Beijing courts to find foreign mediators

(CHINA DAILY) Updated : 2021-03-30

Move to facilitate the construction of the capital's pilot free trade zone

Foreign mediators are expected to participate in dispute resolution in Beijing courts to improve the judiciary's capacity to handle foreign-related affairs, a senior judge from China's top court said.

"We encourage the participation because foreign mediators are more familiar with laws, customs and trading habits in areas where they're from, which will help courts across the city better solve foreign-related commercial cases," said Wang Shumei, chief judge of the Supreme People's Court's No 4 Civil Division.

The move was highlighted in a guideline issued by the top court on Friday to facilitate the construction of Beijing's pilot free trade zone and demonstration zone for further opening up the services sector.

Wang said courts nationwide have seen the number of foreign--related cases grow rapidly, adding that Chinese courts heard 22,330 such disputes last year, up 3 percent year-on-year.

She said Beijing courts need to strengthen their capacity to deal with foreign-related affairs, "as the city is the country's international exchange center, and the establishment of the two zones brings about new and higher requirements for the judiciary in this area".

While calling for the judiciary to strengthen its ability to resolve international commercial disputes by means including mediation or arbitration, she also urged Beijing courts to do more work with colleges and institutes to enhance the application of international law and explore new education channels to develop international expertise in the judiciary.

To help build the two zones, "courts citywide have to make greater efforts in educating judicial talent on trade, investment, finance, tax and information data," Wang added.

The measures in the guideline implement requirements raised by President Xi Jinping on advancing the rule of law in foreign-related affairs to better safeguard State sovereignty, national security and development interests, she said.

A focus on building a foreign-related legal system was also written into the recently adopted Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) for Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035, Wang added.

When introducing the guideline to media on Friday, Tao Kaiyuan, vice-president of the top court, said Beijing courts should create a sound legal environment for technological innovation and give stronger legal support to digital economic development by harshly punishing those who infringe intellectual property rights.

As the capital is home to major financial supervision departments, the headquarters of many international financial institutions and important financial infrastructure, she said the city's courts should also concentrate their power on serving modern financial reform, preventing financial risks and carrying out the country's financial strategy.

"As the courts improve the diversified resolution of financial cases, they also need to provide better legal protection for small and medium-sized investors, financial consumers and financial institutions," Tao said.

An Fengde, vice-president of the Beijing High People's Court, said the newly established Beijing Financial Court will play a role in handling civil and administrative disputes in the financial sector.

The capital will also increase protection of data property and personal information, he added, with more research on new problems regarding big data transactions.

The top court issued a similar guideline in January urging courts to promote judicial services to help speed up the development of the Hainan Free Trade Port.