How is anti-monopoly litigation going under China’s Anti-Monopoly Law (AML)?
Article 50 of the AML entitles individuals and business operators to bring civil actions for damages against entities that engage in a violation of the AML.
Building on this principle, it has now been confirmed that third parties can file AML-related lawsuits with the intermediate courts of a province, autonomous region or municipality. These courts will have first instance jurisdiction over AML cases, and have assigned the task of conducting relevant hearings to existing IP tribunals or new specialized AML panels under their administration.
This is generally perceived as a positive development, as the intermediate courts (and in particular the existing IP tribunals) have a reputation for being more sophisticated forums, and boasting more qualified judges, than other courts in China. It can be argued that they are also less susceptible to the influence of political interests or advocates of local protectionism.
More detailed rules on the handling of AML-related civil actions are understood to be in development, and there are reports these rules include provision for “double damages” orders to encourage litigation in this area.
In the interim, other civil action procedures are being developing on a ‘case by case’ basis, stimulating great interest in each decision that is handed down, and the processes employed to reach that decision.