First Seminar of International Commercial Experts Committee, the Supreme People's Court of China
Remarks by Sir William Blair
Honourable Chief Justice Zhou Qiang, Ministers, judges, members of the International Commercial Experts Committee of the China International Commercial Court and guests.
It is a pleasure to speak at today’s seminar, and a great honour to be invited to join the International Commercial Experts Committee of the CICC, a body of professionals which is truly expert and international in nature. We thank the Supreme People’s Court for its foresight in setting up the Committee with a well-defined set of responsibilities, and for its trust in us.
The Belt and Road Initiative encourages international cooperation in dispute resolution matters.
Earlier this year a meeting took place in Shenzhen of the Expert Working Group of the Judiciaries of China and the United Kingdom on Commercial Dispute Resolution led by Judge Zhang Yongjian. This group came out of a visit of Chief Justice Zhou Qiang to the UK-China Supreme Court Roundtable in London in 2016, and has had valuable and continuing discussions.
Of course China’s First International Commercial Court is located in Shenzhen.
An effective system for resolving international commercial disputes is vital for the smooth functioning of international trade and commerce, and this has been highlighted by the Belt and Road Initiative involving many different countries.
Historically, the London Commercial Court, of which I was Judge in Charge, was the world’s first court established to meet the needs of the international business community. It continues to play an important role to this day, along with the other Business and Property Courts of England and Wales.
In the last twenty years or so, international commercial courts have been established in various parts of the world including in Singapore, Amsterdam, and at the beginning of this year in Astana. In other countries, significant steps have been taken to strengthen the way that they try international commercial cases, for example in Germany.
Courts trying international commercial cases in any country face common issues and challenges. This is because the issues which the court has to decide are connected to more than one country, and the approach adopted in purely domestic cases does not work adequately.
This has been recognised in the setting up of the Standing International Forum of Commercial Courts in 2017, on the steering committee of which I serve. We are delighted that China, through the Supreme People’s Court and the courts of the Hong Kong SAR, is one of the founding jurisdictions.
I am pleased to report that at the meeting of the Standing International Forum of Commercial Courts in New York City this September, more countries are joining, including France, which has made substantial recent moves in this respect, and Japan, which is considering its position.
The time is therefore right and propitious for China to establish its own International Commercial Courts, and this will be greatly welcomed in the international business community.
The experience of these courts internationally is that they take time to develop over the long term, and the London court is no exception.
The international community will regard the concept of the CICC as having been thought through with great care, recognising best international practice. A firm foundation has been laid for the future.
Business will applaud the fact that the CICC respects party autonomy, which is one of the bases of jurisdiction.
It recognises the mutually supportive roles of the courts, arbitration and mediation.
It mandates the use of IT in which the Supreme People’s Court has been a leader.
It promotes what will be seen as a necessary level of openness and inclusiveness, of which the setting up of International Commercial Experts Committee is an innovative example.
And, crucially, an exceptionally well qualified group of judges has been appointed.
What can we say about the future in the light of all this?
The international business community can have confidence in the China International Commercial Court. Its establishment is a landmark, which will make a successful and important contribution to the development of international commercial dispute resolution now and in the future.
By strengthening the system overall, the CICC will be of benefit to the Belt and Road, and also to the courts and institutions that we serve in our own countries. The world has taken an important step, and I am sure that I speak for all the members of the International Commercial Experts Committee in saying that we will give it our full support.
*The original text is Chinese and has been translated into English for reference only. If there is any inconsistency or ambiguity between the Chinese version and the English version, the Chinese version shall prevail.