No Antitrust Liability for National Bar Association (AKS) as Commission Closes Case

Gecić Law successfully represented the Bar Association of Serbia in a positive resolution of a landmark antitrust probe in Serbia (link).  On May 24, 2018, the Serbian Commission for Protection of Competition, the national competition authority (“Commission”) dropped a four-year antitrust investigation into the Bar Association of Serbia – Advokatska komora Srbije (“AKS”), without taking any further action (link).  The Commission’s decision puts to rest one of the longest standing investigations in recent history against AKS, a more than 9000-lawyer strong organization and one of the largest bar associations in the Balkans.

In 2014, the Commission opened a probe against the AKS and its members for allegedly raising barriers to entry into the legal services market based on different admission fees – a contention that was finally disproved and alleviated thanks to meticulous and in-depth deliberations of the Commission in cooperation with legal counsel and AKS leadership.

The highly complex case involved  numerous twists and turns, including, a number of statements of objections, alleged leaks, change of AKS legal counsel, multiple parallel court proceedings, and comprehensive economic analysis and negotiations with the Commission.

In a brief statement, the AKS welcomed the Commission’s decision and confirmed its “great importance for the legal profession” and “our ability to continue to provide seamless legal service to society”.   The new President of the Bar, Viktor Gostiljac, particularly underlined the “role of attorneys who put their considerable knowledge, skills and professionalism at the disposal of the Bar” and, to that extent, on behalf of the Bar “sincerely thanked Bogdan Gecić and the team at Gecić Law.“ (link).

Bogdan Gecić, partner at Gecić Law, acknowledged that “this is not only a very important decision for the entire legal profession, but it also shows the Commission’s capacity to change course when confronted with substantial evidence and legal argumentation, even in the most sensitive of cases.

The Firm would like to thank the previous and current Presidents of the Bar, Dragoljub Đorđević and Viktor Gostiljac, and in particular, Member of the Board of the Bar, Zora Dobričanin Nikodinović, as well as the entire Board, for their continued trust, privilege and honor to represent the Bar in this case.

The Gecić Law team representing the AKS included partner Bogdan Gecić, counsel Marija Papić, and associates Miluša OkiljevićTatjana Sofijanić and Ivana Stojanović, as well as litigation head Jovan Rajković and senior counsel Ognjen Colić.