David Webb: Why HK should back competition law and class actions

Author: | Published: 28 Feb 2012
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Hong Kong’s corporate governance advocate, David Webb, has called for lawyers to back the planned introduction of competition law in the city.

Accepting IFLR’s inaugural Market Reform Award at last week’s IFLR Asia Awards, Webb thanked the tycoons of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Government for giving him so much material, and so many economically irrational policies, to criticise on his Webb-site.com.

A full list of winners from IFLR’s Asia Awards can be found here.

He noted also that the Chinese State-Owned Enterprise initial public offering (IPO) gravy train was reaching its limit, with almost all major companies now floated.

"Without a major change of philosophy away from a control-state in Beijing, we are unlikely to see a sell-down of the remaining shareholdings," he said.

In light of this, Hong Kong’s lawyers should get behind the proposed competition law and also support the introduction of a class action system for Hong Kong, he said.

Last year, the Hong Kong government published a long-awaited Competition Bill in order to introduce a cross-sector competition law in the city for the first time. The move raised a number of concerns prompting publication of proposed amendments in October 2011. Legco’s Bills Committee is not expected to vote on the bill before May 2012.

In 2009 the Hong Kong Law Reform Commission’s Class Actions sub-committee began consulting on the possible introduction of multi-party litigation mechanisms in the city, in a bid to address issues raised following the Lehman Brothers Minibonds’ restructuring

Webb said that both of these developments would make for a fairer economy whilst providing work for lawyers. "It’s a win-win situation if ever there was," he said.

A full list of winners from IFLR’s Asia Awards can be found here.