Debevoise’s Goldsmith among latest appointees to Hong Kong arbitration centre

Former UK Attorney General Peter Goldsmith has been appointed to the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) along with a partner each from Fasken Martineau, Herbert Smith and Hogan Lovells.

Peter Goldsmith
Peter Goldsmith

Goldsmith, a London-based partner at US firm Debevoise & Plimpton, will travel to Hong Kong more frequently upon his new appointment with the HKIAC. Last month, Debevoise announced that Goldsmith will regularly visit its Hong Kong office to lead the litigation practice’s expansion into Asia (19 September 2011).

Fasken Martineau’s international practice co-chair Henri Alvarez, Herbert Smith China disputes head Justin D’Agostino and Hogan Lovells Hong Kong partner Tim Hill have also taken up seats on the HKIAC.

The four new members replace former Hong Kong secretary of justice Elsie Leung, Hong Kong Court of Appeal Judges Michael Hartmann and Justice Geoffrey Ma and King & Wood Hong Kong senior partner Ronald Arculli.

“This is an exciting time for HKIAC which is expanding and modernising its practices and its resources,” said Goldsmith. “Arbitration in Hong Kong has already come a long way since I first practised there 20 years ago. I hope to help in this programme advising the council on best practices from the perspective of experience and as a practitioner of arbitration.”

Hong Kong is among the world’s leading arbitration centres, but the launch of Maxwell Chambers in Singapore has given the jurisdiction some competition in South East Asia. The addition of a heavyweight panel made up of international lawyers will be a boost to the HKIAC, which is looking to maintain its standing in the region.

“The HKIAC has played and continues to play a pivotal role in developing Hong Kong as one of the world’s leading international arbitration centres,” said D’Agostino, who is based in Hong Kong. “I expect to take on an active role on the council as well as being the head of Herbert Smith’s Greater China international arbitration practice.”

HKIAC chair Huen Wong said that Hong Kong is the preferred destination for Chinese-related disputes.

“The rise of China has led to greater bargaining power from Chinese companies, making Hong Kong a pre-eminent seat for Chinese-related disputes and Chinese parties, especially in view of its closer economic ties with mainland China,” he added.

“Chinese clients are sometimes concerned about arbitration in Western jurisdictions such as London while international clients might be concerned about a Chinese arbitral institution.  This has resulted in a mutually agreeable preference for impartial hearings in Hong Kong.”