Law on Archival Material and Archival Activities
Last year, a Law on Archival Material and Archival Activities ("Official Gazette of the RS", No. 6/2020 - hereinafter: the “Law”) was adopted, whose application began on 2nd February 2021.
Until the beginning of the application of the Law, archival activity was regulated by the Law on Cultural Heritage ("Official Gazette of RS", Nos. 71/94, 52/2011 - other laws, 99/2011 - other law).
One of the most important reasons for reviewing the Law and fulfilling the obligations it imposes is a significant increase in fines for legal entities (from a maximum of 9,000 RSD to a maximum of 2,000,000 RSD) and for responsible persons in them (from a maximum of a maximum of 900 RSD to 150,000 RSD) due to non-compliance with prescribed obligations.
The Law, in relation to the Law on Cultural Property, retains some of the key obligations of creators and holders of archival material and documentary material (including legal entities and entrepreneurs from the private sector), such as the obligation of:
- adoption of a general act on the manner of recording, classification, archiving and storage of archival material and documentary material;
- adoption of a list of categories of archival material and documentary material with retention periods, which in order to be applicable must be previously approved by the competent public archive;
- selection of archival material, extraction for the purpose of destruction of expired documentary material, and
- handover of archival material to the competent archive within the prescribed deadlines.
However, the Law also introduces a number of new obligations of creators and holders of archival material and documentary material (including legal entities and entrepreneurs from the private sector), among which we single out:
- providing adequate space and equipment for storage and protection of archival material and documentary material;
- adoption of a general act on the manner of recording, protection, and use of electronic documents;
- appointing a responsible expert for the protection of archival material and documentary material and handling archival material and documentary material;
- submission to the competent archive of a transcript of the archive book no later than 30th April of the current year, for documentary material created in the previous year;
- obtaining 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.);
- selection of archival material and separation for destruction of worthless documentary material that has expired according to the List of categories of archival material and documentary material with retention periods (previously approved by the competent archive), one year from the expiration of the established period;
- informing 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.
- providing professional training and advanced training, as well as checking the professional qualifications of employees who manage documents;
- informing the competent archive about its establishment, as well as about all changes of status and organization (change of status and / or name, change of organization, change of address, as well as termination of work) within 30 days.
To the best of our knowledge, so far, none of the numerous bylaws for the implementation of the Law has been adopted yet, which significantly complicates the interpretation and application of the Law. The deadline for their adoption expired on the day of the beginning of the application of the Law, i.e. on 2nd February 2021, so their adoption should be expected soon.
Professional assistance and support in connection with the fulfilment of the prescribed obligations are provided by the competent public archives in whose territory legal entities and entrepreneurs have their registered office, and it is suggested that you contact them on that occasion as soon as possible.