China’s competition law regulators have recently ramped up the enforcement of the Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law (AML), including by carrying out unannounced inspections (or “dawn raids”) of firms operating in various sectors, including healthcare, automotive, and travel. The pricing regulator, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), often responds to cases being investigated in other jurisdictions, but their procedures and practices differ greatly. Further, many firms are not accustomed to responding to such investigations under China’s nascent antitrust regime.
Officials from the NDRC arrived at the client’s premises in Shanghai with a long shopping list of documents they wished to seize. The client was willing to cooperate with the NDRC, but the client’s key decision makers were located outside of China and the client was concerned about the impact of disclosures on investigations being conducted in other jurisdictions.
AQ in action
Within one hour of an Australian partner being contacted by the client, we were able to arrange for a team of experienced competition lawyers in Shanghai to attend the client’s office. We were also able to involve European competition lawyers familiar with the client’s business, ensuring the client could take a consistent approach globally.
Our experience assisting other clients with similar investigations enabled us to advise the client and work with the officials in a manner that minimised the impact of the investigation and more quickly brought to an end the disruption to the client’s business in Shanghai.
King & Wood Mallesons was able to quickly mobilise a global team to respond to the NDRC’s investigation, giving the client comfort in a difficult situation as evidenced by the following comments made by the client to the Australian partner: “Thank you so much for coordinating help for us in Shanghai so quickly and so effectively. A case study in how well King & Wood Mallesons operates as a global firm.”
The investigation required coordination with various offices of the client across Asia, the US and Europe, as well as regular communication with the NDRC officials. King & Wood Mallesons was able to ensure the concerns of the officials were addressed in a manner that took account of the client’s approach to similar issues in other jurisdictions therefore avoiding the client being exposed to undue regulatory risk.