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Date announced for Hong Kong competition law to come into force

Hong Kong's competition ordinance will fully come in to force by 14 December according to a notice published in the territory's government gazette this week. 22 Jul 2015

The Hong Kong government is introducing the competition regulations in stages since the enactment of the Ordinance in 2012 and the subsequent establishment of the competition commission and the competition tribunal in 2013, it said in a statement.

"With the completion of the necessary preparatory work, we are pleased to announce that time is ripe for the ordinance to become fully operative in December 2015 as planned," said Gregory So, secretary for commerce and economic development.

"We believe the announcement of the planned commencement date of the Ordinance will further raise the awareness of the community and remind the business sector of the requirements of the ordinance in the coming five months leading up to the full commencement. The commission will step up the publicity and education efforts to enhance understanding of the ordnance by the public and the business community," he said.

In March, the Hong Kong government laid out which businesses will be covered by the law.

Most agreements will only be covered by the law if the combined turnover of the organisations involved comes to more than $200 million. If an organisation is seen as having "substantial market power", the turnover threshold is $40 million.

Organisations operating in Hong Kong should consider how to take full advantage of the period up to December to prepare for the full effect of the law, said construction expert Mohammed Talib of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com.

Most large and medium size businesses in the infrastructure, telecommunications, financial services and other sectors are highly likely to be subject to the application of the Competition Ordinance he said.

"These businesses should now consider whether they are engaged in behaviour that may invite scrutiny by the competition commission after December," Talib said. "Businesses that are engaged in high risk conduct, such as information sharing with potential or actual competitors, may wish to bring such arrangements into compliance with the new law or to bring them to an end," he said.

"This is also an important time for businesses to ensure that management and staff are aware of what will change after December. This may include implementing a compliance programme and providing training to help ensure that businesses will comply with the law after December," Talib said.

The government also listed the fees that will be charged by the commission for different applications under the law.

One of the commission's first targets under the law is likely to be the petrol market, the South China Morning Post said in April.

Anna Wu Hung-yuk, chairwoman of the commission, told a meeting of the Legislative Council's economic development panel that the body has already begun an initial study of fuel prices and the market, prompted by a report by the Hong Kong Consumer Council.