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Zhang Wei: Insisting on High-Quality Development and Striving to Build an International First-Class Professional Mediation Institution

From:          Updated: 2022-09-21   

Editor's Note: The Third Seminar of the International Commercial Expert Committee of the Supreme People's Court and Reappointment Ceremony of the First Group of Expert Members was held successfully on Augest 25, 2022. Over 40 experts from more than 20 countries and regions focused on the theme of the Development, Challenges and Countermeasures of Cross-Border Commercial Disputes during the seminar. Extensive and in-depth discussions were held within the framework of four specific issues. The texts of speeches delivered by the participants would be posted on the CICC's website. 


Zhang Wei

Director of Shanghai Commercial Mediation Centre

On January 8, 2011, the Shanghai Commercial Mediation Center (hereinafter referred to as "SCMC") was officially established as the first social organization in China, specializing in domestic and international commercial dispute mediation. The establishment of SCMC marks an initiative of Shanghai in response to the Opinions on Promoting Shanghai's Accelerated Development of a Modern Service Sector and an Advanced Manufacturing Sector and Construction of an International Financial Center and an International Shipping Center issued by the State Council of the PRC. 

After years of development, SCMC has explored and formed a new model and mechanism with Chinese and Shanghai characteristics in which the Chinese social service organizations participate in national modern governance - SCMC was awarded as "International Trade Functional Organization", "Shanghai Brand Social Organization", one of the "Top 10 Public Welfare Organizations of Shanghai", and "AAAAA Social Organization". What's more, SCMC has been accredited by the Office for Judicial Reform of the Supreme People's Court of PRC (hereinafter referred as "SPC") as the project unit of the alternative dispute resolution mechanism, also been selected as the first batch of "One-Stop" Diversified International Commercial Dispute Resolution Mechanism by the International Commercial Court of the SPC. In 2022, SCMC was awarded as the "National Advanced Social Organization" by the Ministry of Civil Affairs of PRC, listed as the "National Model Institution for Foreign-Related Legal Services (Commercial Mediation Organization)" by the Ministry of Justice of PRC, and named as the "most iconic and influential commercial mediation institution in China".

I. Implementing National Strategies and Highlight the Distinctive Achievements of Case Handling

At present, SCMC has become an independent professional mediation institution that has established cooperative connections regarding coalition of litigation and mediation with the four levels of people's courts across the country, gaining trust and recognition of the courts. SCMC has built mechanism based on the coalition of litigation and mediation successively with the Shanghai No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 Intermediate People's Court, Shanghai Maritime Court, Shanghai Financial Court, Shanghai Pudong New Area People's Court, Shanghai Putuo District People's Court and Shanghai Hongkou District People's Court. Moreover, in 2020, SCMC became the one and only commercial mediation organization among the "One-Stop" Alternative Dispute Resolution Platform of Shanghai High People's Court, and established connections with courts across Shanghai. To further promote the integrated and high-quality development of Yangtze River Delta, SCMC has working with three courts of Yangtze River Delta Demonstration Area (including the Shanghai Qingpu District People's Court, the Wujiang District People's Court, Jiangsu Province, and the Jiashan People's Court, Zhejiang Province), the Jiangbei New Area People's Court of Nanjing, the Suzhou Intermediate People's Court (International Commercial Court) and the Hangzhou Intermediate People's Court since 2019 under the mechanism of litigation and mediation, and has successfully resolved a considerable number of disputes, which has played as a positive example effect. 

Over the past ten years, the case handling quantity of SCMC has been enlarging year by year, and the success rate of mediation ranks ahead of the nation: according to statistics, from the date of establishment to July 31, 2022, SCMC has formally accepted 2,259 mediation cases assigned/commissioned by courts at all levels in Shanghai upon the agreement of both parties to mediate, with the value of the involved subject matter being RMB 51.9 billion yuan. Among the cases, 1,369 have been successfully mediated, with a success rate of about 60.6%, which is much higher than the national average, and none of the parties applied for legal enforcement due to the parties' violation of the mediation agreement. Therefore, SCMC has been actively contributing to the comprehensive promotion of law-based governance and construction of a high-standard business environment in Shanghai, and is working towards a Shanghai brand institution for professional services. In addition, SCMC has accepted and handled 399 foreign-related cases ever since it joined the first batch of "One-Stop" Diversified International Commercial Dispute Resolution Mechanism selected by the International Commercial Court of the SPC.

In 2020, the case management system of SCMC has been connected to the "One-Stop" Alternative Dispute Resolution Platform of Shanghai High People's Court, thus realizing a working system that connects litigation and mediation with wide coverage, distinctive hierarchy and commercial orientation, fully participating in building a grand mediation pattern. Launched in March 2020, till the end of December, the case management system has been commissioned and assigned by courts at all levels in Shanghai with a total of 576 cases, playing a significant role in maintaining business order during the pandemic. Currently, SCMC has introduced online video, digital signature and other functions to explore online evaluation, thereby further enriching the diversity of "Internet + Mediation". 

II. Show the Oriental Style and Strive to Enhance International Influence

With the deepening of international exchanges, SCMC, together with top international mediation organizations, has taken the lead in exploring and establishing a "two-channel" cooperative mediation mechanism to serve the settlement of cross-border economic and trade disputes. At present, SCMC has established cooperative relations with international ADR organizations in more than 20 cities in 12 countries and regions around the world. Among them, SCMC has carried out in-depth cooperation with the Arbitration and Mediation Center of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and jointly launched the mediation model clause, which laid a solid foundation for handling international intellectual property disputes; Together with the Boards of Appeal of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), SCMC took the lead in launching the first Sino-European International Commercial Intellectual Property Joint Mediation Mechanism in the world; Together with JAMS, the world's largest mediation and arbitration organization, SCMC formulated the International Commercial Mediation Rules, created the Sino-US International Commercial Co-Mediation Mechanism, and set up the "11+11" Sino-US International Commercial Co-Mediation Panel, providing Chinese experience for exploring global modern governance. In 2020, under the guidance and support of the Ministry of Commerce of PRC and the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce, SCMC took the lead in exploring overseas legal service construction projects in China, and set up the first Shanghai Intellectual Property Rights Overseas Service Office in Munich, Germany, which provided China's experience for exploring global modern governance and provided a solid mechanism guarantee for promoting the high-quality development of multilateral trade. During the epidemic this year, the Korea International Mediation Center (KIMC) took the initiative to contact SCMC to seek cooperation, and formally signed a cooperation agreement, providing a new path for the settlement of commercial disputes between China and South Korea.

On August 7, 2019, at the invitation of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law and the Ministry of Justice of Singapore, SCMC attended and witnessed the Signing Ceremony of the Singapore Mediation Convention. On the morning of August 8th, SCMC, JAMS and other institutions jointly held the Global Mediation Think Tank Seminar of Singapore Mediation Convention in the Maxwell Chambers, Singapore. More than 70 mediation experts and scholars from all over the world shared the experience of commercial mediation around the world, and discussed the impact of the signing of Singapore Mediation Convention on the development of international commercial mediation and the formulation of international standards for mediation. In order to benchmark the international top mediation mechanism and promote the implementation of the Convention in China, SCMC actively grasps the international development trend and benchmark the international first-class level, and formulates the International Commercial Mediation Rules of SCMC, aiming at improving the service quality to meet the increasing demand for legal services in the fields of cross-border investment, foreign trade and intellectual property. In February, 2020, SCMC combined with the practical experience in the field of professional commercial mediation, proposed amendments to UNCITRAL's Draft Mediation Rules and Draft Explanation of UNCITRAL Mediation Arrangements, which were adopted by the Department of Treaty and Law of the Ministry of Commerce of PRC, and were considered at the 53rd session of UNCITRAL in July, 2020 as China's opinions.

III. Take up Social Responsibility and Focus on Top-Level Design of Commercial Mediation

While striving to do a good job in mediation, SCMC earnestly studied the instructions of General Secretary Xi Jinping to "Put the Non-Litigation Dispute Resolution Mechanism in the Front", and practiced the important significance of the new development concept in promoting the modernization of the country's governance system and governance capacity. With the support of the competent authorities, SCMC and the Department of Justice of Hong Kong have cooperated for many years to create a series of publicity activities of "Shanghai-Hong Kong Commercial Mediation Forum", which has become a key project of normalized exchanges between Shanghai and Hong Kong, and has been highly valued by the governments of Shanghai and Hong Kong. In addition, SCMC also vigorously promoted the positive role of the commercial mediation mechanism in optimizing the business environment through various forms, and successfully created a series of high-quality projects of the "Shanghai Commercial Mediation Publicity Week" through seminars, cases and other activities, which attracted wide attention from all walks of life and received unanimous praise. From October 26th to November 2nd, 2021, the 3rd Shanghai Commercial Mediation Publicity Week was successfully held. The "First Commercial Mediation College Debate Competition" integrated into it won the honor of eight famous Shanghai universities, including East China University of Political Science and Law and Fudan University Law School. The college's active registration, after three rounds of preliminary, semi-final and final competitions, eight debate teams have both offensive and defensive capabilities, each with their own abilities and splendid performances, making more students pay attention to the development of mediation.

For a long time, SCMC has been actively assisting the establishment and construction of commercial mediation organizations all over the country. In order to continuously improve the development of China's commercial mediation format and formulate industry standards, SCMC has led the formulation and release of the Commercial Mediation Rules Group Standard (hereinafter referred to as the Standard), which is the first commercial mediation group standard in China. It is imperative to standardize and internationalize commercial mediation. The Standard covers eight parts, including mediation scope, normative citation documents, terms and definitions, mediation procedures, costs, effectiveness and supplementary provisions, and provides universal rules for future domestic and international commercial mediation.

On January 8, 2021, SCMC initiated the Cooperation Mechanism of China's Commercial Mediation Development (hereinafter referred to as the "CMCCMD") together with 20 commercial mediation organizations, including the Beijing Diversified Mediation Promotion Association, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Mediation Center and the Benchmark Chambers International & Benchmark International Mediation Center, so as to build a platform for exchanges and cooperation among commercial mediation organizations in various places. The establishment of the CMCCMD builds a bridge for the standardized development of China's commercial mediation industry organizations, helps to build a professional, international and institutionalized Chinese commercial mediation mechanism, realizes the co-construction and sharing of the industry, promotes the orderly and healthy development of China's commercial mediation, and better protects the legitimate rights and interests of domestic and foreign commercial entities.

Take the moral responsibility with iron shoulders, and write articles with skillful hands. This article on commercial mediation in China needs not only the support and guidance of the Supreme People's Court of the PRC, but also the continuous efforts of all the China's commercial mediation organizations. SCMC will not forget our original intention, adhere to the road of specialization and internationalization, and make our own efforts to reform and innovate China's alternative dispute resolution mechanism!

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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.