ARIAS stands for AIDA (Association Internationale de Droit des Assurances) Reinsurance and Insurance Arbitration Society. Thus, it falls under the umbrella association, AIDA.
ARIAS Asia is a not-for-profit organisation that promotes improvement of the insurance and reinsurance arbitration and mediation process for the international and domestic markets. There are already ARIAS chapters in other countries including the UK, Germany, South America and France. ARIAS Asia is the first ARIAS chapter in Asia.
The association aims to support international dispute resolution structures for insurance and reinsurance matters, ensuring that claims are dealt with by experts in the field, by encouraging current and retired market practitioners to become part of a panel of independent arbitrators, suitably trained in arbitration procedures, with industry insights, as well as training insurance arbitrators and mediators, and those from the wider industry and consumers.
The brainchild of Professor Robert Merkin QC, a leading legal academic in insurance law, ARIAS Asia received original support of the Hong Kong Insurance Law Association and Hong Kong Arbitration Week charity ball. It was launched in mid-October 2017 during Hong Kong Arbitration Week by arbitrator and barrister Mary Thomson of Pacific Chambers and a Steering Committee.
Additionally, there have also been put in place both an Executive Committee and Country Convenors, Marina Kofman of White & Case in Australia, Elaine Tay of Rajah & Tann in Singapore, Tunku Farik of Azim, Tunku Farik & Wong of Malaysia and Nick Stone, an arbitrator in Indonesia. ARIAS Asia is looking forward to expanding further into Mainland China and other Asian countries.
The association will make it possible for those with insurance and reinsurance disputes to have access to expert panels with arbitrations conducted under rules appropriate to the subject matter, particularly given that many insurance policies already form part of a wider framework or chain of reinsurances so that finding arbitrators who are not conflicted may be difficult”.
In addition, insurance and reinsurance disputes frequently involve commercially sensitive information, and the need for confidentiality is paramount. Commercial insurance is increasingly a cross-border activity, and arbitration is a good way of ensuring that the case is heard by arbitrators not necessarily a part of any specific legal system.
The insurance aspects of the “One Belt, One Road infrastructure expansion” fuels such moves, as insurers will be involved in such claims, as does the arrival of litigation funding in enabling claims to be bought more easily and cost-effectively.
In the first half of 2021 Stephen Chu, barrister, chartered arbitrator, insurance & reinsurance specialist succeeded Mary Thomson in the role of Chair of the Steering Committee, with Mary becoming Immediate Past Chair. The remainder of the Steering Committee otherwise remains unchanged comprising Denis Brock, the managing partner of O’Melveny & Myers and Law Society of Hong Kong Council member, Kelly Wong, the head of claims at AIG Hong Kong, Peter Tam, chief executive of the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers, Joe Liu, managing counsel at the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, Giovanna Kwong, a partner at Stephenson Harwood, and Tow Lu Lim of Mayer Brown JSM, Kieran Humphrey, Counsel at O’Melveny & Myers, and Marina Kofman, international Arbitrator practitioner.
Each member of the Executive Committee, identified below, has an assigned role.
ARIAS ASIA (HONG KONG) MAIN CONTACT
- Stephen Chu (Chair)