The new Seoul International Dispute Resolution Centre (IDRC) opened its doors in Korea last month, signalling the rising trend in international arbitration in Asia.

Attending the official launch were Herbert Smith Freehills’ disputes partners Tony Dymond, based in Seoul, and Justin D’Agostino, based in Hong Kong and Greater China, both of whom have specialist experience in international arbitration.

The Seoul IDRC offers a neutral facility, designed to host hearings for arbitrations seated around the region, as well as conferences and seminars on international arbitration. It was established by the Korean Bar Association and the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board, with support and funding from the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Korean Ministry of Justice.

The Seoul IDRC operates on a similar model to Singapore’s Maxwell Chambers, and is expecting to host several international arbitral institutions at its premises. These include the HKIAC – which celebrated the launch of its first overseas office in Seoul on 27 May 2013 – as well as SIAC, LCIA, ICC and AAA/ICDR.

The Centre is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and equipment and is centrally located in the prestigious Seoul Global Tower Building. The aim of the facility is to position Seoul as another international arbitration “hub” in Asia, with particular focus on disputes involving Korean and Japanese parties.

The proliferation of arbitration in Korea is also important to the Seoul IDRC’s success, a topic which we covered in a previous blog. The latest signs indicate that arbitration is increasing in the region and, in fact, the Centre has already hosted its first case.

Herbert Smith Freehills was one of the first foreign law firms to receive approval from the Korean Ministry of Justice to open an office in Seoul, following the liberalisation of Korea’s legal market to foreign entrants.


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