Hong Kong—arbitration procedure
Produced in partnership with John Zadkovich of Vinson & Elkins (Hong Kong)

The following Arbitration practice note produced in partnership with John Zadkovich of Vinson & Elkins (Hong Kong) provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Hong Kong—arbitration procedure
  • Equal treatment of the parties
  • Determining the rules of procedure
  • Evidence
  • Duration
  • Statements of claim
  • Hearings

Hong Kong—arbitration procedure

The Arbitration Ordinance, Chapter 609 (AO) affords the parties significant autonomy in determining the conduct of the arbitration proceedings. The AO contains certain mandatory provisions and exclusive powers of an arbitral tribunal designed to ensure a balance between party autonomy and arbitral tribunal authority.

Equal treatment of the parties

AO, Pt 7 sets out the main provisions relating to the conduct of arbitral proceedings.

The starting point, and indeed the foundation of the arbitration procedure, are the mandatory legal obligations, which are effectively overriding objectives to be employed by the tribunal when conducting an arbitration. Relevantly, whereas the parties have a large degree of autonomy as to the procedure, the parties cannot oust these mandatory provisions.

Firstly, AO, s 46(2) states that ‘the parties must be treated with equality’. This duty applies to the arbitral tribunal and to the parties themselves. Therefore, there are three components to the duty of fairness under the AO:

  1. the tribunal must treat the parties equally

  2. the parties must treat each other equally, and

  3. the parties must do all things necessary for the proper and expeditious conduct of the arbitration proceedings

This rule against bias is an essential element of the rules of natural justice in any modern legal system. It therefore comes as no surprise then that it features prominently in the AO.

Secondly, AO, s 46(3) imposes several overriding obligations on

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