Hong Kong should position itself as a hub for sports-dispute resolution services amid rising demand, say lawyers

With many events being held in Asia, there is a lot of scope for law firms to offer mediation and resolution services, according to Addleshaw Goddard The government is considering setting up a dedicated scheme for sports dispute resolution, which may cover both mediation and arbitration With so many events being held in Asia, there is a lot of scope for law firms to offer mediation and resolution services in Hong Kong, says Ronald Sum of Addleshaw Goddard. Hong Kong should enhance its status as a leading global legal hub for resolving sports-related disputes as demand for mediation and resolution services is likely to rise after the Olympic Games, say lawyers. With disputes arising from the Tokyo Olympics to the cancellation of many regional sports events in different countries and other sports related issues, demand for mediation and resolution services will increase in tandem, said Ronald Sum Kwan-ngai, a partner in the Hong Kong office of the UK law firm Addleshaw Goddard. Sport is big business, and with many events being held in Asia, a lot of opportunities are being created for the industry. Hong Kong can play bigger role in resolving disputes, said Sum, who sits on the Hong Kong Government Advisory Committee on the Promotion of Arbitration and the Hong Kong Steering Committee on Mediation. Since the coronavirus outbreak earlier this year, many global sporting events have been postponed or canceled, including the city’s popular Rugby Sevens , creating strife among organisers. The Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which has been postponed to next year, is likely to throw up many disputes as is the Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022. In sports-related disputes, national and international sporting institutions, such as the Court of Arbitration for Sport, are now actively encouraging parties to seek mediation at the first opportunity. Disputes can also involve investigations and anti-doping matters, bribery, corruption investigations, contractual disputes and fraud among others. “If Hong Kong can sit on the board of CAS, or CAS can set up its Asian office in the city, that will help Hong Kong to become the hub for sports mediation and resolution in the region,” said Sum. Thomas So Shiu-tsung , litigation and dispute resolution partner at international law firm Mayer Brown, said Hong Kong is well-suited for such a role as a new source of growth . The city could capitalise on its reputation as a globally-renowned dispute-resolution centre for the maritime industry, cross border commercial disputes and intellectual property disputes, he added . The city government is aware of the potential of this area of legal services. In her speech, Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah , the Secretary for Justice, highlighted the Sports Dispute Resolution Conference, which was part of the Hong Kong Legal Week held earlier this month. The government is considering setting up a dedicated scheme for sports dispute resolution in Hong Kong, which may cover both mediation and arbitration. The future sports dispute resolution scheme could provide a comprehensive and effective way for the sports sector to resolve disputes in an efficient and amicable manner, Clifford Tavares, deputy law officer of civil law at the Department of Justice, told the conference on November 5. Amy Chan Lim-chee, a former badminton player, said a systematic mediation centre is a good option to resolve sports disputes including disputes between coaches and athletes. Chan, who won the mixed doubles at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 and the mixed doubles at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, is taking professional training as a mediator in view of the growing demand in the city.

This data comes from MediaIntel.Asia's Media Intelligence and Media Monitoring Platform.

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