Visitors take a stroll at the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade in the West Kowloon Cultural District on June 14, 2022. (PHOTO / CHINA DAILY)
HONG KONG – An order seeking to recognize the legal status of the AALCO Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre in the city was gazetted on Friday.
It also seeks to implement the privileges and immunities as provided under an agreement signed last year between the Chinese government and the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO) on the establishment of the regional center in New York.
“In order to implement the agreement, we need to, among other things, declare that certain provisions of the agreement relating to the status of the center and to the privileges and immunities of the center and its personnel have the force of law in Hong Kong,” said a spokesperson for the Department of Justice.
The order will be tabled before the Legislative Council on June 22, and will come into operation on Nov 17 this year, according to a government press release.
The establishment of the AALCO Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre constitutes a significant vote of confidence in the HKSAR's position as a leading center for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region.
Spokesperson, Department of Justice, HKSAR
The AALCO Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre was officially opened on May 25 at the Shanghai Commercial Bank Tower in Central, forming part of the Hong Kong Legal Hub.
Regional arbitration centers under the auspices of AALCO function as international institutions with the objective of promoting international commercial arbitration in the Asian and African regions and providing for the conducting of international arbitration.
Adding to the five existing regional arbitration AALCO centers, the Hong Kong center will seek to integrate itself in the AALCO dispute settlement system and perform a variety of tasks, including providing facilities for alternative dispute resolution services, assisting in the enforcement of arbitral awards, and promoting the growth and effective functioning of arbitration and other dispute resolution services, including online dispute resolution services, according to the press release.
"The establishment of the AALCO Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre constitutes a significant vote of confidence in the HKSAR's position as a leading center for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region,” the spokesperson said.
Implementation of the agreement will further enhance the SAR’s status in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, added the spokesperson.
Speaking at the Bauhinia Culture International Forum on Thursday, Chief Executive-elect John Lee Ka-chiu said Hong Kong was ranked the world's third-most preferred seat for arbitration by Queen Mary University of London's International Arbitration Survey last year.
He also referred to Vice-Foreign Minister Xie Feng’s statement last week urging Hong Kong to use its substantial legal experience and abundant talents to help promote the rule of law, because of the escalation of rules-related disputes worldwide.
The decision by China and AALCO to establish a regional arbitration center in Hong Kong is of great significance, China's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Zhang Jun said after signing the agreement with Kennedy Gastorn, secretary-general of the AALCO and permanent representative of Tanzania to the UN, signed in New York on Nov 10 last year.
“It will help expand the influence of AALCO, enhance regional cooperation, build Hong Kong into a center for international legal and dispute resolution in the Asia-Pacific region, and promote the HKSAR's development. China is fully confident of the center's promising prospects," added Zhang.
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