In a continuing series of initiatives to significantly enhance Hong Kong’s role as a global international centre for legal and dispute resolution services, the HKSAR Government, on 29th June 2020, announced the launching of a two-year pilot scheme to allow those non-Hong Kong residents participating in arbitration proceedings in Hong Kong to do so as visitors and without the need for obtaining employment visas ("Scheme")i. Arbitral proceedings include, for example, attendance at hearings, case management conferences, client meetings for preparation, and interviews of experts or witnesses within Hong Kong etc.
To be eligible for the Scheme, a small number of criteria must be met by the individual:
It should be noted that:
The Letter must be obtained from one of those qualified arbitral and dispute resolution institutions and permanent offices in Hong Kong which satisfies the criteria set out under Article 2(1) of the "Arrangement Concerning Mutual Assistance in Court-ordered Interim Measures in Aid of Arbitral Proceedings by the Courts of the Mainland and of the HKSAR"iii currently (at the date of publication) being:
For those ad-hoc arbitrations not governed by an arbitral institution, but which are held in "reputable venue(s) with established and well-equipped hearing facilities (namely, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre and the DoJ)", then the letter must be obtained from such venues.
The following information (with documentary support) is likely to be required by the qualified arbitral institution in order for them to issue any Letter:
The HKSAR Government has said it will review the scheme at the end of the two-year pilot period, and notes that any person covered by the Scheme is still subject to the current COVID-19 restrictions for the time being, under which: (i) non-Hong Kong residents coming from overseas countries and regions by plane will be denied entry to Hong Kong for the time being; and (ii) non-Hong Kong residents coming from the Mainland, Macao and Taiwan will be denied entry to Hong Kong if they have been to any overseas countries and regions in the past 14 days.