In an effort to keep up with new developments in the arbitration regime, the Arbitration (Amendment) Bill 2013 ("the Bill") was introduced into the Legislative Council earlier this year. It has completed its second and third reading on 10 July 2013 and will come into effect on a day to be appointed by the Secretary for Justice by notice pubished in the Gazette.

The purpose of the Bill is to amend the current Arbitration Ordinance to implement the "Arrangement Concerning Reciprocal Recognition and Enforcement of Arbitral Awards Between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Macao Special Administrative Region" ("the Arrangement") which Hong Kong SAR had concluded with Macao SAR in January 2013. The Arrangement is similar to the mechanism for enforcement of arbitration awards under the Mainland/Hong Kong arrangement. The Bill proposes to add a Division 4 (comprising of section 98A to 98D) to Part 10 of the current Arbitration Ordinance:

  1. Section 98A provides that a Macao award is enforcement in Hong Kong either by action in the court, or in the same manner as an arbitral award to which section 84 of the current Arbitration Ordinance applies with the leave of the court.
  2. Section 98B provides that a Macao award that is partially satisfied is enforceable.
  3. Section 98C prescribes the evidence required to be produced for the enforcement of Macao awards.
  4. Section 98D sets out the grounds of refusal of enforcement of Macao Awards.

In addition, the Bill also proposes, amongst others, making the following amendments to the current Arbitration Ordinance:

Enforcement of emergency relief - with leave of the court, any emergency relief granted by an emergency arbitrator in or outside Hong Kong is enforceable in the same manner as an order of the Court of First Instance. The party seeking to enforce an emergency relief granted needs to demonstrate that such order seeks to do one or more of the following:

  1. maintain or restore status quo pending the determination of the dispute concerned
  2. take action that would prevent, or refrain from taking action that is likely to cause, current or imminent harm or prejudice to the arbitral process itself
  3. provide a means of preserving assets out of which a subsequent award made by an arbitral tribunal may be satisfied
  4. preserve evidence that may be relevant and material to resolving the dispute
  5. give security in connection with anything to be done under paragraphs (a), (b), (c), or (d)
  6. give security for the costs of the arbitration.

Taxation of arbitral proceedings - the Bill seeks to amend section 75 of the current Arbitration Ordinance to provide that if the parties to arbitration have agreed that the costs of the arbitration are to be taxed by the court, the costs are to be taxed on a party and party basis.

Consequential amendments to the Rules of High Court - the Bill also proposed consequential amendments to the Rules of the High Court as regards the enforcement of arbitral awards under those Rules.