On the morning of November 29, 2019, the Supreme People's Court (the SPC) launched its online Unified Platform for Foreign Law Ascertainment (the Platform) on the website of the China International Commercial Court (the CICC) (http://cicc.court.gov.cn), marking the official establishment of an unified platform for foreign law ascertainment for all people's courts nationwide. The launch of the Platform is an important measure of the SPC on effectively breaking the "bottlenecks" in the difficulty of ascertaining foreign law in foreign-related trials and further optimizing the law-based business environment, in order to implement the Opinions on Establishing the International Commercial Dispute Resolution Mechanism and Institutions for the Belt and Road Initiative of the central government. The Platform is open to people's courts at all levels, parties to litigation and attorneys, enterprises of cross-border trade and investment or international disputes where foreign laws need to be ascertained, and where legislatures, administrative agencies, arbitration institutions or other entities need to know foreign laws.
Take impartial judicature as the direction and solve judicial practical difficulties. In the trials of foreign-related commercial and maritime cases, where foreign laws should be applied and the parties concerned cannot provide evidence of foreign laws, the judge adjudicating the case should try every way to ascertain the foreign laws effectively. For a long time, however, the limited channels, long period of time, complexities in the application of foreign laws, uneven quality of ascertainment and scattered ascertainment institutions have become the "bottlenecks" for foreign-related trials. To break the above "bottlenecks", the Fourth Civil Division of SPC worked together with five organizations: the ASEAN Legal Research Base of the Southwest University of Political Science and Law, Benchmark Chambers International & Benchmark International Mediation Center, Foreign Law Ascertainment and Research Center of China University of Political Science and Law, Center for Proof of Foreign Law of East China University of Political Science and Law and Center of Ascertainment of Foreign Law of Wuhan University, to establish a unified platform for foreign law ascertainment. Meanwhile, the SPC also gives a role to the 31 members of the International Commercial Expert Committee from 14 countries and regions in the foreign law ascertainment to provide people's courts at all levels and sectors of society with high-quality and efficient foreign law ascertainment services.
Take people's needs as the direction and construct practice-oriented databases. The Platform sets "Foreign Law Ascertainment Platform" as a primary column on the CICC website. This column is divided into two secondary columns: "Foreign Law Ascertainment Services" and "Foreign Law Ascertainment Database"(the Database). “Foreign Law Ascertainment Services” include "Ascertainment by International Commercial Expert Committee" and "Ascertainment by Professional Organizations". For the first stage construction of the Database, a Foreign Law Ascertainment Case Database has been set up. The first series of more than 50 judgments and rulings concerning foreign law ascertainment has been uploaded and is open to the public. The Database will gradually add modules of legal database of the countries and regions that have participated in the "Belt and Road Initiative", foreign law ascertainment research reports, foreign legal alerts, etc.
Take big data application as the direction and enrich the contents of the Platform. The SPC will also make full use of the achievements of the Smart Court construction to improve the Platform and further collect and sort content resources. The SPC will strengthen the informatization management and big data analysis of the cases involving the Belt and Road Initiative in order to provide intelligent services for judges and ensure the correct application of laws and the unification of the rules of adjudication.
*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.