Recently, the Misdemeanour Court in Budva imposed a fine of approximately EUR 61,500 on the company „Vodovod i kanalizacija" d.o.o. Budva (the "Company"), as well as a fine of EUR 1,000 to the responsible person in the company for the abuse of a dominant position.
The misdemeanour proceedings were initiated by the Montenegrin Competition Agency (the "Agency"). Prior to the initiation of misdemeanour proceedings, the Agency determined that the Company infringed competition by abusing its dominant position on the relevant market for the provision of water supply services and the treatment and disposal of wastewater in the relevant geographic market of the Municipality of Budva.
The Company issued two decisions, on the 18th of April 2014 and the 24th of June 2015, through which it introduced a special fee for the service of maintaining and reading water meters (the "Decisions"). The Agency established that the Company's abuse of dominant position consists of imposing excessively high prices for these services. In that sense, the Agency also established that the payment obligation introduced by the Decisions does not correspond, by its nature and purpose, to the services provided.
According to the Montenegrin Competition Law, undertakings abusing their dominant position can be fined in amounts ranging from 1% to 10% of the annual turnover of the undertaking in the financial year preceding the year in which the infringement is made. However, such fines can be imposed only by Misdemeanour Courts in the misdemeanour proceedings, which causes significant difficulties and delays in effective enforcement. Having this in mind, the latest fine imposed by the Budva Misdemeanour Court represents a refreshing step towards the development of a vibrant antitrust culture in Montenegro.