This alert was written by Paul Starr, Hana Doumal, and Suraj Sajnani.
On 26 September 2019, the Supreme People's Court of the PRC announced that the Arrangement Concerning Mutual Assistance in Court-ordered Interim Measures in Aid of Arbitral Proceedings by the Courts of China Mainland and of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (the "Arrangement") comes into effect in the Mainland on 1 October 2019. It is due to come into effect in Hong Kong* on the same date. This groundbreaking arrangement will give parties in Hong Kong and China Mainland seated arbitrations a direct route to apply for interim measure in each other's jurisdiction, in aid of arbitrations. Our full report on the scope of the Arrangement, which was signed in April 2019, is found here.
The underpinning to this Arrangement is the increased economic and trade cooperation between Hong Kong and China Mainland. That cooperation is set to increase even further with the formation of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (the "GBA"). Indeed, the People's Court Daily cites the GBA as being an impetus for closer judicial cooperation between the two jurisdictions. While the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is part of the PRC, it and China Mainland have operated with different legal jurisdictions.
In particular for Hong Kong, the Arrangement gives parties to Hong Kong seated arbitrations, regardless of their nationality, an enforcement advantage unavailable to any other jurisdiction. Parties in Hong Kong seated arbitrations can apply directly to an Intermediate People's Court in the Mainland for property, asset or conduct preservation orders. Parties to China Mainland arbitrations can also apply directly to the Hong Kong High Court for injunctions or other interim measures.
The Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (the "HKIAC") announced today that it has been confirmed by the Government of Hong Kong and the Supreme People's Court of the PRC as a qualified arbitral institution for the purposes of Article 2(1) of the Arrangement (HKIAC's alert available here).
A separate arrangement, simplifying the enforcement of Court judgments between Hong Kong and China Mainland (which we reported on here), signed in January 2019, has yet to come into force.
*Any reference to "Hong Kong" or "Hong Kong SAR" shall be construed as a reference to "Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China".