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Hong Kong Plugs Its International Arbitration Services

by Mary Swire, Lowtax.net, Hong Kong
20 June, 2014

Hong Kong's Secretary for Justice, Rimsky Yuen, has told the Legislative Council of the territory's efforts to consolidate and enhance Hong Kong's status as a hub for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia Pacific region.

He announced that an Advisory Committee on the Promotion of Arbitration will be established, which he said would boost the joint efforts of the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the legal dispute sector, and also support Hong Kong's leadership in the area. Preparation work on the Committee is underway, and its membership and terms of reference will be announced "in due course," he said.

He said the DoJ "plays an active role in attracting world class arbitration organizations to establish offices or conduct arbitration in Hong Kong." For example, as a result of the DoJ's efforts, the Chinese Government has begun negotiations on a host country agreement with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, with the aim of holding dispute settlement proceedings in Hong Kong and attracting more investment arbitrations to be conducted in Hong Kong.

In addition, the China Maritime Arbitration Commission (CMAC) has also confirmed its in-principle agreement to set up a branch office in Hong Kong in the second half of 2014. As in the case of the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission's Hong Kong Arbitration Center, this will be the first branch office of CMAC outside the Mainland.

Yuen re-emphasized that, "to reinforce Hong Kong's status as an international arbitration hub, the DoJ will continue to engage in discussions with other reputable arbitration organizations and explore the feasibility of their establishing a presence in Hong Kong."

In addition, the DoJ has been pursuing proposals to allow Hong Kong-based arbitration institutions to set up offices in the Mainland so as to provide arbitration services directly to Mainland enterprises. It has also been suggested to the relevant authorities in the Mainland that, if these proposals cannot be implemented on a nationwide basis, consideration should be given to implementing them on a pilot basis in areas such as Beijing or in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, or both.

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