Belgrade, March 17, 2023.
It is necessary to form
an interdepartmental working group
The Ministry of Finance held a meeting of representatives of municipalities from the south of Serbia, burdened with mass claims (mass lawsuits) related to land expropriation (during the earlier construction of local roads). State Secretaries Slavica Savičić and Saša Stevanović and Assistant Minister Vojislav Lazarević participated in the meeting on behalf of the ministry. Mihajlo Čolak, Program Director of the Committee for Human Rights Niš, participated in the meeting as expert support to the municipalities on behalf of the Judiciary Base South (PBJ) coalition. Mihajlo, after the introduction of MP Milija Miletić, supported his proposal and pointed out the necessity of forming an interdepartmental working group composed of representatives of the Government, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Finance, as well as other appropriate bodies, which would comprehensively deal with solving the problem of mass claims, not only when it comes to expropriations, but in general.
Belgrade, February 7, 2023.
Finding a solution to the problem of mass claims
Representatives of municipalities in the south of Serbia, burdened with mass claims (in Serbian: masovne tužbe) related to land expropriation during the earlier construction of local roads, held a meeting at the Ministry of Justice with State Secretary Livija Pavićević. Mihajlo Čolak, Program Director of the Committee for Human Rights Niš, participated in the meeting as professional support to the municipalities on behalf of the Judiciary Base South (PBJ) coalition. Mihajlo pointed out the necessity of changing the Law on Civil Procedure to prevent new mass claims, from which individual attorneys at law profit enormously to the detriment of the state budget and which essentially do not bring substantial financial satisfaction to the citizens whom the attorneys at law represent.
March 3, 2023
The National Convention on EU: Letter of Support to Prosecutors
Judicial Base South (JBS) joined to letter of support to prosecutors of the Higher Public Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade and an appeal for a proactive response by the State Council of Prosecutors. You can view the entire text of the letter here.
Svrljig, September 22, 2022
Initiative of 11 local self-governments
Eleven representatives of local self-governments and public attorney's offices met in Svrljig. These are the municipalities of Svrljig, Vlasotince, Crna Trava, Gadžin Han, Ražanj, Merošina, Žitorađa, Kuršumlija, Blace, Babušnica and Dimitrovgrad. The Judiciary Base South and the Committee for Human Rights Nis also participated in this meeting. We discussed the introduction of the institute of collective protection of rights. The intention is that in cases of mass rights violations, one lawsuit is initiated instead of thousands of individual ones. For more details about this event, see here.
Dragan Đorđević at the TV station "Belle Amie" (VIDEO)
debated the research "Analysis of the Work of Disciplinary Bodies and Disciplinary Procedures of the Niš Bar Association." March 21, 2022
March 1, 2022
Conference held in Niš -
The Work of Disciplinary Bodies of Bar Associations
On March 1, 2022, the Judicial Base South Coalition held a hybrid conference, "Work of Disciplinary Bodies of Bar Associations," at its premises in Nis and through the Zoom Platform, where the research "Analysis of the Work of Disciplinary Bodies and Disciplinary Procedures of the Niš Bar Association" was presented. After the presentation of the research, a discussion followed. The conference was attended by lawyers, judges, prosecutors, representatives of state institutions, citizens' associations, international organizations, prominent experts, educational institutions, and the media.
The community of experts and the Serbian public at large share the impression that significant responsibility for the troubles which have for years faced the country's judiciary rests not only with the legislative and executive power but also with the judiciary itself – courts, prosecutors, and attorneys-at-law. Perceptions of how lawyers and bar associations operate are often based on superficial views rather than on findings of professional research. One strand of opinion holds that bar associations protect their members and do not pursue disciplinary charges against individual lawyers efficiently and impartially. In that context, this research was designed to gain documented, fact-based insight into the disciplinary accountability of the legal profession (the bar) and bar associations.
These aspects were discussed in the studio in Niš with:
Nevena Petrušić, LLD, author of the study, Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Niš
Bojana Arsenijević, researcher, Teaching Assistant at the Faculty of Law, University of Niš
Nataša Ćirić Išjamović, Attorney-at-Law based in Niš and Disciplinary Judge of the Niš Bar Association
The conversation was moderated by Dragan Đorđević and Mihajlo Čolak, members of the JBS Program Council. You can find here more information about the conference, the text of the research, and the recording of the conference.
November 27, 2021
IN MEMORIAM: Saša Stojković Babačko (1963 - 2021)
In the early morning hours, after a short illness, Saša Stojković Babačko passed away in Niš. As the owner and editor-in-chief of the InfoVranjske portal and as the president of the citizens' association Team for Development and Integration (TRI), Saša made an exceptional contribution to the formation and work of the Judicial Base South coalition. We will remember him as a persistent fighter for truth, justice, legality and principle. We will also remember him as an excellent theatre actor and director, a seasoned journalist, charmer, friend.
Saša, we will miss you a lot and we will not forget you.
Coalition Judicial Base South
August 16, 2021
Open Data and COVID-19
During the second half of 2020 and the first half of 2021, the Judicial Base South Coalition conducted research "Determining the needs of associations and media in the south of Serbia for publishing in an open data format, data from the judiciary." The author of the research is Ivan Grujić, a lawyer from Leskovac and a member of the Program Council of the Judicial Base South coalition. He was assisted in his research by Milica Stanković, a lawyer and journalist from Niš, Jelena Videnović, a lawyer and NGO activist from Niš, and Mihajlo Stojković, a journalist from the InfoVranjska portal and director of the Development and Integration Team (TRI) from Vranje. The research will be presented to the public at an expert conference to be held in Nis in the first quarter of 2022.
“Open data” is the concept of available data so that anyone is free to use and republish it, without restriction by the author or other control mechanisms. Although the concept itself is not new, the term “open data” has been applied since 2008 and has gained in popularity following the initiative of some countries to open their data. Only publicly available data can be published in the form of open data. Open data cannot be personal data, classified (secret) data, and data protected by copyright.
As part of our research, in order to better understand open data and illustrate what they actually represent and what opportunities they provide, ie how they can all be used, we analyzed, among other things, the success of European and North American countries in combating the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. As for the conference itself, we want to make parts of the research available to the public, so we will describe here our findings on this segment of research.
As a data (indicator) based on when we measured the success of the state, we took the total number of deaths in one year. The records of the dead are kept precisely in the countries that were in our focus. We did not want to analyze the official numbers of people who died due to the Covid-19 virus because there are doubts about the accuracy of those data.
Data on the total number of deaths were taken from the websites of official statistical institutions. In one column, we calculated the average five-year number of deaths from 2015 to 2019. In the second, we listed the number of deaths in 2020. We believe that the changes in the total number of deaths last year were directly (death due to the Covid-19 virus), or indirectly (due to the burden on health systems), a consequence of the COVID-19 virus pandemic.
(For more details on the survey results for each country, see the table below.)
We were unable to find data for all countries in Europe.
* For Germany, we did not find the number of deaths in 2015, the average was done from 2016 to 2019.
If the World Health Organization made such a list in an open format (Excel, CSV, JSON), they would get open data on the success of countries during the pandemic of the COVID-19 in 2020.
From our table, we can conclude that Norway reacted best to the appearance of the COVID-19 because there was no increase in the number of deaths from the usual annual average. Serbia is in the middle of the list with similar success as Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Albania had the worst results in the first year of the COVID-19 virus pandemic, with an increase in the number of deaths by ¼.
The total number of deaths from 2021 can be used to further assess the success of countries in the fight against the COVID-19.
Niš, July 14, 2021
R e a c t i o n
The text entitled "Only the Assembly of the SFRY could interpret the ZOO" (link to the text) was published in the daily Politika on July 7, 2021. The subtitle of the text states: "The banking lobby tried to find a shortcut for resolving mass lawsuits." - The reaction of the state is contradictory, confusing, and late, according to the representatives of the "Judicial Base South". Furthermore, parts of the press statement of the Judicial Base South published on July 5, 2021, are transmitted in the text. While parts of our press statement are literally and truthfully transmitted in the rest of the text, the statement "The banking lobby tried to find a shortcut for resolving mass lawsuits" does not belong to our press statement. As such a formulation could lead to misinterpretation of our press statement, we invite the public to read the integral text of our press statement, which is available on our website (below).
Judicial Base South
Niš, July 5, 2021
regarding the proposal of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia for authentic interpretations of the provisions of:
Article 1066 para. 2 of the Law on Obligations, Article 41, para. 1 and 2 and Article 43, Art. 2 and 3 of the Law on Consumer Protection and
Article 17 para. 1 of the Law on Protection of Financial Services Users
The Judicial Base South Coalition considers the state's reaction to the phenomenon of mass claims to be contradictory, confusing, and belated. The phenomenon of mass claims (colloquially in Serbian: masovke) and mass lawsuits, which has existed for more than 15 years, has produced, according to rough estimates, over a million cases and hundreds of millions of euros have been spent from the state budget (therefore, at the expense of all citizens) to pay damages. Among the mass lawsuits, there is a significant number of those generated by the state itself, i.e., its bodies through their illegal actions. Due to the small value of the subject matter of the dispute, and the huge number of lawsuits, a significantly larger part of that money ended up in the accounts of lawyers, who represented the citizens, and only a smaller part in the accounts of citizens, whose rights were violated. Unfortunately, in the past period, the state was quite passive and uninterested in a systematic approach to solving this problem and became actively involved only with the emergence of mass lawsuits against banks, where, unlike all previous lawsuits, the damage is not borne by the Serbian budget (therefore, citizens), but banks, whose founders are, mostly, foreigners.
In its research The Phenomenon of Mass Claims (available on our website), the Judicial Base South gave recommendations for taking measures in order to solve the problem of mass lawsuits. We gave a total of 23 recommendations, and we discussed this at our conference, held on April 20, 2021, in Niš. Among other things, we proposed the introduction of collective mechanisms for the protection of rights.
The recently published Draft Law on Amendments to the Law on Civil Procedure (in Serbian: Zakon o parničnom postupku - ZPP), in the parts in which it seeks to solve the problem of mass lawsuits, contains some adequate solutions for which we advocated in the recommendations of our research. However, some of the announced changes to the Law on Civil Procedure are worrying, especially provisions that would limit access to justice and jeopardize the right to a fair trial, as one of the basic human rights.
Therefore, we call on the state and the Ministry of Justice to organize real and transparent consultations regarding the adoption of the Draft Law on Amendments to the Law on Civil Procedure. This means that representatives of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary, the bar, the academic and expert community, civil society organizations, and citizens participate in the consultations. Such consultations should be available on a truly participatory basis, with full respect for the expert contributions of the actors involved, both in Belgrade and outside the capital, especially in cities where courts of appeal exist.
April 20, 2021
Conference held in Niš -
presentation of the research "The phenomenon of mass claims"
In its premises in Niš and through the Zoom platform, the Coalition Judicial Base South held an expert hybrid conference on April 20, 2021, at which the research "The Phenomenon of Mass Claims" was presented. The discussion was followed online by attorneys at law, judges, prosecutors, state institutions, international organizations, intergovernmental organizations, non-profit organizations, prominent experts, educational institutions, and the media.
The issue of mass claims brings legal, financial, and ethical aspects and leads to inevitable negative consequences, both for the judiciary and for all citizens of Serbia. Namely, until the emergence of mass claims against banks, in all previous cases, budget institutions were sued. The plaintiffs were victorious in most cases, so the costs of the lawsuits were borne by the defendant (which was usually a state/public institution). Therefore, the costs of the lost lawsuits were borne by the state. No one knows the total number of these cases and how much they cost the state budget, but it is estimated that it could be several hundred million euros. You can find here more information about the conference, the research text, and the conference recording.