Competition Policy and Updating Vehicles for the Delivery of Legal Services: The New South Wales Experience and Lessons for Hong Kong
John BURKE* & Hao DONG**
Accepted by SSCI Journal: Asian and Pacific Law Review
Abstract: Competition policy has been applied to the legal profession in NSW for over a decade. The introduction of a broad reaching competition law to Hong Kong is currently being considered there. This article will review two key aspects of competition policy in NSW, the introduction of incorporated legal practices (‘ILPs’) and multi-disciplinary legal practices (‘MDPs’). In particular, it will explore the degree to which these changes have altered the traditional professional model of legal practice in NSW and the benefits and costs of these effects. These lessons are relevant to legal profession in Hong Kong because proposals in a public consultation paper issued by the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau on 6 May 2008 envisage that competition policy would apply prima facie to all business models. Furthermore, existing (but dormant) legislation permitting ILPs and recommendations to allow MDPs make these changes to the landscape of legal practice a real possibility. This article will conclude that such changes should be viewed with caution in Hong Kong and perhaps other solutions sought to improve the efficiency and productivity of the legal system and access to justice in that jurisdiction.
* Teaching Fellow, City University of Hong Kong. BA (Macquarie University), Dip. Law (SAB), LLM (UTS), Graduate Certificate in University Teaching and Learning (Charles Sturt University).
** Lecturer in Yunnan University (PRC), PhD Candidate in City University of Hong Kong. The authors would also like to thank Professor Christopher Roper and Professor Gino Dal Pont’s careful proof reading, as well as very helpful insights provided by Michael Sandor on the current law of Hong Kong, who refereed this article.