School of Law

Centre for Business Law and Practice PGR Conference

23 November 2016 13:00-18:00

Moot Court, Liberty Building

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In this Section:

This is a free conference but registration is required in advance. Following the conference there will be a small supper outside the Moot Court room for everyone who attends the conference.

This conference provides those postgraduate research students attached to the Centre for Business Law and Practice with the opportunity to present papers drawing on their PhD studies.

The conference offers a supportive environment in which students can receive feedback from staff and students on the ideas and arguments presented.

Programme

13:00-13:30    Lunch

13:30-13:40    Welcome from the Centre for Business Law and Practice

13:40-14:10    John Gannon “EU Competition Law in the Age of E-Commerce:
                        An Introductory Assessment of Automated Pricing Algorithms”

14:10-14:40    Ahmad Bin Ismail “An Overview of Shariah Governance”

14:40-15:10    Bingdao Wang “Judgments Recognition between China
                        and Hong Kong in Cross-border Insolvency Matters”

15:10-15:25    Tea and Coffee Break

15:25-15:55    Negar West “An Empirical Study into Directors’ Duties in Iran”

15:55-16:25    Opemiposi Adegbulu “Conflicts of Interest in the Private Sector
                        and the Significance of the Public Interest Test”

16:25-16:55    Christos Hadjiarapis (University of Manchester) “Redefining
                        the Functions of a Trade Mark in the EU: From Plain Packaging
                        to Trade Mark Law”

16:55-17:10    Closing Remarks (Professor Duncan Sheehan)

17:10               Dinner, Drinks and Networking

Speaker 1: John Gannon

Title: EU Competition Law in the Age of E-Commerce: An Introductory Assessment of Automated Pricing Algorithms

Abstract: It is uncontroversial to state that E-commerce perpetually throws up new competitive opportunities and challenges. It is similarly uncontroversial to state that, where self-assessment is required in a fast changing landscape, research on emerging technologies and practices is required to ensure that the competition regime facilitates competition and innovation by providing a scrutable and sensible legal framework. It is therefore reasonable to enquire how the competition regime is being prepared for the increasingly prolific automation of business practices.

This presentation seeks to identify the most pressing of the questions raised by the automation of pricing for the enforcement of Article 101 of the TFEU. After a brief exposition of the scant academic literature on the subject which focuses on US Antitrust Law, it will explore the technology available before presenting the online and offline contexts within which this technology is usually leveraged, including the relevant third parties. The presentation will then outline the broader legal and regulatory context within which the debate around automation is currently taking place and the role of the competition law within it. Having done this, the most pressing questions to be addressed by the EU competition regime will be outlined.

Software agents for monitoring one’s individual customers and one’s competitors, and responding with immediate and intelligent price changes, are readily available. This technology raises novel and difficult questions for the competition regime. Any aspect of the law or enforcement regime which relies on human fragility, bias, fear, or sluggishness, must be reconsidered. Indeed, human listlessness may become the major cause for concern. Not only does the fact that an automaton is making a decision change the legal and regulatory assessments, it also brings unparalleled opportunities for competitors to predict one another’s responses and for third parties to influence the business practices of their customers.

Recent cases have shown the potential for such software to provide new avenues for traditional forms of collusion. Of most interest, however, is the emergence of novel forms of collusion in the presence of such software. The recent eturas case illustrates the challenge to traditional conceptions of concertation that automated systems present. The potential for far greater levels of tacit collusion due to competitor predictability also raises new obstacles to competition enforcement. New types of facilitating practices, in particular on information sharing, and the role of third party providers and selling platforms in determining how such technology is leveraged, also require exploration.

While these challenges are themselves daunting, the software itself is also developing at an astonishing rate as new machine learning technologies and techniques are leveraged. Further questions therefore arise. How should the competition regime approach the growing divide between posted price changes and human decision makers?

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Speaker 2: Ahmad Bin Ismail

Title: An Overview of Shariah Governance

Abstract: Shariah governance is a corporate governance mechanism implemented in the institutions offer Islamic financial products and services or Islamic banks in particular. Shariah governance deals with financial products and services in order to ensure its conformity with Shariah law of doing business. Compared to the conventional corporate governance system, the development of Shariah governance system is rather in its infancy and could be considered as alien to the mainstream markets, especially those which are not offering Shariah compliance products and services, as the Islamic financial market only represents 1% of the global financial market. Therefore, this article will introduce a basic understanding of the Shariah governance. The focus of the article would be on the definition of Shariah governance and other related issues as well as its correlations with the corporate governance system. Using content analysis method, this article analyses related literature exist and form a discussion based on the revealed themes in a logical structure to create a constructive understanding of this topic. As the conclusion, Shariah governance is the way of how Islamic literature addresses the corporate governance system. It could be regarded as one of the alternative approaches on how to interpret the governance mechanism and its constituents of a corporation as have been done by countless of researchers of the corporate governance corpus of study. 

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Speaker 3: Bingdao Wang 

Title: Hong Kong’s Extended Common Law Powers for Solving Cross-Border Insolvency

Abstract: Because of the political arrangement of “one country, two system” principle, Hong Kong still operates the common law legal system and capitalist economy within China’s socialist system, and mainland China and Hong Kong remain two separate judicial jurisdictions. Currently there is no statutory provisions under the Company Ordinances for solving cross-border issues, the courts have to rely on common law principles. This presentation is going to examine some significant developments in common law world for solving transnational insolvencies, and discuss whether the Hong Kong common law system could provide an effective system on this matter.

As a regional business and financial centre, Hong Kong is one of the most preferred investment destination of international investors. Apart from the advantages of the location and investment policies, foreign investor also use the city as the main channel to expand their business in the mainland China. Therefore, it is very common that a foreign insolvent company got assets in Hong Kong. Generally, Hong Kong courts have good tradition to cooperate and assist foreign representatives and proceedings, and willing to take practical approach to solve specific issues. In a recent case, the court applied more flexibility in deciding whether to exercise jurisdiction to wind up foreign companies in Hong Kong. Such extended jurisdiction power can be used to solve international insolvency issues involving offshore companies.

Furthermore, Singapore, which is another common law jurisdiction sharing many similarities with Hong Kong, and both of them have not adopted the Model Law on cross-border insolvency. Early this year, the court just set precedent for applying the concept of centre of main interests (COMI) under common law system. Based on the cooperative tradition, it is highly possible that Hong Kong courts would apply the approach as well in future cases.

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Speaker 4: Negar West  

Title: An Empirical Study into Directors’ Duties in Iran

Abstract: Analysis of empirical research into directors' duties undertaken in Iran. Elite interviews of legislators, judges, lawyers, government officials, academics of law directors and shareholders.

There are a number of sections that will be considered in the presentation:

• Directors’ Duties including fiduciary duties, the duty of care and the business judgement rule

• Role of the  Court and Judges

• Family companies

• Separation of power

• Role of Auditors

Through the data extracted from the interviews a clear image emerges as to the state of directors’ duties in Iran.  At the end of the presentation there will also be consideration of what future improve could be introduced to improve directors’ duties.

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Speaker 5: Opemiposi Adegbulu

Title: Conflicts of Interest in the Private Sector and the significance of the Public Interest Test

Abstract: Conflicts of interest is an elusive, cross-cutting governance problem. Its mismanagement could lead to the distortion of decision-making processes, corrosion of legitimacy and the weakening of administration. Thus, it corrodes trust in decision-makers in the private and the public sectors alike, trust is mandatory for democracy as well as the market. Conflicts of interest in general is a growing contemporary challenge, following the recent financial crisis and political scandals. However, conflicts of interest in the private sector are distinctive and must be treated in like manner when regulatory efforts are made to address them. The research looks at identifying conflicts of interest in the private sector and differentiating them from those in the public sector. Public interest is submitted as a criteria which allows for such differentiation. This is significant because it would allow for the use of tailor-made or sector specific approaches to addressing this complex issue. This research is undertaken through extensive review of literature and theories on the definition of conflicts of interest. This study will employ theoretical, doctrinal and comparative methods. The nature of conflicts of interest in the private sector will be explored, through an analysis of the public sector where the notion of conflicts of interest appear more clearly identified, reasons why they are of business ethics concern will be advanced, and then, once again, looking at public sector solutions and other solutions, the study will identify ways of mitigating and managing conflicts in the private sector. An exploration of public sector conflicts of interest and solutions will be undertaken because the typologies of conflicts of interest in both sectors have similar origins, though with different manifestations and thus, lessons can be learnt with regards to the management of these issues in the private sector.

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Speaker 6: Christos Hadjiarapis (University of Manchester)

Title: Redefining the functions of a trade mark in the EU: From plain packaging to trade mark law

Abstract: Killing around 6 million people every year, the use of tobacco products is characterised by the World Health Organisation as the leading global cause of preventable death. The most contemporary legal measure fighting the use of tobacco products is the Plain Packaging legislation first introduced in Australia in 2012. Under this legislation only a word mark written in a standardised way is allowed to appear on the tobacco packaging.

Plain Packaging is a contemporary piece of legislation since it attacks the trade mark. A trade mark is a sign used to distinguish one undertaking from another and to indicate the trade origin of the product or the service they are related with. Within the last century, both the public and legislators attributed more functions on trade marks. Although Plain Packaging allows trade marks to be used as mere indicators of origin, it strips them from all other functions like those of attractiveness and advertising.

However, the law recognises trade marks as objects of property and gives the relevant rights to their proprietors. Therefore, the tobacco industry claims interference with their property asking for compensation. The fact that trade mark law is called to balance public health with the commercial interests of the tobacco industry generates a greater need to re-examine the theoretical framework of the justification of trade marks as objects of property. By doing that, this paper enables the understanding of the issue in relation to Plain Packaging legislation and proposes a steady ground for similar legislations to come.

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