On September 9th 2021, the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia had adopted a new Law on Consumer Protection (hereinafter: the Law), which completely replaces the outgoing Law which has been adopted in 2014.

The Law doesn’t deviate too much from the existing legal solutions, although it is a completely new law, only few changes have been made. On the other hand, the adopted, existing solutions in the field of consumer protection, have been improved in terms of their specification and harmonization with the market and legal framework of the Republic of Serbia, but also with the new EU Directives.

The priority of legislator is certainly better consumer protection and above all, it is a practical way to implement protection, since the goal is to find more efficient and faster mechanisms for accomplishing consumer rights. Although the previous Law also provided an ex-judicial way of resolving consumer disputes, the novelty of the new Law is that traders will now have the obligation to get involved in such a procedure, when it is initiated by consumers. Traders will also have the obligation to clearly state at the points of sale the notice of the existence of the obligation to participate in an ex-judicial way of resolving disputes.

According to the Law, the resolution of consumer disputes will be possible before the bodies for ex-judicial settlement of disputes (persons with the capacity of mediators in the sense of the law governing mediation in resolving disputes), which will be entered on the public list maintained by the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications. The condition for this way of resolving disputes will be a previously stated complaint or objection to the trader by the consumer.

In order to ameliorate the monitoring of the efficiency of accomplishing consumer rights, the Law also introduces the duty for competent courts to keep special records for consumer disputes and to inform Ministry once per year about them. Also, consumers in disputes whose value doesn’t exceed the amount of 500.000,00 dinars, will not have the obligation to pay court taxes in full.

Also, the Law envisages the establishment of a special, publicly available register at the Regulatory Agency for electronic communications and postal service (RATEL). In this register, Agency will enter telephone numbers of consumers who have stated that they don’t want to receive calls and messages from the traders related to advertising. Traders will have a legal obligation to check out the said register before contacting the consumers.

The Law, regulates consumer protection in a very detailed and broader way regarding tourist arrangements, introduces a number of obligations for all providers of tourist services and regulates relations in this area, thus harmonizing it with the EU Directive.

Supervisory bodies, as a novelty in terms of controlling the legality of trader’s actions, in accordance with the Law will have the possibility of issuing misdemeanour orders (with a fine in the amount of 50.000,00 dinars) to traders who violate some of the extended obligations provided by the Law. Regarding the misdemeanour liability of traders for violating the provisions of Law, the statute of limitations for initiating misdemeanour proceedings has been extended to 2 (two) years.

The Law will enter into force on 20th December 2021, except for the provisions that refer to the out of court way of resolving consumer disputes, which will enter into force after the expiration of six months from the day the Law enters into force. The bylaws provided for in the Law shall be adopted within one year from the day of its entry into force.

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