On 9 January 2019, Hong Kong’s Department of Justice and the Ministry of Justice of Japan signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) to “strengthen collaboration on international arbitration and mediation“. The MoC, a copy of which is available here, provides a general administrative framework for cooperation between Japan and Hong Kong in relation to international arbitration and mediation.
Evolving Asia, New Frontiers in Dispute Resolution: CIArb (Malaysia Branch) International Arbitration Conference 2018 Keynote Address
At the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Malaysia Branch) International Arbitration Conference 2018, Peter Godwin, the Managing Partner of Herbert Smith Freehills’ Kuala Lumpur office gave a keynote address. The topic of the address was “Evolving Asia, New Frontiers in Dispute Resolution”.
The text of Peter’s keynote is set out below.
After reluctantly issuing an initial stay of enforcement in July 2018, the Hong Kong Court of First Instance recently dismissed an application by China Zenith Chemical Group Ltd (CZ) to further delay the enforcement of an arbitral award in favour of Baosteel Engineering & Technology Group Co Ltd (BS).
The new Rules on the Efficient Conduct of Proceedings in International Arbitration (Prague Rules) launched last month in the Czech Republic and aim to provide a more efficient framework for arbitral procedure which can be used to streamline a dispute, reducing delay and costs. Their approach is closer to civil law than common law traditions, with the tribunal pro-actively managing the dispute from the start.
As discussed in this post, Xiamen Xingjingdi Group Co Ltd (XJ) and various co-defendants affiliated with Eton Properties Ltd (together, EP) have been involved in a long-running dispute in multiple fora, including a PRC-seated CIETAC arbitration and several Hong Kong court proceedings. The case appears now to have come to an end, with the Court of Appeal (Court) confirming its position on common law actions to enforce arbitral awards and rejecting both parties’ applications for leave to appeal the Court’s 15 April 2016 judgment.
ICC STRIVES FOR GREATER TRANSPARENCY AND EFFICIENCY IN UPDATED PRACTICE NOTE TO PARTIES AND ARBITRAL TRIBUNALS ON THE CONDUCT OF ARBITRATION UNDER THE ICC RULES
On 20 December 2018, the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) published updated guidance on the conduct of arbitration under its arbitration rules. The Note to Parties and Arbitral Tribunals on the Conduct of Arbitration under the ICC Rules of Arbitration (Note) entered into force on 1 January 2019, and represents a continuation of the ICC’s efforts to increase transparency and efficiency, and widen its range of services to users.┬á We consider six of the most significant updates to the Note below.
The Supreme People’s Court of China (SPC) has released a new set of judicial interpretations concerning interim injunction applications for intellectual property rights (IP Rights)-related disputes. The Provisions on Application of Laws in Adjudication of Action Preservation Cases Involving Intellectual Property Disputes (Fa Shi  No. 21) (Provisions) were published on 12 December 2018 and take effect on 1 January 2019. Prior to that, a consultation draft of the Provisions was released for public consultation on 26 February 2015.
The Provisions provide further guidance on interim injunctive relief (i.e. action preservation) applications made under Articles 100 and 101 of the Civil Procedure Law 2017 (2017 CPL) in cases concerning IP Rights and unfair competition, and clarify certain key concepts therein. (For more information on interim relief in the PRC, contact email@example.com to request a copy of our guide “Interim Relief in Mainland China”.)
Some important articles in the Provisions, which are covered in this post, are:
- Article 6, which provides for circumstances classified as “urgent circumstances” under Articles 100 and 101 of the 2017 CPL;
- Article 7, which lists the factors that the courts shall take into consideration in determining whether an action preservation order should be granted;
- Article 10, which elaborates on the concept of “irreparable harm” under Article 101 of the 2017 CPL in cases related to IP Rights or unfair competition. Risk of “irreparable harm” is an element that needs to be proved in any application for pre-litigation or pre-arbitration action preservation orders; and
- Article 16, which specifies circumstances under which applications for action preservation will be considered “wrongful”.
ICC modifies standard arbitration clause to make explicit reference to the ICC International Court of Arbitration
As discussed in our recent blog post, the Moscow Arbitrazh Court and appeal courts recently found that a reference to the arbitration rules of an arbitral institution was not sufficiently clear evidence that the parties had agreed on that specific institution to administer the resolution of their disputes. The case related to the ICC standard arbitration clause and the ICC has applied to the Russian Supreme Court for clarity on its approach.
However, in the meantime, the ICC has issued an additional modified standard arbitration clause “to take account of the requirements of national laws and any other special requirements that the parties may have“. The ICC then proceeds to state that it is “prudent” for parties wishing to have an ICC Arbitration in Mainland China or in Russia “to include in their arbitration clause an explicit reference to the ICC International Court of Arbitration“.
The modified clause proposed by the ICC is as follows:
ÔÇťAll disputes arising out of or in connection with the present contract shall be submitted to the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce and shall be finally settled under the Rules of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce by one or more arbitrators appointed in accordance with the said Rules.ÔÇŁ
For further information, please contact Alexei Panich, partner, Nick Peacock, partner, Alexander Khretinin, senior associate, or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.
English court provides new guidance on summary dismissal process for groundless serious irregularity challenges
The English High Court has in the last few days proposed a procedurally strict approach to serious irregularity challenges under s68 of the Arbitration Act 1996 where these have already been dismissed on paper. The decision in Midnight Marine Ltd v Thomas Miller Speciality Underwriting Agency Ltd  EWHC 3431 (Comm) suggests that the court should take a more active role in preventing such hearings from escalating into a full s68 challenge hearing (case available here).
The High Court’s earlier decision in the case of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria v Qatar National Bank  EWHC 2218 (Comm) covered in our previous blog post, demonstrated the difficulty in disposing of bad s68 challenges quickly. This judgment emphasised that an oral hearing will usually be granted after a challenge is thrown out on paper, unless the case is “something akin to vexatious“. In this case, the summary dismissal of the s68 challenge was nevertheless followed by two further applications, and an oral hearing, before the challenge was finally thrown out.
Both of these recent cases promote the summary dismissal process in paragraph O8.5 of the Commercial Court Guide as a useful tool for weeding out unmeritorious s68 challenges, but the decisions differ on how to treat applications to set aside orders dismissing such challenges. The decision in Midnight Marine v Thomas Miller takes a tougher line than the earlier Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria v Qatar National Bank decision, suggesting that the oral hearing referred to in the summary dismissal process should be a very short hearing, directed only at the question of whether the application has a real prospect of success.