CD: To what extent has there been an increase, or otherwise, of commercial disputes in Asia over the past 12 months? What types of disputes are typically being seen and in which sectors are they most prevalent?

Dick: The number and complexity of commercial disputes across the region has increased over the course of the last decade. The most recent 12 months has been no exception to that trend. This is an inevitable consequence of the growth in economic activity across Asia, but also reflects growing confidence on the part of investors that commercial disputes originating in the region can be satisfactorily resolved in the region. We continue to see plenty of ‘traditional’ post-acquisition and joint venture disputes, alongside increasing numbers of more complex matters involving, for example, intellectual property.

Tantono: The ebb and flow of commercial disputes are typically related to the business cycle. Unfortunately, many countries within Asia are in the down cycle at the moment. Hence, the number of commercial disputes seems to be increasing. As is typical in a business down cycle, the type of disputes on the rise relate to shareholder disputes, bankruptcy and debt restructurings. Of course, Asia continues to be the region where many construction projects are undertaken, and construction disputes remain prevalent.

Sanghera: Looking to its own caseload comprising arbitrations, mediations and domain name disputes, HKIAC has experienced a significant increase in the number of commercial disputes over the last 12 months. By the mid-point of 2017, HKIAC handled almost twice the number of new matters compared to the first half of 2016 and 2015. This is likely reflective of the greater regional landscape, as other institutions have seen an increase in their caseloads or are setting up offices in the region to serve the growing need for dispute resolution services. The type of commercial activity taking place in the region has evolved.

Oct-Dec 2017 issue

Ernst & Young Advisory Services Limited

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Singapore

Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC)

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates