We aim to make HK a global ar­bi­tra­tion hub, says Yuen

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA -

Turn­ing Hong Kong into an in­ter­na­tional ar­bi­tra­tion cen­ter for the Belt and Road (B&R) Ini­tia­tive would be a ma­jor fo­cus of the new Hong Kong gov­ern­ment in try­ing to con­sol­i­date the city’s role as a re­gional hub for le­gal ser­vices and dis­pute res­o­lu­tion ser­vices, Sec­re­tary for Jus­tice Rim­sky Yuen Kwok-ke­ung said on Sun­day.

He said the Hong Kong SAR has be­gun tak­ing mul­ti­pronged pro­ce­dures to achieve the goal, in­clud­ing en­hanc­ing the city’s cur­rent ar­bi­tra­tion le­gal frame­work, as well as in­ten­si­fy­ing co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Hong Kong and main­land cities on ar­bi­tra­tion ser­vices.

Yuen made the re­marks dur­ing a panel dis­cus­sion at a law con­fer­ence in Shen­zhen to com­mem­o­rate the 20th an­niver­sary of China’s re­sump­tion of ex­er­cis­ing sovereignty over Hong Kong.

Ex­plain­ing the rea­sons for de­vel­op­ing Hong Kong into a global ar­bi­tra­tion cen­ter, he said trade dis­putes aris­ing from the B&R are in­evitable and this would of­ten in­volve more than two coun- tries and re­gions.

In­ter­na­tional ar­bi­tra­tion serves as an ef­fec­tive ap­proach to solv­ing such prob­lems as it could have all coun­tries and re­gions in­volved in one court at one time.

Be­sides, le­gal ser­vices would have a great im­pact on boost­ing a city’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and com­petive­ness, Yuen said, adding that hav­ing an edge in le­gal ser­vices would “pro­foundly” en­hance Hong Kong’s in­ter­na­tional in­flu­ence and al­low the city to have a greater say in the in­ter­na­tional busi­ness arena.

Yuen added that Hong Kong al­ready en­joys ad­van­tages as a world ar­bi­tra­tion cen­ter. In ad­di­tion to its ge­o­graphic po­si­tion, the city’s ad­van­tages lie in im­ple­ment­ing a com­mon law sys­tem, sim­i­lar to that ap­plied in re­gions and coun­tries in­volved in the B&R project. There­fore, there’s a fa­vor­able le­gal ba­sis for Hong Kong to build trust with them, he said.

In 2015, Hong Kong was ranked as the most pre­ferred ar­bi­tral in­sti­tu­tion out­side of Eu­rope and the third-best ar­bi­tral in­sti­tu­tion world­wide by the sixth In­ter­na­tional Ar­bi­tra­tion Sur­vey re­leased by the Queen Mary Univer­sity of Lon­don.

As to how Hong Kong can achieve the goal, Yuen said the city has re­viewed and up­dated the rel­e­vant ar­bi­tra­tion in­fra­struc­ture.

Ar­bi­tra­tion in Hong Kong is gov­erned by the Ar­bi­tra­tion Or­di­nance which has been ef­fec­tive since June 2011. Ac­cord­ing to Yuen, the Hong Kong gov­ern­ment has made sev­eral up­dates to the or­di­nance to keep up with in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ments, in­clud­ing a clar­i­fi­ca­tion last De­cem­ber that dis­putes con­cern­ing in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty could be solved through ar­bi­tra­tion.

Mean­while, Hong Kong is also work­ing on in­ten­si­fy­ing co­op­er­a­tion with main­land cities, in­clud­ing en­cour­ag­ing law firms jointly op­er­ated by Hong Kong and main­land com­pa­nies, in a bid to achieve mu­tual un­der­stand­ing on law and reg­u­la­tions on both sides.

Ac­cord­ing to Yuen, there are now 10 main­land-Hong Kong jointly-run law firms based in Shen­zhen, Guangzhou and Zhuhai.

Fred Kan Ka-chong, chair­man of the Belt and Road Com­mit­tee of the Law So­ci­ety of Hong Kong — a pro­fes­sional as­so­ci­a­tion for so­lic­i­tors in Hong Kong — said the law so­ci­ety is pay­ing close at­ten­tion to the B&R, and has been try­ing to cul­ti­vate tal­ents to meet the need for le­gal ser­vices brought by the ini­tia­tive.

Ac­cord­ing to Kan, the le­gal body is pre­par­ing a course for Hong Kong lawyers to learn more about cross-bound­ary trade.

Hong Kong’s rank­ing as an ar­bi­tra­tion cen­ter world­wide, ac­co­dring to the sixth In­ter­na­tional Ar­bi­tra­tion Sur­vey

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