Hong Kong has been a premier center for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region. While the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) is ranked among the top five seats in international arbitration worldwide, the development of mediation has also evolved extensively is recent years. This has enabled Hong Kong to provide full-fledged dispute resolution services to users from different parts of the world.
Since Hong Kong has implemented its Civil Justice Reforms in April 2009, mediation has been incorporated into the civil litigation procedures at different levels of the courts. The Practice Direction 31 on Mediation, which became effective in January 2010, has provided a comprehensive framework and structured procedures for the disputing parties to explore the use of mediation in dispute resolution.
Hong Kong has also written legislation to enhance its regulatory framework on mediation. The Mediation Ordinance (Cap 620 of the Laws of Hong Kong) (“MO”) details the fundamental principles of the practice of mediation in Hong Kong. It outlines the essential features of a facilitative mediation model (section 4) and contains detailed provisions for protecting the confidential nature of the communications during a mediation process (section 8). Further, Hong Kong is the first jurisdiction in Asia to enact the Apology Ordinance (Cap 631 of the Laws of Hong Kong) (“AO”), which took effect in December 2017. The objective of the AO is to “promote and encourage the making of apologies with a view of preventing the escalation of disputes and facilitating their amicable resolution.”
Apart from local developments, Hong Kong has played a prominent role in advancing the use of mediation within Mainland China, with the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area being an area of particular focus. A mediation mechanism to resolve investment disputes has been established under the arrangement of Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CAPA). There is also close collaboration amongst the cities of the Greater Bay Area to promote unified standards, best practices, and guidelines in the provision of mediation services.
Overall, the Hong Kong government has supported the extensive use of mediation as a means of dispute resolution. By designing a regulatory framework, supporting mediation practitioners in setting up an accreditation system, and educating the community on the value of mediation, the government has promoted the fruitful use and the tremendous growth of mediation.
Moving forward, Hong Kong will continue to enhance its strengths to provide effective mediation services to resolve international commercial disputes. It provides a neutral forum for parties coming from different parts of the world to bridge their differences with the assistance of prominent mediation practitioners.
By Jody Sin, Senior Fellow-Hong Kong, Weinstein International Foundation