions; review of correspondence with arbitral tribunal; assistance with thepreparation of 4 witnesses; review of 4 written witness statements; no experts; preparationof oral hearing and participation in an oral hearing; preparation and review of one post-hearing brief. Total approximate cost: EUR 100,000.
Assumptions based on an amount in dispute of EUR 10,000,000: Review of 1,000pages of documents; no challenge to the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal; two exchangesof submissions; review of correspondence with arbitral tribunal; assistance with thepreparation of 8 witnesses; review of 8 written witness statements; document production upto 500 pages; preparation and review of expert opinions; preparation of oral hearing andparticipation in an oral hearing; preparation and review of one post hearing brief. Totalapproximate cost: EUR 250,000.
In exceptional cases, the arbitral tribunal orthe sole arbitrator may – with the consent ofthe President of the Permanent Arbitration –decide to extend the arbitral proceedings, ifthis is necessary for the purpose of obtainingevidence, or if the parties make such arequest, or for other justified reasons.
ATTORNEYS’ FEES (NET)
The Law on Arbitration as well as the Rules of the Permanent Arbitration do not provide forspecial rules regarding the presentation of documents.
According to the Permanent Arbitration,arbitration proceedings shall be completedwithin six months from the date of constitutionof the arbitral tribunal or the appointment ofthe sole arbitrator. Rules on expeditedprocedure apply if the amount in dispute isless than EUR 50,000.
According to the Law on Court Fees, for thepurpose of issuing a decision on recognition,the following amounts have to be paid:
Civil proceedings: EUR 18.
Commercial proceedings: EUR 185.
Other court fees for enforcementproceedings, as well as the fees of thepublic enforcement officer, depend on theamounts awarded by the respective foreignjudgement or arbitral award.
Application for recognition/enforcement:
Simple case: EUR 250 to EUR 450.
Complex case: EUR 1,000 to EUR 4,000.
ATTORNEYS’ FEES (NET)
-Pursuant to the Arbitration Act and theNew York Convention, the partyseeking recognition/enforcement of anarbitral award must provide the courtwith the following documentation: theoriginal arbitral award or a duly certifiedcopy thereof, an agreement onarbitration or a document onacceptance of arbitration in the originalor a duly certified copy thereof, andcertified translations of theabovementioned documents.
Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards
The information in this chapter was correct as of 1 January 2018. If you have any questions about the content of this chapter,
or would like further information about arbitration in Serbia, please contact