Special Report
Hong Kong Arbitration Remains Resilient Despite Detractors

October 2020

 

Close scrutiny of Hong Kong’s arbitration scene reveals that many of the fears swirling around the city’s future as a dispute resolution centre are unfounded


As a globally renowned dispute resolution centre, Hong Kong has inevitably attracted some unfavourable press over the last year and a half. The China-US trade war, anti-government protests, and, most recently, the introduction of the national security law (NSL) have dominated headlines, leading some to question the city’s ability to remain a safe and neutral arbitration seat.


Hong Kong, home to many of the world’s leading arbitral bodies, is frequently reported to be losing out to Singapore because of recent political events, with international companies understood to be seeking a more stable venue for their arbitration cases.


Foreign investors are seemingly concerned that the NSL will unduly influence arbitrators in cases involving mainland Chinese companies, driving them to give outsized consideration to Chinese interests. The argument appears to be that the NSL criminalises collusion with foreign forces and, if the law were broadly interpreted, then it could be applied to cases involving strategic mainland Chinese investors. Such concerns, however, do not always match reality.


While Hong Kong’s reputation has undoubtedly taken a knock, with international companies less than enthused by the city’s prolonged period of turbulence, suggestions that it could lose its standing as a trusted arbitration center fail to stand up to a reasoned analysis of market conditions.

 

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