Omni Bridgeway funds first international arbitration seated in Hong Kong

Cheng-Yee Khong
Senior Relationship Manager | +852 3978 2629 | [email protected]
Geoff Moysa
Investment Manager, Legal Counsel | +1 416 583 5720 | [email protected]

HONG KONG, 4 June 2020: Proceedings have been filed in Omni Bridgeway Limited's, (ASX:OBL) first funded international arbitration in Hong Kong since the Special Administration Region amended its Arbitration Ordinance (Cap. 609) to permit third party funding (effective February  2019). 

The funded proceedings are being administered by the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) under its 2018 Administered Arbitration Rules. Omni Bridgeway will finance the claimant, who is advised by leading Canadian firm Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. Further details of the dispute are confidential.

In June 2017, Hong Kong amended its Arbitration Ordinance to expressly state that the torts of maintenance and champerty in Hong Kong, which have historically prevented third party funding, do not apply to third party funding of arbitration and related proceedings. A Code of Practice was published in December 2018 and came into effect in February 2019 to provide guidance on the standards and practices that third party funders are expected to follow.

Cheng-Yee Khong, who heads Omni Bridgeway’s Hong Kong office said: "Omni Bridgeway has a long and successful history of funding insolvency related litigation in Hong Kong; however, the legal framework historically prevented us from funding other forms of dispute resolution. Since the legislative reforms in 2019, we have experienced increasing demand for funding in Hong Kong arbitration matters and this case represents one of the many strong prospects in our current pipeline. As Hong Kong is a leading global hub for international commercial arbitration, this demand has come from a range of jurisdictions including China, Japan, Korea, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, EMEA, USA and Canada. Many of these applications have come from sophisticated corporate users of arbitration, seeking to take advantage of the risk and cost management benefits of arbitration funding."

The Borden Ladner Gervais team is led by partners and internationally recognized arbitration counsel Robert J.C. Deane and Craig Chiasson. Robert Deane said: “The opportunity to access financing for Hong Kong-seated arbitrations has been a significant and very positive development for our clients, especially in the current economic climate. It has allowed them to seek redress for the wrongs they've experienced in a way that makes good sense from a commercial and risk management perspective. We look forward to continuing to work with Omni Bridgeway on behalf of clients based in Canada and also around the world.”

Sarah Grimmer, Secretary-General of HKIAC, said: "The availability of third party funding for arbitration and related proceedings in Hong Kong is a welcome development for users. HKIAC introduced provisions in its 2018 Administered Arbitration Rules to address issues that arise in respect of third party funding; namely, a limited disclosure requirement by the funded party, a confidentiality carve-out to allow information sharing with funders or potential funders, and in relation to the fixing and allocation of costs. HKIAC has seen several cases involving third party funders and expects more ahead."

This news complements other recent developments for Omni Bridgeway in Asia, including the merger of the IMF Bentham and Omni Bridgeway operations globally.