On 23 December 2018, Serbian Parliament passed the Act on Amendments of the Law on Court Fees that is applicable as of 1 January 2019. 

As of this date, the parties will be exempt from paying all court fees providing that until the conclusion of the first main hearing they resolve their dispute by mediation, court settlement, acceptance or waiver of a claim. In these cases, any court fees will be automatically written off even if the proceedings have already been initiated.

The aims of the changes are the following:

  • Avoiding unnecessary expenses for the parties, quicker resolution of disputes and fairer treatment of the parties in the course of the proceedings;
  • Encouraging amicable settlement of disputes;
  • Relieving the basic courts from the influx of ‘mass disputes’, i.e. claims against the state, local self-government bodies, public companies founded by the state and other publicly financed entities.

The new Law on Court Fees is said to essentially promote the amicable settlement as a way of solving disputes, especially having in mind the poor results of the Law on Mediation in Dispute Resolution.

The benefits of this way of resolving disputes are numerous – the economy is spared from long-lasting, uncertain and sometimes very costly court proceedings, the actors on the market are enabled to claim their rights and satisfy their interests efficiently and the courts have more resources to focus on the proceedings where alternative dispute resolution methods cannot be applied. It is noteworthy to mention that, in the majority of cases (65.1 %), the duration of the mediation procedure is shorter than a month, whereas only in 5.4 % of the overall number of cases, the mediation procedure lasts longer than three months, which is certainly a way shorter than in case of classical court procedures where the duration of proceedings is usually calculated in years.

In the months to come it remains to be seen whether these amendments will make the desired effects.