A leading dispute-resolution body has asked the government to set aside a heritage building in Central for an arbitration and mediation centre - saying the Court of Final Appeal building is an ideal candidate. Christopher To Wing, secretary general of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC), said there was an urgent need to tackle the shortage of space for arbitration and mediation proceedings. He said he had had to turn away overseas companies which wanted to conduct arbitration at his 6,000 sq ft office since its 10 meeting rooms were fully booked until the end of the year. Mr To hoped the issue would be high on the agenda of a working group on mediation unveiled by Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen in his policy address. The cross-sector group, headed by Secretary of Justice Wong Yan-lung, has been told to 'map out plans to employ mediation more extensively and effectively in handling higher-end commercial disputes and relatively small-scale local disputes'. The address also reiterated the government's pledge to develop Hong Kong into an AsiaPacific arbitration centre. The independent and selffinanced HKIAC, set up in 1985 to promote and support alternative dispute resolution, is hidden away in an office borrowed from the government in Two Exchange Square. While recognising the government's increasing support for its work, the centre believed it would have more appeal if it was housed in a building which people could identify it with. 'Why do tourists come to Hong Kong? Because we have Ocean Park, Disneyland and other tourist attractions. In order to attract people to use our services in Hong Kong, there must be some kind of building saying, 'This is the authority for arbitration',' Mr To said. He said the building must be located near five-star hotels in Central for the convenience of overseas clients, many of whom were CEOs of large international corporations. The current Court of Final Appeal building would be a good choice because of its reasonable size and its symbolic proximity to HSBC, Mr To said. Also known as the former French mission building, the structure was built in neo-classical style in 1917 and is a declared monument. The architectural icon was needed to change the mindset of Hong Kong people, who tended to believe they could only get justice in 'a court where everybody wears wigs', he said. Plans are under way for the Court of Final Appeal to be moved to the Legislative Council building - home of the former Supreme Court until 1985 - after the lawmaking body is given a new home on the Tamar site. Hong Kong ranks fourth behind the mainland, the US and Europe in arbitration caseload.