Most Read Contributor in Hong Kong, September 2016
Complaints are one of a number of important channels by which
the Competition Commission receives information about potential
Who Can Make Complaints?
A complaint may be made by any person who suspects that a
business has contravened, is contravening, or is about to
contravene a competition rule.
A person may make a complaint directly, anonymously or through
an intermediary, such as a legal advisor.
What Information is Required for a Complaint to be Made?
There are no fixed criteria for the details that must be
provided to substantiate a claim, but complainants are encouraged
to provide as much information as possible. The Commission will
likely ask for the following information, depending on the
A description of the relevant facts
regarding the conduct complained of.
Information on documents that relate
to the complaint including copies of the documents where
Information about the party or
Information about the impact of the
conduct on the complainant, and the complainant's contact
In addition to the above, the Commission may make specific
requests for other types of information.
Will the Identity of the Complainant be Kept Confidential?
Generally, to avoid impeding the Commission's investigation,
the complainant will be requested to keep the complaint
confidential. Likewise, the Commission will keep the complaint and
the identity of the complainant confidential. There are, however,
exceptions where the Commission may disclose the complainant's
identity without their consent, for example, where the Commission
is compelled to do so by a court order, or otherwise where the
Commission considers disclosure necessary in the performance of its
functions under the law. Disclosure may be made to a third party by
extending the obligations of confidentiality to recipient.
Will the Commission Investigate Every Complaint it
While the Commission will receive and consider any and all
complaints, it enjoys full discretion on whether or not a complaint
will be pursued, having regard to whether it is a reasonable and
substantiated complaint, and its enforcement priorities.
Upon receipt of a complaint, the Commission will conduct a
preliminary review and resolve to take no further action, refer the
complaint to another agency, or conduct an initial assessment of
the complaint. If the Commission resolves to take no action, or to
make a referral, it will provide an explanation of its decision to
the complainant; if an initial assessment is commenced, the
Commission may inform the complainant of the progress of the
Complaints are a risk area to many businesses, as they are a
cheap and easy way to cast conduct under the scrutiny of a
regulator. Businesses should be wary of grievances by disgruntled
competitors, customers or even ex-employees, and properly manage
the risk of complaints.
Having in place a robust internal complaints-handling mechanism
and compliance programme will reduce the risk of complaints arising
and being brought to the Commission. Whereas vexatious and
frivolous complaints cannot be prevented, businesses may be assured
that the Commission is unlikely to investigate baseless
Aside from defending against potential and actual complaints,
businesses should also bear in mind that making a complaint is a
powerful way to protect your own business interests and bring a
misbehaving competitor or business partner in line. Failure to
report anti-competitive behaviour may create the perception that
you condone that behaviour or arouse suspicion that you were
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This article provides information and comments on legal
issues and developments of interest. The foregoing is not a
comprehensive treatment of the subject matter covered and is not
intended to provide legal advice. Readers should seek specific
legal advice before taking any action with respect to the matters
discussed herein. Please also read the JSM legal publications
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