Hong Kong—challenging and replacing arbitrators
Produced in partnership with Shaun Wu of Paul Hastings

The following Arbitration practice note produced in partnership with Shaun Wu of Paul Hastings provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Hong Kong—challenging and replacing arbitrators
  • Grounds for challenge of arbitrator
  • Procedure for challenge of arbitrator
  • Request for decision on challenge
  • As the request to the court is pending
  • Termination of mandate of arbitrator
  • Appointment of substitute arbitrator

Hong Kong—challenging and replacing arbitrators

It remains uncommon for parties to challenge arbitrators (and especially the presiding arbitrator), though this practice has gradually increased over time. The parties are free to agree on this process, but failing such agreement, the default position under Hong Kong law is set out in the Arbitration Ordinance, Chapter 609 (AO) incorporating with modifications the United Nations Commission for International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law (the Model Law).

Grounds for challenge of arbitrator

Firstly, the AO requires a prospective arbitrator to disclose 'any circumstances likely to give rise to justifiable doubts as to his impartiality or independence' when they are approached in connection with their possible appointment, as well as from the time of their appointment and throughout the arbitral proceedings. The grounds for challenge are further set out in AO, s 25.

Whether the arbitrator possesses the agreed qualifications depends on the parties’ agreement. As for doubts regarding an arbitrator’s impartiality or independence, see Practice Note: Hong Kong—independence and impartiality of arbitrators. In particular, the inclusion of the word 'justifiable' suggests a certain standard required of any such doubts in order for the challenge to succeed.

Procedure for challenge of arbitrator

Request for decision on challenge

If there is no agreement on the challenge procedure (in either the arbitration agreement or the arbitral rules adopted), AO, s 26(1) sets out the default challenge procedure and

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