On 24 May 2018, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Center (“HKIAC”) released the caseload statistics Report for 2017, revealing the highest number of HKIAC arbitration cases ever administered.
HKIAC reported a total of 532 new cases filed in 2017, which is 15.7 % more than in 2016 (see Report for 2016). This is the highest number of HKIAC arbitration cases since the center began publishing statistics in 2009. A total of 297 new arbitrations were commenced last year, 156 of which were under the HKIAC Administered Arbitration Rules 2013 or the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules.
HKIAC revealed a small drop in the percentage of cases considered international, i.e., at least one party was not from Hong Kong- from 78.4 % in 2016 to 73.1 % in 2017. 40.8 % of the cases did not involve Hong Kong parties at all.
The total amounts in dispute doubled since 2016 – from US$2.5 billion in 2016 to US$5 billion (HK$39.3. billion) in 2017. This is not the highest total amount of disputes the center ever had, however. In 2015, the total caseload value reached US$6.2. billion.
While HKIAC still continues to attract mainly Asian parties, the statistics reveal that the center is starting to attract more parties from other jurisdictions. In 2017, parties from 39 different jurisdictions used the HKIAC, with the top 10 coming from: Hong Kong, Mainland China, Singapore, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, US, South Korea, Thailand, Macau and the United Kingdom.
The disputes arose from a wide range of sectors. The most popular, as expected, were trade-related disputes, with the number of cases rising from 10.8 % in 2016 to 31.9 %, followed by construction disputes (19.2 %), corporate (13.5 %) and maritime (8.8 %) disputes.
Regarding the seat of arbitration, all arbitrations were seated in Hong Kong. The largest majority of proceedings were conducted in English, followed (86.9 %) by Chinese (11.2 % in Chinese and 1.9% both in English and Chinese).
In 2017, HKIAC made a total of 97 arbitrator appointments and confirmed 86 designations made by parties and co-arbitrators. Of 97 appointments, only 16 (16.5 %) were female, however.
There were 4 challenges to the arbitrators submitted, three of which were rejected and one which resulted in the resignation of the challenged arbitrator. One challenge was on the basis of the arbitrator’s failure to disclose a connection with one party’s counsel’s chambers, another was on the basis of the ongoing professional relationship between the arbitrator and legal counsel, and two were based on the alleged misconduct of the challenged arbitrator.
As the Report reveals, 15 applications for expedited procedures were submitted, 11 of which were granted. Finally, HKIAC saw 36 arbitrations concluded by a final award in 2017, less in comparison to 65 awards issued in 2016.