Neil Kaplan - Judge, High Court of Hong Kong. Formerly Queen’s Counsel. Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Chairman of the Hong Kong Branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and member of the Management Committee of The Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre.
Hong Kong has made several innovations in its law of commercial arbitration that have contributed to its position as a leading arbitration center in Asia. In 1981 the Hong Kong Law Reform Commission, considering arbitration law a top priority, recommended that Hong Kong incorporate many of the changes that the Arbitration Act of 1979 made in English law,1 particularly those limiting court intervention in arbitral proceedings.2 The Commission’s recommendations went beyond mere wholesale adoption of the English changes, however, and proposed additional improvements to Hong Kong’s arbitration law. These proposals formed the basis for the 1982 amendments to Hong Kong’s Arbitration Ordinance.3
In 1989 the Law Reform Commission, while considering whether Hong Kong should adopt the United Nations Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (the Model Law),4 made additional recommendations to reform the law of arbitration. The adoption of the Model Law and the implementation of the Commission’s other proposals were effected by the Arbitration (Amendment) (No.2) Ordinance 1989, passed by the legislature on November 23, 1989.5 The legislation became effective on April 6, 1990.6 This article will survey a few of the more important features of Hong Kong’s arbitration law.