Archive materials

The Law on Archival Material and Archival Activity entered into force

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In 2020, National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Law on Archival Material and Archival Activities (hereinafter “Law“), the implementation of which began on 2 February 2021.

This area has so far been regulated by the Law on Cultural Heritage from 1994 and the Law on Archives of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 1998, which cease to be valid on the day the Law enters into force. Baring that in mind, Serbia has, after many years, regulated the protection of archives material in a modern and comprehensive way.

The subject of regulation of this Law is the system of protection of archival material and documentary material, conditions and manner of use of archival material, organization, competence and activity of archives in the Republic of Serbia.

In this regard, the Law provided for some additional obligations for economic entities.

Archival material or documentary material

The law primarily distinguishes between archival material and documentary material.

Archival material, as a permanently preserved documentary material, is the original, and in the absence of the original, any reproduced form of document or record created by the work and activities of state bodies and organizations, territorial autonomy bodies and local self-government units, institutions, public companies, holders public authorities, companies, entrepreneurs, persons engaged in registered activities, religious communities, as well as other legal or natural persons, and are of lasting importance for culture, art, science, education and other social areas, regardless of when and where were created, and whether they are located in institutions for the protection of cultural property or outside them, and regardless of the form and medium of the record on which they are preserved.

On the other hand, documentary material is a set of documents or records created or received by the actions and work of the above entities, in the original or reproduced form of the document, regardless of the form and format of recording, as well as prescribed records about it.

Creator or Holder of archival material and documentary material.

The law distinguishes between the Creator and the Holder of archival material and documentary material.

The creator of archival material and documentary material is a legal or natural person whose activities create archival material and documentary material (hereinafter “Creator“).

The holder of archival material and documentary material is the holder of the right to archival material and documentary material (owner i.e., holder of another ownership right or party in an contract relationship) or any other (legal or natural) person who, in any way and on based on any basis has possession right over it (hereinafter “Holder“).

Additional obligations of economic entities

The new Law envisages new obligations on the part of legal entities and entrepreneurs, which refer to the internal organization of affairs related to archives, as well as keeping records and reporting on the handling of archives.

First of all, they are obliged to conscientiously keep archival material and documentary material in an orderly and safe condition in the form in which they were created. The creator and holder of archival material and documentary material is obliged to inform the competent archive within 30 days about its establishment, as well as about all changes in status and organization (change of status and / or name, change of organization, change of address and termination). The competent public archive gives consent to the list of categories of archival material and documentary material with retention periods.

In addition to this basic obligation, economic entities are obliged to, inter alia:

  • provide adequate space and equipment for the storage and protection of archival material and documentary material;
  • keep an archive book on the prescribed form;
  • appoint a responsible expert for the protection and handling of archival material and documentary material;
  • record, mark, classify, date and archive archival material and documentary material;
  • submit to the competent archive a transcript of the archive book no later than April 30 of the current year, for documentary material created in the previous year;
  • inform the competent public archive about all changes that are important for the archive material no later than 30 days from the day of their occurrence;

Also, the Creator and the Holder, with exception to natural persons, are obliged to bring:

  • general act on the manner of recording, classifying, archiving and storing archival material and documentary material;
  • a list of categories of archival material and documentary material with retention periods;
  • general act on the manner of recording, protection, and use of electronic documents.

The creator, i.e., the holder of the archival material, is obliged to hand over the arranged and listed archival material for safekeeping to the competent public archive after the expiration of 30 years from the day of its creation.

Obligations in case of termination of the economic entity

In case of termination of work, the archival material and documentary material of the Creator and the Holder are obliged to be taken over and kept by his legal successor, and in case the Creator or Holder has no legal successor, the competent public archive will take over, unless otherwise is provided by law.

In addition, Bankruptcy Trustee is obliged to hand over the selected, arranged and listed archive materials, undamaged or with repaired damages to the competent public archive no later than one year from the day of opening the bankruptcy procedure.

Penal provisions

Penalties in the amount of 50,000 to 2,000,000 dinars, or from 5,000 to 150,000 dinars for the responsible person in the legal entity, are envisaged for non-compliance with the provisions related to the obligations of keeping archival material and documentary material. Although it also prescribes obligations for entrepreneurs, i.e., natural persons who perform a registered activity, it is interesting that the Law does not provide penal provisions for this category of entities.

Since the Law entered into force only in February 2021, there are still no bylaws that will specify certain terms and situations, and therefore, until their adoption, there will still be some legal uncertainty and ambiguity in the field of archives and preservation of documents. material.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you need additional information regarding the subject, feel free to contact us by email office@ncrlawyers.com or by phone +381677049551.