The Serbian NCA, Commission for Protection of Competition, announced today it has abandoned its case against the Serbian Bar Association. The NCA had started the investigation back in 2014, related to the setting of bar admission fees, payable by lawyers wishing to be admitted to the practice of law.
Specifically, the NCA had been investigating whether the Bar’s practice of charging different admission fees depending on whether the lawyer had spent his traineeship in a law office or elsewhere (for instance, in a company or in court) represented illegal discrimination. The NCA was also looking into whether the admission fees set by the Bar led to the closure of the market by way of increasing barriers to entry.
According to the NCA’s initial stance, the Bar’s actions may have amounted to a restrictive agreement within the meaning of the Serbian Competition Law. The relevant provision in the law is in essence a carbon copy of Article 101(1) TFEU.
In today’s brief statement, the NCA noted that the investigation against the Bar was terminated since the NCA could not conclusively establish that the Bar’s actions amounted to a competition infringement. The NCA may provide more information about this at a later point, in particular in its annual report for this year.