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HKIAC shares insights from mediation and arbitration

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) joins us this week as one of our resource partners for our ‘Case Study’ column. The following is a brief introduction to its vision and mission

The organisation

The HKIAC was founded in 1985 as a private, self-governing, non-profit entity by the Hong Kong government and members of the business community. As one of Asia’s oldest and most prestigious arbitration institutions, it serves as a regional and international hub for arbitration, and supports the development of dispute resolution practices globally. With its independent legal system, pro-enforcement judiciary, and body of experienced legal and technical professionals outnumbering any jurisdiction in Asia, Hong Kong benefits from a tradition of servicing parties in alternative dispute resolution.

The services

The HKIAC Secretariat handles the administration of arbitrations, mediations, domain-name disputes and adjudications. In addition to handling arbitrations under its own Administered Arbitration Rules (2008, to be revised in 2013), the HKIAC also serves as the statutorily designated arbitrator appointing body under the Hong Kong Arbitration Ordinance (Cap 609).

The HKIAC’s international scope and appeal

As one of the busiest institutions in Asia, the HKIAC’s case load is increasing rapidly as cross-border disputes become more common and more complex. In 2012, the HKIAC expanded its offices in order to meet the increasing demand for suitable, neutral hearing and meeting venues in Hong Kong.

This expansion could not have been timelier as we continue to see an ever-growing number of cases. In 2012, the HKIAC handled 456 new disputes cases, including 293 arbitration matters, 116 domain-name disputes and 47 mediation disputes. From 2011 to 2012, we also experienced a 40 per cent rise in the number of cases that have been fully administered under the HKIAC Administered Arbitration Rules.

Not surprisingly, Hong Kong’s growth as an international arbitration venue has mirrored China’s rise as an economic power. Combining its geographical and cultural proximity to China with legal independence, the city is arguably unrivalled as a convenient forum for resolving disputes between Chinese and international parties.

The year 2012 was of no exception, with over 114 such cases filed. The second highest number of users came from Singapore, followed by India, South Korea and the British Virgin Islands.

We fully expect our international reach and our popularity among foreign parties to increase over the coming years, as judicial neutrality and arbitral efficiency grow increasingly important to parties dealing with complicated cross-border disputes.

HK’s mediation regime

Although a majority of the HKIAC’s case load comes from international arbitration, the HKIAC, together with the Hong Kong Mediation Council, has also participated in the implementation and administration of mediation and alternative-dispute-resolution (ADR) schemes. These include programmes dealing with major construction projects and financial disputes. such as the Lehman-Brothers-related Investment Products Dispute Mediation and Arbitration Scheme.

The recent Hong Kong Practice Direction 31 on Mediation, issued in 2010, has stimulated the further growth of ADR in Hong Kong and triggered increased activity in the field of mediation, including the initiation of new mediator-accreditation programmes and the development of mediation centres in Hong Kong. 

Not only are these various sectors of the mediation regime growing in popularity, the Hong Kong government has also now implemented the necessary legislative infrastructure for mediation – the Mediation Ordinance Cap 620 – which came into effect on 1 January 2013.

Both the Hong Kong government and the local legal profession, with the help and support of the HKIAC, have made significant progress in recent years to increase the popularity and reliability of arbitration and mediation for local and international users. Making ADR accessible and attractive to users is the key to the continued success of Hong Kong’s ADR community. The new ordinance on mediation, and other efforts of the Hong Kong ADR community, address the key concerns of users, and thus push the profession forward, strengthening our community’s abilities, relationships and integrity in making Hong Kong Asia’s leading provider of international dispute resolution services.

Ruth Stackpool-Moore, managing counsel, HKIAC, has substantial experience in the field of international arbitration, having worked with several major international law firms in Sydney, Paris and London.

The information contained in this article should not be relied on as legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for detailed advice in individual cases. If advice concerning individual problems or other expert assistance is required, the service of a competent professional adviser should be sought.