The Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) Council has approved the new HKIAC Administered Arbitration Rules (the "2018 Rules") which will come into force on 1 November 2018. The 2018 Rules will apply to all cases where the Notice of Arbitration is submitted on or after that date.

The 2018 Rules seek to set a new standard for international arbitration practice by streamlining HKIAC arbitration through the use of technology, advanced multi-party and multi-contract mechanisms, and the encouragement of alternative dispute settlement methods, among other new provisions.

The 2018 Rules introduce the following new provisions:

  • Online Document Repository (Articles 3.1(e), 3.3 and 3.4): Provisions recognizing the upload of documents onto a secured online repository as a valid means of service.
  • Use of Technology for Determination of Procedures (Article 13.1): Arbitral tribunals shall consider the effective use of technology when determining suitable procedures for the conduct of arbitration.
  • Use of ADR in Arbitration (Article 13.8): A provision to allow parties to suspend the arbitration proceedings while they pursue alternative means of dispute settlement after the commencement of arbitration, such as mediation.
  • Emergency Arbitrator Procedure (Article 23.1 and Schedule 4): Applicants can file an application for the appointment of an emergency arbitrator before the commencement of an arbitration, provided that a Notice of Arbitration is filed within seven days unless the Emergency Arbitrator extends this time limit. Under Article 11 of Schedule 4, the test for interim measures under Articles 23.2 to 23.8 now applies mutatis mutandis to any Emergency Relief granted by the emergency arbitrator.
  • Single Arbitration under Multiple Contracts (Article 29): An expanded provision which now allows the option to commence a single arbitration under several arbitration agreements even if the parties to the arbitration are not bound by each of the arbitration agreements.
  • Concurrent Proceedings (Article 30): A new provision allowing the same arbitral tribunal to conduct multiple arbitrations at the same time, or one immediately after another, or suspend any of the arbitrations until the determination of any other of them, where a common question of law or fact arises in all of these arbitrations.
  • Anticipated Date of Delivering Awards (Article 31.2): A new requirement that the arbitral tribunal must notify the parties and HKIAC of the anticipated date of delivering an arbitral award once proceedings are closed. The date for rendering the award shall be no later than three months from the date when the arbitral tribunal declares the proceedings or relevant phase of the proceedings closed.
  • Early Determination Procedure (Article 43): A new procedure allowing parties to request the arbitral tribunal to determine a point of law or fact that is manifestly without merit or manifestly outside the arbitral tribunal's jurisdiction, or a point of law or fact that, assuming it is correct, would not result in an award being rendered in favour of the party submitting such point.
  • Third Party Funding (Articles 34.4, 44 and 45.3(e): Provisions requiring the disclosure of third party funding, including by identifying the funder, and to take into account third party funding arrangement in determining all or part of the costs of arbitration. These amendments are broadly in line with the relevant third party funding amendments to the Hong Kong Arbitration Ordinance.

With the 2018 Rules, HKIAC has more than just aligned its arbitration rules with the most prominent sets of arbitration rules on the market today as it goes beyond what other sets of rules offer. These changes should be greatly appreciated by users around the world.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.