The HKIAC’s statistics for 2020 reveal that in 2020 the HKIAC received a record number of arbitration filings (the highest number received in over a decade) and the total amount in dispute in the arbitrations was another record high. Most hearings were fully or partially virtual, which is unsurprising given the pandemic outbreak last year.
The following are some of the more notable statistics:
- 483 new cases were submitted to the HKIAC in 2020. Of those, 318 were arbitrations (as compared to 308 in 2019), 16 were mediations (as compared to 12 in 2019) and 149 were domain name disputes (as compared to 182 in 2019).
- As in 2019, the majority of arbitrations submitted to the HKIAC in 2020 (72.3%) were international arbitrations, meaning that at least one of the parties was not from Hong Kong.
- The total amount in dispute in all arbitration cases in 2020 was HK$68.8 billion (as compared to HK$36.4 billion in 2019).
- The Rules applying to the 2020 arbitrations were predominantly the HKIAC Administered Arbitration Rules (61%). Others included the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, administered by the HKIAC (4%), HKIAC Electronic Transaction Arbitration Rules (2%) and HKIAC Securities Arbitration Rules (0.7%). The remainder (24.2 %) were ad hoc arbitrations).
- The top 10 geographical origins or nationalities of the parties participating in arbitrations, were Hong Kong, Mainland China, BVI, U.S., Cayman Islands, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, U.K. and U.A.E.
- 12 different governing laws applied to the disputes arbitrated in 2020. Hong Kong law was the most common, followed by English law, and Chinese law (no change from 2019).
- 80.8% of the administered arbitrations commenced in 2020 were conducted in English, 15.8% in Chinese and 3.4% in both English and Chinese – not much change from 2019.
- There was little difference from 2019, in the percentages of types of disputes arbitrated. Disputes arising from the construction sector comprised 10.7% of cases (a slight reduction from 14.8% in 2019).
- One challenge to an arbitrator was submitted in 2020 (as compared to 3 in 2019). The one submitted in 2020 (which is pending) relates to the number of cases concerning a specialised industry in which the arbitrator acted for a party and received instructions from the counsel representing the party. There were 3 challenges in 2019 (all of which were rejected). One challenged the arbitrator’s alleged failure to disclose his professional connections with a party’s counsel, as well as his and the counsel’s active participation in arbitration events and business. The other two challenges were based on the arbitrator’s participation in certain seminars and his professional relationship with a party’s counsel.
- In 2020 there were 22 applications made to 14 different Mainland China courts under the Hong Kong-Mainland Interim Measures Arrangement, seeking to preserve evidence, assets or conduct, worth a total of RMB$6.4 billion in Mainland China. In respect of those applications, the Mainland courts issued orders to preserve RMB4.4 billion of assets in 2020.
- In 2020, parties made disclosure of third party funding in 3 arbitrations under the 2018 HKIAC Administered Arbitration Rules. There was no disclosure of third party funding in the administered arbitrations submitted to the HKIAC in 2019.
- In 2020, there were 14 emergency arbitrator applications submitted to the HKIAC.
- 28 applications for expedited procedure were submitted to the HKIAC in 2020, 24 of which were granted.
- The HKIAC hosted a total of 117 hearings, 80 of which were fully or partially virtual.
- 52 arbitrations administered by the HKIAC were concluded by final award in 2020. Four were settled, resulting in a Consent Award.