Pilot Scheme on Facilitation for Persons Participating in Arbitral Proceedings in Hong Kong

15 July 2020, Construction, Legal Alert, by Leo Wong,

The Scheme

On 29 June 2020, the Hong Kong Government launched the Pilot Scheme on Facilitation for Persons Participating in Arbitral Proceedings in Hong Kong (Scheme), under which (1) arbitrators, (2) expert and factual witnesses, (3) counsel and (4) parties to an arbitration are allowed to participate in arbitral proceedings in Hong Kong as visitors for a period not exceeding their visa-free period, without first obtaining employment visas which are normally required but for the Scheme. 

Eligibility

To be eligible, the participants need to meet the following conditions:

1.

they are nationals of countries/regions allowed to visit Hong Kong without a visa for a certain period (see the Immigration Department’s website); and

2. 

they obtain a Letter of Proof confirming their eligibility under the Scheme:

(1) 

for ad hoc arbitrations, from

(a)       HKIAC; or

(b)       the Department of Justice of the Hong Kong Government;

(2) 

for administered arbitrations, from one of the arbitral institutions below:

(a)       HKIAC;

(b)       CIETAC Hong Kong Arbitration Center;

(c)        ICC Asia Office;

(d)       Hong Kong Maritime Arbitration Group;

(e)       South China International Arbitration Center (HK); or

(f)       eBRAM.

The Scheme currently does not apply to nationals from Mainland China, but may be extended to them and nationals from other jurisdictions upon review of the Scheme in two years’ time.

Impact of COVID-19

Persons eligible under the Scheme should note that they are equally subject to the travel restrictions and quarantine measures currently imposed in Hong Kong due to COVID-19. We expect that the Scheme will be utilised more often after the pandemic is over.