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The Independence and Social Influence of a Meritorious Legal Elite in Serbia

  • Dušan Nikolić
Part of the Ius Comparatum - Global Studies in Comparative Law book series (GSCL, volume 7)

Abstract

There have been drastic changes in the position and influence of the legal elite in Serbian society through the course of history. In medieval Serbia, the independence of judges was normatively guaranteed. Thus the Emperor Dušan’s Code (1349) states that judges are to adjudicate freely, according to the law, without fear of the imperial government. During the period of Turkish occupation, which lasted over four centuries, the Serbian legal elite disappeared completely. The consequences of this could also be felt during the nineteenth century, the period when independence was regained, and Serbian society strove to once again enter the European cultural mainstream. A significant step forward was made when, in 1844, the Serbian Civil Code came into force. Serbia became one of the few European countries to have codified law. However, there were no educated lawyers in the country. For that reason, each year a number of state scholarship recipients were sent to the leading European universities. In a few decades, a strong and influential legal elite was formed. During the time of the socialist Yugoslavia, (formal) equality amongst citizens was an aspiration. Any idea of elitism was regarded as unacceptable. For that reason, in today’s Serbia, as in many other Eastern European countries, a legal elite is rarely spoken of. It is not clear what is considered a legal elite or who belongs to it. This lack of a uniform notion of a legal elite reflects the general position of legal science and legal profession in society. Lawyers do not have an adequate influence on the development of society. Nowadays, Serbia faces the same challenges and problems as it did in the nineteenth century. The process of accession to the European Union means a new Europeanization of society and law. It is necessary to educate a new generation of lawyers who will be capable of understanding and developing the legal system in the spirit of European legal standards. Special attention is paid to the current position of courts and judges in Serbia, and changes likely to occur in the forthcoming period.

Keywords

Legal elite Social influence Independence Courts Serbia 

Reference List

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of LawUniversity of Novi SadNovi SadRepublic of Serbia

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