Just before Easter, the Montenegrin NCA, Agency for Protection of Competition, has announced its most interesting news since the start of the year – it has performed a dawn raid.
The unannounced inspection was performed with respect to a restrictive agreement in the market for the sale of electronic devices in Montenegro. The NCA did not provide more specifics on the type of agreement it is investigating. Based on the available description, it appears that the watchdog is looking for evidence of resale price maintenance.
This is not the first time the Montenegrin NCA has used its power to perform an announced inspection. For instance, it has also done so back in 2017, when it raided the premises of a company active in transportation and wood processing. This earlier dawn raid is still to result in an infringement decision and it is therefore difficult to assess the practical importance of evidence obtained in a dawn raid.
What will this dawn raid mean for the practice of the Montenegrin NCA?
Although it does have the power to perform unannounced inspections, the Montenegrin NCA does not have the power to impose fines – in case it establishes an infringement of competition, it can only initiate a misdemeanor proceeding before the competent misdemeanor court. As long as this is the case, despite the authority to perform dawn raids, the Montenegrin NCA will probably be taken less seriously than some of its counterparts in the region, which are able to impose fines.