Institution profile:
HKIAC (Hong Kong)

Cases 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Arbitration cases 275 293 260 252 271 262 297
HKIAC rules 41 68 81 110 116 94 156
UNCITRAL rules 234 225 179 142 155 168 141
Arbitration cases 275 293 260 252 271 262  
International 179 199 195 171 214 228  
Domestic 96 94 65 81 57 34  
Exchange rate 7.784 7.756 7.756 7.754 7.752 7.762 7.793333333
Amount (HKD) 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
HKD in billion 4.8 7.9 1.1 3.4 47.9 19.4 37.8
USD in billion $0.62 $1.02 $0.14 $0.44 $6.18 $2.50 $4.85
Amount (US billion) $3.80 $1.80 $2.00 $2.80 $6.20 $2.50  

Summary of findings

  • The number of arbitrations filed per year remains steady. However, when we look at the rules according to which they have been arbitrated, there is a more pronounced movement.
  • We see a decline in the use of UNCITRAL and a steady increase in HKIAC rules.

Snapshot of the HKIAC as an arbitral institution, by Wesley Pang, Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre

The HKIAC continues to see disputes arising in the corporate and finance, construction, maritime and international trade sectors.

  • 2017: international trade (31.9%); construction (19.2%); corporate and finance (13.5%); maritime (8.8%)
  • 2016: corporate and finance (29.3%); maritime (21.6%); construction (19.2%); international trade (10.8%)

The fact that corporate and finance disputes remain among the main sectors in which we are seeing disputes arise is, for example, consistent with Hong Kong being an international financial centre with an integrated and sophisticated network of financial institutions and markets. Notably, Hong Kong has been ranked third worldwide and first in Asia by the Global Financial Centres Index this year. Its stature as a global financial centre is, to a large extent, built on its status as the world’s freest economy for the past 24 years and the most judicially independent jurisdiction in Asia for the last ten years. In line with this status, the HKIAC launched in May 2018 a Panel of Arbitrators for Financial Services Disputes, comprising some of the world’s leading experts in arbitrating financial services matters, including those in relation to structured financing, sovereign lending, forex trading, derivatives, asset management, interbank and banking regulatory matters

We are also seeing a growing number of high-value cases being referred to the HKIAC for arbitration. In particular, the total amount in dispute has risen from approximately US$2.5 billion in 2016 to approximately US$5 billion in 2017, which represents a 100% increase. The average amount in dispute in 2017 was approximately US$30.6 million.

Hong Kong is a premier gateway to Asia. Its unique geographical and geopolitical position makes Hong Kong among the first stops for international companies seeking access to Asia and for Asian companies reaching out to the world. In this regard, we saw parties from 39 jurisdictions participating in the HKIAC arbitrations in 2017. The top ten geographical origins or nationalities of these parties were:

  1. Hong Kong
  2. China
  3. Singapore
  4. British Virgin Islands
  5. Cayman Islands
  6. United States
  7. South Korea
  8. Thailand
  9. Macau
  10. United Kingdom

As a gateway to Asia, Hong Kong also enjoys a particular advantage in relation to international disputes involving Mainland Chinese parties. From the above, it can be seen that such parties remain the top foreign users of the HKIAC arbitration (nearly, 35% of new arbitrations filed with the the HKIAC in 2017 involved a Mainland Chinese party). In this regard, the HKIAC continues to handle the largest number of arbitration cases involving Mainland Chinese parties among arbitral institutions outside of Mainland China. It is also worth noting that Hong Kong’s proximity to the mainland ensures that the HKIAC benefits from an excellent knowledge of Mainland China, including its commercial, regulatory and legal environments