We have written about the April 2019 signing of the Arrangement concerning Mutual Assistance for interim measures between Hong Kong and the Mainland (see our earlier Posts here, here and here). The Arrangement empowers Mainland Chinese courts to order interim measures in support of Hong Kong-seated arbitrations, making Hong Kong the only seat outside Mainland China to benefit from such support.
The Arrangement has been described as a game-changing measure aimed at preventing one of the parties from deliberately destroying the evidence or transferring the property and also ensuring that the arbitral proceedings can be carried out effectively.
The Arrangement came into effect on 1 October 2019, with the Supreme People’s Court of China releasing an explanatory memo setting out its understanding of key aspects of the Arrangement and its implementation (available here, in Chinese).
The memo confirms that the Arrangement will apply to arbitral proceedings commenced prior to, but not yet completed as of, 1 October 2019.
The SPC and Hong Kong’s Department of Justice also released a list of “qualified arbitral institutions” in Hong Kong, being the only institutions whose arbitrations enjoy the benefit of the Arrangement. They include:
- Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre
- China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission Hong Kong Arbitration Center
- International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce – Asia Office
- Hong Kong Maritime Arbitration Group
- South China International Arbitration Center (HK)
- eBRAM International Online Dispute Resolution Centre
See the Press Release by the HK Department of Justice and the reviews of the Arrangement by:
It appears that parties have been quick to take advantage of the Arrangement. King & Wood Mallesons report that on 8 October 2019, a mere 7 days after the Arrangement came into effect, the Shanghai Maritime Court issued the first order under the Arrangement in a maritime-related arbitration where a party sought and was granted a property preservation order in an arbitration administered by the HKIAC, commenced to enforce a settlement agreement.
See also the release from the HKIAC regarding other pending applications for interim measures from the Mainland courts for HK-seated arbitrations. And see here for guidance on making such applications.
William Leung & Co report a decision on 27 November 2019, where the Lianyungang Intermediate People’s Court in Jiangsu Province, China assisted the HKIAC in preserving assets valued at more than $20 million.
The early signs are encouraging.