Written by: Frances Van Eupen, partner, Allen & Overy
Competition between jurisdictions in Asia keen to promote themselves as hubs for international arbitration is flourishing: Hong Kong and Singapore remain at the forefront, but other contenders like South Korea are emerging. The leading institutions with origins in the region, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) and Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) have seen significant growth in their caseloads over the last 10 years, and demonstrated that they are at the forefront of innovation in arbitral procedure. The future of arbitration in the region looks bright.
Growth of international arbitration in Asia
The growth of international arbitration in Asia is evident from a number of sources. Perhaps the simplest way of demonstrating such growth is through statistics. The two main regional hubs have seen significant growth in terms of caseload over the last 10 years: new cases handled by SIAC have grown from 74 in 2005, to 160 in 2009, to 222 in 2014, with the cases now handled by the HKIAC and SIAC predominantly international in nature. In 2014, 93% of the HKIAC's new administered arbitrations were international, featuring parties from 38 jurisdictions (by comparison, in 2011, 65% of the HKIAC's cases were international).
Indeed it would no longer be right to characterise HKIAC and SIAC as regional institutions: they now have a place on the global stage. The quality of their case management services and secretariats rivals that of other global players. Both have been active in making revisions to their rules and procedures, not just reflecting the evolution of international arbitration practice, but often leading the way in terms of innovation. For example, in July 2015 the HKIAC announced a new system that allows users to evaluate the conduct of their arbitral proceedings and the performance of arbitrators. It would not be surprising if other institutions follow.
There are other indicators of growth. The presence of institutions with origins from outside Asia has increased over the last 10 years. In 2008 the International Commerce Centre (ICC) opened a branch of its secretariat in Hong Kong, and a liaison office in Singapore. The London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) opened its first independent subsidiary in India in 2009. In May 2013 the Seoul International Dispute Resolution Centre was established and a number of international institutions have a presence there, including the ICC, SIAC, HKIAC, the American...