The Arbitration (Amendment) Ordinance 2015, which amends the Arbitration Ordinance (Cap 609), came into effect on 17 July 2015. The purpose of the amendment Ordinance is outlined in our 12 February 2015 Legal Alert.

The most significant change brought in by the amendment Ordinance is that parties to Hong Kong domestic arbitrations (or arbitrations to which the parties have expressly agreed that Schedule 2 of the Arbitration Ordinance is to apply) can decide on the number of arbitrators. Pre-amendment, arbitrations to which Schedule 2 applied, had to be submitted to a sole arbitrator.

The amendment Ordinance also updates the list of countries which are parties to the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958 (the New York Convention).  The countries added to the list are the BVI, Bhutan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guyana and the State of Palestine.

The above changes are welcomed and will no doubt further enhance Hong Kong’s position as an international arbitration venue.