Competition / State Aid
Whether your company is large or small, it may be exposed to the antitrust and state aid regulatory risks or it may be affected by the illegal exercise of market power by a dominant player or a cartel. Indeed, your company may as well be exposed to the competition by the company assisted by the unlawful market aid received from state resources. Furthermore, a network of national (Western Balkan) and supranational competition jurisdictions (the EU) brings the cross-border element into the application of competition and state aid rules upon the business operations. Competition and state aid provisions are integrated into the web of Stabilisation and Association Agreements (SAA) concluded between Western Balkan countries and the EU, as well as into the Open Skies Agreement and the CEFTA agreement. The Serbian Commission for Protection of Competition (the Commission) and the Commission for the State Aid Control (the State Aid Authority) are empowered to apply these rules. Finally, the Serbian accession to the EU and the SAA provisions bring the EU rules and the European Commission as unique player into the Serbian regulatory environment. Antitrust and state aid compliance, thus, has become unavoidable component of any business transaction in Serbia and the Western Balkan region.
The Commission has a number of investigative powers (e.g. unannounced inspections of business and non-business premises, written requests for information, etc.), and it may impose fines on undertakings which violate Serbian antitrust rules up to 10% of the overall annual turnover of a company. The State Aid Authority, on the other hand, may order recovery of illegal state aid received by undertakings in any form with the interest accrued. In addition the non-compliant contracts may be devoid entirely or partly of legal effects thus exposing the distribution contracts, tech transfer, licensing or franchise agreements, joint ventures, M&As and other complex investments to grave risks. Indeed, the risks and consequences of non-compliance can be severe whether you are considering moving into the regional markets directly or via distribution partners, considering strategic alliances, changing existing or implementing new commercial strategies, planning growth through the corporate expansion, etc. On the other hand, your commercial interests may demand protection against illegal market conducts by powerful undertakings or by unlawful State aid received by rivals.
The abovementioned demands the knowledge of both local and the EU antitrust and state aid rules to avoid regulatory risks affecting your investments (short term, mid term and long term) or to defend your commercial interests against antitrust offenders or market distortive behaviour of state authorities. Indeed the complexities of competition and state aid rules may intertwine with other legal practice areas. Ilić | Stojković law firm with a blend of lawyers with a first-hand experience in structuring complex business transactions and expertise in the competition, state aid and complementary business and corporate legal areas is uniquely placed to offer you timely and complete legal assistance in the area.
Our competition law / state aid services include:
- Pre-merger notification and substantive defence of transactions;
- Every type and stage of government investigation, including cartels and abuse of dominance;
- State aid awards and compliance;
- Protection of commercial interests against cartel behaviour, abuse of dominance, or unlawful State aid; and
- General counselling, antitrust/state aid audits, and compliance programs.
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