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Open data - how far have we come? / Protection of consumer rights

Niš, 1.02.2024.


Ivan Grujić, legal expert and owner of the consulting agency Association (with a seat in Leskovac), gave the eighth lecture to the second generation of participants as part of the Strengthening Capacity for Judicial Reform - southern Serbia training program. The lecture consisted of two parts and covered two topics: Open data (first part) and Consumer rights protection (second part).



"Open data" is the concept of making data available so that anyone can freely use and republish it without restrictions by authors or other control mechanisms. The term "open data" has been applied since 2008 and gained relevance after the initiative of certain countries to open their data. Only publicly available data can be published in the form of open data. Open data cannot be personal, classified (secret), or protected by copyright. 

 

The Republic of Serbia adopted the Law on Electronic Government in 2018, which defined open data as: "data that is available for reuse, together with metadata, in a machine-readable and open form" (Article 4). The law introduced the possibility of submitting a request to reuse data for commercial or non-commercial purposes. The open data portal started operating in 2017, and the Law on Electronic Administration defines the obligation of the public sector to publish data from its jurisdiction on the portal and provide access without compensation. The government has adopted the Regulation on how the Open Data Portal works, which defines the organizational and technical standards for the portal's functioning in more detail. 



Regarding consumer protection, Serbia harmonizes legislation with EU regulations on consumer protection. However, the question is, how can consumers protect their rights in practice if the merchant rejects the complaint?


Two models of protection were discussed: extrajudicial and judicial protection and it was pointed out that extrajudicial protection (mediation) is mandatory if requested by the buyer after the complaint has been rejected. The general public needs to be sufficiently familiar with this form of protection. In 30% of cases, sellers and buyers agreed to resolve the dispute out of court.


Court protection is implemented in consumer disputes based on the Law on Civil Procedure and the Law on Consumer Protection. The law prescribes a deadline of 30 days for holding the main hearing from filing the lawsuit. However, the deadline is never respected in practice; sometimes, it lasts over a year.


Mr. Grujić pointed out that because of this type of court protection, consumers do not want to use court protection for goods and services of low value. It was pointed out that it is necessary to analyze whether it is possible to obtain compensation for non-material damage due to the lengthy court proceedings and how to improve the protection of consumer rights.

 

The lecture was realized with the support of the Open Society Foundation





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