Answer ... The relevant legislation on arbitration in Serbia is the Arbitration Act, which was enacted in 2006.
Generally, there are no significant limitations on the scope of the statutory regime (Article 2).
Arbitration Act provides that an arbitration agreement must be concluded in writing. Consequently, an arbitration agreement which is not concluded in writing is null and void (Article 10(1)(2)). However, there is a possibility of an implicit arbitration agreement based on the fact that a party has not timely objected to the written initiation of arbitral proceedings (assuming that there was no written arbitration agreement in place based on which such arbitral proceedings were initiated). For other validity requirements for arbitration agreement, please see question 10 below.
Answer ... The Arbitration Act governs the resolution of disputes without foreign elements (internal or domestic arbitration) and disputes with a foreign element (international arbitration). International arbitration is concerned with the resolution of disputes arising from international business relations. Arbitration will be considered international in particular if:
- at the time the agreement is concluded, the parties to an arbitration agreement have their places of business in different states;
one of the following places is situated outside the state in which the parties have their places of business:
- the seat of arbitration, if determined in, or pursuant to, the arbitration agreement; or
- the place where a substantial part of the obligations arising from the business relationship is to be performed or the place with which the subject matter of the dispute is most closely connected; or
- the parties have expressly agreed that the subject matter of the arbitration is connected to more than one country (Article 3(1)).
If a party does not have a place of business, reference for that party is to be made to its habitual residence (Article 3(2)).
Answer ... The Arbitration Act is in principle based on the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration. However, only 16 out of the 70 articles of the Arbitration Act were incorporated directly from the UNCITRAL Model Law; the other provisions were incorporated with certain amendments.
Answer ... Some of the provisions in the Serbian legislation are mandatory, while others are dispositive and the parties can thus modify them by agreement or by their choice of arbitration rules.
For example, the Arbitration Act provides that the parties must be timely notified of any hearings and any meetings of the arbitral tribunal for the purposes of inspection of goods, other property or documents (Article 40(1)). That is a mandatory provision which cannot be derogated from by the parties’ agreement (if Serbian arbitration law is applicable). On the other hand, the provision that prescribes that the arbitral tribunal shall decide whether to hold an oral hearing or to conduct the proceedings on the basis of documents and other written material is dispositive, because the parties may agree to exclude oral hearings (Article 39).
Answer ... Although there have been some recent calls in the media for changes to the Arbitration Act, there are officially no current plans to amend the arbitration legislation.
Answer ... Yes. Serbia’s predecessor, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY), ratified the New York Convention in October 1981 and ultimately acceded to the convention on 26 February 1982. The reservations on non-retroactivity, reciprocity and commercial disputes were made at the time and remain in place to date (Article 1 of the Law on Ratification of the Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, Official Gazette of the SFRY – International Agreements, 11/1981 of 9 October 1981). As one of the successor states of the SFRY, Serbia has been formally recognised as a contracting party to the convention since 27 April 1992.
Answer ... Serbia is also a party to the European Convention on International Commercial Arbitration and the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States. Additionally, Serbia has concluded a number of bilateral legal assistance treaties and bilateral investment treaties containing arbitration-related provisions.