Please find attached the twelfth edition of Mayer Brown's "Global International Arbitration Update", a bi-annual publication that summarises key events in international arbitration between June 2020 and December 2020. The update, which covers both commercial and investor-State arbitration developments from around the globe, is divided into six sections:
- Legal updates from across the globe;
- Global case law developments;
- Mayer Brown firm updates;
- Upcoming Mayer Brown Events;
- Recent Mayer Brown Events; and
- Key Mayer Brown Publications.
GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES PILOT SCHEME ON FACILITATION FOR PERSONS PARTICIPATING IN ARBITRAL PROCEEDINGS IN HONG KONG
29 June 2020: The HKSAR Government launched the Pilot Scheme on Facilitation for Persons Participating in Arbitral Proceedings in Hong Kong (the "Scheme"). The Scheme aims to facilitate the participation of non-Hong Kong residents in arbitral proceedings in Hong Kong to strengthen its position as an international centre for legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia Pacific Region.
Pursuant to the Scheme, (1) arbitrators, (2) expert and factual witnesses, (3) counsel and (4) parties to the arbitration who are nationals of countries who may visit Hong Kong visa-free and are in possession of a letter of proof ("Letter of Proof") are allowed to participate in arbitral proceedings in Hong Kong as visitors without a need to obtain employment visas.
For administered arbitrations, a Letter of Proof shall be issued by one of the following arbitral institutions:
- Hong Kong Arbitration Center
- ICC – Asia Office
- Hong Kong Maritime Arbitration Group
- South China International Arbitration Center (HK)
For ad hoc arbitrations, a Letter of Proof shall be issued by the venue providers: the HKIAC or the Department of Justice.
The length of stay in Hong Kong for participating in arbitral proceedings shall not exceed the visa-free period in force for the respective countries. Persons eligible under the Scheme remain subject to current COVID-19 restrictions on entering Hong Kong.
ONLINE PLATFORM LAUNCHED FOR SETTLING PANDEMIC-RELATED DISPUTES
29 June 2020: The Hong Kong eBRAM International Online Dispute Resolution Centre Limited launched its COVID-19 Online Dispute Resolution Scheme (the "Scheme"). Its purpose is to efficiently and cost-effectively deal with disputes related to the COVID-19 pandemic globally and locally. To be eligible for the Scheme:
1. The dispute must be directly or indirectly related to COVID-19;
2. The claim amount must be HK$500,000 or less; and
3. Either one of the parties in the dispute (claimant or respondent) must be a Hong Kong resident or company.
The registration fee for the Scheme is USD 200 for each party. The fees for the mediators and/or arbitrators are to be paid by the Hong Kong government.
Under the Scheme, after registration, the parties are first encouraged to negotiate a resolution of their dispute, failing which, there will be a mediation. If mediation proves unsuccessful, the parties will proceed to arbitration for a final and binding award. The negotiation and mediation stages shall each take 3 days, or such other time as the parties may agree. The arbitration must commence and conclude, producing an award, within 5 weeks.
HKIAC "WOMEN IN ARBITRATION" ESTABLISHES ITS FIRST COMMITTEES
19 August 2020: The Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre Women in Arbitration ("WIA") initiative established the first WIA Committee and Executive Committee.
The WIA Committee will be responsible for shaping the policies and activities of WIA for the purpose of promoting gender diversity in arbitration and related practice areas in China. The Executive Committee will work with the WIA Committee members to help implement such policies and activities.
Launched in February 2018, the WIA's objective is to provide a forum to consider and discuss current topics, grow networks and business relationships, and develop the next generation of leading female practitioners.
HK-PRC INTERIM MEASURES ARRANGEMENT: HKIAC UPDATE
27 August 2020: The Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (the "HKIAC") reported that, since 1 October 2019, it has processed 25 applications made to the Mainland Chinese courts for interim measures under the Arrangement Concerning Mutual Assistance in Court-ordered Interim Measures in Aid of Arbitral Proceedings by the Courts of the Mainland and of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (the "Arrangement").
The Arrangement empowers parties to arbitral proceedings in Hong Kong administered by the HKIAC (or another qualified arbitral institution) to apply to Mainland Chinese courts for interim measures in relation to the arbitral proceedings.
According to the HKIAC, 24 of the applications sought the preservation of assets and the other requested preservation of evidence. Approximately 70% of the applications were made by parties from jurisdictions outside Mainland China.
The HKIAC stated it was aware of 17 successful applications granted under the arrangement and the total value of assets preserved following these decisions amounted to approximately RMB 8.7 billion.
These statistics are a testimony to the success and the high level of interest in the Arrangement. They provide a reason for parties to continue to select Hong Kong as the seat of arbitration, given that Hong Kong is currently the only jurisdiction with such an arrangement with Mainland China.
SINGAPORE CONVENTION ON MEDIATION ENTERS INTO FORCE AND OTHER MEDIATION DEVELOPMENTS IN SINGAPORE
12 September 2020: The Singapore Convention came into force on 12 September 2020, with 53 countries having signed the convention thus far. As at the time of publication, six member states have ratified the convention: Ecuador, Fiji, Singapore, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Belarus.
The Convention applies to international settlement agreements resulting from mediation, and enables parties to easily enforce and invoke such settlement agreements across borders, before the national courts of participating member states.
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This Mayer Brown article provides information and comments on legal issues and developments of interest. The foregoing is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject matter covered and is not intended to provide legal advice. Readers should seek specific legal advice before taking any action with respect to the matters discussed herein.