On November 5 2019, Law 19/2019 was announced in the Macau Official Gazette. This Law sets out the new regime for voluntary arbitration, as well as for the confirmation and enforcement of arbitral decisions issued by arbitration courts outside the Macau SAR Legislative.
The new Arbitration Law will enter into force in April 2020, introducing inter alia the institute of the emergency arbitrator, the existence of which requires mutual agreement of the parties in the arbitration clause or afterwards. That agreement must cover the rules for the designation of the emergency arbitrator, otherwise the clause will be deemed null and void.
The emergency arbitrator may order urgent interim measures at the request of either party, subject to hearing the opposing party. Those measures may envisage certain circumstances, for example the prevention of further damages, or to preserve evidence. Should the arbitral court deem the order binding, such measures are enforceable through the civil courts.
The creation of this institute does not prevent a party’s ability to seek the issuance of interim injunctions through the civil courts, even if the arbitration court is already incorporated and arbitration proceedings are already pending.
Unless the arbitration court is yet to be incorporated, the powers of the emergency arbitrator cease with the issuance of his/her decision on granting, or rejecting, the requested measure. If the urgent measure is granted before the incorporation of the arbitration award, the plaintiff has 30 days to take the required actions for the incorporation, otherwise the measure will be forfeited.
The new legal framework aims both to reconcile the legal framework for domestic and international arbitration, and to further the internationalisation of domestic arbitration. It seeks to achieve this by way of requiring respective interpretation to consider the Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration of the United Nations Commission on International Commercial Law. This is one step forward for the Macau SAR becoming a commercial arbitral hub in disputes involving China and Portuguese-speaking countries.