Hong Kong—state immunity and arbitration
Produced in partnership with Ernest Yang of DLA Piper (Hong Kong)
Hong Kong—state immunity and arbitration

The following Arbitration guidance note Produced in partnership with Ernest Yang of DLA Piper (Hong Kong) provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Hong Kong—state immunity and arbitration
  • The concept of state immunity
  • Absolute immunity applies in the HKSAR
  • Crown immunity
  • Key points to consider if your arbitration involves the PRC or the HKSAR

This Practice Note considers how the issue of state immunity is dealt with in Hong Kong, with a particular focus on arbitration.

A former British colony, Hong Kong was handed over to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on 1 July 1997. Since then, the PRC has exercised its sovereign power over the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) under the principle of ‘One country, Two systems’ as stipulated in The Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, Chapter 2101 (the Basic Law), the constitutional document of the HKSAR.

The HKSAR enjoys a high degree of autonomy and an independent judiciary from China. In particular, Basic Law, art 2 provides that:

‘The National People's Congress authorizes the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to exercise a high degree of autonomy and enjoy executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication, in accordance with the provisions of this Law.’

According to Basic Law, art 12:

‘The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be a local administrative region of the People’s Republic of China, which shall enjoy a high degree of autonomy and come directly under the Central People’s Government.’

However, the courts of the HKSAR do not have jurisdiction over ‘acts of state’ such as foreign affairs and defence, including the determination of the applicable policy regarding state