Competition, Law and the State Conference, 18/19 March

16 March 2011

How is competition law impacting on governments across the world? That is the key question a major international conference, being held at Hong Kong on 18 and 19 March and attended by senior policy makers from around the world, will seek to address.

This is an issue relevant to decision makers and citizens around the world. The recent adoption of competition law statutes in east and south Asia, culminating with the enactment of the Indian Competition Act and the Chinese Antimonopoly Law, mark a significant development for the global business community. In the UK, the Government is planning a major revamp of public services with a view to opening these to a range of providers competing to offer a better service. In the words of the Prime Minister David Cameron, “instead of having to justify why it makes sense to introduce competition in some public services […] the state will have to justify why it should ever operate a monopoly”. The role of the State will be limited to ensuring “fair competition”, “fair access” and “fair funding”.

The conference’s keynote speaker will be John Fingleton, chief executive of the Office for Fair Trading, who supervised the preparation of the OFT’s Report “Government in Markets: why competition matters - a guide for policy makers” published in 2010 and providing a framework for analysing government's interaction with markets, and a guide to policy markets who are faced with setting up, influencing or regulating markets.

Heads and high officials from competition authorities around the world and international organizations (United States, European Union, China, Japan, India, Mexico, Greece, Singapore, OCDE, ICN,) will participate in this two-day event. This is the first international conference focusing on the application of competition law to state action worldwide and forms part of the Centre for Law, Economics and Society at UCL increasing engagement with global competition law.

Dr Ioannis Lianos, director of the UCL Centre for Law, Economics and Society at the Faculty of Laws, co-director of the Global Competition Law and Economics series and joint organiser of the event with the University of Hong Kong, says: “Without doubt, the application of competition law to government restrictions to competition has incurred a profound transformation during the last thirty years, with the dislocation of state monopolies and the turn to competitive markets and deregulation in utilities and network industries in many parts of the world.

“Of course, every society has to make its own decisions on the appropriate level of state intervention and the respective role of regulation and competition law. Social norms, institutional structures and arrangements, vested interests and ideology are some of the factors that influence these choices. The interaction between the various competition law regimes and different perceptions of how public services should be provided raises important challenges for policy makers and more generally comparative and global competition law scholars, and this will be the broad theme of the conference.”

Notes for Editors

1. For further information and the full programme, please visit http://www.ucl.ac.uk/laws/global-competition/hongkong-2011/index.shtml?home

2. For press queries, please contact Dominique Fourniol, UCL Media Relations, +44 7881 833 274