Effective 1 January 2016, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre has issued a new Practice Note on Consolidation of Arbitration (available at http://hkiac.org/en/arbitration/arbitration-rules-guidelines/practice-note-on-consolidation-of-arbitrations) intended to streamline the procedure when consolidating two or more arbitrations.

The Practice Note applies to arbitrations in which a Request for Consolidation (“Request“) is submitted under Article 28 of the 2013 edition of the HKIAC Administered Arbitration Rules (the “Rules“) on or after 1 January 2016. It supplements the consolidation provisions of the Rules by setting out the required contents of the Request and what comments may be requested of other parties or arbitrators on the Request.

Under Article 28 of the Rules, the HKIAC can combine arbitrations if the claims are under the same arbitration agreement, or if they involve a common question of law or fact, arise out of the same transaction or series of transaction and have compatible arbitration agreements.

The Rules provide two other mechanisms to specifically address multi-party and/or multi-contract disputes. Article 27 provides for an additional party to be joined to an existing arbitration. Article 29 permits a claimant to commence a single arbitration under multiple contracts.

The Practice Note addresses a growing demand to streamline complex, multi-party and multi-contract disputes, where multiple arbitrations can lead to inconsistent results. With a comprehensive consolidation procedure provided in the arbitration rules, parties may opt for HKIAC arbitration without the need to draft complicated consolidation and joinder clauses into their arbitration agreements.