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Hong Kong’s Chinese edge in Asian arbitration

Hong Kong’s Chinese edge in Asian arbitration
Hong Kong has certain advantages as a maritime arbitration centre, said Hong Kong=based independent maritime arbitrator Danny Mok.

With many arbitration cases now involving at least one Asian and usually a Chinese partner, Hong Kong has obvious geographical advantages as well as benefits from a good and well-respected legal system, he said at the recent International Congress of Maritime Arbitrators.

In addition, arbitrators in Hong Kong are better-placed to understand the cultural differences between east and west as well as have the ability to read and write in Chinese.

“This can be useful in cases involving Chinese shipbuilding contracts for example where oral or documentary evidence may be given in Chinese,” said Mok, noting that translation costs can add up to a substantial sum.

Also speaking at the Hong Kong focus session of the conference, Hong Kong’s solicitor-general Frank Poon said the city is taking steps to develop maritime arbitration, even though the government’s resources are limited.

He revealed for example that redevelopment plans for the former Central Government Offices in Central will allow the creation of a legal hub there by 2018. International arbitrators will be invited to set up offices in the space made available for them.

“We will provide the best environment for the business and invite international arbitrators in,” he concluded.