Calendar Updated: October 27, 2011
MDTF Activities > Report on the 3rd retreat in Arandjelovac 24/10 – 26/10/ 2011

Report on the 3rd retreat in Arandjelovac 24/10 – 26/10/ 2011


Working group members

  1. Vojkan Simic MoJ, Assistant minister
  2. Jelena Stevanović Judge, Court of 1st Instance(WGM)
  3. Smilja Rakulj Ministry for human and minority rights, state administration and local government (WGM) 
  4. Stevan Arambašić Deputy Ombudsman AP Vojvodina (WGM)
  5. Biljana Bjeletić Lawyer, Bar Association, Vojvodina (WGM)
  6. Milica Sandić Deputy Prosecutor, Belgrade (WGM)
  7. Mirjana Bajagić Directot, Birou FLA in Novi Sad (WGM)
  8. Ana Milosevic Judge, Cort of 1st instance
  9. Nikola Bodiroga Univesrsity of Law, Belgrade
  10. Vojka Janjic MoJ, WG seretary


  1. Bojana Šolević Expert for Access to Justice – MDTF Consultants - RFU
  2. Darja Koturović Consultant for Access to Justice – MDTF Consultants - RFU
  3. Ivana Krstić Professor, Law University, Belgrade and WB Consultant
  4. John Furnari Senior Justice Sector Specialist – WB Consultant
The 3rd retreat involved very constructive work on finalizing the Draft Law on FLA. In terms of its effectiveness in achieving the objectives of the MDTF JSS for the FLA system in Serbia, this retreat could be characterized as the most successful one so far. This statement results from the fact that for the first time, it appears that the majority of the group members have agreed upon the key objectives and main characteristics of the system. This certainly does not gu tee that the Law will be adopted in that form, but strengthens the position of the WG in regards to the forthcoming public debate in November.
Building on the discussions that took place during the 2nd retreat and indicated great inconsistencies in approaching the FLA system development, the key issues were addressed by the WG. We have initiated the review of all the Draft Law provisions in order to reconsider some of the solutions and once again raise awareness of the WG members about the sustainability potential that some of the solutions offer. In line with this, a number of provisions have been re-drafted, simplified and improved. It appears that some of the solutions have been more adequately addressed and that practical application was considered to a greater extent, which led to these significant changes. The overall functioning of the FLA system was discussed, different opinions were expressed and consensus was reached for important aspects of the system. The flow of the discussion has been noted in the report, as well as the variety of alternative solutions suggested by some of the WG members. We have agreed that these alternative solutions will also be presented at the public debate in order to take into account other opinions and see the attitude of different parties in this regard. Similarly to previous WG meeting, the Netherlands experience was taken into account as a model that could be adopted in Serbia as well. In this regard, the significance of adopting contemporary ICT system for the functioning of the FLA was emphasized. The WG members agreed that we should suggest a solution that entails the possibility of electronic access/submission/application as well as e-database of the providers. Even though the institutions in Serbia are still not ready to completely apply this system, as they are not yet electronically interconnected (e.g. tax authorities), we have agreed that this solution should be predicted in order to correspond to the emerging needs and potential new solutions. Additionally, considering the issue of legally invisible persons and Roma population, who will certainly be one of the main groups to benefit from the establishment of the FLA system; it was necessary to discuss whether we could regulate the eligibility criteria for FLA in a way that allows for their inclusion. The solution that was accepted following a long discussion, finally provided the possibility to include these individuals in the FLA system without legal constraints (e.g. the criteria of having nationality or domicile are cancelled and it is enough to be present on the territory of the state to cover the eligibility criteria). In this way, the access to justice of this vulnerable group will be improved as they will have the opportunity to receive adequate legal assistance to resolve their status.
The WG members engaged in an in-depth discussion about the remaining disagreement on the FLA providers. Following the presentation on the benefits of a system that would include all the available resources, as suggested by the National Strategy, the sustainability of the system was once again emphasized. The problem of the CPC Art 85 was also addressed and solutions were suggested under the presumption that this law will come into force at the beginning of the next year. In case Art 85 remains, this will create a variety of problems for the provision of FLA. Finally, several subgroups have been included as FLA providers, including local selfgovernment, bar association, mediators, non-governmental organizations (under the acceptable term in accordance with Serbian law, which basically involves legal clinics as well, without specifically naming them). In case these provisions are adopted, they could to a certain extent overcome the obstacles introduced by the Art 85 CPC. The participants also discussed all the available potentials, different interpretations of the Art 67 of the Serbian Constitution, and related issues. The provisions determining the financial condition for FLA eligibility have also been revised.
WG addressed several other inconsistent opinions, such as the establishment and structure of the future national legal aid body, the possibility of establishing 4 regional bodies and the providers’ network. The method of ensuring the independence of this body was also discussed, but this remains an open question, as it appears to be difficult to establish a newly formed body outside of the existing Ministry framework. Alternative solutions have been suggested and entered into the report. The method of quality control was also addressed and there appears to be an agreement that the state should be able to perform effective control even within the Bar Association, as long as it provides resources for their work. As opposite opinions in that regard have been previously expressed, this issue remains for further discussion at the next WG meeting during next week. Furthermore, two guest presentations were performed. The first involved the role of the legal clinics as FLA providers, the way of functioning and methods utilized in this process. This provided an important perspective to the WG members regarding the benefits of including legal clinics in the FLA system. The second presentation was of great importance as it indicated the method of FLA provision from the perspective of local municipalities, addressed the issue of their cooperation with the Bar and the difficulties they face, indicated that there is a possibility to cooperate with the NGOs in a number of specific cases, etc. It also indicated that the majority of legal aid provided by the local municipalities will not be possible to provide under the Art 85 CPC. Overall, this retreat was very successful in terms of Law drafting and agreement upon the key concepts. It was also more close to achieving the objectives of the MDTF JSS for the FLA system in Serbia, as it seems that interpersonal conversations among the group members during these retreats assist in reaching an agreement on a variety of issues which otherwise appear contradictory. Furthermore, the retreat was a good opportunity to discuss about the public debate and the institutions/individuals to be invited. We also addressed the overall approach that will be taken at the debate, as well as the topics to be prepared. We scheduled the next all-day meeting for the 2 November, where the work on the Draft Law will continue.