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Yang Wanming:Facing New Challenges in the Post Pandemic Era with Alternative Resolution for Commercial Dispute

From:          Updated: 2020-12-23   

Editor's Note: The Second Seminar of the International Commercial Expert Committee of the Supreme People's Court and the Appointment of New Members of the International Commercial Expert Committee has concluded successfully on December 8, 2020. The seminar centered on the theme of the Latest Developments of International Commercial Dispute Resolution Mechanism and the Research on Relevant Issues on International Law. The participants, on site or virtually, discussed the Development of International Commercial Dispute Resolution Mechanism: New Situation and New Challenges and the Research and Application of International Law Related Issues in the Post-Pandemic Era, respectively. The speeches of the participants would be posted on the CICC's website.

Facing New Challenges in the Post Pandemic Era with Alternative Resolution for Commercial Dispute

Justice of the Second Rank, Vice President of the SPC  Yang Wanming

Dear expert members of the International Commercial Experts Committee, distinguished guests, colleagues:

Greetings to all! 

First of all, I would like to extend my warm congratulations to the newly appointed expert members of the International Commercial Expert Committee by the Supreme People's Court (SPC)! Also, welcome and thank all the guests who participated in this seminar!

2020 is an extraordinary year. At the beginning of the third decade of the 21st century, the world is facing a series of severe challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, economic shrinkage, anti-globalization, trade protectionism, unilateralism, and bullying. The spread of the pandemic causes delayed performance or termination of contracts involving international trade in goods, shipping insurance, cross-border investment, construction projects, exhibitions and performances. Therefore, the number of foreign-related disputes is on the rise. The following are the major concerns in current days: facing new challenges in the post pandemic era, improving the international commercial dispute resolution mechanism, resolving foreign-related commercial disputes efficiently and justly. I will talk about three observations.

1) Measures taken by Chinese courts to resolve commercial disputes.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chinese courts promptly introduced judicial service guarantee measures to give full play to judicial functions. These provided vital judicial services and guaranteed for COVID-19 prevention and control and economic and social development. The SPC has successively promulgated a series of documents, including three Guiding Opinions of the Supreme People’s Court on Several Issues concerning Properly Handling Civil Cases Related to COVID-19 Epidemic in Accordance with the Law, three batches of Typical Commercial and Civil Cases Regarding Providing Judicial Services and Safeguards by the People’s Courts for Resumption of Work during Prevention and Control of the Pandemic and a batch of Typical Cases of Rights Protection of Maritime Crews and Typical Cases of Maritime Adjudication in 2019. These measures provide adjudication guidance to the people’s courts on cases regarding enforcement, contract, shipping, insurance and other cases concerning enterprise as a result of the COVID-19. 

At all levels, the people’s courts make full use of the achievements of smart court to carry out remote case filing, online trials, and online enforcement. From February 3 to November 20, 2020, courts in China filed 6.501 million cases online, heard 778,000 online court sessions, held 3.23 million online mediations, conducted 1.415 million online evidence exchanges, and provided 18.15 million electronic services. The people can complete all litigation matters without traveling and feel fairness and justice remotely. These offer a robust judicial guarantee for COVID-19 prevention and control.

In response to incomplete contract performance, force majeure, and other issues caused by the COVID-19, the China Intentional Commercial Court (CICC) entrusts foreign law ascertainment institutions and the International Expert Committee members to discern force majeure doctrine and cases concerning force majeure in over 60 major jurisdictions of the world. The seven research reports have been released on the CICC website.

2) Outcome of the information construction of Chinese courts in aid of commercial dispute resolution.

Judicial reform and informatization are the critical support for the development of the Chinese courts. In recent years, Chinese courts have vigorously promoted the construction of informatization to serve people. A network covering over 3,500 people's courts and over 10,000 people's tribunals has been formed. The smart court system, characterized by networking, transparent and intelligent, is completed and will help resolve commercial disputes in the following four aspects. Firstly, to normalize judicial openness. Chinese courts promote justice through openness and realize the disclosure of information throughout the entire adjudication and enforcement process, including adjudication process, court trial activity, judgment document, enforcement, etc. As of 1 December 2020, more than 107 million judgments have been published on China Judgment Online. Users cover more than 210 jurisdictions, with 52.5 billion visits. Secondly, to enhance “one-stop” alternative dispute resolution and litigation service system. We are developing a mediation platform for people’s courts to realize alternative online mediation. At the same time, we encourage the use of the electronic litigation platform for one-stop online case-filing, fee-payment, evidence exchange, and hearing. Further, we are carrying out in-depth research on the new Internet judicial model. We have successively set up internet courts in Hangzhou, Beijing and Guangzhou. In 2019, with regard to these three internet courts, 99.8% of the cases were filed online and 92.4% of the cases were concluded online. In response to the increasing number of smart phone users in China (904 million Internet users, of which 897 million mobile Internet users, accounting for 99.3%), China Mobile Court provides online litigation services with over two million visits per day. Third, to promote intelligent adjudication. Since 2016, we have begun to promote the generation and in-depth application of electronic files. Intelligent adjudication support system automatically digitized the formation of various kinds of documents, which lifts up over 30% of the judges' workload. The voice recognition system shortens court hearing time by 20% to 30% on average. At present, people's courts at all levels have established the technology courtrooms to realize functions such as exhibition of evidence, records of cross-examination, management of audios and videos, etc. Fourthly, to facilitate scientific management. We have set up the Big Data Management and Service Platform, whichcollects data of accepted and closed cases from people’s courts of all levels every 5 minutes and has now collected data of 220 million cases. Based on these data, judicial statistical reports for each court can be automatically generated, and a visualized trial situation analysis and judicial data analysis can be provided. In addition, we established Smart Court Laboratory in SPC and the China Judicial Big Data Institute to reinforce the application of block chain technology in judicial work. In May 2019, the unified Judicial Chain Platform of the SPC had uploaded over 470 million data and provided unified data ledger and verification services.

The construction of smart court in China has basically completed the Data-centric Version 3.0, and is exploring and entering the Knowledge-centric Version 4.0. In the post-pandemic era, the informatization construction of courts will inevitably become more prominent. In order to further assist in the resolution of international commercial disputes, the informatization construction of the "one-stop" international commercial alternative dispute resolution platform of the CICC will be completed by the end of this year. After the completion of the platform, it will connect the First and Second International Commercial Court, five arbitration institutions, two mediation intuitions, Foreign Law Ascertainment Platform, and International Commercial Expert Committee to realize online dispute resolution from case filing to dispute resolution. Such cooperation will form a synergistic effect, where international commercial disputes can be resolved more fairly, efficiently, conveniently, and at low cost.

3) Outlook for Alternative Commercial Dispute Resolution in Post Pandemic Era

In recent years, the SPC has attached great importance to the functional role of justice in the business environment. Under the leadership of Chief Justice Zhou Qiang, fruitful work has been conducted to create a stable, fair, transparent, and predictable law-based business environment, which helps Chinese business environment indicators to improve significantly. In terms of dispute resolution mechanism, the SPC has established the First and Second International Commercial Court in Shenzhen and Xi'an separately and employed 55 international commercial experts from 25 countries. Therefore, a "one-stop" alternative resolution mechanism for international commercial disputes has been established, which integrates litigation, arbitration, and mediation. These also provide a Chinese solution for the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative dispute resolution mechanism.

Looking to the future, alternatives, specialization, and consultative have become the trend of international commercial dispute resolution. On 12 September 2020, the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation entered into force. Together with the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (1958) and the Convention of 2 July 2019 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters, these three conventions have become the most important basis for international dispute resolution. They have created a suitable international environment for the cross-border enforcement of judgments, arbitration, and mediation results.

The establishment of the CICC is a new exploration, and the mechanism is more open. Compared with other mature international commercial courts in the world, we still have many aspects to improve. In the future, we will pay more attention to the top-down design, promote the substantive operation of the CICC. At the same time, we will not only further study the new types of commercial disputes and the need for dispute resolution, but also continuously optimize the alternative dispute resolution mechanism, including litigation, mediation, and arbitration. I hope all international commercial experts can contribute their wisdom to the development of CICC. We will work together to promote and build a fair, efficient, convenient, and low-cost cross-border alternative dispute resolution mechanism.

Thank you!


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*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.