Arbitration in Hong Kong is governed by the Hong Kong Arbitration Ordinance (Cap. 609 of the Laws of Hong Kong) effective from 1 June 2011. It replaces the previous arbitration statute (Arbitration Ordinance Cap. 341), originally enacted in 1963 and amended in 1982 and 1990, which was based on a split regime – a regime for international arbitrations, formulated on the basis of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration 1985 (Model Law), and a domestic regime based on the English Arbitration Act 1950.
From as early as 1996, HKIAC individually, and in conjunction with other HK-based arbitration organisations, recommended the revision of Cap. 341 and the replacement of the separate domestic and international regimes with a single unitary regime based on the Model Law.
This suggestion, having been taken up by the Hong Kong Government and the Department of Justice, resulted in the tabling of a draft Arbitration Bill in 2009 which provided for the adoption of such a unitary regime based on the Model Law. The purpose of the Bill was to align Hong Kong’s arbitration regime with widely accepted international practices, to make the law more user-friendly to arbitration users both in and outside Hong Kong and to strengthen Hong Kong’s status as a regional centre for dispute resolution.
The new Arbitration Ordinance fulfils this purpose, unifying the two regimes and effectively extending the application of the UNCITRAL Model Law to all arbitrations in Hong Kong. To ensure the new Ordinance is as user-friendly as possible, the Model Law provisions, which have the force of law in Hong Kong, are simply reproduced in the main body of the Ordinance under the appropriate headings and given effect accordingly.
One particularly notable feature of the current Arbitration Ordinance is its adoption of the 2006 revisions to the Model Law, allowing both courts and tribunals to grant interim measures in support of arbitration, and, as the first jurisdiction in the world to do so, to strengthen the Hong Kong Court's ability to enforce interim measures granted elsewhere.
View the Hong Kong Arbitration Ordinance in PDF format: English