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Press releases and law firm thought leadership

This page is dedicated to keeping readers informed of the latest news and thought leadership articles from law firms across the globe.

If your firm wishes to publish press releases or articles, please contact Shehab Khurshid on +44 (0) 207 396 5689 or shehab.khurshid@legalease.co.uk

 

Privatisation Disputes

This article was written by Milan Lazić, Senior Partner , and Milica Savić, Senior Associate , and originally published in the "Reshaping the boundaries of arbitrability: Are we heading forward?" publication by the Permanent Arbitration at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia.

Geographical Indications Of Origin In Serbia: Where The Past Fuels The Future

This article was written by Dragomir Kojić, Partner ⃰, and Tamara Bubalo, Associate ⃰, and was originally published in Issue 5.2 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. To see the original article, please follow this link.

Geographical indication of origin, this very peculiar form of industrial property protection, has undergone a revival phase over the past few years, thus becoming more omnipresent not only within the circles of interest, but also amongst the Serbian public at large. Although, up to this day, there are only a few dozen geographical indications of origin registered before the Serbian Intellectual Property office, for a country of little over 7 million spread over 80.000 square kilometers of land, these numbers are remarkable and represent something to be proud of. Through goods and services offered thereunder, they are painting a picture of a different Serbia.

Generally used for the marking of natural, artisanal or industrially produced food, goods and produce, this legally coined term has come to reflect something much greater; the traditional and folkloric expressions of this country, its socio-cultural identity and its historical heritage. Through dozens of well curated picks of what each autochthone region has to offer as its best, once stemming from the ancient past only to be passed down to its modern day successors, these traditional expressions nowadays include, textiles, knits, cheeses, wines, and even health services.

The surge in interest surrounding geographical indications of origin is nowadays largely due to the country's policy of promoting and subsidizing small and medium sized enterprises which focus on craftsmanship, artisanal work and localized types of services which, in a way, help revive and ultimately preserve some of the traditional craft.

Geographical indications, similarly to trademarks, transmit certain messages, aiming at informing a potential consumer on the origins of a given product, and its specific properties only to be found in that unique place of origin. They are therefore very useful tools when it comes to highlighting those specific or unique properties of each and every product or service offered under its umbrella. This can for instance be reflected through a particular climate, manufacturing or a traditional approach to creating a product, all depending on the given region.

Thus impacting the perception of both domestic and international consumers and promoting the country at large has proven to be a large success. Valjevski Duvan Čvarci, Pirot Kilims, Sirogojno Knits, and Bermet sweet desert Wine, just to name a few, come to serve as excellent examples of products which, due to their (i) defined geographical area, (ii) specific, territorially defined manufacturing methods, and (iii) localized product quality, have become recognized tools of promotion not only in Serbia but also beyond its borders.

By solidifying its bases through a plethora of now internationally recognized goods, Serbia has very recently even gone a step further by registering its very first geographical indication for services offered in Zlatibor, a mountainous region in western Serbia known for its „Golden Pines".

Stepping out from theory into practice, Serbia has become the very first country to actually register a service under the category of geographical indication of origin, thus far only foreseen on paper by the local legislation.

The geographical indication of origin in question refers to the provision of health-tourism services provided exclusively in the Zlatibor region, and more particularly on the territory of the municipality of Čajetina. Registered under the indication Čigota, a mountain pass in Zlatibor, this specific service epitomizes a well-balanced mixture of natural and human factors such as, on the one hand, clean air with low humidity, specific light ion concentrations, an absence of allergens, and high pH levels in water, and on the other, a highly skilled medical and diagnostics staff.

Čigota is indeed that perfect example that allows us to shift our perception when it comes to geographical indications of origin, as it tears down the barriers of the traditional use of this legal tool and allows us to open up towards new possibilities stemming from more innovative concepts.

*Independent attorneys at law in cooperation with Karanović & Nikolić.

Striving Towards the Black Gold

This article was written by Petar Mitrović, Partner ⃰, and Nikolina Kažić, Associate ⃰, and was originally published in Issue 5.2 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine To see the original article, please follow this

The first upscale exploration of oil and gas in Montenegro started in 1914, when King Nikola Petrović approved the National Assembly's decision for oil exploration around Lake Skadar. The first well in the area of Crmnica dates back to 1922 – although it produced nothing of significance.

In later researches of the Montenegrin offshore, the existence of geological structures with the potential for hiding hydrocarbon deposits was confirmed. During the 70s and 80s, several American firms set up wells in the Montenegrin undersea area and confirmed oil and gas findings. However, no significant work was done pursuant to this confirmation, mainly due to the political and social instability of this Balkan country.

In the years that followed, and especially following the dissolution of the state union of Serbia and Montenegro in 2006, oil and gas exploration and exploitation formed the center of the Government's energy policy, and Montenegro made a significant effort to develop the industry. The country has defined its energy policy until 2030, adopted the Energy Development Strategy until 2025, and signed the Declaration of Accession to the Energy Charter in late 2012. The main objective of the adopted energy policy is the creation of an adequate legislative, financial, and regulatory framework to encourage private sector involvement and investments. Research shows that the total oil core potential in two separate submarine zones in Montenegro amounts to 12.5 x 109 tons. According to existing data, potential oil reserves amount to approximately 7 billion barrels, while potential natural gas reserves amount to 425 billion square meters.

Montenegro aims to follow the achievements of other countries in the Adriatic Sea that have valorized their potential in this field with around 1,500 exploration wells. Italy is the clear champion, with around 1,400 drilling sites. Neighboring Croatia drilled around 140 exploration wells and currently has 18 gas production platforms in the northern Adriatic.

As a sign of progress and the decisiveness of Montenegro to use its existing potential, the first tender for oil and gas exploration and production was announced in late 2013. So far, the Montenegrin Government has signed concession agreements with two consortia: the Italian-Russian Eni/Novatek (which was granted concession rights over four offshore blocks, covering 1,228 square kilometers), and the Greek company Energean oil & gas (which was granted two offshore blocks with a surface area of 338 square kilometers in shallow waters).

In the light of normative regulation, Montenegro adopted the Law on Exploration and Production of Hydrocarbons, the Tax Law on Hydrocarbons, and regulations governing the method of calculating compensation payments for oil and gas production, construction of exploration and exploitation plants, development and production of hydrocarbons, drilling, and so on. Additionally, the Government has adopted the model of the Concession Contract for the Production of Hydrocarbons, which is divided into two phases: the Exploration phase and the Hydrocarbons production phase.

The exploration phase may last for a maximum of six years for onshore or seven years for offshore blocks. Upon the concessionaire's request, and only in cases specified by law, the exploration phase may be extended for up to two years. However, the hydrocarbons production phase begins from the day of the commencement of the first extraction of hydrocarbons from the reservoir and lasts until the expiry of the deadline envisaged by the production concession contract, or a maximum of up to 20 years. The production phase may, at a request from the concessionaire, be extended at most for half of the duration of the production phase period specified by the production concession contract; i.e., for a maximum of 10 years.

With the Tax Law on Hydrocarbons, Montenegro made a plan to acquire revenue from companies doing business in the industry involving taxes and reimbursements for produced oil and gas. The strategy for acquiring revenue is progressive – meaning that the companies that have the most profit will pay an increased (progressive) rate for the produced oil and gas. In the period during the production of oil and gas, oil companies are due to pay a tax of 54% on the profit acquired from the exploration and production of oil and related assets, as well as 9% on dividends (i.e., capital gains).

The next tender for the exploration of oil and gas in the Montenegrin undersea area should open during this year or in 2019, since the Montenegrin Government is striving to introduce as many concessionaires as possible to the Montenegrin off-shore territory.

 

Independent attorneys at law in cooperation with Karanović & Nikolić.

Montenegro To Publish A Tender For A 200 MW Solar Power Plant

The Montenegrin Government plans to publish a tender for the lease of state land for the purpose of constructing a solar power plant in the municipality of Ulcinj. According to the announcement, the tender envisages a total of 6,621,121 square meters of land for the planning, construction, exploitation, and maintenance of a solar power plant at Briska gora, in the very south of Montenegro.

The plant is intended to have a total installed capacity of more than 200 MW, and will be completed in two phases. Phase one needs to be completed within 18 months after the signing of the contract, and phase two within 24 months after the first stage.

Offers to lease the land and build the power plant can be submitted by investors with proven experience in building solar plants with an installed capacity of at least 100 MW, and that have reported gross incomes of more than EUR 100 million in the past three fiscal years.

According to the Ministry's press release, the selected project is expected to sell electricity to the local grid through a long-term PPA on market terms.

Local press reports indicate that the project may require a total investment of EUR 300 million, and two potential investors have already submitted letters of intent to the Montenegrin authorities.

This will be the first tender for a large scale renewables project in Montenegro since 2010 and the awarding of "concessions" for wind parks Krnovo and Mo žura.

Laying the Foundations: ZF Group Building a Factory in Serbia

The Karanović & Nikolić team, led by Senior Partner Marjan Poljak and Senior Associates ⃰ Ana Stanković and Ana Luković, advised ZF Friedrichshafen on the project of opening an electric vehicle parts factory in Pančevo, Serbia. The German company, a global leader specialising in the design, research and development, and manufacturing activities in the automotive industry, laid the foundations and began construction on 21 June 2018.

Karanović & Nikolić advised ZF in this greenfield investment on all local law aspects of this project. The team provided full support in a number of different areas, including corporate, real estate, employment etc.

The new 25.000 square metres factory, which is being built on a land parcel of 10.8 hectares, will produce parts for electric and hybrid-electric vehicles and will service premium automotive manufacturers. The project will be realized in two stages and will open more than 1,000 new jobs. The planned investment amounts to more than EUR 100 million.

ZF operates in 40 countries around the world and has a global workforce of over 146,000 employees. In 2017, it recorded sales of EUR 36.4 billion. The company invests more than six percent of its sales in research and development annually, in particular for the development of efficient and electric drivelines.

ZF group is committed to its Vision Zero – zero accidents and zero emissions being the end goal of all the company's activities.

 

* Independent attorneys at law in cooperation with Karanović & Nikolić.

Interview with Patricia Gannon: The Importance of Female Leadership in Law Today

Patricia Gannon, founding partner at Karanović & Nikolić, was recently appointed Chair of the European Forum at the International Bar Association. In this interview, she discusses her role at the helm of the largest global gathering of legal professionals and tackles the important topic of diversity in law, as well as female leadership from her unique perspective as female co-founder of a leading law firm from Southeast Europe.

You have recently been appointed to the role of Chair of the European Forum at the IBA. What does this important position entail?

 

Patricia:As a firm, Karanović & Nikolić has been heavily involved with the IBA since our foundation. In particular, I have personally been active in a number of committees over the years as they represent a great way to stay on top of professional change. Most recently, the European Regional Forum, which is the forum responsible for managing and organizing all of the IBA conferences and events throughout Europe. The Forum is made up of 9,000 individual lawyer members and is the largest Forum within the IBA.

 

I have served as an officer for the last 5 years – culminating in a number of years of practical experience involving conference and event organizing. Today, there are 10 officers reporting in from different law firms all over Europe, we also have an advisory board of 25 senior lawyers, and approximately 50 council members representing every country in Europe. The council members are responsible for liaising between the European Forum and their own countries.

What do you feel that you bring to that role and what are your aims and hopes for the year?

Patricia: I bring a certain dynamic to the role which hasn't always been seen and I am keen to innovate a little more in order to move the IBA towards becoming a more modern organization, really reflecting the changes in the legal profession. This year, in addition to running the normal day-to-day conferences, we are looking for special funding from the IBA for a number of exiting projects.

One of them includes a review of the UK Modern Slavery Act on production and supply chain in the fashion industry. We hope to come to an understanding on the impact of extraterritorial legislation on corporates operating in this field. This is an exciting project which is relevant to consumers everywhere, as they are increasingly concerned about the human and environmental impact of clothes production.

I am working on a very exciting meeting in Rome – it is the Annual Meeting of the IBA scheduled for October, and it will include a number of very exciting sessions dealing with the hottest legal topics in the world. The ERF sessions include "Remaking Rome – the Treaty of Rome and what Europe Needs Now".

We will be working with other committees in a session on European luxury brands titled "Do you know where your clothes come from?". There will also be a session organized by all fora titled "The Future of Food – a Global Issue for Humanity", where we look at legal and policy issues relating to food production, resources, packaging, regulation, genetically modified content etc.

You are interested in the IBA diversity group. Will this relate to your role as the Chair of the European Forum?

Patricia:Global membership in the IBA today is about 70 percent male and 30 percent female – which is not entirely in recognition of the make-up of the profession generally. In certain countries it is almost 50-50, and this is including the judiciary, prosecutors, house-counsel, solicitors and barristers. Different parts of the profession are more female than others. Overall, considering the 70-30 percent membership, I feel that the 30 percent has not historically been represented appropriately throughout the organization and, in fact, a special task force is being established within the IBA to deal with diversity in general, including gender.

In my role as Chair of the European Forum, I made it my priority at one of my first meetings to ensure that 50 percent of all the representatives in my Council are female. I am very pleased to say that today 47 percent of the Council members are female. As a result of that, I expect to see a new dynamic with greater productivity and focus. Out of that pool of talented women, I hope to see more and more of them promoted across the ranks of the IBA. It's a process of change which the legal profession, as any other needs to address.

It must be interesting, not only being a woman, but also representing a law firm from this part of Europe?

Patricia: Yes, indeed! The IBA has relatively low membership numbers from Southeast Europe, and I hope that raising the organization's profile in SEE will raise membership and that we will get more active and learn from our colleagues both from Western Europe and across the globe. With that in mind, I will be opening the Balkan Legal Forum – our traditional bi-annual conference dealing with this region – which is to be held in Vienna on the 14th of June. I am very pleased to be involved in this highly relevant conference for all practitioners working in Southeast Europe. With approximately 150 attendees, it is the perfect opportunity to meet old friends who understand the complexity of doing business in the Balkans, making new connections and developing new ideas for investment opportunities.

As for Karanović & Nikolić and its role, we have been a corporate member of the International Bar Association for many years – which means that all the lawyers working with us are individual members of the IBA and can participate in its activities and learn from their peers through committee work. As a firm, we are keen to support all the organizations where lawyers can learn, develop and be in touch with current best practices, albeit from other markets. I think that we in Southeast Europe have some catching up to do in terms of the levels of professionalism that we need to provide to our international clients. The IBA is a great instrument for our further professional evolution.

Raspberries and IT: New Sector Inquiries by the Serbian Competition Commission

March 2018 - EU & Competition. Legal Developments by Karanovic & Nikolic.

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The Serbian Competition Commission (the "Commission") recently finished sector inquiries concerning quite distinct industries – raspberries and the public procurement for software and hardware. The aim behind the inquiries was to perform extensive market research and analysis in order to acquire a clearer picture of the possible antitrust issues and risks in two sectors widely perceived as strategic for the development of the Serbian economy.

The Commission analysed two relevant markets within the broader ICT market - more specifically:

  • the wholesale of software; and,
  • the wholesale of hardware (computers and computer equipment).

These markets are especially interesting in relation to the public procurement procedures, where the value of public procurements rose by 27% from 2014 to 2016, mostly in open bidding procedures. The Commission identified four major contracting authorities, the largest of them being "Elektroprivreda Srbije" and six suppliers/bidders identified as largest by accounting for almost 50% of the value of the relevant public procurements.

Having in mind the characteristics of these markets, inter alia, a small number of market players, few alternatives to the services provided, repetitive public procurement procedures, the Commission noted that bid rigging could be a potential cause for concern, and stated that it would dedicate special attention to working together with the relevant actors in rooting out any such practices in the future, in order to ensure a level playing field and efficient use of public resources.

The second sector inquiry dealt with the markets for raspberry repurchase and export in the period between 2015 and 2017. The competitive conditions on these markets are likely especially interesting for the local authorities, since Serbia is one of the largest producers of raspberries in the world, accountable for approx. 10% of the raspberries grown globally.

During the inquiry, the Commission determined that there are certain structural issues that might affect the relevant markets and the Serbian raspberry industry as a whole. The problems with a single repurchase price and long-term supply agreements gave rise to uncertainties concerning the value of raspberries produced and sold on the market. The Commission stressed the importance of including all the competent authorities and undertakings in order to solve these problems and maintain raspberries as a prominent and recognisable Serbian brand.

The Commission ultimately concluded that it did not identify any prima facie evidence of competition infringements affecting either of these markets. However, this does not mean that the Commission, now armed with more detailed information on the competitive environment, would not scrutinize the behaviour of specific market players at some point in the future. 

Even More Sector Inquiries: Sportswear And Oil Retail Under Scrutiny By The Serbian Commission

March 2018 - EU & Competition. Legal Developments by Karanovic & Nikolic.

More articles by this firm.

The Serbian Competition Commission (the " Commission ") continues its diligent examination of the Serbian competitive landscape in specific industries, this time with inquiries in two more industries – sportswear (including footwear and sporting equipment) and oil (petroleum products). Once again, the aim behind the market test was to identify potential issues on the relevant markets and provide broader insight into the functioning of the relevant markets.

Both of these industries have previously been of some interest to the Commission. The Commission recently conducted dawn raids and fined several sportswear retailers for resale price maintenance. The Commission has identified significant concentration on this market, giving rise to potential concerns about restrictive agreements in the industry, especially vis-à-vis the relationship between suppliers and resellers.

Sector inquiries into the conditions in oil wholesale and retail have traditionally been high on the Commission's agenda, with a number of market investigations conducted into the past. The noted a trend of market growth in comparison to 2016, especially in relation to production of crude oil and import of diesel fuel. The Commission (sadly) noted limited progress being made in terms of the recommendations relevant to market development it issued in previous reports. The Commission stated that it would watch over the oil industry with great care and already announced a new inquiry in this sector starting in March and covering 2017.

Sector inquiries have obviously been on the rise in the previous period, simultaneously contributing to the Commission's understanding of the workings of the markets identified as key to the Serbian economy and the antitrust awareness of market players. The next steps for both sector investigations and antitrust enforcement efforts spearheaded by the Commission remain to be seen and are eagerly awaited in the local competition community.

New Amendments to Serbian Tax Laws

At the end of 2017, the Serbian Parliament passed amendments to Serbian tax laws, including the Law on Personal Income Tax (PIT Law), the Law on Contributions on Mandatory Social Insurance (CMSI Law), the Law on Corporate Income Tax (CIT Law), and the Law on Value Added Tax (VAT Law).

These amendments introduce tax relief for salaries paid to employees in newly incorporated legal entities. Also, starting from April 2018, only service fees for business advisory services paid to non-resident legal entities will be subject to withholding tax, as opposed to all service fees paid to non-resident legal entities, as prescribed in the current CIT Law. In addition, Serbia continues to reduce the tax burden related to NPL write-offs.

The amendments are generally effective as of 1 January 2018, with some exceptions explained below.

Income tax and social security contributions

Under the amendments to the PIT Law and the CMSI Law, salaries paid to first nine employees as well as to the employed shareholders and entrepreneurs, will be fully exempted from salary tax and social security contributions. The exemptions will start to apply from 1 October 2018 and shall be applicable for salaries paid by entrepreneurs and legal entities that are established before 31 December 2020. Salaries will be exempted from tax for the first 12 months of employment.

Although the introduced relief will be of significance for small start-up companies, it is unclear whether the employees will be mandatory insured during the period of exemption since contributions for pension and disability, as well as for health insurance, will not be paid.

A collective life insurance premium – which is paid for all employees, as well as monetary support for the purpose of employee medical treatment is exempted from taxation and the payment of social contributions.

Under the amendments, the write-off of the NPLs is not subject to personal income tax as long as such a write-off is deductible for corporate income tax purposes. Also, it is prescribed that the amount of the write-off that was not collected after the sale of mortgaged real property is not subject to tax.

The position of non-resident individuals is also tackled in the recent changes in the Serbian legislation. Amendments to the PIT Law clarify that the taxable income of non-residents covers income from work done in Serbia, as well as income generated from (i) any right emerging on the territory of Serbia, or (ii) any property which is located in Serbia and which is at the disposal of a non-resident. In addition, it is now clearly prescribed that foreign employees seconded to Serbia (i.e. expatriates) are liable to pay salary tax for work done in Serbia.

The PIT Law and the CMSI Law prescribe new thresholds for tax payments and contributions in 2018 as follows:

  • the general monthly salary tax deduction is increased to app. EUR 130 (RSD 15.000), from existing app. EUR 100 (RSD 11.790);
  • the minimal monthly contributions base is set to a gross amount of app. EUR 200 (RSD 23,053); and,
  • the highest annual contributions base for 2018 is set to a gross amount of app. EUR 2.700 (RSD 329,330).

Law on corporate income tax

The amendments to the CIT Law narrowed the list of service fees that are subject to the withholding tax. Serbian resident legal entities will have to pay withholding tax only for service fees paid to non-residents providing market research, accounting, auditing and other legal and business consulting services, irrespectively to the place of the provision or usage of those services. Also, the deadline for the payment of withholding tax is extended, so that one has to pay the tax within 3 days after paying the non-resident's fee. The amendments related to withholding tax are effective from 1 April 2018.

Amendments concerning depreciation specify that fixed assets which are comprised out of immovable and movable parts should be classified in tax depreciation groups – which corresponds to the classification made for accounting purposes. Intangible assets (concessions, patents, licences...) will be depreciated using the proportional, instead of the declining method.

Further to the decision of the National Bank of Serbia (NBS) issued earlier in 2017 and which prescribes that NPLs should be written-off by the banks and evidenced off-balance, the amendments to the CIT Law prescribe that the expenses recorded by the bank, as a consequence of the write-off, are deductible for CIT purposes. These amendments are already applicable to the assessment of CIT for 2017.

Law on value added tax

The main change introduced by the amendments to the VAT Law is related to concession agreements and public-private partnership agreements. Based on the amendments, any supply made between a concessionaire and the provider of the concession are not regarded as supply for VAT purposes, and therefore are not subject to VAT under certain conditions. This exception applies if both parties are registered VAT payers and if they would be entitled to a deduction of input VAT in case that the regular supply is carried.

An important amendment introduces the possibility for VAT payers to reduce their output VAT if the tax authority determines that there was a misapplication of the "reverse charge" calculation. If the tax authority denies the deduction of input VAT to the taxpayer that applied the "reverse charge", the taxpayer may also reduce its output VAT on the basis of such the tax resolution.

In order to align Serbian VAT rules with the VAT rules in the EU, amendments to the VAT Law introduce rules on the VAT treatment for the supply of "investment gold". Generally, the supply of investment gold and intermediation in the supply of investment gold are exempted from VAT.

Amendments also relate to the VAT position of individuals. It is prescribed that individuals are entitled to a VAT refund paid when purchasing one's first apartment, in cases when the purchase price was paid to a bank account other than the bank account of the seller, as well as when the apartment is under mortgage or when the apartment is purchased in enforcement proceedings. Also, the supply of goods to travellers that do not have a permanent or temporary address in Serbia (not only supplies to foreign citizens) is exempted from VAT, if the value of the goods exceeds EUR 100.

 

 

The information in this document does not constitute legal advice on any particular matter and is provided for general informational purposes only.

Permit-free Regime for Construction in Montenegro

The new Construction Law entered into force in Montenegro and it is meant to unify construction, zoning regulations and deal with illegal objects. However, some provisions of the old Construction Law still remain in force, until the adoption of the General Regulation Plan.

The new Construction Law completely changed the legal regime of construction in Montenegro. It aims to simplify and compile spatial planning, boost the construction industry and deal with historical issues concerning the massive construction of illegal objects. It also aims to further centralise the decision-making processes in this industry.

Authority centralisation

Perhaps the most important novelty under the new Construction Law is that that there will be only two spatial planning documents for the territory of Montenegro (instead of hundreds of so far enacted documents). Both plans will be enacted by the Parliament upon the Government's preparation and proposal. Those are:

  • the Spatial Plan of Montenegro, which is a general planning document, that is to be valid 20 years after the adoption; and,
  • the General Regulation Plan, which is a more detailed zoning plan, that is to be valid 10 years after the adoption.

The Spatial Plan of Montenegro is a higher ranked planning document. It will regulate the strategic guidelines for spatial planning, the basis for the development and spatial organisation and the policy of spatial usage, the concept for maritime spatial planning, the general guidelines for the adoption of the General Regulation Plan, as well as principles for the preservation of cultural heritage and environmental protection.

Strategic principles and guidelines set out in the Spatial Plan will be further developed under the General Regulation Plan – which will provide the conditions and the manner for spatial development and construction. This plan will completely encompass the territory of Montenegro, and it will regulate construction capacities. Specifically, it will provide for spatial designation, the conditions for its development, building capacities and boundaries, parcelling rules etc. The General Regulation Plan is planned for adoption within the next 36 months. Until then, all currently applicable spatial plans and zoning documents remain in force.

A new construction and usage regime

Another major novelty is that the permitting system is replaced with a permit-free regime. This means that one is no longer required to obtain a construction or usage permit. In order to construct, an investor is required to prepare a report for construction, an audited main design and other necessary documents. Upon the finalisation of the construction, instead obtaining the usage permit, the new object should only be registered at the competent Land Registry.

The permitting regime still applies to the most complex construction projects, such as, for example, heavy industry and energy facilities.

Chief state/city architects

The New Law introduces two new instances which will play the main role in the construction process. These are chief state architect and city architects. The chief state architect will be in charge of all projects of national interest and will guide the legalisation of objects. His role is also to ensure the protection of authenticity of the space and the promotion of best practice in areas of urbanism and architecture. The city architects will be in charge of approving concept designs of buildings, squares and other public areas in settlements, verifying the compliance of concept designs with the urban projects, and approving temporary constructions. The chief state architect is elected by the Government, while the chief city architects are elected by local municipalities.

(Un)Developed construction land fees

A new burden for the owners of construction land is that they will be obliged to pay a monthly land development fee, for the undeveloped construction land in their ownership. After the development, the owner is obliged to pay monthly city land rent. The amounts of these fees will be determined by local municipalities - which is expected to occur within 60 days upon the adoption of the General Regulation Plan.

The information in this document does not constitute legal advice on any particular matter and is provided for general informational purposes only.

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