Electronic commerce and electronic business

Online store

Electronic commerce and electronic business in the Republic of Serbia are subject to regulation:

  1. Law on Trade (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 52/2019)
  2. Law on Electronic Commerce (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 41/2009, 95/2013 and 52/2019)
  3. Law on Consumer Protection (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 88/2021)
  4. Law on Personal Data Protection (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 87/2018)
  5. Law on Electronic Document, Electronic Identification and Trust Services in Electronic Business (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 94/2017) and
  6. other laws.

National regulations apply to the organization and operation of:

  • domestic economic entities (B2G, B2B) as well as on
  • contractual relations between domestic consumers and traders (B2C).

Online shopping from a foreign e-merchant

If the consumer decides to order goods from the site of a foreign trader, in that case, the consumer concludes a contract with an element of foreignness. This situation in domestic law is regulated by Article 20 of the Law on Resolving Conflicts of Laws with Regulations of Other Countries (“Official Gazette of the SFRY”, No. 43/82 and 72/82 – corrigendum, “Official Gazette of the FRY”, No. 46 / 96 and “Official Gazette of RS”, No. 46/2006 – other law) according to which the law of the seller’s country of residence applies to such a contract if the applicable law has not been chosen.

The rights that the consumer can exercise depend on the specific guarantees provided by the e-merchant or online platform under the provisions of foreign law.

In practice, platforms usually play the role of intermediaries (for example Aliexpress) and often platforms protect consumers and guarantee a refund in case the consumer does not receive the expected product, which resulting in consumer rights being respected and protected by the online platform.

Online purchase from a domestic (un) registered e-merchant

If the consumer buys the goods online from a trader registered in Serbia, the consumer enjoys all the rights guaranteed by the Law on Consumer Protection.

E-commerce – emerging forms from practice

When we talking about online sales, which often includes not only a direct relationship between consumers and traders but also a platform with a significant role in this contractual relationship, it is crucial to distinguish between the following forms of e-business or e-commerce:

Classic e-commerce (a basic form of e-commerce)

  • The consumer orders goods in the e-shop of the trader, i.e. on his website. In this case, the consumer orders the goods directly from the trader (seller).
  • Goods will be ordered and paid for online or cash on delivery, and the merchant delivers the goods from his warehouse/warehouse.
  • The merchant delivers the delivery independently or through an active courier service.

E-commerce platform

  • An Internet platform that connects merchants and consumers, and very often provides a billing and delivery service. In this case, the consumer orders the goods through the platform, the payment of the goods also goes through the platform, while the delivery can (and does not have to) be done through the platform.
  • Bearing in mind that the consumer pays for the ordered goods to the platform, the image (confusion) is created from the consumer’s point of view that the platform is the seller from whom the consumer bought the goods, ie with whom he concluded a contract of sale (distance).
  • Here it is important to point out that the platform, in relation to the consumer, can:
    1) have the capacity of a seller who sells goods, but
    2) It is more often the case that the platform is actually just a link between the seller and the consumer.

From the aspect of the Law on Obligations (“Official Gazette of the SFRY”, no. 29/78, 39/85, 45/89 – the decision of the USJ and 57/89, “Official Gazette of the FRY”, no. 31/93 and. list SCG “, No. 1/2003 – Constitutional Charter – hereinafter: ZOO) the platform has the status of an intermediary in sales.

Information society service

From the aspect of the Law on Electronic Commerce, the e-commerce platform provides an information society service.

According to the provisions of this law:

  • Information society service is a service that is provided at a distance, as a rule, for a fee via electronic equipment for data processing and storage, at the personal request of service users, especially online shopping, offering data and advertising via the Internet, electronic search engines and search data and services transmitted by the electronic network, providing access to the network or storing data of service users.
  • The provider of information society services is a legal entity or entrepreneur, as well as a natural person who has the status of a trader in accordance with the law governing trade, which provides information society services.
  • Service user is any natural or legal person who uses information society services for professional or other purposes.

Advertising platform

An advertising platform (an advertising platform) that connects its users who can be both individuals – consumers and businesses. The advertising platform connects people who publish ads for the sale of goods/services and people who want to buy them. The advertising platform provides an information society service.

Accompanying documentation with goods sold over the Internet

The trader shall deliver to the consumer within a reasonable time limit after the conclusion of the contract, but no later than at the moment of the delivery of goods or the beginning of the provision of service, the following on a durable medium:

  1. The withdrawal form
  2. Legible and intelligible information referred to in Article 26, paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Law on Consumer Protection (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 88/2021) in Serbian language
  3. The contract or a document on the contract.

The trader shall obtain the prior explicit consent of the consumer if the delivery of digital content is not performed on a durable medium, as well as confirmation by the consumer that he is aware that such delivery shall result in his loss of the right of withdrawal from contract.

If a distance contract, which is to be concluded by electronic means, places the consumer under an obligation to pay, the trader shall provide to the consumer in a clear and legible manner the information on:

  1. The basic characteristics of the goods or services
  2. The duration of the contract
  3. Address of operation, if different from the address of registered seat or domicile and the address, fax number and e-mail address of the trader on whose behalf this trader is acting, to which the consumer may file a complaint
  4. Minimum duration of the consumer’s contractual obligations in accordance with the contract

and directly before the consumer provides his order form.

Where sending the order form implies acceptance of an obligation to pay, such information must clearly be indicated on the order form or on the push button or another similar function, if sending the order form is performed through their activation.

If the trader fails to comply with the cited obligation, the consumer shall not be bound by the contract or order form.

Trading websites shall indicate clearly and legibly, at the beginning of the ordering process at the latest, the information on existence of any restrictions concerning delivery and which means of payment are accepted.

Where a consumer requests that the provision of services or the supply of water, gas or electricity, where they are not put up for sale in a limited volume or predetermined quantity, or the supply of heat, begins within the time limits referred to in Article 28 of the Law on Consumer Protection (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 88/2021), the trader shall require the consumer to submit an explicit request for the conclusion of the contract.

The right to change one’s mind from online shopping (legal instrument of consumer protection)

The consumer shall have the right to withdraw from a distance or off-premises contract within 14 days, without providing any reason and without incurring any costs other than those referred to in Articles 33 and 34 of the Law on Consumer Protection (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 88/2021).

The consumer shall exercise his right of withdrawal from contract by making a statement that may be given on a prescribed form for withdrawal from a distance or off- premises contract or in some other unambiguous manner (hereinafter: statement of withdrawal).

The statement of withdrawal from contract with distance and off-premises contracts shall be considered timely if dispatched to the trader within the time limit within 14 days.

The statement of withdrawal from contract shall produce legal effect from the date of dispatch to the trader.

If the trader provides the consumer with the option to complete and submit the withdrawal form electronically, the trader shall notify the consumer without delay of the receipt of the form, in writing or on some other durable medium.

Upon the expiry of the time limits referred to in Article 28 of the Law on Consumer Protection (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 88/2021), the right of the consumer to withdraw from contract shall cease.

The burden of proof that the consumer acted in accordance with the provisions of the Law on Consumer Protection, concerning the exercise of the right of withdrawal from contract, shall be borne by the consumer.

The shape and content of the form for withdrawal shall be prescribed by the Minister in charge of consumer protection.

Exemptions from the Right of Withdrawal from Contract

The right to withdrawal from online purchase does not always apply. Although it applies in most cases, there are exceptions when this right does not apply, which is set out in Article 36 of the Law on Consumer Protection (“Off. Herald of RS”, No. 88/2021).

The consumer shall not be entitled to withdraw from a contract in case of:

  • Provision of service, when the service has been fully performed, if the provision of the service has begun following the consumer’s prior explicit consent, and his confirmation of that he is aware of losing the right of withdrawal from the contract once the contract has been fully performed by the trader
  • Delivery of goods or provision of services the price of which is dependent on the changes on fluctuations in the financial market that are beyond trader’s control and that may occur within the withdrawal period
  • Delivery of goods produced according to consumer’s special requirements or clearly personalized
  • Delivery of perishable goods or goods with short shelf life;
  • Delivery of sealed goods that cannot be returned due to health protection or hygiene reasons and have been unsealed after delivery
  • Supply of goods that are, after delivery, due to their nature, inseparably mixed with other goods
  • Supply of alcoholic beverages, the price of which has been agreed upon at the time of the conclusion of the sales contract, and delivery of which can only take place 30 days from the conclusion of the contract, and the actual price of which is dependent on fluctuations in the market that are beyond trader’s control
  • Contracts whereby the consumer has explicitly requested a visit from the trader for the purpose of carrying out urgent repairs or maintenance; if, on the occasion of such a visit, the trader provides services in addition to those specifically requested by the consumer or supplies goods other than the replacement parts necessarily used in carrying out the maintenance or in making the repairs, the right of withdrawal from contract shall apply to those additional services or goods
  • Supply of sealed audio or video recordings, or computer software that have been unsealed after delivery
  • Supply of newspapers, periodicals or magazines with the exception of subscription contracts for the supply of such publications
  • Contracts concluded at a public auction
  • Provision of accommodation other than for residential purposes, the transport of goods, car rental services, catering or services related to leisure activities if the contract provides for a specific time limit or period of performance
  • Supply of digital content that is not supplied on a durable medium if the performance has begun after consumer’s prior explicit consent and his acknowledgment that in this way he loses the right of withdrawal from contract.

Last update: 10. 8. 2023.

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