HKIAC Achieves Breakthrough by Launching Office in Mainland China
20 November 2015
The Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) has reached an important milestone by being the first international arbitration institution to open a representative office in mainland China. This represents a major stride made by HKIAC to promote international arbitration services on the mainland.
The launch of HKIAC’s Shanghai office marks the beginning of a new chapter of arbitration in mainland China, since it is the first time an offshore arbitration institution has set up a formal presence on the mainland. The Shanghai office is located within the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, which has been designated by the State Council as an area to “support the introduction of internationally renowned commercial dispute resolution institutions”. The office is headed by HKIAC’s Deputy Secretary-General, Liu Jing, who has been facilitating HKIAC’s on-the-ground support for its Chinese users for many years. The Shanghai office is HKIAC’s second overseas presence. The Centre opened its first overseas office in Seoul in May 2013.
The opening of the Shanghai office is the result of HKIAC’s continuous efforts spearheaded by its Chairperson Teresa Cheng SC. Cheng says “the Shanghai office will be a unique platform to connect Chinese companies and lawyers with world-class arbitration practice”. “As the most preferred and used arbitral institution outside of Europe, HKIAC is best placed to perform this role”, she says.
With an onshore office in Shanghai, HKIAC is now in an even better position to bring its top-rank services to its mainland Chinese users. Operating through its Shanghai office, HKIAC intends to seek closer cooperation with local arbitration commissions to promote international arbitration best practice on the mainland by providing professional training to mainland Chinese arbitrators and practitioners, as well as by facilitating the development of an overall pro-arbitration policy across China. Where necessary, the Shanghai office will extend HKIAC’s world-class services to support its hearings on the mainland and provide such other appropriate services as may be permitted under Chinese law.
HKIAC’s Shanghai office will not initially provide case management services and all HKIAC arbitrations will be administered by the Secretariat in Hong Kong. Parties should seek legal advice before requesting HKIAC to administer arbitral proceedings seated on the mainland. Alternatively parties may choose to arbitrate in Hong Kong, which has long been recognised as the preferred venue for China-related disputes.
HKIAC is proud to be the first international arbitration centre to be part of China’s arbitration offerings and looks forward to working with mainland arbitration commissions to bring arbitration practices in China to a new level. This momentous development is attributable to HKIAC’s long-standing status as the go-to venue for international disputes involving Chinese parties. Headquartered in a Special Administrative Region of China with the common law system, HKIAC was founded upon an inherent appreciation of China’s cultural, commercial and legal environment together with the influence of international norms to resolve China-related disputes in a neutral and efficient manner. This has resulted in consistent growth in the number of China-related cases being submitted to HKIAC, which has already handled over 1,100 such cases since 2003. Parties to HKIAC arbitrations are particularly assured by the enforcement record of HKIAC awards in mainland China. Between 2010 and 2014, the mainland courts did not refuse to enforce any HKIAC awards.
Past HKIAC Chairman, Michael Moser, describes the opening of HKIAC’s Shanghai office as “a great leap forward – not just for the HKIAC, but also for mainland Chinese parties and counsel who are looking for ready access to top-tier international arbitration services”. He says “the HKIAC’s initiative, and the approval by the mainland authorities of the move, are both positive developments deserving of applause”.
HKIAC’s Shanghai office has also been hailed by a Chinese practitioner and an in-house counsel as a milestone development in the mainland arbitration community. Hui Zhong Law Firm’s Executive Partner Fei Ning hopes that the Shanghai office “will facilitate the integration of Chinese and international arbitration practices and provide more professional and efficient services to parties”. Zhang Xi, Vice President and General Counsel Greater China at Bayer looks forward to seeing the future progress of the new office in Shanghai and hopes this will facilitate efficient resolution of disputes concerning multinational corporations’ China operations.
An opening ceremony was held at the Shanghai Aurora Museum yesterday, during which Teresa Cheng SC and Wang Hua, Director of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone Lujiazui Administration Bureau, unveiled a plaque for HKIAC’s Shanghai office in the presence of Hong Kong’s Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen SC, representatives of the Shanghai Government, law firms, companies, journalists and other distinguished guests.
Yuen says “HKIAC’s Shanghai office is part of HKIAC’s mission to expand its global outreach and to bring Hong Kong’s first-class dispute resolution services more accessible to users in the region. Pursuant to its steadfast policy of developing Hong Kong as a centre for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia Pacific region, the Department of Justice of the HKSAR firmly supports this ground-breaking initiative”.
Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre
Tel: (852) 2525 2381
Fax: (852) 2524 2171