[Hong Kong Online Store Owner's Guide] 3 Legal Traps You Should Avoid
There are currently no specific laws governing online stores in Hong Kong, but some laws apply. So what kind of behavior in the online store will make the online store owner break the law?
A. Selling counterfeit goods online
According to Section 7(1)(a)(ii) of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, Chapter 362, any person supplies goods that contain false product descriptions, or proposes to supply goods with false product descriptions, that is "Counterfeit goods" is an offence against the law, including the sale of counterfeit goods on the Internet.
According to section 7(1)(b) of the same ordinance, it is also illegal to store counterfeit goods at home for sale on the Internet.
Anyone who commits an offence under Article 7 is liable to a fine of $500,000 and 5 years’ imprisonment upon conviction on indictment, and a fine at level 6 (currently $100,000) on a summary conviction. And imprisonment for 2 years.
B. The seller did not deliver the goods after online transaction payment
If the seller never intends to provide the goods that it claims to be sold, or after receiving the buyer’s money, decides not to provide the goods, according to Sections 2 and 9 of the Theft Ordinance, Chapter 210, the seller The crime of theft may have been committed. The money paid by the buyer will be regarded as the property stolen by the seller. The maximum penalty for theft is 10 years’ imprisonment.
In addition, the seller may also have committed the crime of "obtaining property by deception" under section 17 of the Theft Ordinance, Chapter 210. If the seller has no intention to provide the goods from the beginning to the end, the buyer will be dishonestly defrauded of the money. The maximum penalty for this crime is imprisonment for 14 years.
C. Violation of Trade Description Regulations
Although Hong Kong does not have specific laws governing online stores, the laws on consumer protection apply to both physical and online sales activities. According to Article 36 of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (Chapter 362), if someone has committed a fair business offence against consumers and caused them to suffer loss or damage, consumers can claim compensation through civil means for the losses suffered. The regulations can prohibit some common unscrupulous business practices, including false trade descriptions and misleading omissions.
Don’t think that if you are an online store or selling things online, you won’t be supervised by the government. In February 2021, RTHK once reported the following news:
"A woman who sold surgical masks online was found guilty in Kwun Tong Magistracy and sentenced to 3 imprisonment for allegedly selling surgical masks online through unscrupulous business practices, violating the Trade Descriptions Ordinance The customs investigation found that the woman involved in the case claimed to have surgical masks for sale on social platforms, and then sold 400 boxes of designated brand surgical masks to a consumer through an instant messaging application at a price of 120 yuan per box, but in the end only 7800 were supplied. There are two different brands of bulk masks to consumers, and there is no related designated brand of masks. The investigation shows that the woman involved in the case intended to supply products that are significantly different from the related brand of masks when accepting payment."