Suite 3720 China World Tower 1, Jianguomenwai Avenue
100004, Beijing, China
Arthur Ma “performs well, even on tough cases” with peers adding, “He is very thoughtful and practical in handling complex situations.”
Arthur is a partner at DaHui Lawyers and spearheads the ﬁrm’s cross-border dispute resolution/international arbitration practice. Beneﬁting from over 12 years of practice experience with a number of leading law ﬁrms in their Shanghai, London, Washington DC, Hong Kong and Beijing offices, and his unique training with leading international arbitrator Neil Kaplan CBE, QC, Arthur is particularly apt in helping foreign investors in resolving their disputes with PRC entities either before domestic tribunals or international arbitrators.
What attracted you to a career in international arbitration?
International arbitration is by far the most international legal practice area that I’m aware of. It is perhaps its legal and cultural diversity that are especially attractive to me.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a global practice?
The advantages would include a global exposure to legal talents and the opportunity to make friends from all over the world. To be honest, I don’t really see many disadvantages. Even the challenges of working across multiple jurisdictions are part of what makes international arbitration so exciting.
Are you seeing any green trends in construction-related arbitrations? Can we expect more fossil fuel-related disputes to come as China becomes more committed to promoting green development, as laid out in the 14th five-year plan?
From a practice standpoint, some of the noticeable green trends in construction-related arbitrations include increased electronic arbitration submissions and cutting back on hardcopies in connection with hearing bundles. In terms of subject matter, any regulatory framework that ultimately applies additional scrutiny to parties operating in a highly regulated space will often lead to increased operating pressures and perhaps an increased likelihood of encountering business disputes. In this sense, any increase of environmental regulatory enforcement could also result in an increase of arbitrations in business sectors that must directly contend with such enforcement trends.
How do you effectively handle a complex energy arbitration involving a civil law jurisdiction element, and how would you advise younger practitioners in navigating them?
We always have an internal running work schedule to manage our tasks throughout arbitration proceedings, big or small, whether civil law or common law governs. Younger practitioners should follow instructions of their partners and seniors, but also need to try to think independently on how to best resolve the problems assigned to them.
How is the “Belt and Road” initiative changing the legal landscape and how can resulting disputes be better navigated?
The Belt and Road initiative is creating (as it should) more cross-border transactions between parties in different jurisdictions, which would normally favour international arbitration. This means there could be more work for Chinese and non-Chinese arbitration practitioners.
What do clients look for in an effective arbitrator in today’s environment?
Efficiency, organisation and dedication to quality—the same exact values that clients expect from their legal counsel.
Could the rise of virtual hearings lead to a greater mixing of different legal systems and arbitration institutions?
I’m not so sure about that. Virtual hearings have been used for decades, and I don’t see how they would inherently tend to mix legal systems and institutions. There may be a wider transmissibility of best practices among systems/institutions that are increasingly dealing with the same types of challenges, but in a sense that is always the case, whether or not hearings are held virtually or in person.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
As my mentor Neil Kaplan CBE, QC always says: “Life is too short”.