HKIAC Statistics: demonstrating the steady strength of Hong Kong as a seat for arbitration

Feb 2022


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HKIAC Statistics: demonstrating the steady strength of Hong Kong as a seat for arbitration

Early in the Year of the Tiger, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (“HKIAC”) released its Year of the Ox statistics for 2021.  Their full report is available here, and in this post we highlight a few trends that we found interesting.

  • Non-Hong Kong parties in 81.6% of the arbitrations

This is a record high in recent years.  To us, this demonstrates continued international popularity for Hong Kong as a leading arbitration seat.   See our earlier blog post on the attractiveness of Hong Kong as an arbitral seat.

Not surprisingly, Hong Kong parties continue to be the most active in HKIAC, followed by parties from Mainland China. Interestingly, BVI and Cayman (for the first time) take third and fourth place.

  • Increasing applications under the Hong Kong – Mainland China interim measures arrangement (the “Arrangement”) since its implementation

HKIAC made 25 applications to 15 different Mainland Chinese courts under the (now, not so new, but still ground-breaking) Interim Measures Arrangement, for interim measures worth a total of RMB3.5 billion (US$544 million) in Mainland China.

The Arrangement which is now in its third year continues to give Hong Kong an advantage unavailable to any other jurisdiction: see our previous article for the top tips on dealing with applications under that Arrangement.

  • Virtual hearings here to stay

By now, no doubt parties are used to this first line in every hearing:

“Can you hear me?”.

In 2021, over 70% of the hearings were held fully or partially virtual.  Given that Hong Kong is currently undergoing a further wave of Covid cases and travel continues to be restricted, we expect the number of virtual hearings to rise. HKIAC’s guidelines on virtual hearing are a great resource for parties engaging in one.  As a team, we have recently put together our own virtual hearing protocol to ensure that our global practices are harnessed in one place.

  • 801 parties arguing over 475 contracts

Parties are making good use of the multi-party / multi-contract provisions under the HKIAC rules.  The 475 contracts and 32 single arbitrations commenced under them are the highest in recent years. The figure is welcoming as it shows that the HKIAC’s rules continue to provide useful and relevant features for parties.

  • 277 total arbitrations

This represents a slight decrease from 318 in 2020 and 308 in 2019.

  • HK$54.6 billion (US$7 billion) in dispute

The average amount of disputed sum per administered arbitration is HK$193.8 million (US$24.8 million). The amount in dispute is consistent with recent years.

All in all – a welcome sign for parties choosing to resolve their disputes by Hong Kong arbitration.