Russian firms are taking their court battles to Hong Kong

Russian firms are using Hong Kong courts to settle legal disputes after sanctions limited their access to Western courts, according to Nikkei Asia.

Russian companies have traditionally settled their international disputes in London, which hosts one of the most reputable arbitration courts in the world (alongside others in Singapore, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva).

But war-related Western sanctions mean the UK is now largely off-limits for Russian firms and executives. So Hong Kong offers a couple of advantages:

  1. ⚖️ It still has the benefit of a reputable legal system based on British common law, but
  2. 🇨🇳 Hong Kong (a special administrative region of China) doesn’t enforce relevant sanctions, meaning Russian interests can do business there without fear.

Intrigue’s take: Hong Kong says lending the legitimacy of its legal system to Russian interests is a natural extension of that system’s neutrality. But legitimacy flows both ways, so it’ll be interesting to see whether increased involvement by sanctioned Russian interests dents the system’s legitimacy in the eyes of the world.

Also worth noting:

  • The US has asked Hong Kong to help curb sanctioned US tech exports that have reportedly been reaching Russia via Hong Kong.
  • The Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre is governed by a council with lawyers and business figures from around the world.
  • Hong Kong’s top appeals court includes senior judges from Australia, the UK, Canada, and elsewhere.