Competition and Antitrust

Convenor: Dr Thomas Cheng

Dr Thomas Cheng has been twice awarded the Jerry S. Cohen Memorial Fund Writing Award in the vertical restraints and antitrust, and intellectual property categories. His stature as a scholar has been recognised through appointments to the executive and advisory boards of a number of leading international competition law organisations such as the American Antitrust Institute and the Academic Society for Competition Law (ASCOLA). Dr Cheng has made critical contributions to the development of competition law in Hong Kong. He advised the government extensively during the drafting of the city’s first competition law. Dr Cheng was a member of the inaugural Competition Commission and played a pivotal role in staff recruitment and setting up the commission.

Competition law is a relatively new area in Hong Kong. For most of the century-and-a-half history of this bastion of free market economics, the city has done without a competition law. After protracted efforts to lobby the government to introduce competition law and strenuous efforts to hold off resistance from the business community, the Competition Ordinance was adopted on 14 June 2012.

The Faculty of Law has been at the forefront in the development of a competition law expertise in Hong Kong. The Faculty began to acquire competence in the area back in 2006, six years before the Ordinance was passed. The Faculty hired its second academic staff member in the area in 2012, and the third in 2017, and now possesses the broadest competence in the area among the universities in Hong Kong. The Faculty also offers the most number of courses in the area among the universities in Hong Kong. Presently, HKU offers two courses on U.S. antitrust law, two courses on EU competition law, one course on merger review under U.S. and EU law, one course on PRC Anti-Monopoly Law, and one course on the interface between intellectual property and competition law.

In addition to the three full-time academic staff, Thomas Cheng (Associate Professor), Angela Zhang (Associate Professor), and Kelvin Kwok (Associate Professor), the Faculty regularly invites visitors from abroad to help teach these courses. Visitors have included Professor Ioannis Lianos from University College London, Professor Andreas Stephan from the University of East Anglia, Professor Andreas Kellerhals from the University of Zurich, and Mr. Ken Logan and Mr. Joseph Tringali, both former partners at the New York law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

Apart from offering the most comprehensive curriculum on competition law in Hong Kong, the Faculty, through AIIFL, has been active in research in the field. Members of AIIFL have been awarded two Public Policy Research (PPR) grants and four General Research Fund (GRF) grants in the area of competition law. Under the “Competition and Environmental Sustainability in Hong Kong’s Energy Market” PPR grant, the investigators examined how the introduction of competition in the electricity market in Hong Kong will affect its environmental performance and concluded that the impact could be adverse. There is thus a need for the government to adopt legislation to ensure the environmental performance of the electricity companies. Under the “Conglomerates and Competition Law Enforcement in Hong Kong” PPR grant, the investigator examines how the newly adopted Competition Ordinance should address the competition problems caused by the domination of the local economy by conglomerates. Under the “Competition Law in Developing Countries” GRF grant, the investigator studies whether mainstream competition law principles need to be adapted when taking into account the specific circumstances of developing countries. Kelvin Kwok (as Principal Investigator) and Thomas Cheng (as Co-investigator) have been awarded a GRF grant to embark on the project titled “Buyer Power under Competition Law: A Theoretical Examination and A Case Study of Hong Kong” in 2017 for three years. Thomas Cheng (as Principal Investigator) and Angela Zhang (as Principal Investigator) have been awarded two GRF grants to study competition law in China.