Reed Smith Client Alerts

Recently-released statistics from the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) show:

a) The highest number of new cases since 2010, and a 24.2% increase on 2021

b) Greater diversity of party nationality – up 53% from 2021

c) Banking and financial services overtaking international trade as the most popular sector

d) The majority of new cases involving multiple parties and contracts

e) Continued use of the Hong Kong-Mainland China interim relief arrangement

This article summarises some of the key takeaways from the HKIAC’s report.

A record-breaking year

HKIAC accepted 344 new arbitration cases – a 24.2% increase on the 277 new cases in 2021 and the highest number since 2010.

The vast majority (83.1%) of disputes submitted to the HKIAC were international in nature, meaning that at least one party was not from Hong Kong. Most administered arbitrations (87.1%) were conducted in the English language.

There was a notable increase in the diversity of party nationality, with parties coming from 63 jurisdictions – a 53.7% increase on the 41 nationalities recorded in 2021. The top five geographical party nationalities or origins were Hong Kong, Mainland China, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and Singapore.

Disputes submitted to the HKIAC involved 16 different governing laws, with Hong Kong law as the most commonly selected governing law, followed by English law then Jersey law.

Despite the growth in overall new cases, the total amount in dispute fell to HK$43.1 billion (approximately US$5.5 billion), from HK$54.6 billion (approximately US$7 billion) the previous year.

Type of dispute and conduct of proceedings

Over a third (36.9%) of new cases were in the banking and financial services sector. This was the first year this sector was the largest recorded. The corporate, international trade/sale of goods and maritime sectors, came in second, third and fourth places, with 17.7%, 14% and 12.5%, respectively.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the proportion of cases in the banking and financial services sector, 2022 saw a considerable number of cases involving multiple parties and contracts. Of the 344 arbitrations commenced that year, 53.2%, or 183, involved multiple parties or contracts. The HKIAC Administered Arbitration Rules have special provisions providing for arbitration under multiple contracts, as well as joinder and consolidation. These provisions were invoked in more than a quarter of the 183 cases.

Given the extended effect of the global pandemic in 2022, 75 of the total 93 hearings were fully or partially virtual.