Editor's Note August 2019

Nowadays, it is not surprising to read about banks and financial institutions globally being slapped with fines due to compliance failures related to anti-money laundering. Financial penalties amounting to more than US$17 billion were imposed over the past decade. Similarly, lawyers can be liable – they were labelled by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as potential “gate-keepers” to money laundering due to the diverse nature of legal services offered to their clients. The From the Secretariat inter alia offers guidance in this area for law firms, solicitors and foreign lawyers in Hong Kong.

Cryptocurrencies is another topic often published in the newspapers. Cryptocurrencies can be traded for other assets, sold, or purchased. They can also be used to make payment for purchasing goods or services. Cryptocurrencies becoming ubiquitous have prompted their regulation as significant risks are involved given that they are highly volatile in value and there is no guarantee of their convertibility. The Regulatory & Compliance Feature discusses the regulation of the digital platforms referred to as cryptoexchanges in which cryptocurrencies are traded.

Next, one of the crucial features of international arbitration is that arbitral awards can be enforced internationally through the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Arbitral Awards (the “New York Convention”). This means that a party can take an arbitral award rendered in one New York Convention State and seek to enforce it in another through a relatively simple enforcement process. At present, 160 States are party to the Convention. There are limited grounds for refusal of enforcement of an arbitral award, one of which is that the court may refuse enforcement if an arbitral award is in conflict with the public policy of the State where enforcement is sought. However, the definition of public policy varies in each State. Moreover, some States apply the domestic public policy standards to international disputes which is erroneous according to one of the drafters of the New York Convention. The Arbitration Feature provides insights on the connection between the public policy defence and when a dispute involves an allegation of fraud and misconduct on the part of one of the parties to the contract.

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Lead Legal Editor, Hong Kong Lawyer