The competition agency has cautioned two construction industry bodies currently exempt from the substantive competition law prohibitions that they could be compelled to assist in any ensuing investigation of members continuing to follow potentially anti-competitive restrictions (including those concerning the charging of fees) in their respective codes of conduct. In a detailed statement publishing the specific high risk rules and describing their effects as “akin to those of price fixing implemented by cartels”, the HKCC set a deadline of 31 January 2017 for the institutes to comply or be referred to the Competition Policy Advisory Group (COMPAG). COMPAG, chaired by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, handles complaints about entities that are exempt from the substantive prohibitions and could recommend that the Chief Executive in Council apply the Conduct Rules by regulation.
To maximise the impact of enforcement, the HKCC strategically targeted over 350 trade and professional associations in the first year of the new competition law regime. Many of those associations identified as having engaged in problematic conduct have since ceased restricting prices and/or imposing fee scales after contact by the HKCC, but not before having been named and their practices publicised by the agency.