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GRC Professional : GRC Autumn 2013
12 GRC Professional • Autumn 2013 HONG KONG PROVISIONS ARE BEING GAZETTED, PAVING THE way for various components of the bill to come into effect in the next year with the appointment of a commissioner and a 13-member commission having been announced, effective from 1 May 2013. Provisions for a Competition Tribunal, which will enforce the legislation, will be introduced by 1 August. "Hong Kong's business community never believed there would be a big bang approach to this," says John Hickin, a partner at law firm Mayer Brown JSM in Hong Kong. "When the Ordinance was passed last summer it was generally accepted that a ny steps towa rds enforcement would not happen until 2014, so this is a transitional year," he says. The Ordinance will bring Hong Kong up to scratch with anti-competitive or anti-trust conduct laws in the rest of the developed world. It has been a long time coming. The fir st round of public consultation started in 2006, but it gathered pace in the wake of the global financial crisis (GFC). The thrust of the Ordinance deals with anti-competitive agreements between competitors and seeks to ensure fair competition by preventing a compa ny with market power from abusing that position to the detriment of competition in the marketplace. Like other competition laws, the Ordinance will ban practices such as the formation of cartels, bid rigging, predatory pricing and refusing to deal (price fixing). "In common with what is happening in many jurisdictions, we are seeing increasingly more regulations and vigilance by regulators," says Hickin. As his law firm points out, the new legislation affects ever ybody who makes price-related decisions, does contractual negotiations, structures joint ventures, participates in trade associations, communicates with competitor s, imposes exclusive obligations on trading partners as well as many other responsibilities. WTO commitments What really spurred Hong Kong on, says Hickin, was China's adoption of anti- monopoly laws in 2008 as part of its World Trade Organisation com mitments. Regulatory oversight has also been introduced and updated right across Hong Kong's finance sector in the past decade. The commission will be a freestanding entity outside the government. Serious anti-competitive activities will be prosecuted but activities considered less serious, such as restrictions on advertising, will receive a warning notice first time round. "In common with what is happening in many jurisdictions, we are seeing increasingly more regulations and vigilance by regulators," says Hickin. The introduction of the Competition Ordinance has not been without its critics, especially small to medium businesses In common with what is happening in many jurisdictions, we are seeing increasingly more regulations and vigilance by regulators. Hong Kong rolls out Competition Ordinance Hong Kong has begun rolling out its Competition Ordinance after unanimously passing its Competition Bill into law in the Legislative Council last year. BY DENISE MCNA BB
GRC Summer 2013