Summary Report of the 16th SCLA Global Forum

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Summary Report of the 16th SCLA Global Forum

SCLA第16届全球论坛-反垄断论坛于2021年4月30日在线举行,超过10个国家和地区的40位代表受邀参会。以下为本届论坛的报告(英文版),由SCLA 会员Hermann Knott博士起草。

Summary Report of the 16th SCLA Global Forum

Summary Report of the 16th SCLA Global Forum

Hermann Knott

Partner at Kunz Law Firm

The topic of the Forum was prompted by the fine imposed on Alibaba for breaching anti-trust laws which was followed by similar action against ist competitors in China. The Forum was organized in a way that first Professor Carlos Correa, President of  the South Center, gave an introduction to the legal and economic challenges of the platform economy and the legal challenges associated with it. The South Center is the intergovernmental organization of developing countries promoting their common interests, in particular Sustainable Development Goals. He emphasized the role of Big Data, privacy issues and restrictions for the processing of new data developed using e.g. algorythms with regard to the input data.  

After this introduction Mr. Maximilian (Zheng) Han, Managing Partner, Jin Mao Law Firm, gave an overview of the facts and legal reasoning underlying the Alibaba case. The fine was based upon the alleged abuse of a dominant market position by Alibaba in the relevant market of online retail platform services in China. The platform economy’s model poses new challenges fort he anti-monoply regulator. The monopoly is not only the result of private power, but also of public power.  It will be interesting to see how regulators in other countries/trade blocs will react in response to the action undertaken by the SAMR in China. 

The case presentation was followed by a panel of experts discussing the economic aspects of the market positions held by the platform operators. The panel was chaired by Vitor Ido, Program Officer at the South Centre. Brian Pallas, CEO of Opportunitynetwork, the platform simplifying deal sourcing between CEOs and investors, made the following observation: In the platform economy it is not the consumer who needs protection, but the supplier, the one offering his products using the platform. Beatriz Kira, Senior Research Fellow at Oxford University, emphasized that national competition laws are alone not in a position to solve the issues and there is a network effect which needs to be addressed. Anthony Idigbe, Senior Partner at PUNUKA Attorneys and Solicitors, briefly outlined the lessons learnt in Africa from the platform giants. They are viewed as digital utilities as they provide essential services. The market is, however, quite fragmented across the continent. David Zhou, until recently Senior Partner at Dentons.

After the panel Mr. John Chigbu, Managing Partner of Chigbu & Co., LLP, discussed the role of anti-trust and tax compliance. He observed the possibility of a chilling effect from the Alibaba penalty on MNC’s investments in China. In this regard he discussed the impact and justification of the Digital Services Tax. 

Mr. Chigbu’s presentation was followed by a panel analyzing the various anti-trust laws in the countries of the members of the panel, i.e. Thailand, Poland, Austria and Switzerland. The panel was chaired by Mr. Lothar Hofmann of Hofmann Law, Vienna. All panelists concluded that had the Alibaba case happened in their jurisdiction, the enforcement action had been the same. 

The Forum concluded with Godson Ugochukwu, Managing Partner at Fortress Solicitors, analyzing the importance of ethical sourcing guidelines in the international supply chain. He emphasized the need for corporate conscousness and the establishment of a regime allowing the companies to recognize the risks of non-compliance. The European Directive on human rights due diligence constitutes an important step into the right direction. 

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