COVID-19 North Macedonia Update

Effects of COVID-19 to Court Proceedings in North Macedonia

Last Updated on 6 April 2020, 15:00 CET

Access to court

Following the declaration of the state of emergency and the adopted preventive measures by the Government of North Macedonia, the courts limited their work only to urgent cases and with significant physical restriction to court premises. Accordingly, most of the hearings are being postponed.

In the meantime, the Government adopted a regulation for suspending deadlines for all procedural activities from 30 March and until the end of the declared state of emergency. Generally, this applies to civil and criminal procedures, administrative disputes and other relevant procedures, and for example includes stay on deadlines for:

  • initiating the relevant procedure (e.g. filing a lawsuit, proposal, etc.);
  • undertaking different procedural actions;
  • filing legal remedies or objections;
  • initiating and conducting a misdemeanour procedure.

There is a possibility for holding court hearings via video conferencing, without the physical presence of parties and in a manner regulated by the Judicial Council. However, it is questionable whether the courts have the necessary IT infrastructure for such a solution. Also, in case any of the courts or their departments are not able to act in urgent cases (e.g. due to isolation of the judges; etc.) the Judicial Council is empowered to find an appropriate replacement.

Enforcement

After working with reduced capacities and fewer working hours due to preventive measures from mid-March, the enforcement agents are only allowed a limited number of actions. The Government suspended implementation of the Law on Enforcement for the period between 1 April and 30 June 2020. Consequently, the enforcement agents have to cease the enforcement activities, except for certain preparatory and closing activities, such as:

  • receiving requests for enforcement and their electronic recording in the Registry on received requests for enforcement;
  • preparing data and information requests for assessing the financial state of debtors and electronic submission to relevant institutions;
  • preparing orders for enforcement over real estate and electronic submission to the Cadastre;
  • distributing funds already collected;
  • actions subsequent to debt collection, successful public bidding or sales with direct settlement; etc.

In addition, entities obliged to act in accordance with orders issued by enforcement agents, such as debtors’ employers or banks must also cease their actions related to the issued enforcement orders until 30 June 2020.

Bankruptcy

One of the governmental measures for facing expected negative effects from the COVID-19 outbreak is staying on opening bankruptcy procedures.

During the declared state of emergency, as well as for three months following the end of the state of emergency (i.e. initially until 18 July), the courts cannot open bankruptcy proceedings nor preliminary proceedings for opening bankruptcy proceedings. All already initiated preliminary proceedings and proceedings for opening bankruptcy are postponed for the same period.

According to the latest announcements, the moratorium on opening bankruptcy procedures might be extended for a period of six months following the end of the state of emergency.

 

The information in this document does not constitute legal advice on any particular matter and is provided for general informational purposes only.