The latest activity update regarding the Serbian Competition Commission has been the Decision brought by the Commission's President to initiate ex officio proceedings for suspected price fixing against 26 undertakings operating in the field of geodetic services.
The proceedings come following a complaint by the Belgrade Land Development Public Agency, delivered to the Commission in April this year. The complaint alleged suspected collusion between providers of geodetic services participating in the Agency's public procurement procedures – the prices the land surveyors were offering for their services during this year were significantly higher than the prices from the previous two years.
Acting upon the complaint, the Commission found there were sufficient grounds to open a formal investigation in the matter. In order to gain a foothold on the issue, the Commission, after already engaging in similar inspections and recently announcing more of the same – again resorted to conducting a series of dawn raids at the premises of the undertakings concerned.
Among the undertakings against whom the proceedings have been initiated is the Serbian Association of Geodets. This is not the first time the Commission has acted against what it sees as anti-competitive acts of professional associations, with investigations against the associations of veterinarians, engineers and lawyers already under its belt.
This is a further sign of the Commission's returned focus to antitrust – since the turn of the year, apart from starting investigation against the geodets, the Commission has already issued one commitment decision (in the Serbian Railways case) and rendered one infringement decision (concerning vertical price fixing in the sale of e-cigarettes).
Participation in an anti-competitive agreement may result in a fine in the amount of up to 10% of the undertaking's turnover in the previous year. In addition, in cases involving bid-rigging, the Commission may ban the infringing undertaking from participating in public procurement procedures for a period of up to two years.
By Bojan Vuckovic, Partner, and Bojana Miljanovic, Senior Associate, Karanovic & Nikolic