Cartel Leniency in Hong Kong

Cartel Leniency in Hong Kong By Sébastien J Evrard, Virginia Newmann and Scott D. Hammond (Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher)1

This contribution provides an overview of the leniency framework for cartel conduct in Hong Kong. It discusses, in particular, the “Leniency Policy for Undertakings Engaged in Cartel Conduct” (the “Leniency Policy”)2 and the “Cooperation and Settlement Policy for Undertakings Engaged in Cartel Conduct” (the “Cooperation Policy”)3 published by the Hong Kong Competition Commission (“Commission”) on 19 November 2015 and on 29 April 2019, respectively.

The Commission has made it clear that prosecuting cartels would be high up on its agenda for the enforcement of the Competition Ordinance (the “Ordinance”), which came into force on 14 December 2015.4  So far, the Commission has brought three cases before the Competition Tribunal (“Tribunal”) and these are all cartel cases.  Decisions have been issued in two cases and the third one is still pending. 5  None of these cases involves a leniency application.

The experience in other jurisdictions shows that a transparent and well-functioning leniency program is a cornerstone for the effective prosecution of cartels.  The Leniency Policy contains many attractive elements, notably full immunity from fines for the first to report and a pledge by the Commission to treat the information provided by a leniency applicant confidentially.  Similarly, the Cooperation Policy offers applican…

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