Hong Kong, Guangdong, and Macao have taken the next step to take the Greater Bay Area (“GBA“) to the centre stage of international arbitration by jointly forming the Greater Bay Area International Arbitration Centre in Shenzhen (the “Centre“). The Centre is located in the Hetao Shenzhen-Hong Kong Science Technology Innovation Cooperation Zone (the “Cooperation Zone”).
On 6 September 2021, the Chief Executive of the HKSAR and the Deputy Party Secretary of Guangdong attended the Shenzhen-Hong Kong High-level Meeting and the Signing of Shenzhen-Hong Kong Cooperation and witnessed the signing of the cooperation agreement forming the Centre as well as the agreement relating to the settling of the first three Hong Kong institutions in the Centre. These are: the eBRAM International Online Dispute Resolution Centre Limited (“eBRAM“); the South China International Arbitration Centre (HK); and the barristers’ chambers, Des Voeux Chambers.
The President of the Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration and the Chairman of eBRAM also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the two institutions to reach a consensus on developing the Centre’s online dispute resolution platform and carrying out in-depth cooperation in the online dispute resolution space.
The signing of the cooperation agreement and the settlement of Hong Kong institutions in the Centre are significant to clients’ arbitrations which have Chinese elements in the following ways:
- The Centre serves as a legal think tank that facilitates exchange and cooperation between legal professionals from arbitration and mediation institutions within the GBA. Through these interactions, legal experts in the area can become fluent not only in Mainland law but also in Hong Kong and Macau law. As a result, better service can be provided to parties seeking legal assistance in the region;
- As the number of businesses continues to grow within the region, the number of disputes is expected to rise as well. The establishment of the Centre can cater for this rising demand;
- Disputes in the GBA will very likely involve cross-border features that raise complex questions of jurisdiction and applicable law. Rather than searching for legal advisers in different locations to resolve these complicated matters, parties can utilise the Centre as a “one-stop-shop” efficiently to liaise with legal personals to resolve their issues;
- The settlement of Hong Kong and Macau institutions in the Centre is a prelude to future plans. There are plans to introduce other international and world-renowned arbitration institutions to settle in the Centre. Ultimately, the Centre seeks to become a hub where parties can resolve international disputes in the increasingly economically interdependent world.
With the Centre’s establishment, there is now a platform to encourage further collaboration in arbitration between Hong Kong, Guangdong, Macao. The Centre will explore the feasibility to implement a civil and commercial dispute resolution mechanism that aligns with the Hong Kong legal system. If such alignment is successful, it may become a replicable template for other innovative industries to follow and accelerate the development of the Cooperation Zone and the GBA. The Centre’s establishment is considered a “milestone” in the bigger goal to establish the Greater Bay Area as a leading global arbitration centre.
Anticipating the importance of the GBA in arbitration, King and Wood Mallesons set up its KWM International Centre located in Shenzhen. Our International Centre aligns our firm with China’s national development strategy and better serves our clients’ increasing needs arising out of professional legal services within the region. See a link to more information on our International Centre here.