A new pact with the mainland has enhanced Hong Kong’s reputation as one of the few places in the region that can offer an assurance that legal disputes will be settled fairly. The government has reached an agreement with the People’s Supreme Court of China for interim protection of assets and evidence on the mainland involved in arbitration cases heard in the city. Hong Kong is the first jurisdiction to have that arrangement with the mainland. Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah, herself a specialist in arbitration in international commercial or investment disputes before joining the government, calls it a game-changer for the city’s arbitration industry. “This gives [the industry] a great advantage,” she said rightly, given that it is already a premier arbitration jurisdiction with up-to-date laws, an independent judiciary and a large pool of talent. Recognition and respect for a legal system from the international community is important when it comes to international trade and commercial deals. Investors and businesspeople want their interests protected by a legal system they can believe in. Arbitration agreement between Hong Kong and mainland a ‘game-changer’ Moreover, promoting Hong Kong as an arbitration centre is playing to the city’s strengths. It is likely to be in huge demand because China’s economy is now integrating more closely with the rest of the world. Whether as part of normal international business or the Belt and Road Initiative, companies can form joint ventures in Hong Kong to be protected by a fair and transparent legal system in the event of business disputes. Previously, unless arbitration cases were actually heard on the mainland, requests from foreign parties for interim protection of assets or evidence were not recognised and they could be moved or destroyed ahead of a final decision. Under the pact, parties can now go to mainland courts for relief. It is only a year ago that former justice minister Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung rightly sought to dispel misconceptions in the United States and Singapore that the city could not be trusted to resolve arbitration disputes if they involved a mainland company. This pact strengthens Hong Kong’s hand as a place where commercial justice can be seen to be done.