Justice Godfrey Lam Wan-Ho
The Keynote Address was delivered by Justice Godfrey Lam Wan-Ho (President, Hong Kong Competition Tribunal), who discussed due process in competition law enforcement. He stressed the need for procedural fairness, and explained that often litigants focus less on the end result of the judicial process if they believe they have been treated fairly. Thus, the enforcement of competition law should inspire public confidence by ensuring fair hearings so as to maintain credibility.
Justice Lam then covered the concept of due process, first in the EU and then in Hong Kong. Competition law enforcement in EU is principally administrative. The European Commission investigates, determines if there is an infringement, and decides on the appropriate sanctions. It is possible to appeal to the European courts. The question whether such process satisfies the procedural guarantees of Article 6 of European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) has been widely discussed, raising the question of the intensity of the judicial review carried out by the General Court. In the Menarini case, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) had to examine a 6 million Euro fine imposed by the Italian competition authority for price fixing and market sharing. Appeals against the penalty had been rejected by the Italian courts and the Consiglio di Stato, and the case reached the ECtHR on the grounds that the administrative procedure violated the right to a fair hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal. However, the case did not succeed, since the decision of the competition authority had been subject to review by courts exercising full jurisdiction and not a mere legality control.