- I operate a small retail shop and sell goods at a cheaper price to attract more customers. My supplier warned that the big stores are not happy with my pricing strategy and if I do not follow his “recommended retail price”, he will have to stop supplying goods to me. I do not want to follow but I’m worried about possible retaliation. What can I do?
Where a so-called “recommended retail price” is combined with measures that effectively require the retailer to follow the recommendation, it may be assessed as “Resale Price Maintenance (RPM)” by the Commission. RPM undermines retailers’ pricing freedom and may be regarded as having the object of harming competition.
Businesses should be free to compete with each other on price, quality and services. Anti-competitive practices such as RPM will limit your ability to compete and hurt your business. To protect your business and your own interests, you should report it to the Commission. The Commission will seek to protect confidential information including the identity of the complainant.
Where there has been an admission of liability or a decision by the Competition Tribunal that there has been a contravention of the Ordinance, victims of the anti-competitive behaviour may take follow-on actions against the relevant parties for any loss and damages caused by the contravention.
Throughout an investigation, the Commission will use its best endeavours to protect confidential information including the identity of the complainant. Save in exceptional cases such as when ordered by an order of Court, the Commission will not disclose the identity of the complainant to other parties including the subject(s) of the complaint.
Whilst the Commission encourages the public to provide contact details when making a complaint, you may make a complaint anonymously.
- What is required from me as a complainant if I offer to assist the Commission in its investigation? Will it take up much of my time?
Depending on individual cases, the Commission may conduct interviews / meetings with you to gather information and evidence for investigation purposes. As a general practice, the Commission will use its best endeavours to minimise any inconvenience to the complainant. For instance, interviews can be arranged at a time and a place that is most convenient to you.
Depending on the complexity of the case, investigation may span from months to years. A complainant will be notified of the results upon completion of an investigation.
Depending on the facts of each case, you may be asked to provide assistance in an investigation, including the provision of a personal statement. Unless deemed necessary by the Commission, you will not be asked to testify as witness in the Tribunal.
- I am the secretary to a director of a manufacturing company. What should I do if I found that my employer may have contravened the Ordinance? What if I get fired after lodging a complaint with the Commission?
Employees who suspect that his / her employer may have engaged in anti-competitive practices should approach the Commission (Tel: 3462 2118) immediately. Under the Ordinance, individuals under an employment contract are protected from termination, discrimination, intimidation and harassment by their employers for assisting the Commission in carrying out its functions.
- I am a junior salesman in a trading company. Will I be prosecuted if I am found involved in a contravention? What should I do if I am being instructed by my seniors to do so?
As stated in the Commission’s Enforcement Policy, insofar as the Commission may take action against individuals who are involved in anti-competitive conduct, its priority will be to focus on those involved who are in the management of the contravening company or otherwise directed the conduct, rather than frontline staff who follow their directions. Employees who are instructed by their seniors to engage in anti-competitive practices should approach the Commission or seek independent legal advice if in doubt.
- What if I suspect that I have directly engaged in an anti-competitive practice? What protection will I have (e.g. immunity) if I come forward to report it to the Commission?
You should contact the Commission immediately or seek independent legal advice. Under the Commission’s Enforcement Policy, the Commission may exercise its discretion agreeing not to take action against individuals who wish to provide assistance to the Commission in their personal capacity in return for their cooperation.
- What if my company has participated in a cartel? What should I do to protect the interests of my company?
Call the Commission at 3996 8010 for leniency or cooperation if you think your business has been / is engaged in cartel conduct. You may be able to avoid a pecuniary penalty or be entitled to a reduction of it, and to resolve any liability short of having to go through a trial.