Enhanced Consumer Protection in Hong Kong

The Trade Descriptions (Unfair Trade Practices) (Amendment) Ordinance 2012 ("the Ordinance") came into law in Hong Kong on 19 July 2013.

The original Trade Descriptions Ordinance, which has been in force since 2000, offered protection only in respect of unfair trade practices used in connection with the offer and sale of "goods". The protection it offered did not extend to cover "services". Crucially, in Hong Kong's service based economy, important descriptions such as those indicating price, the availability of products and services and the existence of any price advantage or discount were also not covered by the legislation. The Ordinance seeks to redress the balance by:

• Extending the prohibition on false trade descriptions to services as well as goods;
• Creating five new “unfair trade practices” offences;
• Strengthening the enforcement mechanisms available to the enforcement authorities to help deter specified unfair trade practices which jeopardise consumer rights.

We highlight the main changes to the law in this note.

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