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Roundtable on the Service of Process

31 05 2018

Roundtable on the Service of Process

Why is service of process such a complex issue? Why is the existing system of process service via notice boards in the courts inefficient and can result in the violation of right to due process? How much of a problem are inaccurate address records on the parties to a procedure?

USAID Rule of Law Project gathered all relevant stakeholders in Belgrade at the end of May to try and identify answers to some of these questions together. Representatives of the High Court Council, Ministry of Justice, Post Office, and judges of basic, commercial and misdemeanor courts attended the roundtable on the topic of service of process.

The Project first presented the conclusions of the situation analysis related to the issues plaguing service of process in the Serbian judiciary, as well as the local legislative framework, international standards and practical problems observed in everyday functioning of the courts. Also, the cost-benefit assessment of unsuccessful service attempts and their impact to the costs of the civil procedure was presented to the roundtable participants.

After this, the representatives of the Ministry of Justice the High Court Council and the Post Office presented their views on the existing situation while representatives of certain courts talked about some of the practical solutions which have proven to be very efficient in improving process service: better organization of work of the court process servers (working in two shifts), monitoring their work, adjusting the characteristics of envelops proscribed in the agreement between the High Court Council and the Post Office for printing on court printers, developing an electronic application to automate the work of the expedition office (Second Basic Court in Belgrade), etc.

As a conclusion from the roundtable all stakeholders agreed that a system-level solution should be sought for this issue which burdens the courts. This would include changing the existing legal framework – harmonizing service of process provisions in the civil and criminal procedure and for enforcement; introducing electronic notice boards to replace the existing physical ones in courts which are often complicated to access; certain changes related to the way both courts and the Post Office operate; as well as raising the awareness of the general public on the importance of providing accurate data on address and residence and consequences of avoiding process service.

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