Expert commentary: BIMCO Law and Arbitration Clause 2020 and Hong Kong maritime arbitration

A distinctive new feature is that it provides a mechanism to deal with the service of notices and communications relating to the arbitration. According to the new sub-clause (f) of the Clause, parties shall provide the email address of the authorised person to receive arbitration notices and notify any change of e-mail addresses during the period of the agreement. Notices are deemed to be effectively served immediately on sending by email to the designated email addresses.

The importance of valid service cannot be over-emphasised as invalid service can lead to substantive delays in the arbitration proceedings, the possibility of missing a time-bar or may even invalidate the arbitral award. This new sub-clause eliminates some uncertainty on the issue of service.

Hong Kong maritime arbitration
Hong Kong is not only renowned as the maritime hub for its reputation and capability in the international finance, shipping and trade industries but also as an international dispute resolution hub. Alongside London, New York and Singapore, under the BIMCO Law and Arbitration Clause 2020, Hong Kong has now been added as the fourth named arbitration venue option in the standard contractual forms of BIMCO. The addition of Hong Kong to BIMCO’s standard arbitration clause is no doubt substantial recognition of Hong Kong as a leading arbitration venue for global shipping.

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When parties enter into commercial contracts, especially in the shipping context, parties would consider incorporating a suitable governing law clause as well as a dispute resolution provision that can provide parties with a commercial and cost-effective dispute resolution mechanism. In practice, due to the complexity of cross-border litigation, which involves different local law, procedure and market conditions, it appears that arbitration is the better option to resolve commercial disputes.

The full article in Lloyd’s Shipping & Trade Law is available here including more on the folllowing reasons and benefits for selecting Hong Kong as a venue for conducting maritime arbitrations:

(a)    Common law and high quality of legal environment

(b)    Modern legislative framework and pro-arbitration approach in Hong Kong 

(c)    Hong Kong awards are widely enforceable and the Hong Kong courts adopt a pro-enforcement approach

(d)    Interim measures from Chinese courts

(e)    Arbitration institutions

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