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Hong Kong Passes Its First Competition Law
The Asian Lawyer
Hong Kong's Legislative Council Thursday passed the territory's first competition law, after the drafts went through 200 government amendments over a 15-year period.
Some 31 lawmakers voted in favor of the bill, with five abstaining and none voting against it. Another 24 lawmakers failed to vote or were absent.
The Asian financial capital had been the last major developed economy without a competition law. Various drafts had been held up for several years by business groups' objections to potential penalties and compliance costs. The bill which finally passed was substantially watered down from a draft released in July 2010.
That draft called for harsh penalties for anti-competitive behavior; companies faced having to pay 10 percent of their global revenue, multiplied by the number of years they had been in violation. In October, the draft was revised so that most provisions no longer applied to companies grossing less than $5 million annually. Penalties are also now capped at 10 percent of local rather than global revenue.
The revisions also restricted private rights of action -- plaintiffs will now have to wait for a competition tribunal to establish guilt before they can commence their own lawsuit.
The creation of that tribunal as well as competition commission are the next steps in implementing the new law, said Gregory So, Hong Kong's Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, in a statement. He added that the preparatory process is expected to take one year.