Competition Law Serbia

Serbia: One small step for a legislator means one big step for the EU acquis alignment

In the process of gradually aligning its legislation with the EU acquis the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted two bylaws on 11 March 2021 in the field of state aid, complementary to the recently adopted new State Aid Control Act. All this adds value to the start of talks on the Chapter 8 – Competition Policy of Serbia’s negotiation process and may speed up Serbia’s EU accession. Regional Aid Regulation This regulation is designed to promote economic development of the least developed regions or the development of regions with a high level of unemployment. It also allows state […]

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03 Jun 2021

A Snitch in the Cartel – the Leniency Program

Business cartels between competing market participants are designed to limit or eliminate competition between them, with the objective of increasing prices and profit of the cartel members.  In practice, this is generally achieved by fixing prices, market sharing, limiting output, allocating customers or territories, bid-rigging, or a combination of the above.  Cartels are harmful to consumers and society as a whole since the participating businesses charge higher prices (and earn higher profits) than would be the case in a competitive market. Because of their negative impact on the market, competition legislation fights against cartels, imposing substantial fines on participants, which […]

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20 May 2021

Biggest gun-jumping fine or just a slap on the wrist?

The Serbian Competition Authority (“SCA”) recently focused on unapproved mergers i.e. gun-jumping.  The most recent “victim” of the SCA’s investigations into gun-jumping was Fortenova Grupa d.d. (“Fortenova”), with the only previous undertaking fined for gun-jumping being Prointer IT Solutions.  Meanwhile, Ernst & Young are also being investigated under the same allegations.  Is this simply a witch hunt or is there something going on here? Gun-jumping (not only during the Olympics) Before we get into the heart of the matter let`s define what gun-jumping is.  In competition law, gun-jumping is a concept pertaining to an unlawful pre-merger and pre-clearance coordination of […]

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Cartel Ties Prompting Disqualification

“Three Strikes, You’re Out!”, or, as in the practice of the UK’s watchdog, “third time is a charm”, but the fourth is not.  Let us check out the rules of fair play when it comes to protecting competition in the UK market. In the early 2020 Associated Lead Mills Ltd (ALM) and H.J. Enthoven Ltd (trading as BLM British Lead), two of the UK’s largest suppliers of rolled lead,  admitted to forming a cartel and thus breaking the law four times by colluding on prices, sharing the rolled lead market by arranging not to target certain customers, and purposely not […]

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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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05 Mar 2021

Our Energy practice is growing every day

Our Energy practice team has repeatedly demonstrated its credibility by devising unique opportunities for greenfield and brownfield investments for our clients. We provide comprehensive solutions related to privatization, regulatory compliance and due diligence in cooperation with eminent regulatory, corporate and financial experts. Counsel to Norwegian NBT AS on Wind Farms Project in Serbia Our latest accomplishment in the energy sector is providing counsel to NBT AS, Norway, a utility-scale wind power developer (exceeding 100 KW of power), in partnering with WV International (formerly Windvision).  WV International has been developing wind farm projects in Serbia since 2010 and has been active […]

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20 Jul 2020

Commission Blocks – General Court Unblocks

For some reason May is THE month for competition.  Mays of yesteryear have witnessed many intriguing courtroom battles: May 2016, May 2019 and finally in May 2020. True to form, merger control is making the headlines again.  The General Court (GC) annulled the European Commission’s (Commission) decision in Hutchison 3G UK (Hutchison) and Telefónica UK (Telefónica) merger on May 28, 2020.  If you have not seen it yet, the underlying reason behind the annulment is quite thought-provoking: in a nutshell, the GC held that the Commission made errors in law and manifested errors of assessment, and to boot, infringed essential […]

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31 Oct 2019

All for One and One for All! – Antitrust Class Action: Part I

We all love to see the famous musketeer whoop, as a true stalwart of modern society.  Notwithstanding a reality check which may be otherwise, it does not necessarily mean that society is not continually aiming to reverse such “otherwise” state of affairs. Is it really: every man for himself and the Devil take the hindmost?  … even before the eerie courts? Well, fortunately not always. Casting an eye over justice systems around the world, one bumps into something called class action, or collective redress.  In common law systems, with the United States as their standard-bearer, class action is currently in […]

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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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27 Apr 2018

Market Disruptor – Youngest Law Firm Continues Tier 1 Ranking

GECIĆ LAW RECOGNIZED AGAIN AS TOP TIER LAW FIRM BY LEGAL 500 We are proud to announce that Legal 500, the prestigious UK-based guide to the world’s best law firms, has ranked Gecić Law for the second consecutive year as a Top Tier firm in Serbia in its EMEA guide for 2018. The firm’s practice in the field of Competition Law has been ranked as Tier 1, while the Commercial, Corporate and M&A practice maintained an enviable Tier 2 amongst fierce competition of traditional market incumbents.  Furthermore, for the first time this year, our dynamic Banking & Finance practice was […]

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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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16 Nov 2017

The Energy Community Recognizes “Serbian Menarini”

The Energy Community, the quintessential energy organization aiming to extend EU’s internal energy market and EU acquis to southeastern Europe and the Black Sea region, and create an integrated & sustainable pan-European energy market, recently published its 2016/2017 Annual Implementation Report (Report) (available for download), where it officially acknowledged our ongoing constitutional challenge against the Serbian Competition Act, secondary legislation and general regulations.  The report does a noteworthy job in properly identifying some of the key arguments set out in the constitutional challenge, particularly the criminal nature of competition proceedings, lack of procedural safeguards required by the ECHR, and that the […]

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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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05 Sep 2017

When sharing is not caring: exchange of information in M&A transactions and Serbian competition law

This update considers how exchange of information, as an essential part of any M&A transaction (from pre-acquisition discussions, through the due diligence procedure, and up to the closing of the transaction), may cause significant competition concerns under the Serbian Competition Act in terms of potential collusion between competitors. The prohibition on entering into restrictive agreements under the current Serbian Competition Act (CA) applies, as a general rule, to sharing of commercially sensitive information between undertakings. Relevant provisions of the CA prohibit contracts, certain contract provisions, express or tacit agreements, concerted practices, as well as decisions of undertakings associations which have […]

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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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19 Jun 2017

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

In the last 10 days of May 2017, the Commission for Protection of Competition of the Republic of Serbia (hereinafter: the Commission) has decided to roll up its sleeves and put a number of companies suspected of committing competition violations on its conveyor belt.  Unusually high number of unannounced inspections – conducted at the premises of B2M d.o.o., Grafo Trade d.o.o., Trgodunav d.o.o., Master Clean Express d.o.o., AD HI Panonija and Frikom d.o.o. – begs a question, why now?  By way of comparison, the Commission has used its powers to carry out dawn raids on business premises only six times […]

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13 Jun 2017

Quarterly Review of Decisions Taken by Serbia’s Commission for Protection of Competition

During the first quarter of 2017, the Serbian Commission for Protection of Competition of the Republic of Serbia handed down a number of decisions in different areas of competition protection and recognized the necessity of conducting analyses of vital sectors such as telecoms, oil products and oil-derivatives: Restrictive agreements.  The Commission decided to investigate a close collaboration between two large players on the oil products market in Serbia.  On March 13, 2017, the Commission fined two direct competitors – Victoriaoil and Vital – for entering into a mutual cooperation agreement under which Vital agreed to outsource production and packaging of […]

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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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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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17 Feb 2016

Regional Subsidies Race to the Bottom Intensifies?

A race to the bottom is a socio-economic phrase used to describe a situation in which countries or companies try to compete in order to attract and retain economic activity and the latest data from the Center for Economic Analysis (CEA) in Macedonia suggests that the country is pushing the envelope on its regional counterparts.  CEA recently published that seven companies doing business within Macedonian technological industrial development zones have have been granted a total of 56 million euros in state aid.  In certain cases, the state aid granted amounted up to 47% of overall value of the investment.  Vesna Garvanlieva, CEA […]

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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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15 Dec 2015

Gecić Law Contributes the First-Ever Serbia Chapter on Cartels & Leniency to The International Comparative Legal Guide

We are very pleased to announce that Gecić Law contributed the first-ever Serbia chapter for The International Comparative Legal Guides to Cartels & Leniency.  The publication comes at a defining moment in terms of antitrust enforcement in Serbia as the Commission for Protection of Competition (the “Competition Commission”) conducted a number of dawn raids in two ongoing investigations in 2015.  This was the first time the Competition Commission invoked such investigative powers since it was established in 2006.  We have already published a short guide on dawn raids, available here, in the light of the aforementioned developments, and a standalone piece on […]

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14 Dec 2015

Smoke and Mirrors: Tobacco Industry Faces Sweeping Antitrust Investigation in Serbia

The Commission for Protection of Competition (the “Commission”) opened an ex officio procedure against Philip Morris Services (PM), British American Tobacco South East Europe (BAT), JT International, Imperial Tobacco SCG, TDR1, and Monus, as announced on 1 December 2015.2  This followed two dawn raids against PM and BAT.  As indicated in the decision3, the Commission suspects that undertakings involved concerted in order to align their pricing policies for factory manufactured cigarettes, thereby violating Article 10 of the Competition Act (a provision prohibiting restrictive agreements, and mirroring, to considerable extent, Article 101(1) of Treaty on Functioning of the EU – TFEU).  This is the first […]

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09 Dec 2015

Gecić Law Contributes Serbian Chapter to Legal Aspects of Doing Business in Europe – Second Edition

We are pleased to announce that our partner Bogdan Gecić together with Dr. Tatjana Jovanić, an associate professor at the University of Belgrade Faculty of Law, co-authored the Serbian chapter for Legal Aspects of Doing Business in Europe – Second Edition.  The chapter provides a comprehensive overview of most important legal aspects for both domestic and foreign investors and businesses in Serbia.  The chapter provides an in-depth analysis of the following topics: Enterprises: Establishment, Acquisition & Bankruptcy Customs Regulation Investment Incentives and Currency Regulation Competition and Market Regulation Intellectual Property Employment Banking The edition is published by Juris Publishing, Inc., a full-service legal […]

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08 Oct 2015

Croatian Trade Ban: How Economic Operators Can Protect Their Rights Against Anti-Trade State Conducts?

The purpose of this brief is to highlight the consequences of the unilateral decision by the state of Croatia, as a member of the European Union, to close its borders for transport coming from Serbia between 17 and 25 September 2015 and to emphasize potential breaches of legal principles the EU has been founded on. We take into consideration the multitude of acts, treaties and agreements which constitute legal sources of the European Union, as well as precedents set by the highest court of the EU, and explore potential avenues for legal redress for those whose interests were harmed by […]

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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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