HKIArb President CK Kwong, JP, Fellow members John Choong and Heidi Chui attended the SIArb annual Commercial Arbitration Symposium held in the old Parliament Chamber at the Arts House on 29 November 2022. The intellectually stimulating “Tylney Hall-styled” session enabled sharing of knowledge and insights by seasoned arbitrators through the platform.
The Symposium was divided into 3 sessions, (1) Arbitration – Institutions, Trends, New Rules, Practice Procedure, (2) Tribunal – Jurisdiction, Power, Duties, Arbitral Innovation, and (3) Courts, Role of Courts, Support, Annulment, Enforcement, International Courts Law.
President CK Kwong reemphasized Hong Kong as an Important Seat
The Symposium generated a lively debate and valuable feedback from the participants on a range of prickly arbitration issues.
Pertinently, questions about Hong Kong as a seat of arbitration were directed to President CK Kwong during the Symposium. Question was raised as to whether Hong Kong still remains competitive as a seat of arbitration and one which Singapore should continue to look to as a competitor. President CK Kwong dispelled such doubts in his powerful 10-minute speech, when he shared with the audience the efforts Hong Kong had made in recent years to maintain itself as an international dispute resolution hub. New legislations and arrangements were introduced including the Arbitration (Amendment) Ordinance in 2017 giving clear statutory guidance that IP disputes are arbitrable in Hong Kong (with Singapore adopting a comparable legislation in 2019), Third Party Funding Amendments legislation and Outcome Related Fee Structures for Arbitration (Amendment) Ordinance 2022, which bring the two cities at par. Additionally, we have the unique Arrangement between Mainland and Hong Kong to enable parties to apply for interim measures in aid of arbitral proceedings for arbitration cases seated in Hong Kong and Supplemental Arrangement Concerning Mutual Enforcement of Arbitral Awards.
President CK Kwong also reminded the audience that Hong Kong ranked third in the most preferred seat of arbitration according to the 2021 Survey conducted by the Queen Mary, University of London. The presence of well-established arbitration institutions, the pool of international talents, and a pro-arbitration judiciary all bespoke the fact that, despite the difficulties Hong Kong faced in the recent years, Hong Kong will continue to embrace the challenges and strive to offer good quality services to users as an international dispute resolution hub. President CK Kwong stressed that healthy competition in the region is conducive to enhancement of service quality, contributing to a bigger pie for the arbitration community in the two cities sited in their respective unique geographical locations. He ended the speech on a positive note, highlighting that Hong Kong will continue its collaborative effort with professional bodies all over the world to foster interaction and intellectual exchanges.
The constructive dialogue President CK Kwong had with seasoned arbitrators in attendance was meaningful, showcasing HKIArb’s role in promoting arbitration in Hong Kong, being a service centre for Asia and gateway to China.
An interesting survey was also conducted, in which a vote by show of hands was taken to indicate preferred choice for the format of arbitral proceedings post-pandemic, from entirely virtual format, hybrid format (half-virtual, and half-physical), to entirely physical attendance format. The response from the majority appeared to support having flexibility using hybrid format. Participants shared the benefits of adopting virtual format such as saving in travel costs with reduction of carbon footprint, synchronizing time difference, while pointing out the need to guard against witness intervention at evidence hearing, or using internet deficiency as an excuse to delay the giving of answers in cross-examination.
Fellow Member John Choong shared on “Challenges on Arbitral Awards: Hong Kong”
On 30 November 2022, Fellow Member John Choong spoke at the Regional Arbitral Institutes Forum (RAIF) on “Challenges to Arbitral Awards: Hong Kong”, in which he shared the limited set aside grounds in Hong Kong, the low number of enforcement orders and awards being set aside and the trend. He also shared notable cases showcasing the Hong Kong judiciary’s pro-arbitration stance, and 2 latest cases. In one case, the tribunal exceeded the scope of submission to arbitration and in another, a potential ground, “conscious disregard of the law” was considered by the court. Delegates from SIArb Ms. Delphine Ho, Indonesia Institute of Arbitrators Dr. Ir. Ahmad Rizal, and Philippine Institute of Arbitrators Mr. Dranyl Jared P. Amoroso also shared the key developments and trends in their respective regions. The panel discussions were useful and informative.
SIArb 40th Anniversary Gala Dinner
In the evening on 30 November 2022, President CK Kwong, Fellow Members John Choong, Heidi Chui and HKIArb member Philip Tsang attended the 40th Anniversary Gala Dinner of the SIArb at the Fullerton Hotel. Minister Edwin Tong SC, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law of Singapore has graced the event with his attendance. Minister Edwin Tong SC delivered an inspirational speech on building thought leadership, cultivating inclusiveness, diversity and expanding the arbitration ecosystem.
During the Gala Dinner, President CK Kwong shared a special moment with Minister Edwin Tong SC, bringing the Minister with updates on Hong Kong, and discussing opportunities to cooperate. The Minister responded positively and indicated that he would be meeting the Secretary for Justice Paul Lam SC soon to discuss issues of common interests.
The evening ended in good vibes with colleagues and friends from the region and from further afield. Everyone enjoyed the time to reconnect and rekindle friendship.
Reported by Heidi Chui (FHKIArb)