At Issue
8/17/2012 4:38:07 AM EST
Finally, the Competition Ordinance ... what’s next?
Martin Dajani examines Hong Kong’s long-awaited Competition Ordinance, including the debate in its formulation, how it is likely to be applied, and the potential implications for legal practitioners.
Posted by LexisNexis

On 14 June 2012, after years of debate, dozens of hearings, a flurry of amendments and a last minute filibuster, Hong Kong joined the rest of the industrialized world by enacting the Special Administrative Region’s first competition law. Known formally as the Hong Kong Competition Ordinance (Cap 619) (the ‘Competition Ordinance’), the law prohibits anticompetitive agreements between and among undertakings (the ‘First Conduct Rule’) and bars undertakings with a substantial degree of market power from unilaterally acting in an anticompetitive manner (the ‘Second Conduct Rule’). Under the Competition Ordinance, undertakings are entities that, irrespective of their financing or legal status, engage in economic activity. However, not all undertakings are subject to the law. Most statutory bodies will enjoy a blanket exemption thanks to a designation by the Chief Executive, and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will receive preferential treatment under the First Conduct Rule and be fully exempt from the Second Conduct Rule.

While there are important aspects that will only be resolved by the work of the Competition Commission, the enactment of the Competition Ordinance will have a profound impact on Hong Kong business practices and almost certainly give rise to governmental enforcement activity and related private actions. But before the Competition Ordinance takes effect, it calls for the creation of the Competition Commission and the Competition Tribunal. These bodies will be responsible for investigating and issuing warning and/or infringement notices, and adjudicating competition disputes, respectively. Neither body has been created – thus there is still uncertainty as to when the Competition Ordinance will take effect.

How did we get here and where do we go?

Laws prohibiting anticompetitive agreements and behaviour date back to medieval England and beyond. Canada and the United States led the modern wave of competition laws, first enacting competition legislation in 1889 and 1890, respectively. By the late 20th century, most industrialized nations had enacted various forms of competition laws. Indeed, with the recent adoption of competition laws in Singapore, China and Malaysia, Hong Kong found itself increasingly isolated in regulating anticompetitive practices, instead choosing to maintain its laissez-faire approach. Until the Competition Ordinance, Hong Kong’s prohibition against anticompetitive conduct was limited solely to the telecommunications sector.

With debate in Hong Kong commencing in 1999, the formal process that led to the Competition Bill started in July 2010, with the introduction of the Competition Bill before the Legislative Council (LegCo) and a series of gruelling LegCo hearings. The original Competition Bill had the look and feel of mainstream global competition legislation – indeed large swaths of the Bill had striking similarity to laws in Europe and elsewhere. However, it soon became apparent that the drafter of the original Competition Bill failed to fully anticipate public and private opposition to certain provisions, and the desire to maintain certain practices.

Many stakeholders, including key business and consumer groups, objected to what they perceived to be the vague language of the Competition Bill. Large undertakings argued that the statutory fine cap of 10% of an undertaking’s global turnover for the preceding three years could, if imposed, cause disproportionate financial harm. At the other end of the spectrum, SMEs, ironically very well organized through Hong Kong’s various SME trade groups and forums, claimed that the Bill would place upon them significant regulatory burdens and, in an interesting twist, allow large undertakings to use competition law to bring legal actions against them. Against the backdrop of this debate, by way of the Chief Executive’s designation, over 570 statutory bodies (including many with decidedly commercial activities) received an official exemption from the Competition Ordinance – only six statutory bodies, Ocean Park, the Matilda and War Memorial Hospital, the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, the Federation of Hong Kong Industries general committee, Helena May and Kadoorie Farm, failed to achieve this coveted exemption.

Specifics of the Competition Ordinance

The First Conduct Rule
The First Conduct Rule prohibits agreements and other concerted practice between or among undertakings, either directly or through industry or trade associations, which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition. Under the First Conduct Rule, undertakings cannot agree to fix prices, allocate markets or customers, rig bids, or restrict output – these are all considered ‘serious infringements’. Likewise, undertakings cannot enter into other anticompetitive agreements with their competitors, suppliers, distributors or retailers.

While the Ordinance does not specifically define the other anticompetitive agreements (beyond the serious infringements), case law and precedents from other jurisdictions, which along with yet to be published guidelines, is likely to provide initial guidance in interpreting the Competition Ordinance’s scope, and suggest the definition of anticompetitive agreements will be broadly interpreted. However, agreements that promote economic efficiency, or are otherwise required to comply with international obligations, will not be prohibited.

The First Conduct Rule applies to both oral and written agreements, and applies to agreements that are consummated within Hong Kong, as well as those overseas agreements that have an effect on Hong Kong. Thus, it will be applied extraterritorially, which is consistent with global mainstream competition law.

The First Conduct Rule differentiates between serious infringements and other concerted practices that may or may not be permissible, depending on the circumstances. For serious infringements, undertakings face a potential fine of 10% of their Hong Kong turnover. For less serious infringements, agreements among undertakings with a combined annual turnover of less than HK$200 million are exempt. However, this exemption does not apply to serious offences.

The Second Conduct Rule
The Second Conduct Rule applies to single firm conduct. It prohibits undertakings with a ‘substantial degree of market power’ from engaging in conduct that has as its object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition. In practice, the Second Conduct Rule will bar predatory behaviour towards competitors, exclusionary practices and limiting production, markets or technical developments to the prejudice of consumers or competition.

In  determining whether an undertaking has a ‘substantial degree of market power’, the Competition Ordinance does not adopt a bright line test or statistical formula. However, proposed guidelines drafted for the limited purpose of assisting LegCo’s debate suggest the Commission will adopt a mainstream test that takes into account an undertaking’s current and potential market share, actual and potential competitors, the strength and sophistication of buyers, structural issues such as barriers to entry, existence of innovation, and the ability of customers to switch providers without incurring substantial costs or disruptions. Indeed, during the LegCo debate, the government suggested that a market share of less than 25% would almost certainly not constitute a substantial degree of market power, while a market share of 40% or more would create a presumption of a substantial degree of market power. However, as market power is a dynamic metric, it is unlikely that a specific figure will be delineated in the guidelines, except to the extent that the Competition Commission may provide for a safe harbour.

As with the First Conduct Rule, SMEs receive favourable treatment under the Second Conduct Rule. For those undertakings with annual turnover of less than HK$40 million, the Second Conduct Rule will not apply.

Exclusion of merger control 
In a sharp departure from mainstream international competition law, including China’s notoriously detailed and often vexing merger notification regulation, Hong Kong will not have a cross-sector merger control regime. Instead, only mergers in the telecommunications industry are, as they have been in the past, subject to merger control. While merged entities are not exempt from either of the Conduct Rules, with no merger notification requirement, it is unlikely that the Competition Commission will be able to preemptively block mergers or extract concessions or conditions as a condition of consummating a transaction.

Enforcement 
The Competition Commission, which is called for under the Competition Ordinance, will be responsible for investigating alleged or potential infringements and, if appropriate, initiating enforcement actions. These cases will be heard by the yet to be formed  Competition Tribunal.

The Commission may apply to the Tribunal to obtain injunctive relief while its investigation is pending. The Commission will be able to issue an infringement notice when it has reasonable cause to believe that serious anticompetitive conduct or an abuse of market power has occurred. However, the Commission will not be able to impose a fine on the infringing undertaking. As one of the concessions made to ensure sufficient LegCo support, the right of the Commission to initially impose a penalty of up to HK$10 million does not appear in the Competition Ordinance. Another feature of the Competition Ordinance is in the case of non-serious infringements, or those agreements that could be legal depending on circumstances, the Competition Commission’s initial remedial tool will be to issue infringement notifications. Only the Competition Tribunal will be able to impose fines.

Penalty
Upon the Competition Commission’s successful prosecution, the Competition Tribunal may impose fines of up to 10% of an infringing undertaking’s Hong Kong turnover for a maximum period of three years. While this amount represents a reduction of the original cap of 10% of global turnover, it still represents a substantial penalty. As many Hong Kong undertakings are completely local, or local subsidiaries of global organizations with separate corporate identities, this reduction in cap is not likely to have a meaningful impact on most undertakings. However, as in Europe, penalties are purely financial – there are no criminal remedies available to the Commission. The Competition Tribunal will also have at its disposal injunctive and structural remedies. Likewise, the penalties apply to undertakings and not individuals.

Private litigation

The Ordinance allows aggrieved parties to bring ‘follow-on’ private actions in court seeking damages following a finding of infringement by the Competition Tribunal or the formal admission of an infringement before the Competition Commission. While the Competition Ordinance does not currently permit ‘stand-alone’ actions, or those actions independent of enforcement proceedings, there is potential for meaningful private enforcement actions, particularly if Hong Kong allows for class action cases to be brought, as is currently being contemplated.

Next steps

The Competition Ordinance represents a substantial milestone in Hong Kong’s regulatory framework. However, there is substantial work to be done – these steps could take a year or more:

Establishing the Competition Commission and Tribunal

The Competition Ordinance calls for a Competition Commission tobe set up to investigate and prosecute infringements before a yet to be established Competition Tribunal. In the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors, the Commission will have concurrent jurisdiction with the Communications Authority. The Competition Commission will have the power to investigate alleged violations as well as prosecute alleged offences. The Competition Tribunal will act as the adjudicative body for both contested cases and settlements.

Drafting and implementing enforcement guidelines
The Competition Commission is required to establish guidelines that set forth its interpretation of the Competition Ordinance, as well as procedural and substantive practices. These guidelines will be subject to a public consultative process, thus providing an additional opportunity to debate elements of the law as well as how it will be applied. If the practice in other mainstream jurisdictions is followed, we expect these guidelines to set forth important enforcement principles and establish ‘safe harbours’, or particular conduct that will not be prosecuted if undertakings stay within the safe zone.

Leniency and immunity processes 
The Competition Commission will be responsible for adopting and implementing a leniency regime – one that allows undertakings to approach the Competition Commission voluntarily and admit to a violation in exchange for lenient treatment. Other jurisdictions, including Europe and the United States, rely heavily on their respective leniency programmes for disclosing serious infringements. Thus, we expect the Competition Commission to put considerable effort into designing and implementing an attractive and favourable leniency programme, one that adequately incentivises undertakings to come forward.

In an apparent departure from the direction of European competition law, and its emphasis on self-assessment, but in a manner consistent with United States, Australia and other antitrust regimes, the Competition Ordinance specifically calls for the ability of the Competition Commission to grant antitrust immunity to certain practices and agreements. While the Commission has yet to issue guidelines, the Competition Ordinance makes it clear that before granting such protections, the Competition Commission will be required to publish the proposed immunization, bring it to the attention of those it considers to be likely impacted by the proposed exemption, and allow for a public comment period of at least 30 days.

The institutions’ respective responsibilities and interactions

Though the details have yet to be formalized, the Competition Ordinance calls for the creation of two important institutions, the Competition Commission and the Competition Tribunal. Based upon the Ordinance’s framework, it is anticipated that the following steps will occur, and the resulting institutions will have these responsibilities: 

Implications for legal practitioners

Solicitors and other legal practitioners will need to familiarize themselves with the Competition Ordinance. While the text of the Ordinance is of course a useful starting point, its legislative history helps put some of the current language into context. While the forthcoming competition guidelines will provide additional guidance for practitioners, it is anticipated that foreign competition law will, at least during the early implementation stages, be persuasive to both the Competition Commission and the Tribunal. In particular, the Second Conduct Rule, which applies to single firm conduct, will be largely guided by foreign case law, guidelines and economic theory. For those solicitors with clients that are unhappy with the current state of the Competition Ordinance, the consultation process under which the applicable competition guidelines will be drafted and promulgated by the Competition Commission provides an additional opportunity to shape Hong Kong competition enforcement policy.

In addition to these practice points, lawyers will need to look to their own practices to ensure personal and firm compliance with the Competition Ordinance. For example, to the extent practice areas rely upon either formal or informal minimum fee schedules or recommended fee schedules, these would likely be subject to the First Conduct Rule, which applies equally to all undertakings, including trade associations, professional societies and law firms. In Goldfarb v Virginia State Bar, 421 US 773 (1975), the United States Supreme Court held that a minimum recommended fee schedule for legal services published by the Virginia State Bar for real estate transactions was illegal per se under the United States Sherman Act. It rejected arguments including: (1) the fee schedule was not mandatory, but voluntary; and (2) law is a profession and not ‘trade or commerce’ (commercial activity). Even if the Hong Kong schedules are voluntary or suggested, they are likely to be considered as having as their object or effect restricting or distorting competition. Moreover, minimum salary levels for trainee solicitors may come under competition law scrutiny. In the United Kingdom, on 17 May 2012, the English Solicitor Regulation Authority announced that the national minimum trainee solicitor wage will be abolished effective January 2014. While solicitors in other jurisdictions have argued that the law is a profession and not a trade, such arguments have not been successful. Likewise, arguments that minimum fees and/or salaries ensure a minimum or standard level of service have been summarily rejected.

 

Martin Dajani
Head of Competition Asia
DLA Piper

終於推出《競爭條例》… 下一步會是怎樣?
作者探討期待已久的《香港競爭條例》,包括其立法過程中的辯論、它可能如何應用,以及對法律執業者帶來的潛在影響。

經過多年辯論、數十次聆訊、倉促修訂以及最後一分鐘的拉布,香港於2012年6月14日加入其他工業化國家的行列,首次制定特別行政區的競爭法。該法例的正式名稱為《香港競爭條例》(第619章)(下稱《競爭條例》),禁止業務實體之間的反競爭協議(下稱「第一行為守則」)和阻止有相當程度的市場權勢的業務實體單方面以反競爭形式行事(下稱「第二行為守則」)。根據《競爭條例》的規定,業務實體是參與經濟活動的實體,不論其金融或法律地位為何。然而,並非所有業務實體都受法律約束。多得行政長官的指定,大多數法定團體將享有全面豁免,而中小型企業將在第一行為守則下獲得優惠待遇,並完全豁免於第二行為守則。

縱然有些重要方面將只有通過競爭事務委員會(下稱「競委會」)的工作方可解決,但《競爭條
例》的制定將對香港商業實務產生深遠影響,並幾乎肯定會帶來政府執法活動和相關私人訴訟。不過,在《競爭條例》生效前需要設立競委會和競爭事務審裁處(下稱「審裁處」)。這兩間機構將分別負責調查和發出警告及/或違章通知書,以及審理競爭糾紛等事宜。目前,這兩間機構均尚未設立,因此《競爭條例》何時生效仍未確定。

競爭法之過去與未來

禁止反競爭協議及行為的法律可追溯至中世紀以及更早的英格蘭歷史。加拿大和美國帶動近代競爭法浪潮,分別於1889年和1890年率先制定競爭法例。到了二十世紀後期,大部分的工業化國家已經制定了不同形式的競爭法。誠然,隨著新加坡、中國和馬來西亞最近相繼推出競爭法,香港發現自己在規管反競爭做法方面反倒因選擇保持其自由放任政策而變得越來越孤立。在《競爭條例》之前,香港禁止反競爭行為只限於電訊業界。

隨著香港於1999年在這方面展開辯論,《競爭條例草案》於2010年7月提交立法會審議進入正式程序,繼而在立法會經歷了連串激烈的聆訊。雖然《競爭條例草案》原稿看來予人主流的全球競爭法的觀感-該條例草案中大部分內容酷似歐洲及其他地方的法例,但它很快便反映出《競爭條例草案》原稿的起草人未能充分預料到公眾及個人對若干條文提出反對和渴望沿用若干做法。

許多持分者(包括主要的商業和消費者團體)反對《競爭條例草案》中他們認為含糊其詞之處。大型業務實體辯稱,把法定罰款上限定於該業務實體過去三年的全球營業額的10%一旦實施,可能會造成不成比例的財務損害。但另一方面,諷刺的是,由香港各個中小企貿易團體和論壇有系統組織的中小企聲稱,該條例草案將會對他們構成重大的規管負擔,並容許大型業務實體利用競爭法對它們採取法律行動。在此辯論的背景下,通過行政長官的指定,逾570個法定團體(包括許多有明確商業活動的機構)獲得《競爭條例》的正式豁免-只有六個法定團體(海洋公園、明德醫院、香港工業總會、香港工業總會理事會、梅夫人婦女會、嘉道理農場)未能獲得這個人人也想得到的豁免。

《競爭條例》的細節

第一行為守則
第一行為守則禁止業務實體之間直接或通過行業協會或貿易協會作出任何具有妨礙、限制或扭曲競爭的目的或效果的協議及其他經協調做法。根據第一行為守則,業務實體不得就合謀定價、編配市場或客戶、圍標或限制生產等方面達成協議-這些都被視為「嚴重違章」。同樣,業務實體不能與其競爭者、供應商、經銷商或零售商訂立其他反競爭協議。

雖然該條例並無具體界定其他反競爭協議(嚴重違章的除外),但其他司法管轄區的判例法及先例連同有待競委會公佈的指引有可能為詮釋《競爭條例》的範圍提供初步指導意見,並指出對反競爭協議的定義將有廣泛的解釋。然而,提升經濟效率的協議或按其他規定須履行國際義務的協議將不會被禁制。第一行為守則適用於口頭協議和書面協議,並適用於在香港完成的協議,以及對香港有影響的海外協議。因此,該條例將適用於域外,並與主流的全球競爭法相一致。

第一行為守則將嚴重違章和可能允許或可能不允許的其他經協調做法予以區分,視乎情況而定。對於嚴重違章,業務實體面對的潛在罰款為其香港營業額的10%。至於較不嚴重的違章,業務實體之間的合併年度營業額少於二億港元的協議可獲豁免。然而,此項豁免並不適用於嚴重罪行。

第二行為守則
第二行為守則適用於單一公司行為。該守則禁止有「相當程度的市場權勢」的業務實體從事目的或效果是妨礙、限制或扭曲競爭的行為。事實上,第二行為守則將禁止對競爭對手的攻擊性表現、排他性做法,以及以損害消費者的方式,限制生產、市場或技術發展或競爭。

在確定業務實體是否有「相當程度的市場權勢」時,《競爭條例》並無採用清晰界定的驗證或統計程式。然而,為協助立法會辯論的有限目的而擬議的指引指出,競委會將採用主流驗證,該驗證考慮到業務實體的目前及潛在的市場份額、實際及潛在的競爭對手、買家的實力和經驗、結構問題(如進入市場的障礙、創新的存在,以及客戶能轉換服務商而不招致重大的費用或服務中斷情況等)。誠然,在立法會辯論期間,政府提出市場份額少於25%的幾乎肯定不會構成相當程度的市場權勢,而市場份額40%或以上的則假定會產生相當程度的市場權勢。不過,由於市場權勢是動態的度量,故此除了競委會可能會提供規避法律風險的安全港外,不可能在指引中劃定具體數字。

正如第一行為守則一樣,中小企在第二行為守則下獲得優惠待遇。對於年度營業額少於四千萬港元的業務實體,第二行為守則將不予適用。

合併審查的排除
香港將不設有跨行業合併審查制度,這與主流的國際競爭法(包括中國的合併審查制度以複雜且經常令人煩惱著稱)有明顯的偏差。反而,只有電訊業中的合併一如過往受到合併審查。雖然合併的實體並不豁免於任何行為守則外,但由於沒有合併審查規定,競委會將不可能先發制人阻止合併或向合併的業務實體附加寬免或條件作為完成交易的條件。

執法
根據《競爭條例》需要而成立的競委會將負責調查涉嫌或潛在的侵權,以及在適當情況下展開執法行動。該等案件將由尚未成立的審裁處進行聆訊。競委會可向審裁處申請在其調查進行期間取得禁制性濟助。

當競委會有合理因由相信已發生了嚴重的反競爭行為或濫用市場權勢,便可發出違章通知書。然而,競委會將不能向違章的業務實體處以罰款。為了確保在立法會有足夠票數支持通過而作出的讓步之一,競委會原先可處以最高罰款一千萬港元的權力最終沒有在《競爭條例》中落實。《競爭條例》的另一特點是在非嚴重違章或者該等協議視乎情況而言可能屬於合法的情況下,競委會的初步補救工具會是發出違章通知書。只有審裁處能夠處以罰款。

罰則
競委會成功檢控後,審裁處便可向違章的業務實體處以其本地營業額的10%的罰款,為期最長三年。儘管此金額已降低了原先上限為全球營業額的10%,但這仍是重大的懲罰。由於許多香港業務實體完全屬於本地,或是全球機構的本地子公司但具備獨立的企業身份,因此降低原先上限不大可能對大多數企業產生富有意義的影響。但正如歐洲一樣,懲罰純粹是財務方面-競委會並無刑事處罰措施。審裁處亦可隨意運用禁制性和結構上的措施。同樣地,罰則適用於業務實體,但不適用於個人。

私人訴訟

在審裁處作出違章的裁斷或在競委會前正式承認違章後,該條例容許感到受屈的一方在法庭提起「後續」的私人訴訟,以尋求損害賠償。雖然《競爭條例》目前並不允許「獨立的」訴訟或那些獨立於執法程序的訴訟,但有意義的私人訴訟是有可能存在的,特別是目前香港正考慮容許集體訴訟。

接下來的步驟

《競爭條例》是香港規管框架的一個重大里程碑,但尚有大量工作有待完成-此等工作可能需時一年或以上。成立競委會和審裁處《競爭條例》要求成立競委會以調查違章並在審裁處尚未成立時對違章行為作出起訴。在電訊及廣播業界,競委會將與通訊事務管理局有並存的司法管轄權。競委會將有權調查涉嫌的違法行為以及對涉嫌的罪行作出起訴。審裁處將擔任有爭議的案件及和解的裁判機構。

草擬及實施強制執行指引
競委會必須制訂指引,列明其對《競爭條例》的釋義以及程序上和實體性的做法。該指引將須經過公眾諮詢程序,藉此提供額外的機會討論法律要素以及其應用方法。假使跟隨其他主流司法管轄區的做法,預期該指引會列明重要的執法原則及設立「安全港」,也即是說如果業務實體所作的行為在安全區內,則不會被檢控。

寬待處理及豁免承擔法律責任的程序
競委會將負責採用和實施寬待制度-該制度容許業務實體自願接觸競委會並承認違法以換取寬待處理。其他司法管轄區(包括歐洲和美國)都非常依賴各自就披露嚴重違章而制訂的寬待處理計劃。因此,我們預期競委會將投放相當精力去制訂和推行有吸引力和優惠的寬待處理計劃,以提供足夠誘因使業務實體站出來。

《競爭條例》明顯偏離歐洲競爭法的方向,但符合美國、澳大利亞及其他反壟斷體制的方式,是該條例強調自我評估。《競爭條例》特別要求競委會對若干實務及協議授予反壟斷的豁免權。雖然競委會尚未發出指引,但《競爭條例》表明在授予該等豁免前,競委會按規定須公佈建議的豁免權,提請其認為有可能因擬議的豁免權而受到影響的有關各方注意,並容許有至少30日的公眾評論期。

兩間機構各自的責任和互動

雖然詳情尚未正式整理,但《競爭條例》要求設立兩間重要機構,分別是競委會和審裁處。預期在該條例的框架下會有下列舉措,最終產生的機構將負有這些責任:

 對律師的影響

事務律師及其他法律執業者將需通曉《競爭條例》的內容。當然,該條例的文本是一個有用的起點,但同時其立法歷史亦有助於理解當前的部分用語。即將發佈的競爭指引將為執業者提供額外指引,預期外國競爭法至少在最初實施階段將會對競委會和審裁處起勸導作用,特別是適用於單一公司行為的第二行為守則,因為第二行為守則將在很大程度上受到外國判例法、指引及經濟理論影響。對於其客戶不滿意當前《競爭條例》內容的該些事務律師,競委會根據諮詢過程將草擬和發佈適用的競爭指引,以提供額外機會參與制訂香港競爭法的執行政策。

除了該等實踐重點外,律師還需觀察本身的業務以確保個人及公司遵守《競爭條例》。舉例說,如果業務範圍靠的是正式或非正式的最低收費表或建議收費表,這可能會受第一行為守則約束,而該守則同樣也適用於包括貿易協會、專業學會和律師事務所在內等所有業務實體。在Goldfarb v Virginia State Bar, 421 US 773 (1975)一案中,美國最高法院判定Virginia State Bar為房地產交易發佈法律服務的最低建議收費表本身在《美國謝爾曼法案》(United States Sherman Act)下屬違法行為。該法院駁回以下論據: (1)收費表並非強制而是自願的;及(2)法律是專業而非「貿易或商業」(商業活動)。即使該等收費表屬自願性質或是建議的,它亦可能被視為以限制或扭曲競爭作為其目標或造成此類影響。此外,實習律師的最低薪酬水平可能須通過競爭法審議。2012年5月17日,英國律師監管局宣佈,自2014年1月起,實習律師的國家最低工資將會被廢除。雖然其他司法管轄區的事務律師曾辯稱法律是專業而非商業,但該等論據並未取得成功。同樣,有關確保最低或標準服務水平的最低收費及/或薪酬的論據已被斷然駁回。

 

 


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