Arbitrator Appointments and Confirmations

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Overview

HKIAC typically appoints arbitrators (mostly sole and presiding arbitrators) when the parties or co-arbitrators fail to make an appointment in cases under the HKIAC Administered Arbitration Rules (“HKIAC Rules”), the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, the Hong Kong Arbitration Ordinance, and other arbitrations in which HKIAC is the appointing authority. 

HKIAC appointments are made through the Appointments Committee. Members of the Appointments Committee are not eligible for appointment by HKIAC. However, a member’s designation as arbitrator by a party or the co-arbitrators in an arbitration may be confirmed by HKIAC.

HKIAC normally appoints arbitrators from a panel or list of arbitrators published on HKIAC’s website. In appropriate circumstances, HKIAC may appoint an arbitrator from outside of its panel or list of arbitrators.

HKIAC considers a wide range of factors when appointing an arbitrator. Those factors include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. any qualifications agreed by the parties;
  2. the identity of the parties, counsel and co-arbitrators (if any);
  3. the nationality of the parties;
  4. the nature and complexity of the dispute;
  5. the amount in dispute;
  6. the governing law of the contract(s);
  7. the seat of arbitration;
  8. the language(s) of the arbitration and underlying contract(s);
  9. any qualifications or candidates suggested by any of the parties;
  10. the nationality of the arbitrator;
  11. the availability of the arbitrator;
  12. the place of residence of the arbitrator;
  13. the proposed fees of the arbitrator;
  14. the number of previous appointments of the arbitrator in HKIAC cases; and
  15. HKIAC’s previous experience with the arbitrator and any party feedback.

Where HKIAC is to appoint an arbitrator under the Arbitration Ordinance, it will consult with at least three members of the Appointment Advisory Board (the “AAB”) and must consider their advice but is not bound by it. The AAB includes members nominated by eleven Hong Kong professional and interest groups.

In all cases in which HKIAC is to appoint an arbitrator, it will first propose at least one candidate to the parties and set a time limit for comments. If no party objects to or raises any justifiable concerns about the proposed candidate, HKIAC will appoint that candidate.


2019 Arbitrator Appointments and Confirmations:

Geographical Origin or Nationality of Arbitrators

Below is a detailed breakdown of the geographical origin or nationality of all arbitrators appointed by HKIAC in 2019:

 Geographical origin or nationalityNo. of appointmentsPercentageNo. of appointments of arbitrators based in HKNo. of appointments of HK permanent residents
1United Kingdom3629.5%3315
2Hong Kong 3427.9%3434
3Australia108.2%83
4Mainland China97.4%10
5Singapore86.6%61
6Canada54.1%52
7Malaysia43.3%20
8New Zealand21.6%11
8United States21.6%00
9France10.8%00
9Ireland10.8%10
9Sweden10.8%10
10Dual Nationals97.4%97


Below is a detailed breakdown of the geographical origin or nationality of all arbitrators designated by parties or co-arbitrators and confirmed by HKIAC in 2019:

 Geographical origin or nationalityNo. of appointmentsPercentageNo. of appointments of arbitrators based in HKNo. of appointments of HK permanent residents
1United Kingdom3324.1%277
2Hong Kong3223.4%3232
3Mainland China128.8%00
4United States107.3%50
5Australia64.4%40
5Canada64.4%66
5Singapore64.4%30
6South Korea42.9%20
7Austria32.2%33
7France32.2%20
8Malaysia21.4%20
9New Zealand10.7%00
9Switzerland10.7%00
10Dual Nationals1813.1%1715

Article 11(2) of the 2013 and 2018 HKIAC Administered Arbitration Rules (the “Rules”) contains a nationality restriction in that where the parties are of different nationalities, HKIAC shall not appoint a sole or presiding arbitrator of the same nationality as any of the parties unless the parties expressly agree. The restriction under Article 11(2) is relaxed by Article 11(3) of both Rules which provides that, in appropriate circumstances and where no party objects, HKIAC may appoint someone of the same nationality as any of the parties.

Under paragraph 3.3 of the Practice Note on Appointment of Arbitrators (the “Practice Note”), HKIAC may also include Hong Kong passport holders as candidates for appointment as sole or presiding arbitrator in cases between Mainland Chinese and non-Chinese parties, absent any party’s objections.

In 2019, there were nine cases in which HKIAC appointed a sole or presiding arbitrator who had the same nationality as any of the parties under Article 11(3) of the Rules or paragraph 3.3 of the Practice Note where no party objected. Further details of these cases are provided below:

 Geographical origin or nationality of Claimant and counselGeographical origin or nationality of Respondent(s)Geographical origin or nationality of ArbitratorRole of Arbitrator
1

Mainland China (represented by Hong Kong counsel)

Seychelles (represented by Mainland Chinese counsel)Hong KongSole Arbitrator
2Switzerland (represented by Hong Kong counsel)

Switzerland (represented by Hong Kong counsel)

Hong Kong, United KingdomSole Arbitrator
3Finland (represented by Mainland Chinese counsel)Mainland China (represented by Mainland Chinese counsel)Hong KongSole Arbitrator
4

(1) British Virgin Islands

(2) British Virgin Islands

(3) Hong Kong
(All represented by Hong Kong counsel)

(1) British Virgin Islands

(2) British Virgin Islands

(3) Hong Kong
(All represented by Hong Kong counsel)
Hong KongPresiding Arbitrator
5Hong Kong
(represented by Hong Kong counsel)

(1) Macau

(2) Macau

 (3) Hong Kong

(4) British Virgin Islands

 (5) British Virgin Islands

((1)-(4) represented by Hong Kong counsel; (5) unrepresented)
Hong KongPresiding Arbitrator
6

(1) Hong Kong

(2) Mainland China
(All represented by Hong Kong counsel)
United States (represented by Mainland Chinese counsel)

Canada, Hong Kong

Sole Arbitrator
7

Vietnam
(represented by Mainland Chinese counsel)

Mainland China (unrepresented)

Hong KongSole Arbitrator
8British Virgin Islands (represented by Hong Kong counsel)Mainland China (unrepresented)Hong KongSole Arbitrator
9Hong Kong with Mainland Chinese interests (represented by Hong Kong counsel)

Hong Kong with Belgian interests

(represented by Hong Kong counsel)
Hong KongSole Arbitrator


Diversity of Qualified Arbitrators

Of the 122 appointments by HKIAC:

67 (54.9%) were from the Panel of Arbitrators.
46 (37.7%) were from the List of Arbitrators.
9 (7.4%) were from neither the Panel nor the List of Arbitrators.
25 (20.5%) were of female arbitrators.
49 (40.16%) were of arbitrators not previously appointed by HKIAC over the last three years.

Of the 96 designations made by parties and confirmed by HKIAC:

67 (69.8%) were from the Panel of Arbitrators.
12 (12.5%) were from the List of Arbitrators.
17 (17.7%) were from neither the Panel nor the List of Arbitrators.
15 (15.6%) were of female arbitrators.
40 (41.2%) were of arbitrators not previously designated by parties and confirmed by HKIAC over the last three years.

Of the 41 designations made by co-arbitrators and confirmed by HKIAC:

31 (75.6%) were from the Panel of Arbitrators.
5 (12.2%) were from the List of Arbitrators.
5 (12.2%) were from neither the Panel nor the List of Arbitrators.
9 (21.9%) were of female arbitrators.
23 (56.1%) were of arbitrators not previously designated by co-arbitrators and confirmed by HKIAC over the last three years.
 

2018 Arbitrator Appointments and Confirmations:

Geographical Origin or Nationality of Arbitrators

Below is a detailed breakdown of the geographical origin or nationality of all arbitrators appointed by HKIAC in 2018:

 Geographical origin or nationalityNo. of appointmentsPercentageNo. of appointments of arbitrators based in HKNo. of appointments of HK permanent residents
1United Kingdom3729.6%2814
2Hong Kong 2520.0%2525
3Canada75.6%74
3Singapore75.6%21
5Australia64.8%63
5France64.8%50
5Mainland China64.8%10
8Austria32.4%33
8Malaysia32.4%20
8New Zealand32.4%30
11Denmark10.8%10
11Spain10.8%00
11Sweden10.8%10
11United States10.8%00
15Dual Nationals1814.4%1313


Below is a detailed breakdown of the geographical origin or nationality of all arbitrators designated by parties or co-arbitrators and confirmed by HKIAC in 2018:

 Geographical origin or nationalityNo. of appointmentsPercentageNo. of appointments of arbitrators based in HKNo. of appointments of HK permanent residents
1Hong Kong2729.0%2727
2United Kinggdom2628.0%2010
3Mainland China55.4%20
3Singapore55.4%20
3United States55.4%10
6Australia44.3%40
7France33.2%30
7Canada33.2%32
9Austria22.2%22
9New Zealand22.2%20
9South Korea22.2%00
12Malaysia11.0%00
12Sweden11.0%10
12Switzerland11.0%10
15Dual Nationals66.5%66


Article 11(2) of the 2013 and 2018 HKIAC Administered Arbitration Rules contains a nationality restriction in that where the parties are of different nationalities, HKIAC shall not appoint a sole or presiding arbitrator of the same nationality as any of the parties unless the parties expressly agree. The restriction under Article 11(2) is relaxed by Article 11(3) of both Rules which provides that, in appropriate circumstances and where no party objects, HKIAC may appoint someone of the same nationality as any of the parties.

In 2018, there were three cases in which HKIAC appointed a sole or presiding arbitrator with the same nationality as one of the parties under Article 11(3) where no party objected. Further details of these cases are provided below:

 Geographical origin or nationality of Claimant and counselGeographical origin or nationality of Respondent(s)Geographical origin or nationality of ArbitratorRole of Arbitrator
1

(1) Cayman Islands
(2) United States (represented by HK counsel)

British Virgin Islands (represented by HK counsel)United KingdomSole Arbitrator
2Cayman Islands (represented by HK counsel)

(1) British Virgin Islands (represented by HK counsel)
(2) Mainland China (represented by HK counsel)

Hong KongPresiding Arbitrator
3(1) Hong Kong
(2) Mainland China (represented by HK counsel)
United States (represented by Mainland Chinese counsel)Canada, Hong KongSole Arbitrator


Diversity of Qualified Arbitrators

Of the 125 appointments by HKIAC:

  • 79 (63.2%) were from the Panel of Arbitrators.
  • 39 (31.2%) were from the List of Arbitrators.
  • 7 (5.6%) were from neither the Panel nor the List of Arbitrators.
  • 22 (17.6%) were of female arbitrators.
  • 18 (14.4%) were of arbitrators not previously appointed by HKIAC over the last three years.

Of the 69 designations made by parties and confirmed by HKIAC:

  • 48 (69.6%) were from the Panel of Arbitrators.
  • 13 (18.8%) were from the List of Arbitrators.
  • 8 (11.6%) were from neither the Panel nor the List of Arbitrators.
  • 7 (10.1%) were of female arbitrators.
  • 21 (30.4%) were of arbitrators not previously designated by parties and confirmed by HKIAC over the last three years.

Of the 24 designations made by co-arbitrators and confirmed by HKIAC:

  • 20 (83.3%) were from the Panel of Arbitrators.
  • 1 (4.2%) were from the List of Arbitrators.
  • 3 (12.5%) were from neither the Panel nor the List of Arbitrators.
  • 2 (8.3%) were of female arbitrators.
  • 7 (29.2%) were of arbitrators not previously designated by co-arbitrators and confirmed by HKIAC over the last three years.
     

2017 Arbitrator Appointments and Confirmations:

Geographical Origin or Nationality of Arbitrators

Below is a detailed breakdown of the geographical origin or nationality of all arbitrators appointed by HKIAC in 2017:

 Geographical origin or nationalityNo. of appointmentsPercentageNo. of appointments of arbitrators based in HKNo. of appointments of HK permanent residents
1United Kingdom3233.0%3023
2Hong Kong 1313.4%1313
3Canada1010.3%1010
4Australia99.3%85
5Malaysia99.3%43
6Mainland China66.2%22
7Singapore44.1%21
8New Zealand33.1%22
9Austria22.1%22
10Thailand11.0%00
10United States11.0%00
 Dual Nationals77.2%33

As shown in the table above, 66% of all arbitrators appointed by HKIAC were of Hong Kong permanent residents and 78% of all arbitrators appointed by HKIAC were of Hong Kong-based arbitrators.

Below is a detailed breakdown of the geographical origin or nationality of all arbitrators designated by parties or co-arbitrators and confirmed by HKIAC in 2017:

 Geogrpahical orgin or nationalityNo of appointmentsPercentageNo. of appointments of arbitrators based in Hong KongNo. of appointments of HK permanent residents
1United Kingdom4046.4%3428
2Canada1011.5%1010
3Australia910.5%55
4Hong Kong 78.1%77
5Singapore44.7%10
5Mainland China44.7%21
5United States44.7%10
8Austria33.5%33
9Malaysia22.3%10
10India11.2%00
10South Korea11.2%00
10New Zealand11.2%11

As shown in the tables above, the breakdown of the geographical origin or nationality of arbitrators appointed by HKIAC mirrors to a large extent that of arbitrators designated by parties or co-arbitrators.

Article 11(2) of the 2013 HKIAC Rules contains a nationality restriction in that where the parties are of different nationalities, HKIAC shall not appoint a sole or presiding arbitrator of the same nationality as one of the parties unless the parties expressly agree. This rule aligns with international practice. The restriction under Article 11(2) is relaxed by Article 11(3) which provides that in appropriate circumstances, and where no party objects, HKIAC may appoint someone of the same nationality as one of the parties.

In 2017, there was one case in which HKIAC appointed a sole or presiding arbitrator with the same nationality as one of the parties under Article 11(3) where no party objected. Further details of the case is provided below:

 Geographical origin or nationality of ClaimantGeographical origin or nationality of Respondent(s)Geographical origin or nationality of ArbitratorRole of Arbitrator
1Sweden (represented by HK counsel) Mainland China (represented by HK counsel)Hong KongSole Arbitrator

Where the parties to an arbitration are from different Chinese territories, HKIAC may appoint a sole or presiding arbitrator from another Chinese territory. For example, in a case between a Mainland Chinese party and a Macanese party, HKIAC may appoint a sole or presiding arbitrator from Hong Kong. However, in appropriate circumstances and where no party objects, HKIAC may appoint a sole or presiding arbitrator from the same Chinese territory as one of the parties.

Diversity of Qualified Arbitrators

In 2017, of the 97 appointments by HKIAC:

  • 55 (56.7%) were from the Panel of Arbitrators.
  • 35 (36.1%) were from the List of Arbitrators.
  • 7 (7.2%) were from neither the Panel nor the List of Arbitrators.
  • 16 (16.5%) were of female arbitrators.
  • 32 (33%) were of arbitrators not previously appointed by HKIAC over the last three years.

Of the 60 designations made by parties and confirmed by HKIAC:

  • 40 (66.7%) were from the Panel of Arbitrators.
  • 9 (15%) were from the List of Arbitrators.
  • 11 (18.3%) were from neither the Panel nor the List of Arbitrators.
  • 9 (15%) were of female arbitrators.
  • 15 (25%) were of arbitrators not previously designated by parties and confirmed by HKIAC over the last three years.

Of the 26 designations made by co-arbitrators and confirmed by HKIAC:

  • 18 (69.2%) were from the Panel of Arbitrators.
  • 2 (7.7%) were from the List of Arbitrators.
  • 6 (23.1%) were from neither the Panel nor the List of Arbitrators.
  • 4 (15.4%) were of female arbitrators.
  • 10 (38.5%) were of arbitrators not previously designated by co-arbitrators and confirmed by HKIAC over the last three years.

 

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