Hong Kong – Mainland interim relief arrangement: full text and more detail

 

Following Tuesday’s announcement of the Arrangement Concerning Mutual Assistance in Court-ordered Interim Measures in Aid of Arbitral Proceedings by the Courts of the Mainland and of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Arrangement), the Supreme People’s Court of China has released the full official text (in Chinese).  The Hong Kong Government has also provided a courtesy English translation on its website.  We expect that the official English text will be released closer to the time when the Arrangement comes into force.

 

Application process

Readers of this blog may be very familiar with seeking interim orders in the Hong Kong High Court in aid of on-going or prospective arbitrations seated in Mainland China, under section 45 of the Hong Kong Arbitration Ordinance (Cap. 609).

The key distinction of the “mirror image” in Mainland China is that parties to a Hong Kong-seated arbitration do not apply directly to the competent Intermediary People’s Court.  Rather, the applicant should submit the interim relief application to the relevant arbitration institutions in Hong Kong, which would forward the application to the competent Intermediary People’s Court in Mainland China.

It is possible to apply for pre-arbitration interim measures in Mainland China via the Arrangement in the same procedure described above, although the People’s Court must receive proof of the institution’s acceptance of the arbitration within 30 days after the Court grants the interim measures.

 

General requirements

At the risk of stating the obvious, although parties first submit the interim relief application to an approved Hong Kong arbitration institution, the law of the application is Chinese law.  After the Court has accepted the application, the interim relief hearings must be conducted by Mainland-qualified lawyers.

The application shall include:

  • the application for interim measure;
  • the arbitration agreement;
  • identity/incorporation documents for natural persons and legal entities, respectively;
  • the request for arbitration, with exhibited evidence, and proof that the institution has accepted the case (for on-going arbitrations[1]); and
  • any other supporting materials required by the People’s Court.

There are some practical difficulties and uncertainties to bear in mind.  The Arrangement requires “documents of identity” issued outside the Mainland to be certified in accordance with PRC law.  This may require certification by a China-appointed attesting officer (in Hong Kong) or Chinese consulate/embassy notarisation and authentication procedures (overseas).  The Arrangement also requires “accurate Chinese translation” for all documents submitted to the People’s Court.  Parties must factor in the additional time and cost of meeting these requirements.  The catch-all requirement for “any other materials required by People’s Court” adds additional uncertainty to the process.

The Arrangement also provides a useful list of issues that must be covered in the application to a Mainland court (Article 5).  Applications must also refer to the PRC Civil Procedure Law and other laws or regulations, depending on the types of interim measures sought by the applicant.  Article 5 of the Arrangement lists the following:

  • basic information of the parties;
  • applied interim measures, including the applied amount of assets to be preserved and particulars of the conduct and the time period;
  • facts and justifications on which the application is based, together with the relevant evidence;
  • clear particulars of the property and evidence to be preserved or concrete threads which may lead to a chain of inquiry;
  • information about the property in the Mainland to be used as security or certification of financial standing; and
  • whether any application under this Arrangement has been made in any other court, relevant institution or permanent office, and the status of such application.

 

What are the approved Hong Kong arbitration institutions?

“Arbitral proceedings in Hong Kong” in the Arrangement refers to arbitrations seated in the Hong Kong SAR and be administered by institutions either headquartered, or with permanent offices, in the SAR. The list of such institutions or permanent offices will be provided by the Hong Kong SAR Government to the Supreme People’s Court, and will be subject to confirmation by both sides.

We anticipate that the list of approved arbitration institutions will include at least HKIAC, the CIETAC Hong Kong Center and ICC Hong Kong.  Ad hoc arbitrations seated in Hong Kong will not benefit from the Interim Measures Arrangement.

 

For further information on the Mainland China interim relief regime, please speak to May Tai, Kathryn Sanger, Helen Tang, Stella Hu or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contacts.

[1] It is not entirely clear here for pre-arbitration applications, whether the applicants need to submit draft request for arbitration; and whether following the commencement of arbitration, the applicants need to provide the request of arbitration, on top of the letter confirming the acceptance of the case.

May Tai
May Tai
Managing Partner - Greater China
+852 2101 4031
Kathryn Sanger
Kathryn Sanger
Partner, Hong Kong
+852 2101 4029
Stella Hu
Stella Hu
Senior Associate, Hong Kong
+852 2101 4248

AUSTRALIA AND INDONESIA SIGN COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT

On 4 March 2019, Australia and Indonesia signed the Australia-Indonesia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (“CEPA“). In this post, we briefly consider some of the noteworthy features of the CEPA chapter on investment and in particular its provisions regarding investor-State dispute settlement (“ISDS“).

Indonesia and Australia signed a bilateral investment treaty (“BIT“) containing ISDS provisions in 1992. Both States are also party to the ASEAN-Australia- New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (“AANZFTA”), signed by Australia in 2009 and Indonesia in 2012, which contains an investment chapter.

As we reported in a previous post, Indonesia announced in 2015 that it would seek to renegotiate and replace its older investment treaties with more modern agreements. The Australia-Indonesia BIT, however, will remain in force even after CEPA enters into force. This is in contrast to the Hong Kong-Australia Free Trade Agreement signed this week (see our post here) pursuant to which Australia and Hong Kong have agreed to terminate the Hong Kong-Australia BIT, which was signed in 1993 and became infamous in Australia after Philip Morris used the treaty to commence arbitration against Australia challenging the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011.

Continue reading

AUSTRALIA AND HONG KONG SIGN NEW TRADE AGREEMENT CONTAINING INVESTOR-STATE DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROVISIONS

On 26 March 2019, Australia and Hong Kong signed the Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement (A-HKFTA) and its associated Investment Agreement (Agreement).

These agreements were negotiated against the background of a heated political debate in Australia regarding the benefits and risks of investment treaties. This debate occurred as a result of an arbitration brought against Australia by Philip Morris in 2011 under the 1993 Hong Kong-Australia Bilateral Investment Treaty (1993 BIT), challenging the introduction of the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 (Cth).

The 1993 BIT will be replaced by the new Agreement once it enters into force, which is expected to occur after both countries complete their respective treaty-making processes and ratify the agreements. Accordingly, investors who may have a claim under the 1993 BIT should consider whether to pursue it before that treaty is terminated.

Continue reading

HONG KONG COURT FINDS ENFORCEMENT OF ARBITRAL AWARD TIME BARRED

In CL v SCG [2019] HKCFI 398, the Hong Kong Court of First Instance found that enforcement of a 2011 arbitral award by CL was time barred, clarifying when a cause of action for failure to honour an award accrues and the effect of the Arrangement Concerning Mutual Enforcement of Arbitral Awards between the Mainland and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (the “Mainland and Hong Kong Arrangement“) on time limits under the Hong Kong Limitation Ordinance.

Continue reading

HONG KONG COURT GRANTS ANTI-SUIT INJUNCTION TO BIND THIRD PARTY TO ARBITRATION AGREEMENT

In Dickson Valora Group (Holdings) Co Ltd v Fan Ji Qian [2019] HKCFI 482, the Hong Kong Court of First Instance has granted an anti-suit injunction restraining mainland Chinese court proceedings commenced by Fan Ji Qian on the ground that the dispute should be referred to arbitration. Although Fan was not a signatory to the contract containing the arbitration clause, he had nevertheless sought to enforce a contractual right under that agreement, such that he was also bound by any conditions integral to the exercise of this right (including the agreement to arbitrate).

This decision shows that an arbitration agreement can, in certain circumstances, bind third parties. This is something which should be considered when drafting agreements which purport to confer a benefit on non-signatories, particularly if it is intended that third parties exercising rights under the contract should also be bound by the arbitration provisions.

Continue reading

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE ASIAN INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT BANK?

AIIB and HKIAC are presenting a joint seminar on the AIIB’s status, policies and projects on 21 February. The seminar, which is supported by Hong Kong’s Department of Justice and the ICC, features:

  • an interview with AIIB’s General Counsel, Gerard Sanders
  • a presentation from AIIB’s head of corporate Law, Peter Quayle, on the international legal status of AIIB and dispute resolution
  • a roundtable discussion on what makes a “shovel-ready” AIIB project involving AIIB’s senior legal consultant, Jennifer Handz

Continue reading

FUNDING IN SINGAPORE AND HONG KONG: HERBERT SMITH FREEHILLS CONTRIBUTES TO LEADING PUBLICATION, ACTS ON FUNDED CASES

Third party funding is a hot topic in Asia.

As noted on this blog, Singapore introduced legislation in 2017 to allow third-party funding in international arbitration and associated proceedings, including enforcement and mediation. Hong Kong’s funding legislation takes effect today.

Our Singapore team is already representing clients in two significant Singapore-seated arbitrations in which the claimants are third-party funded. It is understood that these are amongst the first funded arbitrations in Singapore. We expect Hong Kong arbitrations to generate high levels of interest in funding once the law is in force.

In the light of these exciting developments, Herbert Smith Freehills has contributed the Hong Kong and Singapore chapters of Getting the Deal Through: Litigation Funding 2019. The chapters discuss the trends and legal landscape for funding in both Hong Kong and Singapore.

Continue reading

JAPAN AND HONG KONG AGREE ARBITRATION & MEDIATION COOPERATION

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.

Continue reading

HONG KONG COURT DISMISSES APPLICATION FOR FURTHER STAY OF ENFORCEMENT

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).

Baosteel Engineering & Technology Group Co Ltd v China Zenith Chemical Group Ltd [2019] HKFCI 68

Continue reading