Legal Frame of Agricultural Land Succession and Acquisition by Legal Persons in Serbia
The rules on the succession and transfer of agricultural land in Serbia may be characterised as liberalistic. There are no special inheritance regimes applicable specifically to the succession of agricultural land. There is only the possibility of an heir, engaged in agricultural production, to request that the court name him the sole heir of the agricultural land, with the obligation to compensate others. Similarly, the transfer of agricultural land by inter vivos transaction is also essentially devoid of any serious legal restrictions, either for natural persons or for legal entities. There is no cap on the acquisition of ownership, nor must the buyer prove that he or she is, in fact, engaged in agricultural production. Serbian law excludes the possibility of foreign persons or legal entities acquiring ownership of agricultural land. According to the Stabilisation and Association Agreement concluded with the European Union, it was expected that Serbia would gradually enable natural persons and legal entities from the member states of the EU to acquire ownership of agricultural land by no later than 1 September 2017 when the four-year period for the implementation of this obligation expired. Seemingly, in order to fulfil the obligation, the Serbian National Assembly amended the Law on Agricultural Land in August 2017. The amendments explicitly regulate under which conditions natural persons and legal entities from the EU may acquire ownership of agricultural land. However, even a superficial reading of the new regulation reveals that the opposite effect has been achieved. Instead of enabling natural persons and legal entities from the EU to obtain ownership of agricultural land on equal footing with domestic natural persons and legal entities, the legislature created a set of special conditions applicable only to the former but not to the latter. Moreover, the conditions are so strict that no legal entity could meet them, while natural persons only hypothetically could, if at all. Therefore, it seems that the 2017 amendments to the Law on Agricultural Land hardly aimed to implement the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.
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