CityU Hosted Conference on “Consumer Protection in Asia: Past, Present and Future”

From 13–14 of January, the School of Law, City University of Hong Kong hosted a conference on Consumer Protection in Asia. The conference was co-organised by the School of Law, City University of Hong Kong and Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki. Around 20 leading commercial law specialists and scholars from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Singapore, Australia, India, Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia gathered at CityU to share their views on consumer protection law in Asia from different perspectives.

The conference was kicked off by the welcome speech of Professor Geraint Howells (Dean of the School of Law, City University of Hong Kong and Chair Professor, Commercial Law). Professor Howells introduced the background and the aim of the conference. He also thanked all participants for their support, especially the overseas speakers who travelled a long way to Hong Kong.

The first day of conference was divided into two sessions. The first session, chaired by Dr. André Janssen (School of Law, City University of Hong Kong), was focused on national reports. Leading Asian scholars each gave a brief introduction to their consumer law systems with emphasis on case law, practice, reform debates and influences on their law. The speakers invited for this session were Dr. Jing Jin (School of Law, China Youth University for Political Sciences); Professor Ashok Patil (National Law School of India University); Professor Emeritus Hisakazu Hirose (Faculty of Law, University of Tokyo); Professor Dan Wei (Faculty of law, Macau University); Dr. Mateja Durovic, Professor Geraint Howells and Dr. André Janssen (School of Law, City University of Hong Kong); Dr. Gary Low (School of Law, Singapore Management University); Dr. Zalina Zakaria (Department of Shariah and Law, University of Malaya); Dr. Cuong Van Nguyen (Institute of Legal Science, Ministry of Justice of Vietnam); and Dr. Aimpaga Techapikum (Faculty of Law, Thammasat University).

In the second session, which was chaired by Dr. Mateja Durovic, eight speakers from non-Asia countries, namely Dr. Eileen Webb (Curtin Law School); Professor Gail Pearson (Business School, the University of Sydney); Professor Luke Nottage (Sydney Law School); Professor James Nehf (Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Indiana University); Dr. Michel Cannarsa (Catholic University of Lyon Law School); Dr. Alberto De Franceschi (University of Ferrara); Professor Hans-Wolfgang Micklitz (European University Institute); and Dr. Marta Cantero Gamito (University of Helsinki), commented on the development of consumer protection law in Asia contrasting with EU, US and Australian perspectives. Topics covered in this session included “Information and right of withdrawal”, “Sale of Goods”, “Unfair Terms”, “Product Liability”, “Product Safety”, “Adaption to Digital Age”, “Unfair Commercial Practices” and “Access to Justice”.

Chaired by Professor Hans-Wolfgang Micklitz, the second day of the conference focused on Case Studies in Asian Consumer Protection with the aim being to find out how consumer issues are or are likely to be addressed in practice. Each Asian national reporter presented their report on three case studies, concerning (1) product liability and product safety; (2) consumer products; and (3) telecommunication services, from their national perspective.

The concluding session was chaired by Professor Howells with a focus on global perspectives on Asian Law. Global commentators reflected on Asian consumer law from perspectives of the EU, the US, Australia, South America, the UN, ASEAN and Africa. Professor Tjakie Naude of Department of Private Law, University of Cape Town, joined the concluding session via Skype and shared her views on Asian law from the perspective of Africa.

The whole conference was ended with the closing remarks of Professor Geraint Howells and Professor Hans-Wolfgang Micklitz who thanked all the conference speakers for their contributions to the conference. The conference was fruitful and thought-provoking, and the atmosphere throughout the whole conference was interactive. The insightful views of all the speakers who are the experts in the field of consumer law made the conference a landmark event for the development of consumer protection in this region. Papers presented at this conference will be published. It is expected that the conference proceedings will definitely be one of the authoritative publications in the field.