The professional associations for architects and planners in Hong Kong have been urged to remove immediately from their codes of conduct provisions that prevent members from setting their own fees and taking on clients freely.
The Competition Commission yesterday described as “highly problematic” certain provisions prescribed by the Hong Kong Institute of Architects and the Hong Kong Institute of Planners in their codes of conduct.
“To the extent these restrictions would prevent any price competition among architects or among planners, their effects could be akin to those of price fixing implemented by cartels,” it said. And while the associations are exempt under the Competition Ordinance, members of these associations are not.
It is stated on the HKIP website that “members who are offering professional services shall not reduce a fee quotation to take account of the fee quoted by another planner for the same service.”
The commission warned that problematic cases like that will be referred to the Competition Policy Advisory Group if no remedial action is taken by the end of January.
Prior to full commencement of the ordinance, the commission reviewed the published practices of more than 350 associations and identified at least 20 whose published practices were at “high risk” of contravening the ordinance.
While most removed the restrictions and fee scales from their codes, the commission noted that the HKIA and the HKIP problems continued after a year.