On 24 September, the new CIETAC sub-commission in Hong Kong was launched. The centre is the first subcommission opened by CIETAC outside of Mainland China.
The launch of the new centre is a further step in recognition of CIETAC as an international arbitration institution, as opposed to its primarily Mainland China focus in the past. In May 2012, CIETAC updated its arbitration rules with, among others, provisions allowing the default seat of arbitration to be in a location other than Beijing or a CIETAC sub-commission, and for the default language of arbitration to be a language other than Chinese.
Care may need to be taken where Hong Kong is chosen as the seat of arbitration in a CIETAC administered arbitration. For example, while the CIETAC Arbitration Rules give CIETAC the right to determine whether the arbitral tribunal has jurisdiction, Hong Kong arbitration law, which largely adopts the UNCITRAL Model Law and follows the doctrine of Kompetenz-Kompetenz, empowers the arbitral tribunal to decide on the matter of its own jurisdiction. In order to resolve this conflict, parties selecting the CIETAC rules may wish to specify a modification to the CIETAC rules in their arbitration agreements.
The launch of the Hong Kong sub-commission comes amidst a continued dispute between CIETAC and its subcommissions in Shenzhen and Shanghai. The Hong Kong launch is not seen as a response to this dispute, as plans for the launch were set in motion over a year ago.