Antitrust

24 Apr 2021

ESL: A Legal Perspective and Insights on the Football League that May Never Start

Introductory remarks There are many reasons why football is one of the world’s most successful and popular sports, and that Europe is its home.  As Rohan Roy said in his poem, football is “the most beautiful game”.  Although football has changed over the years, which was inevitable, it kept receiving support from its fans. Historically, adjustments to “the most important of the least important things” have been announced and introduced gradually, so that the core principles of football would survive. It is obvious that the fans and supporters were and always will be the reason for football’s worldwide success.  This […]

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02 Apr 2021

EU Digital Saga Continues – Digital Services Act: A Service to Consumers, but a Disservice to Businesses?

After a short break from our previous reflections on the EU’s new set of regulations concerning digital markets (more details available here), we are back with an even more vivid and thorough breakdown of the proposed regulation. To pick up where we left off, we will be taking a closer look at the Digital Services Act (“DSA“ or „Act“). As we have already familiarized ourselves with the EU’s goals and ambitions regarding new digital market regulation, we can now fully indulge ourselves by taking a closer look at the Act.  We hope that you managed to catch your breath because […]

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24 Mar 2021

Vertical Restraints in the Sights of the Commission for Protection of Competition

In the last few months, the Serbian National Competition Authority (“NCA”) has turned its attention to sanctioning agreements between undertakings where resale prices are maintained.  After taking cases against consumer electronics undertakings, the NCA recently opened an investigation against a general importer and its three car dealers of “Audi” vehicles, in the course of its sectoral analysis of the markets of sales and after-sales services of motor vehicles. Resale Price Maintenance – What is the Problem? Resale price maintenance (“RPM”) is a contractual provision where the supplier (usually the manufacturer or general importer) binds the buyer (usually the distributor or […]

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12 Mar 2021

2020 in review – light at the end of the tunnel

At Gecić Law, we proudly look back at 2020 and remember it as a year of significant achievement. Some of our accomplishments singled out in this review testify not only to the ability of our team to quickly adapt to radically different circumstances, but to see them as an opportunity to affirm our core values, to build on them and to grow. We rose to the challenge, learned and developed, and in the process, we helped our employees, clients, and business partners gain the strength to overcome the uncertainty and grow together with us. These are the highlights of our […]

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19 Apr 2019

Gecić Law Continues Its Bullish Run in the Legal 500 Rankings

Gecić Law is delighted to announce yet another commendation by The Legal 500 EMEA, one of the most eminent and prestigious directories of the legal world.     Our Banking & Finance practice continues its bullish run to the national top.   Its head Nikola Aksić was named to the guide’s  “Leading Individuals” elite list of outstanding lawyers in the country, only one year after being recommended by the guide.   The practice has also went up in the overall rankings, securing a Tier 2 recognition. And we haven’t stopped there.  Our Corporate/M&A practice is not lagging behind.  The practice head Ognjen […]

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07 Feb 2019

German Competition Authority: Facebook is a dominant company in the social networks market

The German Competition Authority (“Bundeskartellamt”) issued a decision which will have significant impact on both Facebook’s data policy and competition issues in relation to social networks.  The decision came after an almost three-year investigation into the practices of this social network. Internal divestiture of Facebook’s data The Bundeskartellamt has imposed far-reaching restrictions on Facebook, concerning its data processing practices.  So far, Facebook users have only been able to use the platform if they agreed to the terms and conditions which provide that user data can be collected outside the platform, including from websites and apps owned by Facebook, as well […]

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30 Mar 2018

Historic Ruling: Biggest Fine in Serbian Competition Law Annulled

A testament to human rights safeguards or show of a deeply flawed system? Summary Gecić Law successfully assisted EPS Distribution, the leading regional distribution operator, in obtaining a landmark judgement from the Administrative Court that annulled the RSD 330 million fine (cca. EUR 3 million) previously levied against this company by the Serbian watchdog.  The court confirmed that the record fine was imposed in violation of the basic principles of national and EU competition law, as well as ECHR guaranteed human rights.  After a long and tumultuous battle, which took years and a total of three judgements, EPS Distribution finally […]

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15 Dec 2017

Serbian Chamber of Commerce Publishes Comments on the Protection of Competition Act

  On 6 October 2017, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia ( hereinafter: the Chamber of Commerce) published a document entitled, “Comments of the Members of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce: Protection of Competition Act” (Comments) resulting from consultations with the representatives of the Serbian business sector on the implementation of the Act on Protection Competition (Competition Act). As expected, in the document, members of the Chamber of Commerce emphasized the need for normative improvements and proposed amendments to the Act, all with the aim of fostering a more competitive business environment. Members of the Chamber of Commerce specifically […]

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04 Dec 2017

3rd Chillin’ Competition Conference in Brussels – A Big League Success

Another year, another Chillin’Competition Conference Imagine for a second a conference where a bunch of “suits”, seasoned scholars and world-recognized experts & regulators spend an entire day laughing, exchanging quips & smug comments and trading Ryan Gosling and SpongeBob SquarePants inspired meme mugs.  Well that’s exactly what happened when over 350 scholars and practitioners of law & economics came together on October 25, 2017 at the Area 42, the “MOST WOW!” venue in Brussels.  Alfonso Lamadrid de Pablo and Pablo Ibañez Colomo, the driving force behind Chillin’Competition blog, world’s favorite source for the latest and greatest in competition law, have once again […]

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29 Nov 2017

The European Union Twists Amazon’s Arm – a Warning for Multinationals in Serbia?

The European Commission has recently concluded that Luxembourg has been granting an undue tax benefit to Amazon in the total amount of EUR250 million. Since Serbian tax authorities have the power to issue binding advance tax opinions—and given that multinationals commonly exploit this option without any consideration of state aid rules—the Commission’s Decision in the Amazon case should raise some eyebrows. The European Commission (Commission) continues its battle against alleged tax avoidance and has recently concluded that Luxembourg has been granting an undue tax benefit to Amazon in the total amount of EUR 250 million. This tax benefit was awarded […]

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03 Nov 2017

Overhaul of the Serbian Competition Law – Where Are We Now?

A series of interesting developments, unorthodox actions and landmark decisions surrounding the Serbian Protection of Competition Act that took place in recent months seem to be approaching its final resolution in the form of a brand new competition act that will enhance market competition and at the same time protect companies’ human rights. As this peculiar story approaches its final chapter, we analyse the chronological developments and measure expectations on a potentially milestone development for both Serbia, the region and the European antitrust discourse as a whole. The Uprising The first signs of what was to come happened in late […]

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03 Oct 2017

Famous Trust Buster That Took on Delta, First President & NCA Founder Speaks Up Against the Serbian Antitrust Watchdog

The trust buster himself, President Theodore Roosevelt, looks on as a trust is squeezed by Treasury Secretary George B. Cortelyou Illustration by Udo J. Keppler, courtesy of Library of Congress In 2015, Professor Dijana Marković Bajalović, one of the founders and  renowned presidents of the National Competition Authority (NCA), and country’s most respected trust-buster – during her tenure at the NCA, Professor Bajalović took on Delta, for illegal takeover of C Market, and other major incumbents, a feat unheard off at the time (and was eventually removed from office in 2010) – along with others, filed a constitutional challenge against the Protection […]

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02 Sep 2017

Serbian Chamber of Commerce Proposes Total Revamp of Serbian Competition Law?

Recent developments in Serbia, in particular an unprecedented number of hastily opened investigations and Competition Commission’s push for a complete revamp of the competition act, discussed in a recent PLC article “The Dawn of Dawn Raids or the Twilight of Due Process in Serbia?”, raised many eyebrows and prompted significant dissent from both public and private stakeholders.  The widespread dissent took an interesting twist on August 21, 2017 when the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia (hereinafter: the Chamber of Commerce) issued an invitation for consultations to the members of its Assembly and Managing Board re the application and […]

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10 Jul 2017

The Dawn of Dawn Raids or the Twilight of Due Process in Serbia?

During the last ten days of May 2017, Serbian competition authority has hastily opened an unprecedented number of investigations.  Simultaneously, the authority announced a push for a complete revamp of the competition act.  Reviewing these developments through the lens of the New Administrative Act, which came into force on 1 June 2017, a strong argument can be made that behind these actions is a desire to circumvent the robust human rights safeguards introduced by the New Administrative Act and guaranteed under the ECHR and the Serbian Constitution. During the last ten days of May, the Commission for Protection of Competition of […]

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07 Jul 2017

Frikom, Leading Ice-cream Manufacturer, Under the Loupe of Serbia’s Commission for Protection of Competition for the Second Time

On 29 May 2017, the Serbian Competition Commission initiated ex officio proceedings for the alleged abuse of dominance against Frikom, the largest producer of frozen food in Serbia. The day following the initiation of proceedings, a dawn raid at Frikom’s business premises was carried out. Frikom’s abuse of dominance history This is not the first time the Serbian National Competition Authority (NCA) initiated a proceeding against Frikom. In 2012, the NCA found that Frikom abused its dominance in the wholesale market of industrial ice-cream by engaging in vertical price-fixing, imposing exclusivity on retailers (either through explicit exclusivity clauses or through […]

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04 Jul 2017

Amendments to the Serbian Criminal Code: Restrictive Agreements

One of the amendments to the Serbian Criminal Code (the Code) that will take effect on 1 March 2018 is a new criminal offence for restrictive agreements. Antitrust law has been criminalized in Serbia for decades. So what may be the underlying intention behind these new amendments? In one word: Focus.  The Code does away with abuse of dominance and targets only restrictive agreements.  But it does not stop there.  The new provision is not only narrower than its predecessor but also than the general prohibition on restrictive agreements found in the Serbian Act on Protection of Competition (the Competition […]

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26 Jun 2017

Thresholds for Merger Control in Serbia – a Treasure Island of False Positives?

The Serbian 2009 Protection of Competition Act (as amended in 2013) (the Act) provides for rather low merger control thresholds, compared both to EU law and countries in the region. Thresholds set this low can (and usually do) result in excessive merger control which eventually brings more harm than good to market competition.  In order to put an end to this, a change in decisional practice and/or legislative change in regards to this important aspect of merger control is required. The Act provides for rather low merger control thresholds, compared both to EU law and countries in the region.  Namely, […]

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04 May 2017

Collaboration Without Notification? Certain Joint Ventures out of the Scope of EC Merger Regulation, Says CJEU Advocate General

On April 27, 2017, Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”),  Ms. Juliane Kokott, issued an opinion stating that not every creation of joint ventures ought to be under control of the European authorities: only formation of those joint ventures which are to be entirely autonomous, full-function entities should be subject to the official scrutiny. As per words of the opinion’s respected author, said issue, although technical in essence, holds a “practical significance” for national and European watchdogs on the one hand, and market undertakings, on the other, given that it tackles the matter of interpretation […]

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12 Apr 2017

EU Competition: Third Time’s a Charm? Not if you Ask the European Commission

On March 29, 2017, the European Commission (“Commission”) officially blocked the third attempt to implement the merger between the London Stock Exchange Group (“LSE”) and Deutsche Börse AG.  Said decision created an insurmountable obstacle to further cooperation of the two groups which was aimed at creating a European powerhouse able to compete with strong American and fast-emerging Asian financial markets. The long planned merger was to give rise to the world’s largest exchange by total income, the biggest for equities listings, and to an entity that would control more derivatives trades than any other entity in the world.1  It would […]

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23 Dec 2016

The Highest Antitrust Fine to Date Issued in Serbia to EPS Distribution

Serbian Commission for Protection of Competition (the “Commission“) has fined EPS Distribution, a sole electric power distribution system operator, for the abuse of dominant position in the amount of 330 million RSD (cca EUR 2.7 million).  This is the highest antitrust fine imposed by the Serbian regulator. Having established the EPS Distribution indeed held dominant position, the Commission found several abuses of dominant position and in particular: As a result of non-transparent business policy, the company EPS Supply was placed in an advantageous position compared to competitors. Subject behavior was reflected in (i) the fact that unlike other suppliers, only EPS […]

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23 Nov 2016

EU Competition Law: ‘Gun-jumping’ and the Russian Roulette is on!

On November 8 2016, the French Competition Authority (Competition Authority) imposed a fine in the dizzying amount of €80 million on Altice Luxembourg, a telecom-investment company, and its French subsidiary SFR on the basis of their ‘gun-jumping’ activities during the 2014 acquisition of SFR and Virgin Mobile.  After an unannounced probe, the regulator decided to institute said fine upon two companies in order to punish them for implementing their mergers prematurely, and to effectuate a deterrent for this type of antitrust activities among other companies. The unprecedented fine imposed on SFR and Altice is the first of its kind to […]

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22 Nov 2016

Neutrality Everywhere? A Brief Look at the Chillin’Competition Conference 2016

For the second year in a row Chillin’Competition conference drew practitioners, scholars and regulators from across Europe with a promise of an unparalleled array of distinguished speakers focusing on the topic of the neutrality principle and its role in competition law. And it certainly delivered! Alfonso Lamadrid, one of the founders of Chillin’Competition blog (seen giving the opening remarks above), started the conference by stressing the importance of discussing the concept of substantive neutrality, its meaning and scope of application in different fields of competition law. Keynote Address – Margrethe Vestager Keynote speaker Margrethe Vestager, EC Commissioner for Competition, delivered a […]

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27 Sep 2016

EU State Aid: European Commission Bitting More Than It Can Chew?

McDonald’s might be the next company facing the obligation to pay back taxes, only this time to Luxembourg, in the amount of approximately $500 million, according to Financial Times estimates. In December 2015, the European Commission has opened a formal investigation of Luxembourg’s tax treatment in case of McDonald’s. It held a preliminary view that “a tax ruling granted by Luxembourg may have granted McDonald’s an advantageous tax treatment in breach of EU State aid rules.”1  The Commission is yet to render a decision that would conclude said formal investigation against American fast food giant and contain its final judgment […]

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28 Apr 2016

Airline Ticket Pricing and Distribution: The EU Code of Conduct Must Be Respected

The market for the distribution of airline tickets has recently come under the examination of the European Commission (the “Commission”). Upon receiving the formal complaint from the European Technology and Travel Services Association (the “ETTSA”)1, the Commission has sent questionnaires to carriers, travel agents, online reservation sites and global distribution systems asking for the information on exact contract terms and conditions between airlines, travel agents and computerized reservations systems. The main issue that should be determined is whether airlines are impacting customers to book tickets on their own websites rather than using travel agencies and other available computer reservation systems […]

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23 Mar 2016

Is Price Fixing in Agricultural Sector Exempted from General EU Antitrust Rules?

The French Court of Cassation, the highest court in French judiciary,  referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union (the “ECJ”) for the preliminary ruling certain questions related to interpretation on the intersection between farm policy in France under the Common Agricultural Policy (the “CAP”) and the EU antitrust legislation.  The referral stems from the 2012 case in which the French Competition Authority fined 10 growers of endives and seven associations in France with more than 4 million euros for price fixing, managing volumes of endives put on sale and exchange of information. Namely, according to the Article […]

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01 Mar 2016

Slovak Telekom Case – a Reminder of Unexploited Antitrust Damage Claim Mechanisms in European National Laws?

After the European Commission (the “Commission”) by its decision from 5 October 20141 imposed a fine of more than 38 millions of euros on Slovak Telekom for the abuse of its dominant position on Slovak market for broadband services, Slovak Telekom has come to face damage claims from mobile operators Orange Slovensko and SWAN.  The said operators claimed damages they allegedly suffered before Bratislava court, in the amount exceeding 280 million euros on the grounds of the said Commission’s decision that found Slovak Telekom has abused its dominant position. By the same 2014 decision of the Commission, Deutsche Telekom was […]

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17 Feb 2016

Competition Commission Published Its Guidance on Individual Exemptions

On 11 February 2016, the Serbian Commission for the Protection of Competition (the “Competition Commission”) published on its official website the Guidance Concerning Requests for Individual Exemption (the “Guidance”). The overall message the Guidance sends can be seen as a warning that Competition Commission will no longer tolerate delays in notification of restrictive agreements – the deadline for such notification is immediately, otherwise annulment and fines may be incurred. Namely, the Competition Commission, having in mind frequently asked questions in its everyday practice, concluded that it should provide more detailed information regarding the notifications of restrictive agreements.  In particular, as stated […]

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09 Feb 2016

Is Telenor Breaching Competition Rules in Norway?

On 1 February 2016 the European Free Trade Organization (“EFTA”) Surveillance Authority has sent a Statement of Objections to Telenor over the possible breach of EEA competition rules in Norway.  Telenor now has until 11 April to claim its position regarding the received antitrust charge sheet. Namely, the EFTA Surveillance Authority suspects that Telenor may have abused its dominant position in Norway, by obstructing competitors in three markets related to the provision of mobile communications services to Norwegian users: the market for wholesale mobile access and origination services, the market for mobile broadband services to residential customers, and the market for […]

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28 Jan 2016

Serbia Revamps Merger Control Procedure

On 23 January 2016 the Serbian Government adopted the new Regulation on the Content and Method of Submittal of Request for Issuing of Approval for Proposed Concentration (Official Gazette of RS no. 5/2016 – the “Regulation”) that will be effective as of 2 February 2016. The importance of the new Regulation lies in the fact that it introduces a simplified method for notification of the proposed concentration, harmonizing in that regards the national procedure with the existing EU procedure for notification of concentration. The simplified procedure allows merging undertakings to use a shorter notification form for concentration that are unlikely […]

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27 Jan 2016

Ukrainian Competition Watchdog Levies $3.4bn Fine on Gazprom

On January 22, 2016, Yuriy Terentyev, chairman of the Ukrainian competition watchdog, the Anti-Monopoly Committee of Ukraine (AMCU), took to Facebook to announce that Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned gas enterprise and the exclusive supplier of gas through Ukraine’s transit pipeline, will be fined for the abuse of dominant position in the Ukrainian gas transit market.  According to Mr. Terentyev, the AMCU issued a fine of 85 billion hryvnias, or 3.4 billion dollars.  No other details were disclosed.  Whether or not Gazprom ends up paying said amount, this case is particularly interesting as it represents the first time that a fine was actually levied […]

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05 Oct 2015

A Short Guide on Dawn Raids

This Short Guide provides guidance on how to ensure an effective response to an unannounced inspection (known as a “dawn raid”) of the Commission for Protection of Competition of the Republic of Serbia (further Competition Commission).  Topics covered include: What to do at the beginning of a dawn raid Managing an ongoing dawn raid What to do at the end of a dawn raid Do’s and Don’ts at each stage This Short Guide will consider the key practical points and legal issues to bear in mind when facing a dawn raid.  It should be used to assist your company in providing […]

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05 Oct 2015

Serbian Antitrust Agency Pursues Potential “Gun Jumping” Case

On 4 September 2015, the Competition Commission, Serbian competition watchdog, closed an investigation against Agriser, a subsidiary of Ferrero Trading Lux S.A. and a member of Ferrero Group, owner of brands with global recognition including Nuttela, Kinder, Ferrero Rocher, etc.  This case may, as well, indicate an increasing interest of the Serbian antitrust authority in tackling concentrations in the form of asset deals subject to the privatization procedures.  In April this year Agriser purchased entire assets of Aleksa Šantić, a Serbian company active in the production of primary agriculture produces, within the framework of a public bid procedure governed by Privatization Agency of the […]

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