Highlights of ‘polished’ Administered Arbitration Rules

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The Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) has long sought to provide a light-touch, cost-effective option for parties engaging in institutional arbitration. Having successfully administered cases under its Administered Arbitration Rules since their introduction in 2008, HKIAC is set to publish a new set of rules in June 2013, which will come into force in September. Highlights to look out for in the new rules include:

Dealing with complex arbitrations

Arbitrations increasingly arise out of complicated commercial transactions. Since the beginning of 2013, one-third of cases filed with the HKIAC involve multiple parties and/or multiple contracts. In recognition of this trend, the amendments seek to maximise the ability of tribunals, and the HKIAC, to deal with such situations flexibly and efficiently.

While tribunals constituted under the rules have always had the power to join additional parties, such power was dependent on the written consent of the applicant party and the additional party. The amendments extend the scope of the tribunal’s power and also grant the HKIAC prima facie power to join a party if a request for joinder is submitted before the arbitral tribunal is constituted. A case currently being administered by the HKIAC, concerning a series of international sales agreements, illustrates the benefits. In the case, when filing its counterclaim, the respondent sought to join its parent company to the arbitration. Under the current rules, the issue falls for determination by the arbitral tribunal, however under the revised rules and in like circumstances, the HKIAC would – if satisfied that prima facie the additional party is bound by a valid arbitration agreement under the rules giving rise to the arbitration – allow the additional party to participate in the arbitration at an early stage.

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The authors, Ruth Stackpool-Moore and Guan Zhong, are managing counsel and assistant counsel, respectively, at the HKIAC.