Živković Samardžić, one of the Serbia’s leading full-service independent law firms, has recently secured an important victory in the Administrative Court in Belgrade, against the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Serbia.
The dispute concerned the refusal of both the Serbian Business Registers Agency and the Ministry of Economy, as first and second instance authorities, to inscribe Živković Samardžić AOD, a partnership registered by the Serbian Bar Association, into the Register of Suppliers kept by the Serbian Business Registers Agency. The Register is an official list of approved contractors, suppliers or service providers for the public procurement purposes. Certified registration constitutes a presumption of suitability with regard to requirements for public procurements and allows an inscribed economic operator to avoid time consuming obtainment of plethora of documents required for each and every public contract opportunity.
What made the case even more important not only for Živković Samardžić, but for the entire legal profession, was the fact that the Serbian Business Registers Agency and the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Serbia have found Živković Samardžić AOD ineligible for the inscription into the Register of Suppliers, due to the partnership being registered with the Bar Association, and not with the Business Registers Agency. Even more, both authorities held that registration with the Business Registers Agency was a necessary prerequisite for any business not only to be inscribed into the Register of Suppliers, but to exist as a legal person as well.
The Administrative Court in Belgrade reiterated that in accordance with the Law on Legal Profession two or more attorneys-at-law can establish a partnership that shall, in accordance with the Statute of the Bar Association, exist as a legal person, while the directory of such partnerships is, in accordance with the same Law on Legal Profession, kept exclusively by the Bar Association of Serbia. Thus, the Administrative Court ruled that the lack of registration with the Business Registers Agency shall not bar the inscription into the Register of Suppliers of an economic operator that is duly registered with a different authority or a professional body vested with such authority in accordance with the law. For those reasons, the Administrative Court returned the case to the Ministry of Economy for reconsideration.
“The decision is of huge importance not only for Živković Samardžić AOD as a partnership, but for the entire legal profession. The Court confirmed exclusive right of the Bar Association, as a professional body of lawyers, to register law partnerships and keep the records of such registrations, thus further securing the independence and autonomy of the profession,” said Nebojša Samardžić, Živković Samardžić AOD co-managing Partner. Nebojša, who represented the firm in the Administrative Court in Belgrade, was assisted by Sonja Šehovac, Associate.