On 27 July 2020 the National Bank of Serbia (“NBS”) adopted further decisions concerning emergency measures to facilitate the position of citizens and businesses in servicing debt towards local banks and financial leasing companies in times of the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic crisis, specifically:
- Decision on temporary measures for banks with the aim to protect the stability of the financial system; and
- Decision on temporary measures for financial leasing providers with the aim to protect the stability of the financial system,
The Decisions are essentially an extension of the initial 90-day moratorium that was introduced in March 2020, with certain matters regulated this time in more detail. The Decisions are effective from 28 July 2020.
The NBS imposed an obligation on local banks and financial leasing providers to offer a moratorium on loans (and other credit products) and leasing repayments. It is interesting that the NBS clarified this time that a moratorium applies also to certain other products of the banks, such as obligations under interest rate hedging instruments which are related to loans or credit products or obligations under bank guarantees.
The moratorium applies to all debtors – individuals, farmers, entrepreneurs and companies – and imposes a standstill period in repayment of obligations otherwise falling due as of 1 August 2020 throughout 30 September 2020. To the extent debtors have unsettled debt for the month of July 2020, those obligations can also be captured under the moratorium. This means that the debtors can defer repayments under bank loans and financial leases until the expiry of the periods when the debt from August and September 2020 (and where applicable July 2020) would otherwise fall due according to the relevant repayment plans.
Banks as well as financial leasing companies are not allowed to charge bank fees or default interest on unrepaid amounts and to initiate enforcement procedures and compulsory collections, or to take other legal actions to collect receivables from borrowers during this period. However, banks and financial leasing companies can calculate regular interest on the undue portion of debt, and exceptionally may calculate regular interest on due principal, but only if the debtor is a legal entity. Once the moratorium ends, the regular interest will proportionally be allocated to the repayment term and will not be capitalised, and the repayment term will be prolonged for the duration of the moratorium. Banks and financial leasing companies are required to prepare new repayment plans to account for the moratorium.
The NBS also imposed transparency requirements, under which banks and financial leasing companies will immediately and at latest until 30 March 2020 publish a notice on the offer of repayments delay to their clients on their websites. This publication represents, in legal terms, the giving of notice to each individual client. If the client does not reject the offer within 10 days, it will be considered to have accepted the offer.
Moratorium starts to apply to debt from August and September 2020 (and when applicable, July 2020).
As was the case previously, debtors who are still willing to make repayments may opt to keep their original repayment terms. Banks are obliged to adjust their internal acts with the said Decisions within 5 days, i.e. until 2 August 2020.
If you have any questions related to this article, please do not hesitate to contact:
→ Maja Jovančević Šetka, Partner*
→Mina Srećković, Senior Associate*
*independent Attorney at Law in cooperation with Karanovic & Partners
The information in this document does not constitute legal advice on any particular matter and is provided for general informational purposes only.