Contributor: Karanovic & Partners
Author: Ana Stanković, Marjan Poljak
1. Is there specific legislation in Serbia ruling the using of documents (such as Leases, Security Agreements, Mortgages, Lease Assignments, Novation and IDERAs) executed with the use of digital platforms or any electronic signatures by the local Aviation Authority?
There is no legislation in Serbia governing specifically the use of documents executed with the use of digital platforms/electronic signatures by the Civil Aviation Directorate of the Republic of Serbia, as the local Aviation Authority (the “Directorate”).
Electronic signing is generally governed by the Law on Electronic Document, Electronic Identification and Trust Services in Electronic Business (the “Law”). In accordance with the Law, only qualified electronic signatures have the equivalent legal effect of handwritten signatures.
However, in practice, the Directorate does not accept submissions of electronic documents such as PoAs, Lease Agreements, Novation Agreements or Mortgages. Therefore, such documents which are filed with the Directorate should be signed in wet ink.
2. If your answer to (1) is yes, is there any specific requirement for the validity of such signatures, such as completion with a specific cryptographic platform developed by any local institute of technology?
As mentioned, submission of specific documents mentioned in question 1) above in electronic form to the Directorate is not possible.
The qualified e-signature is the only substitute for a handwritten signature under the Law. Therefore, whenever it is specifically required that a document be signed in wet-ink (and there are no prohibitions for such document to be e-signed), the qualified e-signature is the only viable option for e-signing. A qualified e-signature is defined as an advanced e-signature that is: (i) created by a qualified electronic signature creation tool, (ii) based on a qualified electronic signature certificate, and (iii) issued by a competent certification authority, in accordance with the Law.
3. Does the Aviation Authority in Serbia use an electronic register for Aircraft Documents or Aircraft Lease Documents (including Leases, Security Agreements, Mortgages, Lease Assignments, Novation and IDERAs)?
No, the Directorate does not keep an electronic register for Aircraft Documents. The Directorate keeps an electronic aircraft register containing data on registered aircraft (manufacturer and manufacturer sign, operator, plates, serial number, and type of aircraft). Other data (leases, mortgages) are not publicly available and can be obtained based on a written request submitted to the Directorate.
4. If your reply to question 3 is yes, is it possible to upload electronic files for registration, such as Leases, Security Agreements, Mortgages, Lease Assignments, Novation and IDERAs with the Aviation Authority in Serbia?
No, this is not possible.
5. Do the courts of Serbia consider valid and enforceable documents executed by the use of some type of digital signature or certification even if not registered (or registrable) with the local Aviation Authority?
Yes. Generally, under the Law, any agreement (unless specifically prohibited by special regulations), except agreements, which must be concluded before a notary public, can be executed with the use of an appropriate type of e-signature.
The Law recognizes three types of e-signatures – simple, advanced and qualified e-signature. The Law further stipulates that the advanced signature must meet the following requirements:
• it must be uniquely linked to the signatory;
• it is capable of identifying the signatory;
• it is created using e-signature creation data that the signatory can, with a high level of confidence, use under his sole control;
• it is linked to the data signed therewith in such a way that any subsequent change in the data is detectable.
In practice, a wide set of agreements can be e-signed, provided that general rules of the Law regulating e-signing are followed. “Simple” agreements and documents are the ones typically signed by e-signatures. These include, for example, commercial agreements, including invoices, purchase orders, leases, simple loan and sales agreements, consumer agreements, etc.
A qualified e-signature is the only substitute for a handwritten signature under the Law. Therefore, whenever it is specifically required that a document be signed in wet-ink (and there are no prohibitions for such document to be e-signed), the qualified e-signature is the only viable option for e-signing.
It should also be noted that, due to the undeveloped practice of competent authorities and uncertainty concerning their position, contractual parties, in practice, tend to conclude any commercially important agreements in writing (or at least with the use of a qualified e-signature), in order to avoid any ambiguities concerning their validity.
6. Is it possible to upload lawsuits, pleadings, and procedural documents electronically in Serbia?
Yes, this is possible. Electronic documents can be submitted via e-mail to the designated court e-mail address for receiving electronic submissions. In practice, it is still usual to submit documents to courts physically.
7. Do the courts of Serbia accept procedural documents executed digitally? Is there any specific certification required? Does Serbia make any distinction between official digital signatures and private digital signatures?
Even this possibility is foreseen under the law. In practice, only the Serbian Administrative Court accepts procedural documents executed digitally.
There is a distinction between official and private digital signatures in Serbia. A qualified e-signature is the only official digital signature recognized in Serbia, as solely qualified e-signatures are issued by competent certification authorities, public or private entities, in Serbia. Exceptionally, these could also be foreign providers of trust services in electronic business, which are registered in the countries with which Serbia has entered into a bilateral agreement on mutual recognition of providers of such services.
Advanced and simple e-signatures fall into the category of private digital signatures. Advanced e-signatures can generally be used by private entities for “simple” transactions and include, for example, Adobe or DocuSign AES solutions. Simple e-signatures cover the widest range of e-signatures in practice, including “tick-box” signatures, signatures created by a stylus or typed signatures used, e.g., for signing e-mails but are not considered as officially recognized, which is only the qualified digital signature issued by public or private entities.
8. Are there any formal requirements for the validity of documents executed by digital signatures? Ex.: Does the consent of the parties to digital signatures have to be expressly referred to in the agreement?
No, there are no other formal requirements for the validity of such documents.
This means that, except for agreements that must be concluded before a notary public and agreements where digital signing is prohibited by special regulations, documents executed by digital signatures are valid with no additional requirements.
The consent of the parties to digital signatures does not have to be expressly referred to in the agreement.
9. Can foreign entities not located in Serbia execute Lease Agreements or any Finance Documents with digital signatures to be filed for registration with the Aviation Authority in Serbia? Are there any other formalities required?
No. Documents submitted to the Directorate have to be executed in wet ink. For example, documents such as IDERA (please note that Serbia didn’t ratify the Cape Town Convention and an equivalent to IDERA would be a deregistration PoA) must be notarized under Serbian law, which means that such documents signed by entities not located in Serbia would have to be notarized and depending on country of notarization, apostilled (or legalized).
10. Does the Aviation Industry in Serbia usually use digital tools such as blockchain technology for the purpose of control of Aircraft Documents in substitution of printed paper Aircraft Documents?
No, printed paper aviation documents are generally used. The Directorate does not use blockchain technology.
11. Are there any Notary or Apostille requirements in Serbia? If so, do they apply to electronically executed documents, and how does this affect the possibility of electronic execution and delivery of aviation documents?
a. Has Serbia implemented the e-Apostille program?
Yes, there are notary and (in certain cases) apostille requirements for specific documents (for example, deregistration PoA has to be signed before a notary and, depending on the country of signing, apostilled or legalized). The Law stipulates those agreements and other legal transactions which, under law, must be performed before a notary public, and cannot be executed with the use of electronic signatures. These agreements cannot be executed with the use of digital platforms or any electronic signatures, regardless of whether they must be submitted to the Directorate.
Serbia has not implemented the e-Apostille program. Except the Serbian Business Registry, no other Serbian authority accepts e-Apostille from other countries.