Traditionally seen as averse to regulation, perhaps best exemplified by the maxim "small government, big market," Hong Kong has finally joined the growing ranks of Asian jurisdictions that formally regulate competition across all sectors of the economy. After two rounds of heated public consultations and a long legislative passage, Hong Kong's first economy-wide competition law, the Competition Bill ("the Bill"), was formally signed into law, on June 21, 2012.
The Competition Ordinance ("the Ordinance") imposes behavioral competition law provisions and prohibits anti-competitive conduct by multiple undertakings and unilateral anti-competitive conduct by a single undertaking. The merger control regime will remain confined to transactions involving telecommunications carrier licensees for now, although it is anticipated that the merger control regime may be extended in a few years. A Competition Commission ("the Commission") equipped with investigatory powers will shortly be established, while adjudicatory powers will be vested in a specialist Competition Tribunal ("the Tribunal"). The Ordinance is expected to come into effect in one to two years' time, while the Commission and the Tribunal will be constituted well before then to begin the substantial amount of preparatory work necessary to enforce the Ordinance.
This article will examine the key provisions of the Ordinance, the extent to which aspects of its implementation are unclear, and consider the challenges with enforcing the law.
Previous Asia Antitrust columns:
* Counsel, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. The author would like to extend special thanks to Richard Hughes of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, who assisted in the preparation of the article.