As of 1 June 2017, an improved and modernized Criminal Code will come into force in Serbia.
While most of the amendments concern existing criminal offences and aim to provide a clear definition and grounds for a unified interpretation of the same in practice, some amendments mark an end to an era of an outdated understanding of commercial crime. Thus, acts of issuance of checks and use of payment cards without coverage, deceiving buyers, abuse of business authorizations and monopoly abuse have been decriminalized, while new commercial criminal offences, such as commercial bribery, commercial fraud, abuse of business confidence, commercial embezzlement, abuse in privatization procedures and conclusion of restrictive agreements have been introduced as criminal offences with potential penalties.
As a prime example, the criminal offence of concluding restrictive agreements has drawn significant interest and attention among practitioners and participants in trade, given a high complexity of competition issues and their dependence on interpretation from the competitionprotection authority. This criminal act applies to any person in a commercial entity that executes a restrictive agreement that is not exempted from the bans defined in the relevant competition-protection regulations, with a prescribed imprisonment of six months to five years as well as potential monetary fines. However, the charged person may be free from the liability if he or she meets the requirements of the leniency policy defined under the competition-protection regulations. Therefore, there are some useful options to the person charged which makes for an interesting mix of competition and criminal law legal principles.
These and other respective amendments to the Criminal Code are aimed at developing a more coherent and effective approach to battling the ever changing forms of modern crime. As it is too early to draw any conclusions on the consequences of the amendments, it will be interesting to see what results they will bring once they come into force.