The Competition Commission (Commission) can make a block exemption order where it is satisfied that a particular category of agreement falls within the scope of the exclusion for agreements enhancing overall economic efficiency. The Register of Block Exemption Orders sets out all the block exemption orders issued by the Commission.
Agreements falling within the scope of the exclusion for agreements enhancing overall economic efficiency will not contravene the Competition Ordinance and there is no requirement to apply to the Commission for a block exemption order to secure the benefit of the exclusion.
However, undertakings or associations of undertakings may choose to apply for a block exemption order. General guidance on such applications is available in the Commission's Guideline on Applications for a Decision under Sections 9 and 24 (Exclusions and Exemptions) and Section 15 Block Exemption Orders.
Applicants may approach the Commission for an Initial Consultation prior to making an application for a block exemption order. They are encouraged to seek independent legal advice before doing so.
Enquiries regarding applications to the Commission for a block exemption order or for arranging an Initial Consultation can be made by email at [email protected].
There is no prescribed form for making applications to the Commission for the issue of a block exemption order. Nevertheless, reference can be made to the Commission's Form AD, Annex to Form AD and Explanatory Note on Form AD. Decisions in respect of past Applications for a Decision may also be a useful reference.
Applicants should discuss with the Commission during the Initial Consultation the scope of information required for the purposes of completing an application for a block exemption order.
Completed applications should be sent to the office of the Commission at:
19/F, South Island Place,
8 Wong Chuk Hang Road,
Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong
A cheque made payable to “Competition Commission” in the amount of the prescribed fee of HK$500,000 must be included with the application, unless this has been waived or reduced with the prior agreement of the Commission. For further details on fees for applications, see the Commission's guidance on Fees Payable for Making an Application to the Competition Commission.
The Commission will confirm receipt shortly after receiving the application. Further steps and possible outcomes of the applications process are explained in the Commission's Guideline on Applications for a Decision under Sections 9 and 24 (Exclusions and Exemptions) and Section 15 Block Exemption Orders.
Where a person provides any personal data1 to the Commission whether in the context of making a complaint, an enquiry, an application for a decision under section 9 and/or 24 of the Competition Ordinance, an application for a block exemption order under section 15 of the Ordinance, or in any other context, the Commission will use the data for the purpose of performing its statutory functions under the Competition Ordinance generally and not merely for the purpose of responding to or taking action in respect of the particular complaint, enquiry, application or other matter concerned.
In this regard, the personal data may be used for any one or more of the following purposes:
Although the Commission is under a duty of confidentiality imposed by law, the Commission may transfer and/or disclose personal data to third parties pursuant to section 125(2) of the Competition Ordinance. These third parties include but are not limited to the Commission’s professional advisers or other public authorities in Hong Kong including authorities involved in law enforcement. Moreover, for the purposes of carrying out the Commission’s enforcement functions under the Competition Ordinance, personal data may be disclosed to the Competition Tribunal and other relevant courts.
In certain cases the Commission may transfer personal data to competition authorities or other authorities situated outside Hong Kong. The Commission will take all reasonable steps to ensure that the personal data so transferred is given equivalent protection to that required in Hong Kong or that the terms of section 33 of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance are otherwise complied with (as and when section 33 comes into force).
Subject to any applicable provisions of the Competition Ordinance and the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, personal data may be used by the Commission and/or disclosed by the Commission to other public bodies in Hong Kong or authorities overseas for the purposes of verifying/matching2 the data.
1 Personal data means personal data as defined in the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, Cap. 486.
2 See section 2 of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance for an explanation of matching procedure .