Posted on June 23, 2011 at 8:06 PM
Coming into effect earlier in June, the new Hong Kong Arbitration Ordinance could allow Hong Kong to become a new center for domestic and international arbitration. The new ordinance eliminates the old difference between domestic and international arbitrations, which will now be based on the Model Law governed by a unitary regime. The changes are said to make the arbitral process in Hong Kong more efficient.
Besides establishing certain minimum standards for national arbitration legislation, Model Law also designates circumstances where the domestic courts can intervene in the arbitral process, as well as providing parties an outline framework, which can be adopted in the absence of agreement. The new ordinance also prohibits parties from disclosing information relating to the arbitral proceedings.
"The Arbitration Ordinance will not only make Hong Kong's arbitration law more user-friendly but also cement Hong Kong's position as a leading arbitration centre in Asia," says Chiann Bao, Secretary-General of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre. Certainly this new ordinance will bolster Hong Kong's position as a world leader in international arbitration as well as a center for domestic arbitration.
This new Arbitration Ordinance can also mean a couple of things for attorneys overseas and in China. "The single most crucial factor for the success of arbitration in Hong Kong is still human talent. Without a close partnership with our first class legal and arbitration professionals, there is simply no way that Hong Kong can excel in this highly competitive area," Mr. Wong Yan Lung, the Secretary for Justice, said. This is certainly an interesting point, as we have seen a significant influx of top talent going back with a U.S legal background. With law firms in America recently trying to send many of their Chinese candidates back to China to work in one of their Asian offices, this could present a great opportunity for Hong Kong. With this recent activity, Hong Kong may in fact get back their best and brightest lawyers with an American legal background. Seeing as the new Arbitration Ordinance is less than a month old, we will have to wait and see.
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