Archival Material and Archival Activity in Serbia

Application of the Law on Archival Material and Archival Activity has begun

Initial consideration

At the session held on 24 January 2020, the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Law on Archival Material and Archival Activities (“Official Gazette of RS” No. 6/2020, the “Law“). The Law entered into force on the eighth day from the day of its publication in the “Official Gazette of RS“, and its implementation began on 2 February 2021.

This area has so far been regulated by the Law on Cultural Heritage of 1994 and the Law on Archives of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia of 1998, which ceases to be valid on the day the Law enters into force.

This Law regulates the system of protection of archival material and documentary material, determines the conditions and manner of use of archival material, determines the legal regulations relating to archival material originally created in electronic form as well as the competence and activity of archives in the Republic of Serbia.

Archival material, as a documentary material that is permanently kept, is selected original, and in the absence of original, and any reproduced form of document or record created by the work and activities of state bodies and organizations, territorial autonomy bodies and local governments, institutions, public enterprises, holders of public authority, 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 they originated, 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.

The new Law retained some previously valid rules, such as the obligation to keep an archive book, the transfer of archival material to the competent archive, but new significant obligations were introduced in addition to the existing ones.

New obligations for legal entities

The creator and holder of archival material and documentary material in the sense of the Law is a legal entity or natural person whose activities create archival material and who is the holder of the right to archival material.

The creator and holder of archival material and documentary material is obliged to conscientiously keep the 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, except for natural persons, is obliged to:

  1. provide adequate space and equipment for storage and protection of archival material and documentary material;
  2. appoint a responsible expert for the protection of archival material and documentary material and the handling of archival material and documentary material;
  3. records, marks, classifies, dates and archives archival material and documentary material;
  4. submits archival material to the competent archive under the conditions and within the deadlines provided by this Law;
  5. ensure the permanent storage of archival material in electronic form, its maintenance, migration, i.e. transfer to new media in the prescribed formats until the surrender of archival material in electronic form to the competent public archive;
  6. keeps an archive book on the prescribed form;
  7. submit to the competent archive a transcript of the archive book no later than 30 April of the current year, for documentary material created in the previous year;
  8. obtain the opinion of the competent archive before taking measures related to archival material and documentary material (status changes, physical relocation, adaptation of premises, opening of bankruptcy or liquidation, microfilming, digitalization, etc.);
  9. selects archival material and allocates for destruction worthless documentary material whose storage period has expired, one year from the date of expiration of the established period;
  10. enable the authorized person of the competent public archive professional supervision over the recording, classification, selection, archiving, storage, professional maintenance and protection of archival material, i.e. over its selection from documentary material;
  11. act in accordance with the measures and deadlines imposed by the competent archive by a decision and on the basis of a previously made record on the determined state of protection of archival material and documentary material;
  12. 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 Law determines the obligation for creators and holders of archival material that are legal entities to bring:

  1. general act on the manner of recording, classification, archiving and storage of archival material and documentary material;
  2. a list of categories of archival material and documentary material with retention periods;
  3. general act on the manner of recording, protection, and use of electronic documents.

Penal provisions

The Law toughens the penalties for non-compliance with the prescribed obligations, so fines in the amount of RSD 50.000 to 2.000,000 are envisaged for a legal entity, or from RSD 5.000 to 150.000  for a responsible person in a legal entity.

 

Nevertheless, according to the notice published on the website of the Historical Archive of Belgrade, the deadline for submitting the archive book for legal entities under the supervision of the Historical Archive of Belgrade has been postponed due to the existing epidemiological situation and 30 April will not be taken as the deadline, but they must fulfill the legal obligation by the end of 2021.