Outside the traditional arbitration hubs situated in Europe (London, Paris and Zurich) and North America (New York), nowhere wields as much influence within the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) arena these days as that of Asia – in particular the arbitral institutions located in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Within the region, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC), the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) and the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC) have particularly come to the fore in recent times, to firmly establish Asia’s place in the upper echelons of international arbitration.

Moreover, the emergence of arbitration in Asia is a consequence of the pivoting of the global economy towards Asia over the past 10 years or so. This, in turn, has led to an upward trend in disputes and a subsequent increase in the prevalence of arbitral institutions in the region.

According to James Kwan, a partner at Hogan Lovells, there are three key reasons why Asian venues are increasingly being chosen ahead of the aforementioned traditional seats. First, the HKIAC and the SIAC are mature arbitral institutions that are cheaper than their European counterparts, but comparable in quality. Second, intra-Asian trade is on the rise. And third, China’s emergence as a global superpower has seen bargaining power shift in contract negotiations.

“A total of 520 new cases were filed at HKIAC in 2015,” notes Mr Kwan. “Of these new cases, 271 were arbitrations, of which 22 were mediations and 227 were domain name disputes. Further, 116 cases were administered by HKIAC under the HKIAC Administered Arbitration Rules or the UNCITRAL Rules. In addition, the HKIAC’s 2015 arbitration caseload continued to be predominantly international in nature, with 79 percent of new arbitration cases involving at least one non-Hong Kong party and 94.8 percent of new administered arbitrations being international cases.”

Oct-Dec 2016 issue

Fraser Tennant