China approved for India arbitration work

Hong Kong could be set to challenge Singapore’s dominance as a venue for India-related arbitration after the Indian Government said it will recognise arbitral awards made in mainland China and Hong Kong.

Hong Kong and Singapore are key destinations for Asian arbitration, with Hong Kong emerging as the popular choice for international disputes emanating from mainland China, while the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) has dominated cases from Southeast Asia and India – with India the largest source of its filings in 2011 for the third year running.

Last month’s declaration from the Indian Ministry of Law that it plans to recognise and enforce People’s Republic of China (PRC) awards will help Hong Kong improve its position.

Latham & Watkins Hong Kong litigation partner Simon Powell said: “PRC parties have long been comfortable with Hong Kong as a neutral venue for resolving disputes with international counter-parties. Increasingly, this is the case for Middle East entities accustomed to doing business in China and now the same is forecast for Indian entities.”

Shreyas Jayasimha, an arbitration partner at leading Indian firm AZB & Partners, pointed to growing trade between India, China and Southeast Asia as a reason why Hong Kong would benefit from the decision. “For these transactions, Hong Kong will be an attractive destination. Singapore might stay ahead for a while, but this is a very significant development and we will surely see its impact.”

However, some partners have argued that without a concerted marketing effort by Hong Kong authorities there could be little change.

Addleshaw Goddard Singapore litigation head Jamie Harrison (pictured) commented: “Singapore has made a huge investment in the infrastructure that surrounds international arbitration. It is considered a safe and neutral venue, with experienced judges and practitioners in an established court who are able and willing to support the arbitration process.”