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New year, new rules at CIETAC

Timothy Hill

Timothy Hill,

Hong Kong

Damon So

Damon So,

Hong Kong

Terence Wong

11 December 2014
In November, the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC) published the CIETAC Arbitration Rules 2015 ("the 2015 Rules"), which will enter into force on 1 January 2015.

The changes are designed to improve the efficiency of CIETAC arbitral proceedings and bring the CIETAC Arbitration Rules closer in line with international best practice.  The 2015 Rules also introduce special provisions applicable to the CIETAC Hong Kong Arbitration Centre ("CIETAC Hong Kong").

Key updates include:

Emergency arbitrator procedure   The 2015 Rules introduce an emergency arbitration procedure, similar to other international arbitral institutions.

As the Arbitration Law in mainland China does not provide for emergency arbitrators, the new provisions will apply principally to arbitrations administered by CIETAC Hong Kong (see below).  The Hong Kong Arbitration Ordinance was updated in July 2013 to provide for emergency relief granted by an emergency arbitrator to be enforceable in the same manner as an order or direction of the court.

Multiple contract disputes, joinder and consolidation of arbitrations 

New and amended provisions are introduced to provide greater efficiency for disputes concerning related contracts:

  • New provisions are introduced for parties to apply for a single arbitration for disputes arising out of or in connection with multiple related contracts.
  • The agreement of all the parties is no longer required for consolidation of parallel proceedings.  At the request of a party, CIETAC may consolidate several arbitrations into a single arbitration.
  • New provisions are introduced to join third parties to an existing arbitration. A party may file a request at CIETAC to join a third party to the arbitration proceedings if the requesting party can establish a prima facie case that the third party is also bound by the arbitration agreement.

Provisions for Hong Kong arbitration

CIETAC set up its Hong Kong Arbitration Centre in September 2012.  The 2015 Rules introduce a new chapter of special provisions for Hong Kong arbitration.  Notable features of arbitration by CIETAC Hong Kong include:

  • Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, Hong Kong law will apply to the proceedings and the arbitral award shall be a Hong Kong award.
  • Emergency arbitrators and interim relief (see above),
  • A fee structure different to CIETAC in the mainland: in keeping with international trends, arbitrators' fees have been separated from the administrative fee.
  • The parties are free to nominate arbitrators from outside CIETAC's panel of arbitrators.

Sub-commissions

Following the "split" of the former Shanghai and South China (Shenzhen) sub-commissions from CIETAC (Beijing) in 2012, the 2015 Rules list the sub-commissions in Appendix I.

For the purpose of removing confusion and ambiguity after the "split", new provisions are introduced to confirm that where an arbitration agreement provides for arbitration before the former Shanghai or South China (Shenzhen) sub-commissions, whose authorization has been terminated, the arbitration will fall within the jurisdiction of, and will be administered by CIETAC (Beijing).

We look forward to the 2015 Rules coming into effect. They bring CIETAC's procedure and practice closer in line with international arbitration practice, and will continue to enhance China and Hong Kong's positions as major centres for dispute resolution.

Timothy Hill

Timothy Hill,

Hong Kong

Damon So

Damon So,

Hong Kong

Terence Wong

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