New arbitration centre ‘to reinforce Hong Kong’s role in regional dispute resolution’

Out-Law News | 11 Nov 2014 | 12:38 pm | 1 min. read

Hong Kong’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has said the opening of the China Maritime Arbitration Commission centre, the first outside mainland China, “will reinforce the city's position as a leading centre for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia Pacific region”.

The DOJ welcomed the launch of the centre, for which an inauguration ceremony will be held on 19 November. The ceremony will coincide with a seminar to promote the greater use of maritime arbitration services in Hong Kong, which is being organised by the territory’s government and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC).

Both the seminar and the inauguration ceremony will form part of the fourth Asian Logistics & Maritime Conference taking place in the territory on 18 and 19 November.

Hong Kong-based commercial disputes expert Peter Bullock of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: “I see the Hong Kong DoJ’s move to establish a China Maritime Arbitration Commission centre in Hong Kong as part of the respective campaigns of Hong Kong and Singapore to differentiate themselves and to drive increased arbitration business locally. We have seen intellectual property arbitration lists established recently in each of Singapore and Hong Kong, and next year sees the opening of the Singapore International Commercial Court, as an alternative venue for South East Asian disputes in particular.”

Bullock said: “Although it is likely that Hong Kong’s port infrastructure has peaked in terms of commercial activity, there is a strong push locally for increase in ports services (especially professional services), as the amount of maritime traffic regionally is set to significantly increase. This new China Maritime Arbitration Commission plays well with that.”

HKTDC assistant executive director Raymond Yip said: “Trading and logistics is one of the four pillar industries in Hong Kong and accounts for roughly 26% of the local gross domestic product, so its importance to the economy of Hong Kong is never in doubt.”

Yip said the 12th five-year plan of China’s government “explicitly supports the development of Hong Kong’s logistics industry as well as the consolidation and enhancement of Hong Kong’s status as an international maritime centre”. Yip said: “The central government will also continue to lend support to Hong Kong to develop into an inventory management and regional distribution centre for high-value goods.”

According to Yip, global economic trends affecting the development of the logistics and maritime centres include “regional economic integration brought about by a number of regional free trade agreements, the boom in e-commerce, evolution in supply chain management, and also the recovery of the shipping industry that is prompting new opportunities for logistics companies”.